Stiperstones photo
The Devil’s Chair, Stiperstones, Shropshire


For years I have wanted to put some of my compositions on the Web, not because they are particularly wonderful but it meant I would have to make them as good and accurate as possible. These months at home have been the perfect opportunity and it seems that at last I really do have a website of some of my compositions – hope it all works.

Strange name, but Dogpole, for those of you who don’t know Shropshire’s county town, is a narrow medieval street in Shrewsbury and, many years ago, there was an upstairs room in the nearby pub – The Old Lion Tap – where I used to play with a band called The Jazz Company. So this has been a long time in the making!

Some of the pieces, however, have been recorded and are on CD but with different bands, but all the pieces on Dogpole Music, so far, are arranged for Octet – 3 saxophones (alto, tenor and baritone), trumpet, trombone and rhythm section (piano, bass and drums). I’ve chosen the Octet as it is the halfway point between a small jazz group and a big band and has been used throughout the history of jazz. The breadth of the instrumentation of the line-up gives greater opportunity to explore the colour and texture of the music and, within the Octet, nearly every main jazz instrument is represented. It has been great doing it. My intention is to add pieces as I do them and I’ll let you know!

I owe a debt of gratitude to bands that I have played with in the last few years, Westcoastin’ and the 14 strong Dragon Band, which up till March 2020, met every Wednesday evening, just over the Welsh border in Churchstoke. I’ve really enjoyed arranging music for these musicians and they have helped me develop and improve the pieces that are on the website. I also have to thank the remarkable Steve Bingham who has devised the website, Stuart Anthony who has, on so many occasions, photographed the musicians at the concerts at Leasowes Bank Farm and is now allowing me to use these and his evocative images of Shropshire. Robin Lawrie, a wonderful illustrator, who took on the task some years ago, of making a sketch of me which appears on the website. Thanks to the rest of the family who have encouraged and cajoled.

So that has been my Lockdown project. Have to say Shropshire, where I live, can never have looked more beautiful than it has this last year and we are very fortunate to be here, but it will be so good to get back to normal, whenever or whatever that might be.

Best wishes. Keep well and do keep in touch.

John Williams
April  2021