Meet The Band
Rick Best - Piano / Arranger / M.D.
Rick has been a professional musician and arranger for over 45 years. His experience in the entertainment industry has been wide-ranging and has included clubs, hotels and all manner of private functions and corporate events as band leader and musical director. He has backed and toured with such artists as Kerrie Biddell, Doug Parkinson, The Drifters and John Rowles; and written for many well-known Australian artists including Ricky May, Daryl Braithwaite and Rhonda Burchmore. Originally from Sydney, he relocated to the Gold Coast In 2009. He joined Swing Force in 2010, playing piano and adding over 100 arrangements to their library over the following eight years. In February 2018 he formed Sweet Thunder to explore the music he loves the most: that of Duke Ellington, Billy Strayhorn, Count Basie and others of the big band world. He also plays valve trombone with the Muso Mates Big Band.
Andrew Montfroy - Trombone
Andrew was raised in a musical family, a with a mother who played the piano and father who played and taught the guitar. He started learning the violin at the age of 5 and by the age of 11, after hearing Jack Teagarden on his father’s records, started learning the trombone in Eaglehawk Citizens Brass Band in Bendigo. Having an early love for jazz, he moved to Melbourne and was soon playing with various jazz bands and big bands in the Melbourne area, such as the Maple Leaf Jazz Band, the Cairo Club Orchestra, the Black Beach Jazz Band and was a permanent member of Jazz On Tap.
Andrew has also formed and led jazz bands and big bands in both metropolitan and country Victoria, namely the Hot House Big Band and Dragon City Jazz. While he has performed in various settings he has adhered to the jazz idiom. He has performed at various festivals including those at Montsalvat, Moe, Ballarat, Bendigo, Echuca, Wangaratta and Hamilton (NZ). In March 2010 he moved with his family to the Gold Coast, and has since played in a variety of groups including the Brisbane Big Band, Gold Coast Big Band, Northern Rivers Big Band and Swing Force.
Colin Hoy - Reeds
Colin started his musical career in Sydney playing in various pubs and clubs. He was very impressed with the baritone saxophone - so he bought one; he said it was the best of both worlds as you were playing with the saxophones one minute and then the trombones the next. He joined the Billy Weston Big Band in the early 60s. In 1965 he received an offer to join the Warren Hay Group and had a long association with them, going to Melbourne to perform in Ciro's Night Club. The group came to the Gold Coast in 1967 and toured overseas in 1969. He left the band in 1974 and joined the Queensland Education Department as a music teacher. He also backed many local and overseas performers at Twin Towns Services Club and backed the Wickety Wak show when they were in town. He was a founding member of the Chancellor Big Band.
Anthony Simmonds - Trumpt/Trombone
Anthony studied at the Victorian College of the Arts, graduating with a Bachelor of Music majoring in Brass Improvisation in 1993. He plays all brass as well as saxophone, bass guitar, piano among others. In 1992-93, he played bass trombone and euphonium with Kew City Band when they were the 'A' grade national champions. Whilst studying, he began performing with various bands in Melbourne and eventually played with and for many top musicians and artists, at corporate functions and sporting events such as the Brownlow Medal Presentations. He also has extensive experience as an orchestral player and in the recording studio. Having relocated to the Gold Coast in 2010, Anthony plays with various groups in SE Queensland and is a key member of Sweet Thunder, doubling trumpet and trombone.
Col Jones - Trumpet
Col was born in Byron Bay and started learning piano at the age of four, moving to trumpet when he joined the local brass band. He moved to Grafton and then to Sydney where he studied at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music under Arthur Stender and Gerry Goodwin. He played his first pro gig in 1957, touring with Tommy Steele. After that he played with Winifred Atwell and then had a residency at Chequers Night Club when there were plenty of jobs and the entertainment scene was more than just duos with sequencers. During this time he recorded with Don Burrows, Errol Buddle and Mike Nock and played at the El Rocco regularly. He spent nine years with Qantas as a flight steward before settling in London for fifteen years playing gigs in the Home Counties. Eventually he returned to Grafton and thence to the Gold Coast in 1986, where he owned and ran a Jazz restaurant, The Swinging Vine until 1988. Colin is now firmly established as a member of Sweet Thunder and the Muso Mates Big Band, as well as freelancing around the Gold Coast and Brisbane in large and small groups.
Ted White - Reeds
Born in England, where he started his musical career, Ted has lived in Australia since 1963 and has toured many other countries as a performer with various groups. The list of famous people that Ted has appeared with is a long one and includes such well-known names as Jerry Lewis, Mel Torme, Sammy Davis Jnr, Harry Secombe, Clark Terry, Johnny Mathis, Diana Ross and a host of others. He has wide experience over many decades in theatre shows, television, recording sessions and special events such the annual carols event at the Myer Music Bowl and a Royal Command Performance. He was a regular member of the Channel 7 and Channel 9 bands and played with the Daly-Wilson Big Band along with many other groups, large and small.
Mal Capewell - Reeds
Mal grew up in London and learnt saxophone from Lou Smith from The Johnnie Dankworth Band. He also studied flute at Trinity College London. Later he studied sax with Dr Peter Clinch, Frank Smith and Dave Liebman.
Mal has played with Aretha Franklin, Doctor John, Graham Bond, Da Da, Robert Palmer, Muddy Waters, Chain, Bob Gebert, Paul Grabowski, Barry Duggan and The Little River Band just to name a few. He has a Bachelor of Music and Education and Post-graduate Diploma from the Victorian College of the Arts. A multi-instrumentalist, Mal performs not only all the well-known jazz standards, but also R & B, reggae, funk, classic rock…and … just about everything. Currently he plays tenor sax with Sweet Thunder and the Muso Mates Big Band.
Mikael Strand - Trombone
Mikael has been a professional musician for over 20 years and performed internationally in many groups and styles - Classical/Opera and Jazz to Pop, Funk, Soul, Reggae, Afro-Cuban and Brazilian. He is also a Composer, Arranger, Conductor and Music Educator and studied at the Queensland Conservatorium.
Mikael has performed, toured and recorded with the likes of James Morrison, Don Burrows, Renee Geyer, Melbourne Ska Orchestra, Jerry Lewis, Ingrid Jensen (USA), Jim Pugh (USA), Mad Professor, The Saints, Kate Miller-Heidke, Kristin Berardi, Freaky Lou, Kafka, West End Composers Collective, Miguel, Doch Gypsy Orchestra, Dubmarine, Bullhorn and others. He is a passionate music educator, currently with the Queensland Education Department, teaching and conducting within the school system.
Alistair McMillan - Trombone (&Trumpet)
Alistair started cornet lessons in Auckland in 1969. By 1974 he had participated in solo and brass band contests and made his first overseas music tour to Sydney.. Secondary School presented a variety of genres including Orchestral, Choral, Symphonic & Jazz: Combo’s/Big Bands. After his second musical trip overseas to Fiji in 1976 Alistair transferred to the trombone and by 1980 had participated in Auckland and National jazz festivals and performed again in Australia. In the next 35 years he enjoyed a diverse musical career dominated by 13 years with the Queen City Big Band and professional engagements in radio / television session work, live theatre, night club and international circus tours. He has toured to the UK, Australia and Canada and played with all sorts of ensembles including jazz, orchestral and brass band. He was also the musical director of Downbeat Big Band for 12 years. Early in 2017 he spent three months playing on the cruise ship, Emerald Princess, before moving to the Gold Coast where he joined the Gold Coast Big Band and Gold Coast City Brass Band. He has been with Sweet Thunder, doubling on bass trombone and trumpet, since this band’s formation early in 2018.
Josh Sinclair - Trumpet
Josh began playing the trumpet in 1998 at the age of nine. It didn’t take long to realise the trumpet was the right instrument for him and he quickly progressed through the ranks of his school bands. During 2005 he travelled to America to perform at the International Association for Jazz Educators Conference, where names such as Herbie Hancock, Bob Mintzer and Wynton Marsalis featured on the artist line up. In late 2008 Josh was appointed Lead Trumpet with Royal Caribbean Cruise Line and spent a large portion of 2009 playing on cruise ships around the Caribbean.
After returning to Australia Josh he worked with the likes of John Foreman, Emma Pask, Rhonda Burchmore, Tom Burlinson, Grace Knight, James Morrison, Christine Anu and Thirsty Merc. In 2010 Josh joined up with Gold Coast band Tijuana Cartel and spent the next six years regularly touring both nationally and internationally. That band was a stalwart of the festival circuit and performed at festivals such as Splendour in the Grass and Falls Festival. During this time the band shared the stage with artists such as The Cat Empire, The Living End, Wolfmother and John Butler.
During this time Josh also recorded an an album with members of the Buena Vista Social Club and the Afro Cuban All Stars. In late 2015, he parted ways with Tijuana Cartel and is now a regular of the Brisbane and Gold Coast salsa scene and plays lead trumpet with Sweet Thunder.
John Edwards - Bass
John started working in local dance bands when he was a schoolboy and continued until the dance hall culture changed and big bands gave way to rock bands. He worked the nightclub circuits around northern England for a number of years before joining Geraldo’s Navy on the Cunard Line, doing Caribbean cruises and the New York - Bermuda run. He was with the Aiden McNally band at the Holiday Inn at St. George, Bermuda, where he lived for some time. On returning to London he gigged around various venues and did some pit orchestra work before emigrating to Australia.
He has accompanied many artists including Val Doonican, Des O’Connor. Engelbert Humperdinck, Tom Jones, Diana Dors, Jane Russell, Dick Haymes, and Dorothy Squires.
He has always maintained his interest in orchestral playing - most recently as principal double bass with the Northern Rivers Symphony Orchestra, the Queensland Pops Orchestra and the Gold Coast Philharmonic. In recent years he has appeared in local jazz groups including those led by Craig Berry, Alan Murray, Niven Walton, and many more.
Rodney Ford - Drums
Rodney began his musical studies playing trombone and trumpet at school and playing in wind ensembles at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music whilst taking lessons. After school he played trumpet in the Army band and continued his Conservatorium studies. At the age of 20 he changed to clarinet, and a casual interest in drums became a serious study as he held down the drum chair in the 'Con Big Band' and jazz ensembles affiliated with the Jazz studies program at the Conservatorium.
After leaving the Army the drum kit became Rodney's primary instrument and his affinity with this instrument led to professional engagements playing drums for theatre shows including 'The Wiz', 'Man of La Mancha' and 'Chorus Line'. He toured or recorded with The Jazz Co – Op, Crossfire, Errol Buddle, Col Nolan, Tommy Emanuel, Herb Ellis and Barney Kessel, Eberhardt Weber and more. Rodney joined Galapagos Duck in 2001 and is still an integral part of that group as well playing drums and singing with Sweet Thunder.
David Cox - Reeds
David Cox is a Brisbane based multi-instrumentalist, composer and recording artist with eleven years professional performance experience having performed and recorded across Australia and overseas. He has written original scores for short films and art installations in Brisbane and Sydney and has played on four big band albums in recent years. Having spent seven years as a full-time saxophonist with the Australian Army Band his performance experience is extensive and varied. He plays alto and tenor saxophone plus flute and clarinet in Sweet Thunder.
John Conley - Bass
Born in Melbourne, John moved to Canberra where he studied classical guitar and played the double bass in the Canberra Youth Orchestra.In the early 70’s he studied at the NSW Conservatorium of Music in the newly established Jazz Studies program with Don Burrows and George Golla. During this period he also played and recorded with many bands and artistes, including Winnifred Atwell, The Four Kinsmen, Errol Buddle and Col Nolan.
In 1981 John became a member of Galapagos Duck and touring and recording extensively with the band ever since. His extensive writing for the band includes the ballet ‘Austorizon’ for the Australian Dance Theatre and four songs nominated in the Jazz category of the APRA awards. In 2000 John returned to the Conservatorium and graduated with an Honours degree in composition in 2004.