The Lost Tapes

Tape No.6 in the series

You Can Bank On Us

The Natwest Jazz Band

Back row left to right Bob Higham, Dave Hill, John Goddard, John Moss
Front row left to right Duke Blatchley, Seth Marsh, Steve Davis, Reg King, Paul Wilkinson

I wonder how many of you heard this band play at Southport Flower festival, where I think they played for about 3 years?

I heard them and thought they were excellent, so much so I have the LP  "You Can Bank On Us"  from which this photograph was taken. One of the band members, who I made contact with,  subsequently sent me taped copies of other recordings they had made.

Here are the notes from the cassette -


Side 1

  1. Original Dixieland One Step

  2. Sweet Lorraine

  3. Pasadena

  4. Seaport Serenade

  5. Sugar Blues

  6. I Found A New Baby

Side 2

  1. Frog-i-More Rag

  2. Someday You'll Be Sorry

  3. Birth Of The Blues

  4. Sweet Sue Just You

  5. Dreaming The Hours Away

  6. Ain't She Sweet

This is the third album of music from the NatWest Jazz Band and fans of the band will be pleased to know that not too much has changed since those heady days of 1978 when the idea of bankers being seem to enjoy playing jazz was so revolutionary.

Inevitably there have been one or two changes brought about by personnel department but six of the original band of pilgrims are still blowing away and this album represents some of the band's wide repertoire which delights fans up and down the country.

there is no apparent reason why a major clearing bank such as NatWest should spawn not only a jazz band but also a pretty good jazz band and one of the most common questions asked is "Do you all work for the bank"? The answer now has to be "We all used to", as the years passed by and two members of the band have achieved the ultimate promotion and retired. However (and a discreet veil will be drawn over identities), the musical contributions seem to be good too good to lose and in the absence of any youthful pretenders to the stage they continued to be part of the band as representatives of the pensioners association.

Sadly the band's regular pianist Jim Smart was not well at the time of recording and in fact died shortly after, having borne a long illness with typical fortitude. All the members of the band dedicate this album to his memory. Keith Nichols, a customer of the bank and one of the finest ragtime pianist in the UK, upheld one of the finest traditions in the music world in agreeing to drop everything and fill the piano chair for the recording.

For anyone who has not yet heard the story, the band origins go back to 1974 when Seth Marsh got together with the band's original pianists to try over some Brahms clarinet sonatas. Brahms is a fine composer but is not widely known for producing much boogie-woogie and it was not long before Seth's enthusiasm for jazz got the better of him, and other members of staff were co-opted to form the beginnings of the band. Since then, as they say, the rest is history. Requests for the band to appear poured in from both banking colleagues and outside organisations who wouldn't actually believe that stayed bankers could play jazz unless they heard it for themselves. The band had a triumphant week in New York to celebrate the opening of NatWest USA and has been invited to appear at jazz festivals in Holland and the UK as well as many other prestigious events in the UK. It is perhaps a measure of the esteem in which the NatWest jazz band is held that those 'professionals' who have risked all by appearing on the same stage and at the same time include, Kenny Baker, George Chisholm, Anita Harris and Benny Green. Although the band has appeared at several festivals where Humphrey Lyttelton has been playing with his own band this is the first time that hump has joined the ranks brackets as an ex guard officer is this demotion? And on "I Found a New Baby", the immediate rapport which he struck up is more than apparent.

To most people Hunt is the king of jazz in the United Kingdom and more than anyone else has been responsible for keeping jobs in the public eye for many years. A long time ago he wrote a book entitled "I Play as I Please". In that book he said,"The only concrete hope which I have for the future is that the practice of amateur music-making which has been started by the New Orleans revival continues to flourish and spread, so that more people come to realise that it's great a fun making your own using and pouring it out of a tap, a sentiment with which the NatWest jazz band entirely agree.


"Greater sportsmanship hath no man of under 6-ft than to surrender his bed to a six-and-a-quarter-footer with long legs and size 13 feet. this is just what Steve Davis did for me at the 1986 Brecon festival when I find that my appointed room in the chalet type hotel accommodated only two-thirds of my the sacrifice and subsequent brief encounters during the festival branded Steve and his team of fellow bankers as all round good eggs who's bonhomie and enthusiasm infects the music they play.

Of course to play convincing jazz of the kind which the NatWest jazz band has embraced so warmly, you don't have to be a good egg. But the enthusiasm is essential. The very decision to revive and revitalize the wonderful sounds from the past require all the eagerness, application and attention to detail of which enthusiasm is compounded. Because the style of these arrangements goes back almost 60 years, let no one believe that they are easy to play. The best in every era of jazz has set exacting standards of musicianship which any revival must match. As musicians, the NatWest team take their chosen idiom in their stride, getting better and better with every album. It is always great to see them to hear them and to work with them".

Humphrey Lyttelton.



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