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The Zenith Hot Stompers described itself as “The Midlands Premier Traditional Jazz Band”, a title it richly deserved. The band made many tours of Holland, which sometimes spilled over into Germany or Belgium, also visited Sweden and Finland, and in 2003 finally made it to the Sacramento Jazz Jubilee. Humphrey Lyttelton was a frequent guest with Zenith; two of his Birmingham appearances, at the old Waterworks Club and at the Repertory Theatre, were captured on video, and in November 1982 he joined us in recording the album Zenith Joys at Zella Studios in Edgbaston.

Two other giants of British jazz recorded with the band: Wally Fawkes (Fidgety Feet in January 1992) and Chris Barber later the same year. Other guests over the years included Bill Allred, Gene Connors, Gene Rodgers, John Barnes, Pat Halcox, Monty Sunshine, Cy Laurie, Johnny Parker and no doubt many others whose names my declining powers of memory are unable to retrieve from the mists of time; but my personal all-time hero was Wild Bill Davison. Bill appeared with the ZHS at the Waterworks Jazz Club in Birmingham in 1988, the year before he died. Duetting with him on If I Had You was an unforgettable experience.

In October 2002, while still with the Zenith, I joined Paul Munnery’s Harlem Jazz Orchestra on 3rd trumpet. This meant that I had to improve my reading skills – I’ve been able to read music since I was about 10 years old, but had never performed on trumpet from a written score. It was hard, but very rewarding to be part of an 11-piece band playing a great book of arrangements built up over many years.

I left the Zenith Hot Stompers in February 2005, and in May of that year was invited by Dave Moorwood to play 2nd trumpet in the Big Bear Stompers, which he was re-forming. The new band was a successful mixture of youth (Ben Cummings and Graham Hughes) and age (the rest of us), enhanced by the mature and versatile vocal talents of Judy Eames.

Judy has been my partner since 1997, since when we’ve worked together not only in Harlem and the Big Bear Stompers but also innumerable ad-hoc small groups. We’re also joint leaders of Kaminsky Connection, which is more of a concept than a permanent band, although we do have one CD to our credit, and in April 2012 dipped our toes into the London scene with a gig at the Spice of Life.

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