Woodside Musicians Association Jazz Club

A look back to the 01 Sep 2003 Woodside Musicians Association Reunions at The Golden Lion, High Street, London Colney, Herts

George Wallis (drums), Colin Frechter (piano) and Bob Payne (bass) back together after 40 years. Pictured at the W.M.A. reunion on Monday 01 Sep 2003 at The Golden Lion Function Room, High Street, London Colney.

Former BBC Recording Engineer Howard Yentis pictured in the back room recording the evening's entertainment. At the BBC Howard worked with the legendary Joe Meek.

Eddie Fosterand Brian Saunders entertain on saxophones.

Some of the audience at the bar. Click here to see more pics of the audience.

Jenny Molineaux in fine vocal form.

Jenny Molineaux, Colin Frechter and Rod Alexander.

Alan Skidmore, although busy promoting his new CD, still found time to attend the reunion and to meet up with old friends.

Another pic of the house trio George Wallis (drums), Colin Frechter (piano) and Bob Payne (bass)

Last reunion Mon 13 Sep 04, The Golden Lion, High Street, London Colney, Herts 7:30 pm
Reunion Mon 23 Feb 04, included pianist Gerry Haim (who now lives in Alicante, Spain), tenor player Al Nicholls, pianists Dudley Fuller and Barry Parfitt, guitarist Nick Page, drummer Bill Chaney, alto and baritone player John Ripper and vocalist Drew Smith

WMA by Brian Saunders

The Woodside Musicians Association is an example of a culture created by a local need.

In 1960 I had recently qualified as a Health Inspector. I got married and I accepted a District Inspector’s post at Hendon in North London. The job came with housing accommodation which turned out to be a ninth floor self-contained flat.

During my training I had also covered another much-loved activity of part-timed musician. This gave me extra income and a chance to play with some great jazz musicians.

Having moved to Hendon I was having to travel 15-20 miles to gigs, in the evenings, in east London where I had lived before. I therefore looked in the local press for a more local music activity and found a tenor sax player called Eddie Foster who was advertising for a pianist. I turned up for a audition and found that another pianist was also applying – his name was Gerry Haim. As it happened, I also played alto sax so between us we managed to play a few tunes.  The rest of the line -up was Gary on bass, Alf on drums and Reg Bessy on Accordion and this was all in the Sparrowhawk PH.

We immediately realised we had the nucleus of a jazz band and needed to find somewhere to play. Reg. said his local pub had talked about having music so we all arranged to meet at The Green Dragon at Borehamwood on Sunday morning.

On the Sunday morning we meet Des Henstridge the Guvnor of the Green Dragon.  I found I knew Des from an East London pub and he was very interested in having music.  There was a nice upright piano on a small square stage in the rear lounge with a large car park outside.  I’m sure we played some music but can’t remember who had instruments with them.  Reg and I played and it was agreed we would fill up every Sunday.

So the Jazz on Sundays began and we were soon besieged by other musicians wanting to sit -in and play.  Eddie Foster took over selecting the play groups and the whole session was outstanding.

In addition, the public came through from the other bars and the sales rocketed.  After a few weeks it was clear that we couldn’t cope with the numbers of musicians in the short time of Sunday morning opening which in those days was 12noon -2pm so we asked for an evening in the week. Des readily agreed a Tuesday evening but only if we continued to provide music on Sunday mornings. 

My wife Jean and Reg’s wife Rose agreed to man reception where we charged musicians a shilling to join and play whereas the public were happy to pay 2 shillings and sixpence each and told to sit at the back.   The club was a roaring success and needed to be managed. So a committee was formed as follows: - Brian Saunders -Chairman, Gerry Haim – Hon. Secretary, Reg Bessy – Treasurer, Eddie Foster – Stage Manager.  We eventually had an equipment manager who was Eric?

The first evening we opened we met up with Jimmy Skidmore who lived a few doors away.  He was at that time one of the most celebrated tenor players representing the UK in the USA and elsewhere.  We soon made him President and were pleased to welcome many of his Pro. Fiends and to see his son Alan eventually become the premier jazz tenor in the Country.

The WMA became very well known in the area because we offered some of the best jazz sessions available and because we were respected as looking after the pay and conditions for musicians. We even created a blacklisting system for bad pianos and offered advice for repairs and tuning in surrounding venues. (no keyboards available then).

Our expanding funds allowed us to book a few Pro players for special nights.  I remember Bobby Orre -Drummer, Kathy Stowbart – tenor, and Humphrey Littleton and others recommended by our President.  Our members provided backing groups as necessary.  We needed to handle our publicity and we appointed George Wallace (drummer) who worked in the print industry.

At about this time the Musicians Union took a big interest and offered a take-over which we refused. I remember allowing them to attend one of our meetings and to give a short presentation about the benefits of becoming a member of the Union.

With our new found funds we set up a Big Band under the direction of Norman ???.  We purchased special arrangements and took over another evening of the pub to rehearse.  I played 2nd alto alongside Connie Peters 1st alto, Jimmy Skidmore 1st ten, Alan Skidmore 2nd Ten.

All our lives changed the night Jack Emblow (Accordion) came to blow.  He was well known for his appearance on BBC radio’s Sing ‘Something Simple’ backing the Cliff Addams’ Singers on a Sunday morning but no one knew his prowess in jazz.  I do not exaggerate when I say half the house were on standing on their chairs in ovation.  He became a regular star with us and with the jazz world. I believe George Wallis went on drums and Bob Payn on bass for this epic session.

In 1966 I was appointed Chief Environmental Health officer at the London Borough of Redbridge which required moving back to East London.  I was reluctant to leave the WMA but it flourished for about a year or more before dying. I tried to repeat the experiment in Essex but without any success or commitment it failed.

I am pleased to list the remaining members of the WMA as my friends and colleagues.

Rose Foster, Rita Wallis, Colin Frechter, Julie Arnold


Back Next Page
© Copyright Coda 2022. All rights reserved worldwide.
[Coda Home] [Welwyn Garden City] [Live Music Venues] [Reviews] [Coda Recording] [The Troggs] [Roger LaVern (Tornados)] [Tim Rice] [Caroline Cronin] [Colin Frechter] [Bob Barratt] [Clem Cattini] [Kenny Hollywood] [Dave Barber] [The Hop] [60's Local Music Scene] [Phase One Disco] [Music Shops] [Our Radio Friends] [Site Map] [Visitor's Messages]