Park SPEAKEASY items

Trevor Whiting

18 May - Ilminster Arts Centre

Trevor is one of the most in demand reed players on the British Jazz scene.  He combines masterful, spontaneous improvisation with a rich sound that makes his lyrical playing both exciting and beautiful.  Whilst he leans towards mainstream jazz he is equally secure playing classic jazz, blues and ballads.  He is a self-taught musician who switched to the clarinet from the tenor horn on hearing the distinctive sound of Sidney Bechet as a teenager.


Trevor has toured the UK and Europe with the Chris Barber band.  He was in Clare Teal’s band and featured on her early recordings.  He also works with the Bateman Brothers band, whose recent album won the British Jazz Album of the Year award, and has enjoyed working and recording with visiting Americans including Al Casey, Art Hodes, Wild Bill Davison, Scott Hamilton, George Masso, Rande Sandke, Marty Gross, Greg Abate and Duke Heitger.


His playing has been compared to that of Ben Webster, Scott Hamilton and Johnny Hodges, to whom one of Trevor’s own haunting compositions is dedicated.  He is passionate about Jazz in all its forms, about nature and the environment, and about spending time with his two boys.  He now lives with his family in Dorset.

Spats Langham

1 June - Cheap Street Church, Sherborne

Tom "Spats" Langham is arguably the UK's leading jazz entertainer.  He  has performed 1920s and ‘30s jazz all over the world, as a soloist and with top bands including The Pasadena Roof Orchestra and Chris Barber.  He is renowned as one of the world’s finest banjo and guitar players, and his superb vocals are delivered in a style reminiscent of Bing Crosby and Al Bowlly.

Spats is an entertaining raconteur and his love for vintage jazz shines out in every performance. 

Mike and Spats have duetted together on several occasions (notably whilst entertaining guests on a hotel barge floating down the River Seine). 


A large audience enjoyed their last appearance at this venue.  And there's a fine Steinway grand for Mike to enjoy. 

Michael McQuaid

21 Nov - Dorchester Arts Centre

Michael McQuaid is one of a younger generation of musicians enthusiastically devoted to jazz and swing from the 1920s and 30s.  He plays with remarkable energy, skill and originality. He performs on clarinet, saxophones, trumpet and even occasionally piano.  Originally from Melbourne, Australia, he has established an international reputation.

McQuaid has toured the world as a featured artist and bandleader. He has performed with the contemporary greats of 1920s and 1930s jazz – Keith Nichols, Vince Giordano, Bob Wilber, Spats Langham, Andy Schumm, Bob Barnard, Jon-Erik Kellso, Martin Litton, Bent Persson, Duke Heitger, Geoff Bull, Josh Duffee and many more.


‘A rare talent!’ (Kevin Jones, Australian jazz writer)

‘A first-class jazz improviser…’ (Michael Steinman, Jazz Lives, New York, US)

Julia Titus

7 Dec - Ilminster Arts Centre

Julia Titus is an actress, poet, singer and songwriter. Among her talents is the ability to convicingly put over the songs of that great blues & vaudeville singer of the 1920s, Bessie Smith.


Building on her passion for the 'Empress of the Blues', Julia started to perform as Ma Bessie in 2015, sharing the music of Ms Smith and her contemporaries with a new generation of listeners. Expect to hear classics including 'Careless Love', ‘Nobody Knows When You’re Down And Out’, ‘Gimme A Pig Foot (And A Bottle Of Beer)’, and of course 'Hot Time in the Old Town Tonight', all delivered with verve and style.

Bessie Smith recorded many titles accompanied by pianists James P Johnson & Clarence Williams with trumpeters Joe Smith & Louis Armstrong.  On this occasion Mike, at the grand piano, will be joined on trumpet by long-time colleage, Steve Graham.

Sunset Cafe Stompers - SpeakEasy Special!

13 Feb - Dorchester Arts Centre

A departure from the established SpeakEasy duet format, this special night at Dorchester will celebrate the 30th anniversary of Mike’s band, the Sunset Café Stompers, a seven-piece band plus celebrated vocalist Hamish Maxwell which contains some of the UK’s top vintage jazz musicians!  

Mike will duet with band members and you can expect the whole band to dip into their acclaimed repertoire of Jelly Roll Morton, Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Louis Armstrong and others.

"They must be one of the best territory bands in the country" - Just Jazz magazine

John Maddocks, Graham Smith

7 June - Ilminster Arts Centre (re-arranged from 1 Feb)

John Maddocks is one of the most popular clarinettists on the British traditional jazz scene.  Initially inspired by New Orleans clarinettists  George Lewis and Johnny Dodds, he developed his own unique style.  His Black Bottom Stompers enjoyed huge success in London and since then he has led his south coast based Jazzmen to great acclaim.

Mike and John will be joined by the sensitive and dynamic vintage jazz drummer, Graham Smith -  affording the not-to-be missed opportunity to revisit some of the Trio recordings of one of Mike's heroes, Jelly Roll Morton 

© 2018 by Mike  Denham.