[Dixielandjazz] Tom Wood Bio

Tom Wood zenith at ans.com.au
Thu Sep 4 19:50:17 PDT 2003

Dear All,

In my absence overseas, many thanks to Jerry Gordon and Jane Lynch for sending for me copies of the list of DJML Bios.  As suggested by Bob Ringwald this has prompted me to belatedly respond and introduce myself to others on this impressive list.  


Our band (Sydney-Zenith) often hands out caricatures of the seven-piece to the audience.  We usually announce that this "FREE offer" as a marketing ploy to get people to the band CD table mentioning that it can double as a dartboard.  The reverse side of the sheet features band mugshots and biography.  I have just expanded a little from that handout. 


Tom Wood - Piano/Keyboard/Band Manager

Born in Edinburgh 11th September 1938 and after a downhill run from Altar Boy and Queen Scout became involved in the local jazz scene in the late 50s.  He joined the UK Climax JB not long after its formation, playing piano at the Stud Club, where the entire George Lewis Band sat in whilst on tour in Britain in 1959.  .  Discussed chord sequences with Joe Robichaux (replacing Alton Purnell on that tour).  Have photographs of us with Kid Howard, Jim Robinson, Joe Watkins, Alcide Pavageau and George Lewis at our basement STUD CLUB owned by bass player Jim Young.  The club was very popular at that time and I recall talking to Aker Bilk (who visited the club saying he did not mind bowing to commercialism as he had a wife and kids to feed) just after his Stranger on the Shore hit the charts.  As a budding structural engineer at the time we unofficially extended the club through a couple of adjacent properties (at basement level) placing my designed steel beams to span and knocked the brickwork out underneath, underpinning the basement area to obtain sufficient headroom and double the plan size of the club.  The adjacent tenement property owners never ever knew we did it but we later got wind of being raided (some police fans warned us) and I bricked up the walls again also removing a cigarette vending machine (a new idea at the time) I had installed, just as the club was about to be closed down.  Some of the band had to go to court for running an unruly house.  Some professional girls had started attending the club soliciting customers and we had instigated a pass out stamp (pressed onto your hand) to the PUB in the interval.  However, things finally got a bit out of hand and we regrettably had to close down.  I have fond memories of that period in my life and every one of the original Edinburgh Climax band is alive and well mostly running their own bands.  


After a break from music, during which time Tom qualified as a Structural/Civil Engineer, he married a New Zealander and moved down under to Sydney setting up his own consulting practice that he ran successfully for over 10 years.  He later returned to jazz and was invited to join the Zenith just before they initiated jazz at the well-known Strawberry Hills venue and played there for over 5 years.  His rolling rhythm-punching piano contributes to a solid rhythm section that lifts guides and helps the ensemble swing to give the integrated Zenith sound.  Tom arranged and played in all 11 Zenith overseas tours including the Climax Reunions sponsoring their Australian visit in 1992 and in 1999, organised their 40th Reunion at Edinburgh & Brecon jazz festivals and the Düsseldorf Jazz Rally.  The Zenith have played in numerous major (International) jazz festivals, concerts and clubs including some gospel services in Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, India, Isle of Man, Japan, Northern Ireland, Norway, Switzerland, UK and USA including short hotel residencies overseas with many repeat invites proving the band's popularity.   


Thirst for travel with a goal to gain "100 Club" membership with only 14 countries left to reach the magic number.  Enjoys late dinners, Cohiba cigars, Pernod, and most forms of music.  As I do not consider myself a pianist, I get my musical kicks from being a rhythm section player with emphasis on the beat, timing and swinging the ensemble.  Finally, I think there is a good reservoir of talent, jazz knowledge, useful contacts and experience on this great DJML site of interesting people.  And is also a great source of anecdotes, entertainment and potential book/film rights.

Cheers and beers,









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