ART TAYLOR ALL STARS REUNION

Sunday 24th October was a day to remember for members of this one time top Manchester based Jazz Band. The occasion, which took place at the Heaton Park Hotel near Manchester, was put together by band leader and multi-instrumentalist, Rod Hamer now living in Buckinghamshire

The Art Taylor All Stars were one of the most popular bands in Manchester during the early 1960's. The formation of the band resulted from two young jazz enthusiasts, still at school. Doug Whaley and Arthur Taylor were at Bury Grammar School together and while still at school in 1955, played together in the Cotton City Jazz Band, a regular venue was the Brunswick Hotel (now demolished) in Bury. Arthur Taylor was on banjo, but picked up Alan Toft's trombone when he got some sort of gum disease. Doug went to Oxford and led the University Jazz Band (recordings still exist). Arthur was at London University, but spent most of his time on the road with Bob Wallis and the Storeyville Jazzband. Arthur also led the London University Jazz group in his final year. Both the university bands were mainstreamish towards modern.

Doug Whaley and Arthur Taylor met up again in 1961, back in Manchester. The Art Taylor All-Stars were formed later that year, although they didn't really get going until 1962. Arthur thinks that the name came from "... the Louis Armstrong All Stars, which Doug and I had seen live in Manchester in 1956". Arthur mentions the other personnel in the band ".... Rod Hamer, another Bury old boy, was the drummer from the start. A pal of Rod's, Laurie Selcoe, was on bass; Chris Lucas was on clarinet, all sorts of people played piano.... They were a Dixieland band really - anyway, different to all the English Trad. banjo stuff that everybody else seemed to be playing". There popularity was such that they were seen regularly at the MSG (Manchester Sports Guild) run by 'Jenks' and Jack Swinnerton.

Laurie Selcoe was eventually replaced by Chris Daniels, a terrific bass player according to Art. Chris Berry eventually became the regular clarinet player and Chris Holmes the (excellent) pianist with Maurice Gavan providing support when needed.

While working in Manchester, Arthur left to take up a lectureship at a college in Portsmouth in late 1963. The band continued under his name with other great and now well known musicians taking the trombone chair - Alan Hare, then Fred Fydler. The whole thing folded in 1965 when the musicians went their own musical ways, very successfully as we know in some cases.

As the leader of the current Cotton City Jazz Band, and having played alongside Doug and Art in the original band of the same name, gate crashing the event seemed to be accepted by one and all

BARRY ALDOUS
1st Nov 2004

 

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