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Andy Hague


Andy Hague


West Country trumpeter, drummer, bandleader, composer and arranger Andy Hague has quietly made a valuable contribution to jazz over the past twenty years.

Born in Harrow, his family soon moved to Croydon where Andy grew up and went to WhitgiftAndy Hague School. The school had an active musical life and Andy joined the Whitgift Corps of Drums marching band playing snare drum and bugle. His bugle playing was the catalyst for moving to the trumpet and by fifteen he was playing in the school’s dance band. The band only played for school functions and parents' evenings, but it introduced Andy to big band music and the tunes and arrangements of Glenn Miller and Benny Goodman.

Andy Hague
Photograph by Walter Dirks


‘Several of us from the dance band got together as a small group,’ Andy recalls. ‘One of the group was Pete Long who now leads the Echoes Of Ellington band. I was playing both drums and trumpet at that point.’

Through his teens Andy played with the county’s wind band and youth orchestra. He was taking percussion lessons but gradually his trumpet playing was taking over.

When he left Whitgift, Andy headed for Bristol University to read Psychology. Inevitably he became involved in the music scene around the city joining such bands as The Glee Club which played Louis Jordan Jump Jive music and included drummer Clive Deamer and guitarist Adrian Utley, who would later find fame with the band Portishead. Bristol had a thriving music scene with jazz at The Albert, where Andy played many times, and saxophonist Andy Sheppard was also making his mark in the area at that time.

Graduating from university at twenty-two with a Psychology degree, Andy was thoroughly immersed in the local music community playing in big bands alongside players such as Martin Genge and Frank Fennell. He decided that was where his future lay rather than in the world of psychology.

‘I was living in a shared student house at the time,’ Andy says. ‘I had managed to get some part-time work teaching in a school, I was tutoring people who wanted to learn drums and in the evenings and at weekends I was getting as many gigs as I could.’

It was around this time that the legendary Bristol Be-Bop Club was founded. ‘There were two guys,’ Andy remembers. ‘Arnie Somogyi, a bass player, and Andrea Papini, a blind Italian pianist. In 1988 or 1989 they opened the club at a pub called The Crown and Anchor near the junction of Jacobs Wells Road and Hotwells Road in Bristol. It was a very active club with great support from the students and the university. We played there regularly although the income was based on the takings at the door. People were paying about £1 or £2 to come in.’

‘By 1992 I needed a more regular income, so I took a job at the Bristol Music Shop. Dave Ford who now plays lead trumpet with the UK Glenn Miller Orchestra was also working there at the time, and when Dave eventually left, Jim Blomfield replaced him.’ Andy stayed at the Music Shop for the next eight years.

His contact with the Be-Bop Club continued and in 1993, Andy offered to help with the band bookings and programming. The Club had moved from the Crown and Anchor down the Hotwells The Bear BristolRoad to The Bear where it has remained as a focus for jazz in Bristol ever since – in no small way thanks to Andy.


The Bear, Hotwells Road.


‘When Arnie and Andrea left,’ says Andy. ‘The club was taken over by bassist Dave Griffiths. Dave has moved into the Folk scene now playing mandolin as well as bass, but for a while we had Mingus Fingers, a band playing the music of Charles Mingus. Eventually Dave moved on, but I continued with the programming and bookings and various people have helped with the door and takings on club days. Robin Denford has been a great help for over ten years now.’

‘There were two main jazz clubs at the time,’ Andy continues. ‘The Be-Bop Club booked local bands and The Albert Inn hosted touring bands. As the Be-Bop Club became more well-known, we increasingly received requests to play from bands outside the area. I still try to book local bands regularly however, as I think it is important to have a venue that supports local talent at the same time as booking bands from elsewhere.’

‘We do not have a large income from the club, but many of the touring bands now have funding from organisations like Jazz Services or PRS. We have had grants in the past to equip the room at The Bear, and we have been fortunate to receive grants from the Musicians Union, the National Lottery Arts For Everyone Scheme for the PA system and the Foundation For Sport and The Arts for our piano. We have always had a good relationship with The Bear where the licensees John O’Neill and his daughter Bev let us use the room. People coming to the club naturally use the pub’s bar during the evening.’

When Andy left Bristol Music Shop in 2000 he decided to set up his own internet music book shop 'Musicsender', selling music online. Starting from a small office and then working from home, the business did well in its early years until music publishers started selling online through their own websites, and eventually Andy closed his business in 2007.

His teaching work has subsequently expanded, and he teaches regularly at Sidcot School giving instrumental lessons and running the school jazz group. Andy has run Bristol Jazz Workshops for over ten years and tutors the jazz group at Cotham School. He has also taught at several summer schools including Dartington and Falmouth-Yamaha.

Andy has just released his latest Quintet album, Cross My Palm, on his own label Ooh-Err Records. ‘It is important to record your music from time to time,’ he says, ‘so that people know what you are playing at the moment.’

His first recording was in 1990. ‘My quintet which included Theo Travis at the time put an album together on tape,’ he says. ‘My first CD, For Real, came out in 1994 with the Brass Reality band. It was an eight piece group that did really well. We toured and played the Festivals at Edinburgh, Brecon and Swanage, but it fizzled out around 2000.’

The Andy Hague Quintet released Portrait Of the Artist, an album of original tunes in 1996 followed by Walk The Walk in 2002 and Sun And Air in 2006.

Cross My Palm albumThe new album, Cross My Palm, is also an album of original compositions and arrangements by Andy and has received congratulatory reviews.

Writing in The Independent, Phil Johnson says: ‘Following once fashionable but now neglected hard-bop trumpet-men Kenny Dorham and Lee Morgan, Hague contrasts catchy themes with Kenny Wheeler-esque harmonies to create witty music that’s obvious and subtle at the same time.’ (Click here for review).

For All About Jazz, Bruce Lindsay writes: ‘Cross My Palm is a straight-ahead jazz album that bristles with energy, fun and great grooves – and swings like a very swinging thing too.’ (Click here for review).

‘We first tried it out by recording it live at the Be-Bop Club,’ Andy says. ‘We took two tracks from that recording and put down the rest later in the music room at QEH School in Bristol. As often happens, it can take a while to produce an album. It is not easy to get busy band members together and I wanted to take my time over the editing and mixing. The title track in five is a nod to Horace Silver who I have always admired.’ (Andy has a group called Silverado that plays Horace Silver numbers).

The CD includes Ben Waghorn on tenor and alto saxophones who Andy has known since his university days and who has played regularly with Andy since the 1990s. Pianist Jim Blomfield is also a long-standing member of Andy’s quintet. Jim moved to Bristol in the early 1990s and later worked with Andy at the Bristol Music Shop. ‘I was pleased to have Will Harris (double bass) and Mark Whitlam (drums),’ says Andy. ‘They have built up a reputation for being a rhythm section who play well together.’

Guesting on the album are tenor saxophonist Jake McMurchie (from Get The Blessing) and Brigitte Berehavocalist Brigitte Beraha. ‘I really like the way we were able to develop the three-part voicings on the tracks where Jake joined us,’ Andy says, ‘and I had met Brigitte when I have been tutoring at summer schools. She is London-based and has been making an impact with her Flying Dreams album and her Babel Fish recording with Barry Green.’ (Click here for Brigitte's website)


Brigitte Bereha


Andy Hague plays a Harrelson trumpet. ‘I have been trying out different mouthpieces over the past year,’ says Andy. ‘The one in the photo on the album is a Taylor mouthpiece.’

Bristol continues to have a thriving jazz scene, although some venues come and go. Long-established venues include the Colston Hall and St George’s which provide concert hall settings, the Colston Hall Foyer now hosts occasional informal gigs, and The Old Duke in King Street has been there for many years, The Canteen and Harbourside bars stage some jazz gigs and the Coronation Tap in Clifton also hosts good gigs of different music styles, including jazz.

‘The Be-Bop Club has always been a sit-down-and-listen venue,’ says Andy. ‘There are other venues where people come and either listen to the music or sit and chat, and sometimes I wonder whether the Be-Bop Club should be more informal, but the people who come seem to like it because they can appreciate the music. If that is what people want, I see no reason to change what we have been doing over the past years.’

The Bear is currently extending its support for jazz with Andrew Colman running classes for adults there on Wednesdays in addition to the sessions that Andy Hague runs on Tuesdays. For many years the Bear in Hotwells Road has been a corner stone keeping jazz alive in the city. This is in no small part down to Andy Hague who well deserves his reputation as a key figure in West Country jazz.

You can sample Andy’s album Cross My Palm by clicking here. Try the samples of tracks Drip Drop, The Boss, and Hands Up.

Click here for a video of Andy playing with Jonny Bruce at Bristol Harbourside. This was a newish and rather occasional salsa band Conjunto Gringo,' Andy says. 'It was filmed by someone at the Harbourside Bar in December 2011. There's Jonny and myself (trumpets), Nick Dover (sax) who was depping for Ben Waghorn on this gig, Nick Attwood (trombone), Jim Blomfield (piano), Thad Kelly (bass), Lisa Cherian (congas) and Andy Tween (drums).

Click here for Andy’s website.


© Sandy Brown Jazz 2012 - 2015

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