Maggie and Mike Atterbury have been organizing the Woking Jazz Circle sessions for 21 years. Their first such venture was in October 1986 when they promoted a solo performance by pianist Dick Wellstood at Bisley Village Hall. Mike Atterbury recalled, "Dick Wellstood was an ideal choice for the first event as Maggie had to convince a goodly number of friends and acquaintances that they would enjoy a jazz concert. Dick, with his brilliant musicianship and humorous introductions, made sure that they did!"
Until 1990 various venues were used, but subsequently All Saints Church Hall in Woking became the regular locale. Thanks to Maggie's efforts, the Hall was renovated and the acoustics were such that amplification could be kept to a minimum.
Musicians who were subsequently booked were the cream of those visiting Britain -- mainstreamers including Ralph Sutton, John Bunch, Dave McKenna, Kenny Davern, Bob Wilber, Dan Barrett, Rebecca Kilgore, Cynthia Sayer, Marty Grosz, Yank Lawson, Butch Thompson, Warren Vaché, Scott Hamilton, Ruby Braff, and Ken Peplowski. Most were accompanied by the best U.K. players, and there were appearances by British bands such as Muggsy Remembered, Denise Lawrence's band (with which Mike Atterbury played) and Sammy Rimington's band, plus individual musicians such as Roy Williams and Tommy Whittle.
Ralph Sutton's solo recording at the All Saints Church Hall in April 1990 was issued on J&M Records and reissued on Solo Art SACD-122.
Mike Atterbury recalled that prior to 1986, "Maggie used to organize jazz evenings for local charities and schools. We were also active in the Scout movement, and the Scout Centre at West End, Woking, which had been built with a sprung dance floor and one of those revolving, reflecting glass balls, was a favorite venue. I was playing in the Brian Rutland band at the time, and, in the early days, this was often featured."
There was also an occasional group called Maggie's Hotshots, led by Mike, who said, "We used to rob other local bands led by Mole Benn and Cuff Billett to make up a four- or five-piece group."
The bad news was that the evening of January 27, 2008, with free admission, was the last WJC session to be promoted by Maggie and Mike Atterbury, who are planning to move west to the county of Wiltshire. The good news was that a quartet of local fans have joined forces to continue the WJC promotions, probably starting in April.
For this final evening, the music was provided by a trio from Brighton, with Norman Evans, tenor, Jerry Higgins, bass, and on piano, to quote Mike again, "My very old friend Terry Whitney. We played for many years with the Brian Rutland band which I first joined in 1955! We wanted music -- but not 'in your face,' so Terry suggested the two chaps who played with him every Saturday night. I thought they were just right."
They were indeed just right, good jazz musicians, playing a fine program of standards, such as "I'll Remember April," "What's New," "Just Friends," and a particularly neat version of "You Are My Sunshine." Mike Atterbury, whose versatility on soprano, alto, tenor and clarinet added such swinging variety to singer Denise Lawrence's band, with which he played for many, more recent, years, joined the trio on clarinet for two numbers, one of which was inevitably "When You And I Were Young, Maggie." Between the evening's two sets Mike posed a quiz, playing solo excerpts by many of the musicians who appeared in Woking, and we were reminded just how much quality jazz the WJC had brought us over the years, thanks to Maggie and Mike Atterbury.