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Gig Tomorrow

TUXEDO JUNCTION, Sunday The Sirloin of Beef, Eastney, 1.30pm-4.30pm.

Rod adds “Depending on numbers, this might change to 2pm-5pm”

Not sure if he means musical numbers, audience numbers, National Lottery numbers or his age in years …



The Commodore Jazz Band

Mike asks is it Frank Hurlock but I think the answer is no. In this photo they’ve signed their names – Ted’s writing notably more elegant than the others – but clarinet looks like R Jenkins (?). For Mike, however, below is a photo of fans at a jazz night at the Railway Hotel, with Frank front, third from right; suit, tie, pocket h/chief.

Commodore JB 001 (1)


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Ted Two

The Commodore Jazz Band began doing “real sessions” and Ted recalled gigs at a variety of local venues, including the Community Centre and Greyhound in Leigh Park,Drayton Community Hall, Portchester Sea Scouts Centre, a Works Social at the Winchester Arms and then a couple of notable venues, the Railway Hotel behind Fratton Station, and ‘Tina’s’ in Hampshire Terrace which would become the Bottle in the Wall, the Indigo Vat, Scandals etc.

He remembered other gigs at the Rock Gardens Pavilion, a school hall in Kent Road (?), the Cormorant in Portchester, and Fisher’s Club in Marmion Road. There were rehearsals at Cosham’s ‘Old House at Home’, and sessions sitting in with bands at the Star, Lake Road and the Cobden Arms in Arundel Street where Cuff Billet’s Vieux Carre band played every week.


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Ted Laker’s Jazz Memories

Ted passed notes and memories of the old jazz days around Pompey to brother Graham. He was a modest man despite appearing in local print and on radio, but Graham is happy to share these memories with us and they will appear in parts over the next few days. Here’s the first part:

Ted’s interest in jazz was aroused listening to players like Bix Beiderbecke (cornet), Joe Venuti (violin) and Eddie Lang (guitar) backing Bing Crosby on his early records. In the mid-1950s, Ted bought a trumpet from ‘Foreman’s Second Hand Dealers’ in Lake Road, and took lessons in Southsea from Stan Emptage, who played in the local Benny Freedman’s Orchestra (also included Jock Shulman father of the Simon Dupree brothers).

Ted bought a better instrument from Courtney & Walker’s, in those days in Arundel Street, and spotted an item in the local Evening News seeking players for a forthcoming ‘New Orleans’ band (I’m assuming then following the UK example of Ken Colyer’s Bands). 

He began rehearsing with them which went well, and they met regularly in the Winchester Arms (Copnor) and after six months played their first gig there, followed by one at a Copnor Church Hall then at St Mary’s Hospital Social Club and a Hilsea Church Hall. The notes don’t say, but I think this is the Commodore Jazz Band (see below).

 To be continued


Ted Laker

Graham’s brother Ted, a most interesting, informative man, died recently. Graham has sent this tribute:

“My brother Ted, at the age of 85, finally lost his brave battle with cancer on the 13th January.

You and some of your bloggers may well remember his regular letters in The Portsmouth News. He was always quick to fire off a few paragraphs to inform readers of the death of an old cowboy star, an anniversary of the publication of a certain Sherlock Holmes story or even the birthday of Mickey Mouse. He was also a good cartoonist with many reproduced in the same newspaper.

In the early sixties he joined and played trumpet in The Commodore New Orleans Jazz Band playing around the many local jazz venues of the time – The Winchester Arms, Railway Hotel, Fishers Club etc etc. He also became a friend of Ken Colyer who paid many visits to Portsmouth.

In his seventies, he became a broadcaster for Angel Radio and made some 400 x 45 minute shows featuring some of his favourite musicians (Bunk Johnson, Gus Cannon’s Jug Stompers, The Boswell Sisters etc etc) plus over 700 shows featuring Country Music, he wanted none of his heroes to be forgotten or unappreciated. All these shows were painstakingly scripted in longhand and timed to perfection. They are still being broadcast at 4pm every Monday.

He was probably one of the last of the old jazz men from this area, his knowledge of the cinema and music (at least up to 1959)  was second to none. Even in his last days, I would ask him if he could still remember the names of The Marx Brothers or the date when Louis Armstrong and his Hot Five recorded ‘West End Blues’, which he could, without hesitation.

There is a saying that when an old man dies, a library burns down – never truer than in Ted’s case. His funeral will be at Portchester Crematorium on the 31st January at 3.15pm. Anyone wishing to attend, would be very welcome. No flowers, please, contributions to Cancer Research.

Photos of Ted and the Commodore Jazz Band:

ted 3 001

commodore jazz band 001