BACK in December 1961 the Evening Times reported that the next big Scottish import to England would be trad jazz. By the end of the following month, it said, there would be no fewer than five all-Scots professional bands “challenging the auld enemy in a new field”.

Some bands were going even further; a group led by Glasgow trumpeter Dean Kerr was currently playing to 500 fans each night in East Germany. Another Scots band was hoping to follow in the footsteps by the English jazz trombonist, Chris Barber, with an American tour in 1962.

John Martin, Scottish agent for three of the England-bound trad jazz bands, said that Scottish groups were just as good as their English counterparts.

A case in point were the Clyde Valley Stompers, who in 1958 had become the first British jazz band to be invited to appear at a Royal Variety Performance – “even though”, the Evening Times added, “there were so many artists in the show that the band went on stage but didn’t play a note!”

The Stompers, seen here in 1957 with Mary McGowan as vocalist, were formed in 1952 and quickly established an extensive and enthusiastic Scottish fan-base. They had a UK top 30 hit in 1962 with Peter and the Wolf.

The band broke up in the early 1960s when they were at their peak, packing dance-halls across the country.

In September 1981, however, following extensive efforts to track down the members, the Stompers got back together for a string of reunion dates.

Photographed (main image, by Arthur Kinloch) are: back row – Ian Menzies, John Cairns, Murray Smith, Jim McHarg, Norrie Brown; front row: Malcolm Higgins, Fiona Duncan and Forrie Cairns.

“I am pleased to see we have not been forgotten”, said Ian Menzies, “and we aim to give our best”.

Alison Kerr interview with Fionna Duncan, June 2018

Read more: Herald Diary