Tommy McQuater 1914 - 2008
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Tommy McQuater was born in Maybole on the 4th of Sept 1914 and died on January 20th 2008. ( See story in  Telegraph below ) Although he received tuition in a brass band, he was largely self-taught. He began playing professionally with Louis Freeman, whose band performed on transatlantic liners, then worked with the bandleaders Jack Payne (1934) and Lew Stone (1934-5). He spent two years with Bert Ambrose (1936-8) before playing briefly with the Heralds of Swing (1939); he returned for a short time to Ambrose, then during and after the war played with the Squadronaires, making several recordings. After performing with a pit band called the Skyrockets (1952-3), he played mainly in radio and television, at first as a member of Cyril Stapleton's BBC Showband, then as a staff musician in television under Jack Parnell. He continued to work as a freelance player into the 1980s. Among the many leaders with whom McQuater recorded were Benny Carter (1936-7), Danny Polo (1937), George Chisholm (1938, 1944-5, 1961), John Dankworth (1955, 1961), and Benny Goodman (1969); his playing is well represented on Chisholm's Rosetta (1938, Decca F7015). Courtesy of The New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, © Macmillan Reference Ltd 1988 Autographed photo contributed by Bill McCubbin. Click on the image for a full size photo or here for a very large image.

Story from the Telegraph

Jazz trumpeter whose professional career began in the swing era and ended in the 1990s

Tommy McQuater, who died on January 20 aged 93, was a veteran of the inter-war British jazz scene.

Once described as "the brightest young British trumpet soloist of his era", he continued working at the highest professional level into the 1990s. He was one of the rare players able to combine the diverse roles of lead trumpet and soloist, and he perhaps failed to gain his full credit as a jazz musician.


Tommy McQuater

Tommy McQuater: played with George Chisholm in the 1930s and with the Muppets in the 1970s

Thomas Mossie McQuater was born at Maybole, Ayrshire, on September 4 1914. Largely self-taught, he began playing the cornet at the age of 11 and within a short time became a member of the Maybole Brass Band. He played for local dances while at school, and in his mid-teens turned professional with Louis Freeman's band at Green's Playhouse, Glasgow. Freeman also supplied bands to transatlantic liners, enabling McQuater to visit the United States and South America while still a teenager.

Spotted by the bandleader Jack Payne in 1934, McQuater played with his band in London and Paris before joining Lew Stone's band in 1935, where he replaced Nat Gonella, Britain's first jazz trumpet star.

From September 1936 McQuater played with the Ambrose orchestra, as a member of which he was now among the élite of the popular music world. During those years he made many jazz recordings, notably with the American bandleader and multi-instrumentalist Benny Carter (1936-37), the Swing Rhythm Boys (1936) and Danny Polo and his Swing Stars (1937). In these unbuttoned circumstances his fiery, sometimes explosive, playing sounds remarkably advanced for the period.

Judging that this might be the moment to launch a pure swing band, as distinct from a dance band which played occasional swing numbers, in February 1939 McQuater joined with a fellow Scot, the trombonist George Chisholm, and eight others to form the Heralds of Swing.

This brave co-operative venture met with mixed fortunes. It secured a residency at the Paradise Club and appeared at two of the rare jazz concerts to be held in London. In the spring of that year, however, it was forced to disband through lack of work. Briefly revived for two broadcasts and another concert, it expired in September, on the outbreak of war.

Called up in 1940, McQuater soon found himself in familiar company, along with Chisholm and several other Heralds of Swing, in the RAF Dance Orchestra, known (unofficially at first) as the Squadronaires. McQuater eventually rose to the rank of corporal.

Partly as a result of the presence of American troops, the influence of American swing became strong during the war years. It was particularly marked in the music of the Squadronaires, whose members declared themselves impressed by Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band and, especially, Sam Donahue's Navy Band.

Swing grew into such a craze that even Victor Sylvester, the doyen of strict tempo ballroom dancing, found himself unable to ignore it. The bizarre result was Victor Sylvester's Jive Band, a specially formed group featuring McQuater and Chisholm, which made a number of records in 1944-45. The sound of two feisty Scots jazzmen manfully restraining themselves in the interests of strict-tempo decorum constitutes their chief attraction today.

So popular did the Squadronaires become that they stayed together as a civilian band after the war, finally disbanding in 1964. McQuater, however, left to become a freelance musician, and in 1952 he joined the Skyrockets, resident band at the London Palladium.

The following year he joined the BBC Show Band, under the leadership of Cyril Stapleton, combining this with freelance work in the burgeoning film, television and recording industry. He can be seen playing in the cult British thriller All Night Long (1961).

From the early 1960s McQuater was a member of Jack Parnell's ATV orchestra, providing music for all that company's programmes, principally Sunday Night At The London Palladium.

In 1976 The Muppet Show went into production at Borehamwood studios, with music by the cream of the London freelance world. McQuater played the entire run, from 1976 to 1981, and his trumpet provided the sound of the manic "Lips", a member of the Muppet band, Electric Mayhem.

In later years McQuater concentrated once more on his jazz playing. He formed an alliance with fellow-trumpeter Johnny McLevy and they performed together at London jazz venues and, in particular, at the annual Ealing Jazz Festival, where he was a kind of de facto artist-in-residence.

His last playing appearance took place there, just before his 90th birthday.

Although self-taught himself, McQuater was an effective and inspiring teacher. The well-known trumpeters whom he helped during their early years include Pat Halcox, Alan Elsdon, Digby Fairweather and Ian Carr.

Tommy McQuater is survived by two sons, both professional musicians.