This month’s musical offering was an impressive Gala Concert dedicated to the memory of a good friend of Ongar Jazz Club and a prolific musician, band leader and arranger, the late Keith Nichols who died earlier this year.

Keith arranged music for the likes of Bing Crosby, no less, and was fondly remembered throughout the evening by long standing club members and all seven members of the ‘All Star’ Gala Concert band, who played alongside Keith many times – they even performed at The Barclay Square Ball!  Keith also wrote music for the White Orchestra, the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, and the Midnite Follies Orchestra, to name but a few. Alistair played with Keith in the Midnite Follies Orchestra, and Graham Reed was a ‘roadie’ for band at the same time.  Graham was in the audience and was invited up to join the band on Malcolm’s sousaphone and double bass in playing a couple of numbers arranged by Keith.

The band leader for the evening was Alistair Alan, a local boy who attended Ongar Comprehensive School and played in the school band.  Alistair met Keith and was taken under his wing from an early age, being privileged to play in many countries and with many renowned artists.  The full line-up of the band was as follows:

Trumpet: Mike Henry – nickname ‘Madge’ after Magic Henry from Yorkshires Selwyn Froggitt

Clarinet & Saxophone: Mike McQuaid

Trombone: Alistair Allen

‘Parlour’ Guitar and Banjo: Tom Langham – nickname ‘Spatz’

Drummer: Richard Pite

Sousaphone & Double Bass: Malcolm Sked – nickname ‘Skeddy’

Piano: Martin Litton – nickname ‘Professor’