THEY are one of the most popular jazz bands around with a continually packed diary.
The Savannah Jazz Band has strong links with Huddersfield and continues to play its instantly recognisable brand of New Orleans style jazz here in town.
In the coming months it will play Edinburgh Jazz Festival before heading off for dates in Holland and Malta.
But the good news is that despite its hectic touring schedule, the band continues to play its monthly gig at the Royal British Legion Club in Golcar.
The band’s driving and exciting New Orleans style has long attracted traditional jazz fans in Huddersfield.
The band, formed more than 30 years ago, became hugely popular in Huddersfield thanks to its residency at the Station Tavern in the town centre.
Its move several years ago to the large concert room at Golcar has seen the band’s six musicians playing a regular, first Thursday of the month gig. The next is next Thursday, that’s August 2.
If you can’t wait all week, take a day out in north Yorkshire tomorrow and hear the band play at the Pickering festival.
The band has travelled widely, taking its music to Holland, Germany, Denmark. Finland, Majorca, Canada and all parts of the UK, delighting new audiences and collecting loyal supporters along the way.
The Savannah Jazz Band continues to be led by its drummer, John Meehan who lives in Halifax.
Its current line-up includes Brian ‘Sam’ Ellis (trombone and piano), Louis Lince (banjo), Roger Myerscough (clarinet), Tony Pollitt (string bass) and Bill Smith (cornet).
This is a band with years of experience behind its big reputation.
It was formed in 1979 and Thursday night swing sessions at the Station Tavern soon put the band in the diaries of jazz fans.
The Savannah Jazz Band is regarded as every bit as much a musicians’ band as it is a magnet for its loyal fans.
Over the years the band has enjoyed playing with some fine and talented musicians and the genuine admiration that exists between Savannah and the many guests who have joined them is mutual.
This tradition continues at the band’s regular dates at Golcar.
John Meehan, the band’s leader, says he was originally inspired by Gene Krupa in the film, The Benny Goodman Story.
He took up drumming playing in local skiffle groups, dance bands, and a pantomime pit orchestra.
During this time he met Terry Mellor, the originator of The Savannah Jazz Band and the rest is a bit of jazz history.
String bass player Tony Pollitt, started his present spell with The Savannah Jazz Band 12 years ago.
He started his musical career at 13 learning to play the clarinet until at the age of 16 and several instruments later he had progressed to the T-Chest bass in a pub skiffle group.
Tony joined one band using a borrowed bass held together with chicken wire, glue and six inch nails.
Over the last 30 years, Louis Lince has played with all the names in the New Orleans jazz world and is a much sought after and much respected musician.
Louis plays banjo for the Savannah Jazz Band, joining it seven years ago.
Clarinet player Roger Myerscough shows particular dedication. He is now based in Essex but still plays with the band and says touring is just as easy from his home near Stansted.
Wakefield’s Brian Ellis, known as Sam, joined The Savannah Jazz Band in 1988 playing both trombone and piano.
His playing experience is impressive, his work with a range of bands taking him all over Britain, Germany, Holland and Scandinavia.
Cornet player Bill Smith was born in Stockport where until the 1960’s a principal industry was hat making. His first band, which he joined at the age of 18, was appropriately The Jazz Hatters.
Bill mainly plays the cornet but is just as adept on the trumpet, flugelhorn, trombone, harmonica and vocals.