Mike Betts  - clarinet, tenor sax

Mike bought his first clarinet in 1954, and formed a band while on national service in RAF.  During the trad boom, Mike joined the Bob Wallis Storyville Jazzband for a short while, before travel problems forced him to quit.  A 10 year break from music followed, but since 1975 Mike's clarinet and saxophone work has graced several leading South Coast bands and he often plays alongside the UK's celebrity musicians.  He joined the SCS in 2004.   

Pete Ward - bass

Pete started playing bass in 1961, and since moving to Somerset his melodic style has contributed to the success of Nigel Hunt's Imperial Jazzband, the Panama Jazz Kings, Dennis Armstrong's Western Jazzband and John Shillito's Rhythm Aces. Pete has travelled widely to play jazz throughout the UK and has appeared at many major festivals.  Pete was previously a banjo player, and - equally noteworthy - Editorial Director at Haynes, the car manual publishers.  He’s been with the SCS since 1999.

Musicians

Steve Graham - trumpet

Another skilful multi-instrumentalist (the lute and the bagpipes are amongst his accomplishments) Steve is one of the UK’s most-respected New Orleans style trumpet players.  His ability and desire to explore the full range of the music, from the sweet and melodic to the hot and dirty, from the low-down to the cultivated, lifts any band he plays with to a higher level.  He’s been applying this magic to SCS since he joined in 2012.

Mike Denham – piano & bandleader

Introduced to the piano by his father, who needed someone to accompany his violin, mandolin and guitar playing, Mike’s music career suffered an early set back when he was “asked to leave” the school madrigal group - too much syncopation.  His jazz initiation came at Exeter University and then, moving to Leicestershire, he cut his teeth with bands led by Eric Dolby’ and Ron Radford, both very fine trombonists.  Back in Dorset, he co-founded the Sunset Cafe Stompers with the late Alan Potton.  Despite heartless criticism, Mike is still determined to master the Swannee whistle.

John Coad - drums

Played drums, as a spotty youth, on his brother-in-law's 1930's traps kit complete with red skull blocks and swan-neck cymbal holders.  '“Worth a small fortune now - why did I part with them?”  This led him into saving-up his pocket money to buy his first jazz LP, featuring the great Chicago drummer George Wettling.  The die was cast, and the neighbours moved!  Gigs in the mid ‘60s led to west-country groups such as the Panama Jazz Band and New Society.  Was “delighted” to be offered the drum chair in the SCS,when it became vacant in 2014, especially since it came with three coloured shirts!

Pete Middleton - trombone

Piano lessons...skiffle...then a £12 pawnshop trombone helped Pete play along with Jim Robinson (at 78 rpm). Tons of undergrad jazz failed to sabotage landing a teaching job -  plus piano fame with The Solway Eight at Workington Iron & Steel Social Club. A move to Somerset saw Pete on trombone with the anarchic Great Western Marching Band, Henry’s Bootblacks, and more.  With the SCS since 2010, he also plays with Tim Newman’s Celebration Band, the DS Big Band, and (sshh!) bass-trombone with Frome Symphony.  His prowess on the Swannee whistle is studiously ignored by Mike Denham...

Eddie Edwards – banjo

Shunning flowery description on these pages, Eddie accepts the accolade “fairly competent” .  However, he is widely known to jazz audiences as a remarkable player.  Eddie has underpinned many fine bands, notably, since moving to West Country some years ago, Roy Pellet’s Hot Four.  We were delighted to recruit him in 2010,