Laurie Chescoe’s Reunion Band

Further Update 21st March 2014

We published this write-up here back in 2012.  It needs more updating, to which I shall return.

Update 20th April 2012

On Friday, 20th April 2012, we certainly have a treat in store for you in the shape of ‘Laurie Chescoe’s Reunion Band’.  The band obviously has Laurie on drums, with Lord Arsenal on trumpet, Duncan Hemstock on reeds, Dave Hewitt on trombone, Colin Bray on piano, Jim Douglas on banjo and Peter Skivington on bass.  What a line-up!  They will definitely ‘bring the house down’, so you really cannot miss it!  I’m sure we will be packed to the gunnels, because ‘jazzers’ will know a great line-up when they see one.  So don’t be late.


On tour and with us here at Farnborough Jazz Club (Kent) on Friday, 17 September 2010

Rest of tour:


May 28th               Corn Exchange, Bury St Edmunds Festival, 1-2.00pm

July 18th                Swanage Jazz Festival, 8.30pm – 11pm

August 1st & 2nd                 Edinburgh Jazz Festival


15th – 26th September 2010

Wednesday        15th         100 Club

Thursday             16th         Lains Barn, Wantage

Friday                  17th        FARNBOROUGH JAZZ CLUB, Kent

Sunday 19th         Erith & Belvedere Jazz Club – lunchtime

Sunday 19th         Colchester Jazz Club – evening

Monday               20th         Southend Jazz Club

Tuesday               21st         Charles Cryer Theatre, Carshalton

Wednesday        22nd        Concorde Club, Eastleigh

Thursday             23rd        Electric Palace, Harwich

Friday                    24th         Runnymede Jazz Club, Chertsey – evening

Saturday              25th         Boston Spa Jazz club,

Sunday 26th         Roade Jazz Club – lunchtime * finale end of tour

Laurie Chescoe – leader/drummer;

Laurie started his professional career back in 1957, playing with the ‘Teddy Layton Band’.  In the same band was Pete Strange (Humphrey Littleton’s trombonist) who was one of this country’s finest players.  Laurie then joined Monty Sunshine’s first band staying for four years.  From Monty, he went to ‘Dick Charlesworth’s Big Blues Band with blues singer, Bobby Breen.  He left Dick to join ‘Bruce Turner’s Jump Band’, appearing at the Edinburgh Festival and Antibes Jazz Festival with Bruce.  He had a long stint with Bob Wallis.  Then followed a short time with George Webb’s re-formed Dixielanders, after which he became the founder member of ‘The Midnite Follies Orchestra’.  Laurie was also a member of ‘The Alan Elsdon Band’, several of whom (including Alan) were also in the Follies.  Laurie has since toured with Wild Bill Davison, Ruby Braff and Yank Lawson.  He has worked with Buddy Tate, Benny Waters, Al Casey, Ralph Sutton, Warren Vaché and many other visiting American stars.  He joined ‘The Alex Welsh Band’ in 1979 and worked in Alex’s band for the last two years of it existing, right up to Alex’s untimely death.  Laurie has never stopped playing, being in several of Keith Nichols’ groups, ‘The Alex Welsh Reunion Band’, ‘Phil Mason’s All Stars’, as well as leading his own band, ‘The Laurie Chescoe’s Good Time Band.  Laurie always has that wonderful smiley face (like Keith – reminding me of the fabulous Gene Krupa grin).  The musicians who are playing with Laurie on 17th September are so akin with who they have played with, it makes your mind boggle:

Allan Bradley (Lord Arsenal) – trumpet

Allan was born in London and grew up in Kent, where he began his jazz career playing piano in the ‘Medway Delta Jazz Band’.  After moving to Norfolk, Allan played for some time with the ‘Kenny Ball Jazz Band’.  He then formed his own band, known as ‘Lord Arsenal’s All Stars’, which became very popular in the seventies.  Allan’s musical pedigree developed thereafter, with stints in the bands of Cy Laurie, Max Collie and Ken Colyer, amongst others.  Allan has proved himself to be an accomplished accompanist, appearing with such great entertainers, as the Professors Jimmy Edwards and Stanley Unwin, Jim Bowen, George Chisholm and Clinton Edwards.  Allan joined ‘Laurie Chescoe’s Good Time Jazz’ in 1992 but left in 2000 to pursue his dream of playing trumpet.  Now he is back with the ‘Good Time Jazz Reunion Band, playing and fronting the band in his own inimitable fashion.

Dave Hewitt – trombone, cornet & baritone horn;

Dave started playing in brass bands when he was 12 years old.  After hearing his first jazz record when he was 14, he immediately searched for and found a local semi-pro jazz band, which he could and did join.  He turned professional in the ‘trad boom’ days with the ‘London City Stompers’, playing cornet.  This band later became ‘Max Collie’s Jazz Aces’.  After leaving the ‘London City’, he joined ‘Mike Daniels Big Band’ and gigged with ‘Kenny Ball’s Band’, ‘Monty Sunshine’s Band’ and many others, finally joining ‘Freddy Randall’s All Star Band’ in 1972.  This was possibly Freddy’s finest band, including (as it did at that time), both Dave Shepherd and Danny Moss.  A high spot for this band and Dave too, was the Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1974, when Stephen Grappelli, Barney Kessel and Teddy Wilson were all guests with the band.  Dave spent many years with ‘The Alan Elsdon Band’, joining when Pete Strange left to join Humphrey Lyttleton.  He was also used in the ‘Pizza Express All Stars’ as a regular dep for Roy Williams, whenever the occasion arose.  Other bands include ‘Laurie Chescoe’s Good Time Band’ and ‘Keith Smith’s Hefty Jazz’.  Dave was also on tour for three years in the show “Basin Street to Broadway”, starring Georgie Fame.  He has played with many famous musicians, such as Wild Bill Davison, Peanuts Hucko and Kenny Davern.  Dave’s favourite jazz is in the Chicago New York style of Cutshall, McGarity, Teagarden etc.  His superb baritone horn playing is reminiscent of Dick Cary’s alto horn on some of the Edie Condon records, whilst his ensembles trombone playing is a joy to hear. He eats, sleeps and lives his jazz!

Ron Drake – tenor sax/clarinet

Ron began playing clarinet at the age of eleven, taking up saxophone six years later.  He spent three years with the ‘Yorkshire Jazz Band’, before moving to London to join the ‘Alan Elsdon Band’, along with Campbell Burnap.  He was with Alan for ten years, until 1987.  In the eighties and nineties, he freelanced with various bands, including ‘Keith Smith’s Hefty Jazz’, ‘Bob Bates Band’.  He was also with Campbell’s Burnap’s Band’ and they produced a record together, remaining good friends until Campbell’s death.  He depped in ‘Laurie Chescoe’s Good Time Band’, plus depped many times over the years with ‘The Alex Welsh Band’.  Ron was also in the ‘100 Club All Stars Band’.  He toured with the great George Chisholm, played at the Eddie Condon club in New York and was also a regular performer with Georgia Fame, Scott Hamilton and Elaine Delmar.

Colin Bray – pianist

When we first met Colin, he was playing a soprano sax (I think it was soprano, might have been alto).  He was running his own band, ‘The Colin Bray Jazz Band’.  It must have been about 20 years ago, when we ran the club at The Badgers Mount Hotel.  We called him ‘the singing raincoat’, because he always wore a shabby old raincoat (his trademark).  I remember when he arrived at the club; he waltzed straight past me and onto the stage.  I thought he might be a weirdo, thinking I was in for some bother to deal with.  I approached him and said the stage was for band members and he gently replied that he was with the band (he didn’t even say he was the band leader!).  He then produced this tiny sax and when he played it, oh wow – what a fantastic sax player.  Now he is playing piano and by all accounts, he plays it wonderfully.  How amazing that so many musicians can bounce into playing any instrument.  When we see him on Friday, I shall hopefully be able to obtain more about his career.  However, most greats do not brag about themselves, so might have a hard time obtaining any info.

Pete Skivington – bass guitar

Pete played guitar from the age of eighteen until switching to bass guitar in 1963, to join a commercial band playing everything from pop to blues.  Always a jazz lover, Pete got his first opportunity to play the music he loves with the ‘Stan Greig Trio’ in 1970.  Pete stayed with Stan (who became pianist in Humphrey Lyttleton’s great band) until joining Terry Lightfoot in 1972.  Pete joined Alex Welsh in 1974 and stayed with Alex until Alex’s death in 1982.

Since 1982, Pete has worked with ‘Five-A-Slide’, Stan Greig’s Boogie Band, and touring with American musicians, both here and abroad.  Pete has played Nice Festival with Vick Dickinson, Pee Wee Irvin and Johnny Mince, The North Sea Festival and Breda Festivals with Bud Freeman and Ruby Braff.

Pete is the only electric bass player who has played with Yank Lawson (used to Bobby Haggart’s fine playing) and Kenny Davern (whose dislike of electric sounds is well known) and then to have been invited back to work again with these great players.  Pete’s sound is unique.

Tony Pitt – banjo/guitar

The number of good guitarists who play rhythm as well as solo guitar is small and the number who also play banjo is smaller.  The number who do both well in the UK, is very limited.  Tony Pitt is one of the top three.  Tony has been a long serving member of at least three of England’s top bands, playing for many years in ‘Alex Welsh’s Band’, followed by years in ‘Acker Bilk’s Band’, and then by two stints with the ‘Kenny Ball Band’. Tony is a real swinging player on both instruments and his playing knits the rhythm section together superbly.  Tony has also played with the ‘Alan Elsdon Band’, ‘Terry Lightfoot’s Band’ Stan Greigs Boogie Band’ and the ‘M4 Band’ (a band of ex-Acker sidemen).  He Tony is no musical snob and his love of music is wide ranging, but his particular feel for the blues is evident in his playing.  Tony has toured widely, playing at all the major jazz festivals all over the world.  He has also done countless TV and radio sessions.  He first appeared here at Farnborough when he was with ‘Phil Mason’s All Stars’ and again more recently on 16th July 2010, with his own band, ‘Tony Pitt’s All Stars’ (see his own write-up in his band page).