The Players

Pete Collins — Clarinet and Vocals
Lifelong musician Pete Collins played full time with several groups while finishing his degree at Suffolk University and Colby College.  In New York,  Pete has appeared at Ryan’s and Condon’s: at the Famous Door in New Orleans: and with the Jazz Ramblers in Zurich.  Locally, Pete appeared on the “Good Day” show (CH.5) , “The Club” (CH.2) and has played with such well-known jazz musicians as Max Kaminsky J.C.Higgenbotham and Marie Marcus.  Pete has most recently played with his band, the Jazz Band Ball, in various incarnations, from Cape Cod to the coast of Maine.


Lee Prager — Trombone
Lee brings a driving sophistication to the Band.  He has a solid background in big band playing and has backed such greats as Natalie Cole, Boots Randolph, Glen Campbell, Helen O’Connell and others.  He has been a favorite of band leaders Al Corey and Ted Herbert and has appeared with the Bangor Symphony and the Ice Capades.


Fred Clifford— Tuba
Fred has played with Pete for “many moons”.  As the leader of Williams College’s Phinney’s Favorite Five, Fred played the eastern college circuit in the 50’s, including New York and Bermuda gigs.  In ’57 Fred joined musicians from Harvard, Princeton and Williams to form the College All-Stars, which toured Europe and taped shows for Radio Free Europe.  Fred lives in Duxbury, Massachusetts and continues to play with the Williams Reunion Jazz Band.  Fred’s gleaming tuba anchors the rhythm section, and occasionally he can be persuaded to “scat” a song with Pete.


Jeff Hughes — Cornet
 Jeff Hughes plays cornet (also trumpet and flugelhorn) and has recorded with bands from the Northwest to Spain. He has also appeared at many jazz festivals in the USA. Some of his main influences are Bix Beiderbecke and Bunny Berigan. Jeff is a charter member of Ray Smith’s Paramount jazz Band and John Clarke’s Wolverine Jazz Band, and leads several groups for jazz nights at the Sherborn Inn, Sherborn, MA By day, Jeff is a lecturer in biology at Wellesley College.


Gene Blood — Drums
Gene started playing jazz with the South Shore Ragtime, Pickle, Foot-Stomping Society Band in 1965.  In ’68 he opened his own club and headed the Pickle Barrel Five, which included Pete,, and played to packed houses for seven years.  The band backed many famous jazzmen, including Jimmy Rushing, Willie “The Lion” Smith, Bob Wilbur, Vic Dickinson, and Bobby Hackett.  Gene sold his club in ’75 and became regular drummer with the Good Times Jazz Band, Six Pages of Dixie, and the Steamboat Stompers.


Pete Merrill — Piano
Pete Merrill started playing jazz piano in high school in Augusta, Maine, and caught up with Pete Collins, Jim Reid and John Foss to form Collins’ first band.  He was the leader and arranger for the “Colby Eight” singing group at Colby College and took the octet from a conventional barbershop quartet type to a swinging, modern, twelve voice group.  He worked with Pete again in the Righteous Jazz Band in the 1970’s. After a long absence from Maine (Washington DC and Chicago) he moved to Portland in 2000, and began his current career playing with trios and other small groups in and around Portland.  He plays regularly with Port City Jazz, and several times a year at the Portland Museum of Art. He often plays with groups fronted by Bill Byrne, Al and Don Doane, as well as heading his own trio in various Portland venues. Pete also had the distinction of showing Harry Connick Jr. the “bridge” to “Rosetta”!


Other visitors to the line-up from time to time include: 
Al Doane (bass), Scott Philbrick (Cornet), Joan Dragon (banjo)  Paul Monat (cornet), Jimmy Mazzy (banjo), Barney Balch (trombone), Jack Tukey (bass), “Big” Dave Page (drums), Dave Pierce (guitar) and Jane Campadelli (vocals).