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Ken Colyer's Jazzmen


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Ken Colyer ( 1928 - 1988) was a British traditional jazz revivalist who specialized in the New Orleans jazz and ragtime stylings. He first interfaced with New Orleans players when a young man in the UK’s Merchant Navy and after long jaunts at sea, began looking up familiar names in a New Orleans telephone directory found in the Westminster Public Library. When Ken got to the US, he thought nothing of breaking the strict segregation lines in New Orleans and finally he was looking up and sitting in with greats like George Lewis, Doc Souchon, Lizzie Miles and many others before finally over staying his visa. He eventually was deported from the Crescent City but brought back a newly invigorated appreciation for the old jazz sounds. Back in England he started his band the Jazzmen and in the 1950’s they became the preeminent New Orleans style UK jazz band, playing many concerts, pubs & festivals, and producing some notable records. The stand-outs are their work with Decca including “They all Played Ragtime,” “Club Session With Colyer” and “Colyer Plays Standards,” “Marching Back To New Orleans,” and “Colyer In Hamburg”. He retired eventually to France where he hoped to teach music, but died before fulfilling this quest, and a trust has since been established to carry on his musical legacy and distribute his recordings.

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