Townsville mu­si­cian Les Ni­chol­son

Townsville Bulletin - - NQ Life -

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

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