New year heralds MBE honour for Jordanstown trumpet veteran

THE leader of Ireland's longest established and most successful jazz band has been recognised in the Queen's New Year's Honours list.

Mr George Hill Chambers from Lenamore Park in Jordanstown has been awarded the MBE for services to jazz music in Northern Ireland.

The trumpet player who began playing the trumpet-cornet in 1955 and is listed in the Who's Who of British Jazz, is set to celebrate his 72nd birthday later this month.

He played with the Crescendo Jazzmen in the 50s and 60s before going on to form the well known Apex Jazz Band in 1966. Mr Chambers also set up the Belfast Jazz Society that same year.

Steeped in the custom of traditional New Orleans jazz, the Apex Jazz Band's repertoire includes classic material from such greats of the genre as Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Duke Ellington, Jelly Roll Morton, George Lewis, Kird Ory and Bunk Johnston, to name but a few.

Marches, spirituals, rags, blues, stomps and pop tunes from the jazz age may all be found in the band's well-balanced, entertaining programme, and such is its universal appeal, the band is still performing to this day.

Band leader Mr Chambers told the Times he was "surprised and astounded" to hear he was to receive the MBE - adding that he was most intrigued as to who had believed him worthy and put his name forward for such an honour.

"It has all been good fun," he said of his time with the Apex Jazz Band, now in its 45th year.

"Being part of the band has allowed me to travel and visit places I would never have gone to, and to meet so many lovely people I'd otherwise never have met. It really has been a wonderful experience."

Read the full story in this week's Times...