(Trevor William Swale Born: Brixton 18 February 1931 - Died: Tooting 15 September 2010)
Imagine a mischievous15-year-old schoolboy, dedicated to causing chaos and confusion in all directions. Now imagine him grown up, wielding a baritone saxophone and in nominal charge of a 16-piece band, and you have Trevor Swale leading the New Delta Big Band. Strangely, the band has succeeded in attracting and retaining a lot of very good musicians over the years. Just as unaccountably, it has also attracted a loyal regular following at the Lord Napier, Thornton Heath, despite Trevor's unique announcing style. (Enter slightly untidy, bearded punter: "Here comes Wurzel Gummidge! Now we can start. Sweepers! Man your brooms!")
In his disorderly way, and apparently without realising it, Trevor possessed a magnetic personality. I think he was also the strongest-willed person I ever met. That's what enabled him to carry on for more than 12 years through the increasingly severe ravages of Parkinson's Disease. He eventually had to give up playing, and finally, when his speech became unintelligible, even fronting the band. But that was only a few weeks before his death, at the age of 79, on 15th September.
Trevor Swale became a jazz convert in 1948, the first flush of the post-war jazz revival, and took up the clarinet soon afterwards. He taught himself, mostly while doing his National Service in the RAF, when he was supposed to be tracking aircraft. To the clarinet he added an impressive array of saxophones, from soprano to bass, which he played with the New Dixie Syncopators - resident at the Half Moon, Putney on Sunday afternoons throughout much of the 1960s and well into the '70s - and the Mississippi Ramblers. This four-piece band, designed to play at fetes, fairs, and community jollifications around the south-east, also featured Mike Daniels on trumpet, and the connection between Mike and Trevor was a long-lasting one. Trevor occasionally played as extra man with the Mike Daniels Delta Jazzmen - and, of course, it was Mike's big band which turned into the New Delta band when Mike emigrated for a period to Spain.
Perhaps Trevor's most memorable single performance was in a television programme entitled Lowest of the Low, broadcast by BBC2 in (I think) 1987. Written and presented by Russell Davies, it amounted to an act of homage to the bass saxophone, the climax being a rendition of 'Sweet Georgia Brown' by no less than seven of them, with Trevor and Harry Gold among the players - or should that be 'contestants'? Anyway, it was exactly the kind of mad enterprise that Trevor delighted in.
The New Delta Big Band continues to appear at the Lord Napier twice a month, and still plays some things from the original Mike Daniels book - Fletcher Henderson, McKinney's Cotton Pickers, early Ellington etc - along with swing, latter-day Basie and so on. We even play the odd Glenn Miller number. (Cue Trevor Swale announcement: "Glenn Miller, shot down in 1945 by a music-loving Luftwaffe pilot.")
We shall just have to manage without him.
DAVE GELLY© Copyright 2010
Croydon Jazz Musician Peter Joyce Dies
A memorial celebration for the talented and popular saxophone player and multi instrumentalists Peter Joyce was held on Sunday 19th of June 2009 at The Green Dragon Pub. Croydon's leading Jazz Venue It was attended by a large number of musicians and friends to celebrate his life.
Pete played saxophone in his own band "The Pete Joyce Quartet" and the penny whistle in the traditional Irish band "Homebrood"
He was a popular musician who helped many aspiring jazz musicians to play by running a Jazz Jam session at the Green Dragon Pub in Croydon.
His is a great loss to the Croydon music scene and will be sadly missed by musicians, friends and fans.
It started - as all good folk band stories should - after staying up all night drinking. My cousin, Jon, and me, Bob, were at that moment listening to one of my folk CDs and had been discussing everything from Kafka to kittens, when he looked at me suddenly and said "I'm going to play the drum". So then I took it to be incumbent upon me to teach him the bodrhan. Very quickly he learnt to master this wonderful Irish icon, and very quickly he learnt to take the barrage of drummer jokes that obviously ensued. His girlfriend, the lovely Marie-Claire, pointed out that her mother wanted to have a barn dance for her retirement party and we decided that we should play. Then followed eighteen months of procrastination and about three weeks of practice before we blew the roof off a little church hall in Selsdon. Since then we have played together in pubs, bars, houses, gardens, weddings, Pirate themed charity nights, the turning on of Croydon's Christmas lights, and been interviewed and broadcast on local radio. We are very priviledged to have join us two exceptional musicians called Dan and Duncan. They have only been with us since November 2006 and already have brought a superb new texture and energy to the music. We were also joined by the late Pete Joyce who was a truly wonderful whistle player (as well as oboe, sax and a heap of other instruments) who completes the distinctive Homeebrood sound.
Listen to Homebrood on myspace
|Pete Joyce Busking by the River Thames|
Pete can be seen at the end of this video. Forward the Slide Bar Control at the bottom to 5.55
|The Pete Joyce Quartet|
Listen to Pete on myspace
Play some numbers by The Pete Joyce Quartet featured on myspace. You can also download some images.
|Croydon Guardian News Item|
Hundreds mourn death of Croydon musician Pete Joyce
2:20pm Tuesday 21st July 2009
By Kirsty Whalley
Hundreds of people mourned the death of a talented local musician who died last week, days before his birthday. Pete Joyce had arranged to celebrate his birthday on Sunday at the Green Dragon, one of the many pubs in Croydon where he performed, with a special live gig.
However, the 31-year-old died on Monday of a suspected overdose.
Mr Joyce was well known in Croydon as a talented musician and could often be seen busking around the borough. He also taught music. He was in a number of bands and played a variety of instruments including the saxophone, oboe, penny whistle and flute.
He was renowned as an exceptional jazz player. Duncan White, who played in a folk band with Mr Joyce called Home Brood, paid tribute to his friend of three years. He said: I was very shocked and saddened when I heard about his death. He was such a cheerful, bubbly person, always upbeat and up for a laugh. When I think of him, I will think of him smiling and playing. I will always remember him as a fun loving person with an amazing gift for music.
Mr Joyce taught music all around London and played gigs in The Green Dragon as well as The Brief pubs. He could often be seen busking in North End and played in the recent St Patricks day celebrations. Mr White said: He always had time to speak to people and encourage them.
He touched a lot of peoples lives, so many knew and loved him. It is a sad situation, especially for his family. He would have played with hundreds of people, he was very versatile. So many of them turned up on Sunday . There were people there from so many different walks of life who did not know each other but wanted to pay tribute to Pete.
An inquest has been opened and adjourned into his death.
Did you know Mr Joyce? Let us know by email here, phone the newsdesk on 020 8330 9555 or leave a tribute below.