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WOMBAT JAZZ BAND MUSICIANSThe Wombat Jazz Band is comprised of five regular full time members. But there is always a variety of musicians who 'sit in' or 'drop in', some from amongst the best in Australia in their type of genre. Within the Wombat Jazz Band there is a wealth of talent whose musicians have been in several bands through-out their long career.
Judy Taylor -Piano and Leader
Judy's unique two-handed chomping piano style together with the use of washboard and sousaphone gives the Wombat Jazz Band its individual sound. The chords are played in the style of a banjo or a guitar. Like Eddie Condon Judy does not solo but keeps up a constant chordal rhythm which is different but greatly appreciated by the front line musicians. Judy started the Ab-Fab Jazz Band in 1995; playing at the Grampians and Australian Jazz Festivals. The Ab-Fabs combined musicians of varying styles in a conscious effort to let such variation provide an: individual sound. The success of this experiment led to the formation of the Wombat Jazz Band with its Australian identity and an aim to keep alive the best compositions of great Australian Jazz musicians. Under Judy's leadership the band has welded into a tight and happy group
Bill Kerr -Clarinet, Saxophones and Vocals
Bill was introduced to jazz in the 1950's by listening to the great Melbourne bands of Graeme Bell, Frank Johnson and Len Barnard. In 1954 he formed the Salt Water Jetty Stompers playing at the North Road Life Saving Club. In 1956 he joined Hec McClelland's Memphis Six featuring on Tenor Saxophone at Downbeat Concerts in the Melbourne Town Hall. In 1960-62 he played with the Bill Kerr Trio and then gave up music for 20 years to pursue a career as an Architect. Bill returned to music in 1982 when he formed the Black Beach Band with the aim of recapturing the sound of the great Melbourne traditional bands of the 1950's. In 1997 the Black Beach represented Australia at the King of Thailand's Golden Jubilee Jazz Festival in Bangkok. Bill does the arrangements and parodies the words and composes some of the tunes in the Wombats repertoir.
Ken Collins, -trumpet and vocals.
Ken comes from Maryborough. He did his apprenticeship with the Brass Band before joining the Maryborough Traditional Jazz Ensemble. Ken also leads the Hot B' Hines Jazz Band. Both bands are very popular in country Victoria, starring at Jazz Festivals and repeating their triumphs with Melbourne audiences. Ken's driving fast hot ensembles played with passion are a feature of both bands. Ken's playing is enthusiastic with the fire of "Jabbo Smith" and with a bright and beautiful tone. Ken's playing with the Wombats is said to be more controlled and subtle but he still drives the band with a passionate flair. His warm personality comes through in his music.
Ian Smith, -Bass, Sousaphone
and Valve Trombone.
One of Australia's top professional traditional jazz musicians; Ian can play every instrument in the band including trumpet and reeds when required. Ian has held the trumpet chair in the New Melbourne Jazz Band, The Cathay Pacific Jazz Band, and played second trumpet in Tom Baker's great San Francisco Jazz Band ~ with which he toured America. He presently plays drums with the Fireworks which has toured Europe, America and Japan for the last 6 years . Ian has played with the best of Australian and overseas bands. He started playing the 1970's when he formed and led the very popular New Harlem Jazz Band. Musical to the core he has recorded with many bands and his melodic vocal style has been featured on Neville Stribling, Bob Barnard and Ade Monsbourgh recordings. Ian has shared the Bass chair in the Wombats with Alan Stott and Simon Stribling, until Simonís departure to perform in America. Ian now alternates with the talented Simon Vancam and Mark Elton. On the nights Ian is not on Bass, he plays superb valve Trombone and takes over the Trumpet chair when Ken Collins is unavailable.
Tony Orr - Banjo player
John Hilf, -washboard and wobble board.
A specialist on these early jazz instruments John provides a light sparkling rhythm like the tap dancing toes of Fred Astair. With countless appearances in shopping centres and street parades John has access to many jobs that are denied to drummers. John holds down the rhythm job with the Prahran Market Band and is a regular performer at Jazz Festivals John is also featured by the Wombats on his Rolf Harris wobbleboard which produces a pulsing rhythm.
Distinguished musicians who have played with the Wombat Jazz Band
Apart from the current musicians the Wombat Jazz Band is fortunate to have had the opportunity and pleasure of playing with many leading Melbourne and Australian artists at some time or the other. These include:
First appeared in the traditional jazz scene in Melbourne in 1968. Played banjo and guitar in a variety of local bands in styles ranging from New Orleans revival, mainstream or Chicago styles and in the San Francisco Lu Watters/Turk Murphy style. Has played and recorded and toured with well known bands including John Tucker's Yacht Club Band, The Storyville Allstars, the Society Syncopators, Frank Johnson's Jazz Band, Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers, and at the Creole Bells concerts in Sydney with Carol Leigh, Frank Johnson, Graeme Bell and Len Barnard. Known to sing a novelty number or two when prompted, or a Jack O'Hagan favourite. Went to Sacramento USA in 1982 with the Australians Jazz Band with Ade Monsbourgh, Bob Barnard and Neville Stribling. Toured USA on three further occasions with Steve Waddell's Creole Bells. Played in the Prahran Market Jazz band which held the gig for over 25 years