Home Page
What's New Magazine

Sandy Brown Jazz




Mike Hogh

Photograph © Mike Hogh

Jazz trombonist Mike Hogh is one of those respected UK musicians who has always been on people’s call lists. Trying to track his career in jazz is like finding your way through a couple of mazes at the same time.

Mike Hogh (pronounced ‘Ho’) was born in Middlesex in August 1940. His mother, who was in the ATS (Auxiliary Territorial Service), spent part of her labour looking out of the window of the maternity ward describing the Battle of Britain to the other expectant mothers. Mike’s interest in First World War aviation no doubt was inherited from this pre-natal experience!

His parents were not particularly musical although Mike’s grandmother held an LRAM piano diploma, so she must have been pretty good. When the family moved to a converted artist’s studio in Hampstead, Mike went to school at UCS (University College School) where they had a school orchestra. Mike went along with a fancy to learn the trumpet, but as all the school's trumpets had been allocated, he was given a small-bore Hawkes ‘pea-shooter’ trombone. How many times has it happened where fate has intervened and chance led to a musician taking up their instrument?

Mike remembers his mother taking him to hear Louis Armstrong when Louis came to the UK. ‘I was fifteen, and I remember that Vic Lewis was the warm-up band and that Louis played on a revolving bandstand’, says Mike. ‘Jazz was not really encouraged as part of the music curriculum at school, but towards the end of my time at UCS, and really against the Headmaster’s wishes I'm sure, a group of us put together a jazz band. We had John Hodge on clarinet, myself on trombone, Bernard Greenwood on soprano sax, Jeremy Hardy (now an Emeritus Professor of Dentistry) on tea chest bass and John Wonnacott, the well-known portrait artist, on drums. I remember that we used to play in the crypt at the school and in a Scout hut in Hendon’.

Mike Hogh and Willie Garnett


Willie Garnett and Mike Hogh at
The Red Barn in 1976.

Photograph © Mike Hogh


When Mike left school at the end of 1959, he received an offer from BP (British Petroleum) of a university apprenticeship at their Sunbury Research Centre and he spent the next four years travelling backwards and forwards between the company’s facilities in Sunbury and Brighton, returning at weekends to play in a pub in Kentish Town.

‘I had discovered the Tally Ho! pub by then where the Sunday free-for-all sit-in sessions were run by drummer Vic Richards,’ Mike recalls. ‘By 1961, I was playing with Vic’s band in the company of Harry Harrison (trumpet), Wally Moffatt (tenor), Bev Martin (piano) and Ronnie Bott (bass). The members, and most of the sitters-in, were all well-established dance band musicians. We played various functions and later also had a Monday night spot at the Gregorian Arms in Tooley Street. It was my first introduction to the ‘underworld’ where we were advised to ‘be very polite’ to members of the audience! In fact they were very generous and when the collection glass went round at the end, I think it must have been a matter of honour to see who could put the most in. We ended up getting about £7 each a gig from the collection - more than we ever got at the Tally Ho! where the pay was around £2’.

Tally Ho Big Band


The Tally Ho! Big Band 1960s:

Left to Right: Vic Richards; Ziggy Ludvigsen; Lew Hooper; (Trumpet ?); Harry Harrison; Alan Littlejohn; Mike Hogh

Photograph © Mike Hogh



During the early '60s, the Sunday personnel at the Tally Ho! gradually changed, and Mike formed a life-long friendship with trumpeter Alan Littlejohn. They later worked together in Dick Charlesworth's band. Lew Hooper and Ziggy Ludwigson were often on saxes. ‘I think Ziggy was involved with the band Manuel and his Music of the Mountains,’ says Mike. (Ziggy might have played for this band led by Geoff Love, but he also seems to have been involved with a similar easy-listening Latin band Chico Arnez and His Cubano Brass - ed.). At about this time, the fine pianist Alan West had taken over the piano chair. The band also continued to attract many 'sitters-in', including Willie Garnett, Sebastian Freudenberg and, on a couple of very memorable occasions, Ben Webster, who was a friend of Alan Littlejohn's.

‘The Landlady at the Tally Ho! was Lillian Delaney who regularly sang with us and was very proud and supportive of what was then, arguably, one of the best 'jazz pubs' in London. The bands played in the larger of the downstairs bars where they had a stage in the corner. We extended it by using beer crates so that it was big enough to take the enlarged Sunday 'front line'. By 1965 the Sunday band included Brian Lemon on piano, Gerry Salisbury on trumpet and John Richardson on drums. 'They had jazz at the Tally Ho! most nights of the week,' Mike recalls. 'At various times there was John Richardson's Dixieland/Mainstream band on a Monday night (with Alan Littlejohn, Harry Locke, myself, Brian Lemon, and Barry Richardson on bass); Denny Ogden's Octet on Tuesdays, the Alan Littlejohn/Tony Milliner sextet on Wednesdays; a Trad band (Brian Green?) on Thursdays; a trio on Fridays and Saturdays, and the Big Band twice on Sundays.

Denny Ogden Octet


Denny Ogden Octet 1970s

Left to Right: Ron Humphries; Eddie ?; Mike Hogh; Willie Garnett; Dennis Ogden; Alan Stuart; Pianist ? Alan West.

Photograph © Mike Hogh


Before long, Mike was playing with Denny Ogden’s Octet as well, an association that would continue through the 1960s, '70s and '80s. Here Mike joined up again with another life-long friend, saxophonist Willie Garnett - 'a force to be reckoned with both on and off the stage'. Mike remembers a fan of the band who regularly enjoyed a drink. ‘On this occasion, the chap was considerably 'over-refreshed' and came up to the bandstand and started going through our music. I think he was looking for a tune he wanted us to play, but he was being very disruptive and wouldn't take 'No' for an answer. In the end, to the accompaniment of audience applause, Willie took hold of him by the collar and the back of his trousers, marched him to the door and threw him out. Willie came back to the bandstand in fits of laughter "Because his belt broke and his trousers hit the floor before he did!"

'The Tally Ho! jazz sessions finally stopped at the end of the '60s, when the pub changed hands,' says Mike. 'Denny’s Octet left the Tally Ho! and carried on without a regular home until Denny became ill and the leadership was taken on by Alan Stuart, a tenor sax player and film stuntman (occasionally seen these days in re-runs of The Sweeny). In the '70s this band worked more regularly and for a time had a residency at the Bull's Head in Barnes, regularly featuring Henry Lowther, Brian Miller on piano and that great drummer, Art Morgan.' The band, now known as the Alan Stuart Octet is still playing occasionally, but Mike and Willie left them at some time in the 1980s.

Mike was still playing jazz in parallel with his work for BP, and by now he had gained his Ph.D. and was living in London. As semi-professional musicians know, juggling work and music can be demanding. Opportunities did occur when Mike was tempted to turn fully professional - he was invited to take the trombone chair with the Terry Lightfoot band, but somehow Mike always managed to combine his two careers successfully

During the 1970s Mike had joined Brian White's Magna Jazz Band and was alternating Dixieland gigs with the Octet's more modern repertoire. Ultimately, date clashes forced him to choose and, reluctantly, he left Brian's band. Later, maintaining the links with traditionalism, he would join Pete Smith's Dixieland band, working again with another 'old mate', Nick Stephenson, and also with Paul Sealey on guitar. In the '90s, Mike joined Alan Elsdon’s band, an association that went on for many years until Alan was no longer well enough to continue.

Mike Hogh


Mike Hogh

Photograph © Mike Hogh


It was also during the 1970s that pianist and drummer Stan Greig put together the London Jazz Big Band, using a collection of top mainstream musicians of the day including John Picard, Colin Smith, Willie Garnett, Al Gay, Tony Milliner, Al Fairweather, Phil Day and Ray Crane. The band would only play intermittently, but Mike was there from the start: ‘Our first gig was at the 100 Club,’ he recalls. ‘We only had about six arrangements then, so everybody in the band soloed on each of them. Stan was wonderful at talking to the audience and would ramble on almost incoherently, but (at least to the band) very amusingly in what became known as his 'Runcibles' - these later became a feature of LJBB gigs.'

'I remember one frightening occasion when Al Grey, the Basie trombone player, was booked to be featured soloist with us at the London Jazz Festival. Stan was on tour with George Melly and, for my sins, I was acting band manager. I went through the arrangements with Al and explained where we had opened them out to give him spaces to solo. This led to a rather worrying 'stand-off' just before the curtain went up. Al complained that a couple of our arrangements were in different keys to the ones Basie used and he came close to refusing to play at all. In the end, he reluctantly agreed - and of course played beautifully'.

'Around the time of the London Jazz Big Band, cornettist Dick Sudhalter was living in England and had the idea of forming a band that would play a range of different styles of jazz. He called the band ‘Jazz Without Walls’ although Garnett (allegedly) referred to it as ‘Jazz Without Balls’! We played everything from New Orleans to (fairly) Modern jazz. As well as Mike, Sudhalter and Garnett, the line-up included Paul Bridge (bass), Keith Ingham (piano), Fat John Cox (drums) and Susannah McCorkle was the vocalist. Dick, Keith and Susannah all eventually went off the to States, so the band only lasted a relatively short while. I do remember that we recorded an LP, intended as a promotional 'demo', which Dick later issued commercially without anybody's permission - Willie and I didn't even get a copy!'

In the 1980s, pianist Brian Leake formed the band Sweet and Sour. ‘That band would run for sixteen years until the end of the 1990s with the same personnel - quite an achievement!’ says Mike. ‘We were playing small band swing/mainstream jazz in that band. Brian wrote and arranged a lot of the repertoire, although we used some great originals by Colin Smith, who was on trumpet. Willie Garnett was on saxophone, Paul Bridge on bass and Adrian Mackintosh on drums. We did quite a few radio broadcasts, private gigs, a gig at the Royal Festival Hall with Henry Lowther guesting and, each year played in several of the London parks.'

Asking Mike how he managed to keep all these commitments going, he replied: ‘After university I was initially based in Surrey, so London gigs were easy - although I do recall some very late nights and early mornings! Gigs weren't very plentiful (even then!) and the bands I was in weren't too busy, so I was usually able to fit in the job and occasional stints of working abroad quite well.'

Alexis Korner


Alexis Korner


In the early 1980s, Mike's playing took another turn when he was drafted into a band led by Alexis Korner, the ‘Founding Father of British Blues’. 'I remember we went to Eindhoven to play at a festival,' says Mike. 'The band included Colin Hodgkinson (bass guitar), Don Weller and Willie Garnett (tenors), Charlie Hart on violin, Alexis, Ian Stewart (at that time the Rolling Stones pianist) and John Picard and myself on trombones. We were to play at the Eindhoven Stadium, a big event. We spent three really enjoyable days rehearsing (to put together a 40 minute spot!) and we were given vouchers to exchange for food and drink. Soon after we arrived, there was a knock on the door of our rehearsal room and we were asked what drinks we would like? We put in our order for one round, and proffered our vouchers. The guy said ‘no - not needed’, and an hour later - when we had just about given up hope - a sack barrow, stacked to the top with crates of alcohol, beer and bottles of spirits and mixers, was delivered. We thought that was real hospitality - and even more so when the same order was repeated on each of the following days!’

'Shortly after this trip, Ian Stewart formed his own band. I understand that Alexis had given him the idea of a gutsy blues/jazz band with a two-tenor, two-trombone front line, and I was delighted to be asked to be in it. Initially called the Ian Stewart Band, this later became Ian Stewart’s Rockett 88. The personnel included Ian Stewart (piano), Willie Garnett and Olaf Vass (saxophones), John Picard and myself (trombones), Jimmy Roche (guitar), Roger Sutton (bass and vocals) and Clive Thacker (drums). The band played many dates across the UK and Europe and represented the UK at the prestigious Montreaux Jazz Festival in 1984. Rockett stayed together until 1985 when Ian Stewart tragically died at the age of 47.

Charlie Watts band

Charlie Watts band at Ronnie Scott's Club in 1987

Left to Right: Ray Warleigh; Jimmy Deuchar; Derek Wadsworth; Willie Garnett; Chris Pine; Olaf Vass; John Picard; Bill le Sage; Mike Hogh; Danny Moss

'The band was a 36 - piece: this is only a small part!'

Photograph © Mike Hogh


In the early 1980s, the Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, always a lover of jazz, had started his own biggest-of-big bands (36-piece) to play occasional gigs. When Ian Stewart died, the Rolling Stones played a memorial gig at the 100 Club in Oxford Street and Rockett 88 was, of course, included in the line-up. It was after Ian's funeral that Mike was talking to Charlie Watts about Stu, and discovered that someone had told Charlie that Mike would not be available for the big band due to his day-job commitments. 'A week later,' says Mike, 'I received a call from the Stones' office asking if I would join the band, and I discovered that Alan Cohen and other arrangers had been asked to amend the arrangements to include another trombone part! Charlie is a really kind man, and this was one of the nicest surprises ever! The band did a week at Ronnie Scott's and two American tours in the late '80s, and I managed to juggle my BP annual leave to go on both. We played the Hollywood Bowl, the Apollo Theatre in New York, and played at the Newport Festival. Quite clearly, running a band that big could never be profitable, and we realised that Charlie must be subsidising it pretty heavily. The band folded in the late '80s, but was an adventure of a lifetime!

The 1990s Mike started to play with Dick Laurie's Elastic Band. The band has now been playing regularly in a Putney pub for over a decade and currently features Alan Berry, Paul Sealey, Ken Reece and Rex Bennett. The 1990s also saw Mike begin playing in another Dixieland band, Goff Dubber’s Dixieland Express. The one-time Acker Bilk trombone player Johnny Mortimer had left and Mike was drafted in. This band, having only played infrequently up until recently, has now been given a new lease of life, and comprises Goff (clarinet and sax), Ken Reece (trumpet and cornet), Mike on trombone, Paul Sealey (guitar and banjo), Andy Lawrence (bass) and Colin Miller (drums).

In 2012, although Mike has retired from the day job, and although Alan Elsdon’s band and the Sweet and Sour band gigs have wound up, Mike is still playing trombone regularly. The gigs with Dixieland Express and at the Half Moon in Putney continue, and following an introduction by his great friend, the trombonist, pianist, composer and arranger, Eddie Harvey, Mike now sits in the trombone section of the Barnes Big Band led by ex-Ted Heath trumpeter Stan Reynolds. The band rehearses weekly in Barnes and has played at the Bull’s Head, POSK in Hammersmith, for various charity functions, often in partnership with Willie Garnett’s Waddock Big Band

The Barnes Big Band liaises quite closely with Pete Cook’s band from the Royal College of Music and students from the college frequently dep. in the big band which they apparently refer to as 'The old men's band'..

It is strange how life sometimes turns full circle. Mike says: ‘I had been doing the occasional dep. for Dave Chandler and his band at a pub in Primrose Hill. Who should turn up one evening but Sebastian Freudenberg, the baritone player I remembered from the Tally Ho!. Seb kindly invited me to play with a band that he calls Jazz Docs – because the front line are all doctors – Seb was a GP, Art Themen a surgeon – I explained that I was not a medical Dr., but that didn’t seem to matter.'

It comes as no surprise that Mike is also asked to dep. regularly with several other bands and although he talks of taking life easier, there is not much sign of him doing so. Long may that continue.


Dave Bowen says of the Denny Ogden Octet photograph above:

'The pipe would suggest strongly that the bass player is likely to be Brian Brocklehurst, former Humph sideman. Happy memories of the Tally Ho! on Sundays. I saw Ben Webster in the audience there once, but sadly he didn't play on that occasion.'


© Mike Hogh and Sandy Brown Jazz 2012 - 2015

Home Page
What's New Magazine
Like us on FacebookFacebook