Tributes paid to jazz band leader

THE funeral has been held of popular jazz band leader Tom Collins, who died earlier this month aged 75.

THE funeral has been held of popular jazz band leader Tom Collins, who died earlier this month aged 75.

Hundreds of people paid tribute to the acclaimed musician at Colchester crematorium yesterday.

Mr Collins was found dead at his Layer-de-la Haye home and a post-mortem examination found his death was due to natural causes.

He was a keen sportsman in his younger days and played in goal for Colchester United and Sudbury Town.

Born and raised in the Colchester area, Mr Collins started work as a carpenter and joiner but always took a keen interest in music and played cornet in a Boys' Brigade Band and went on to play music while serving in the Royal Air Force.

After his National Service, Mr Collins became well known on the jazz scene in north Essex and joined the resident band at Colchester Jazz Club before eventually leading the band.

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The band continued to be resident with the club as it moved to various venues in and around Colchester and the gigs at Langenhoe Lion pub became extremely popular with fans coming from near and far.

In the late 1950s the Collins band was caught up in the trad boom that produced the likes of Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Chris Barber and on many occasions they were support band to the big names.

Mr Collins, who played trumpet, cornet and Flugelhorn, took the band all over Europe, including television appearances, as the band grew in popularity and they recorded a couple of albums. As the band's popularity continued to grow they travelled as far as Iraq and Canada.

In recent years Mr Collins had not enjoyed the best of health and he suffered heart problems and eventually it curtailed his public appearances.

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