About

A brief history….

Victoria Hall

The Jon Hamilton Big Band was formed in 1988 by John Hamilton Puxley, initially as a ‘Rehearsal Band’. This provided the opportunity for musicians, who were normally restricted to playing with small groups, to participate in music in the ‘Big Band Style’, and particularly music of the ‘Swing Era’.

John led on drums and was supported by founder member trombonist Keith Neaves. Keith and another original member, baritone saxophonist Cathy Leaver, are still with us today. Owing to problems of ill health, John retired from playing but continued to front the band until his untimely death in December 1998 Music, photos, recordings etc.

For a number of years, following John’s death, the Band was managed by lead Alto Saxophonist, the late Geoff Featherstone who died in October 2006. During this period, the Band continued under a number of Musical Directors including, Pianist and Film Music Arranger, Julian Kershaw, John Peel (Trumpet), Lyndsey Bennet (Trumpet), Jim Clarke (Trombone) and Composer/Arranger Colin Charman who generously donated a considerable amount of additional music to our library. We are currently directed by our Lead Alto Saxophonist, Richard Melkonian.

Band’s in the swing era often featured both male and female vocalists and we were fortunate in securing the services of two such vocalists, Carole Wilson (of the BBC “Vanessa Show” fame) and Ronnie Collins, both of whom are featured on our CD, “Just For Jon”.

We rehearse on Monday evenings. Initially this was at ‘The Royal Oak’, Wrotham Heath, before moving to ‘The Fleur de Lys’, Leigh, where we gave our first public performance on December 12 1992. We remained at ‘The Fleur de Lys’ until April 1998. Our current venue is the comfortable and palatial music centre at The Judd School, Tonbridge.

Our Musical Director, Richard Melkonian, leads the band from the 1st Alto chair. He hails from Naugatuck, Connecticut and from a very early age played in a variety of dance bands.  He received his BA in music from Yale University, playing in various music groups, and studied classical theory under Allen Forte and Jonathan Kramer, and improvisation with Tom Fay (piano accompanist to the great Gerry Mulligan). He also studied briefly with Fred Lipsius (founding member and saxophonist in Blood, Sweat and Tears) while living in NYC.  He settled in the UK in 1983 and plays in various local and SE groups, as well as teaching saxophone and clarinet.

The Band line-up also includes our two talented vocalists, Ruth Fahie and Nigel Garrard.


Members

Saxophones

Trumpets

Trombones

Richard Melkonian
Ron Montgomery
Mike Wallace
Richard Brennan
John Fisher
Chris Petter
Pat Bacon
David Johnson
Hiliary Dunn
Helen Hardwick
Richard Warren
Keith Neiieve
Cathy Gandlofi

Drums

Bass

Piano

Brian Bell
Steve Curr
Barbara Tate

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