Townsville musician Les Nicholson
ST U C K i n b u mp e r - t o - bumper traffic for twoand-a-half hours was the introduction to Sydney’s traffic Les Nicholson would rather have done without.
He was on his way to a job interview at Manly and the musician doesn’t have patience at the best of times.
The Townsville local was born and raised here and has had many job offers to move south, but wouldn’t considering leaving North Queensland.
He started playing the trumpet and cornet in a brass band when he was 10 but it was too regimented.
‘‘ I like the freedom to improvise in jazz. I remember playing Hello Dolly and during the solo I i mprovised but my teacher didn’t know what I was doing,’’ he said.
Nicholson plays seven instruments – trumpet, guitar, bass, saxophone, flute, harmonica and flugelhorn – and founded the Pacific Mainstream Jazz Band in Townsville in 1974.
He doesn’t play professionally these days but at the height of his career he would play five nights a week.
‘‘ I came to the realisation quickly that unless you’re James Morrison there’s not much money to be made,’’ he said.
He refers to himself as a trumpet player who sings, but he is not a vocalist. ‘‘ In the early days they’d let me sing three songs at the end of a set because people were leaving anyway.
‘‘ The joke is you can’t sing with a sax piece i n your mouth.’’
Hearing Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen play Midnight i n Moscow when he was 12 years