Music and cinema from Buster Birch

Buster Birch plays Buster Keaton, St Mary-in-the-Castle, Sunday, May 12. Review by Marrion Wells.

Buster Birch’s five-piece combo, based in Orpington, Kent, consists of Neil Casey on piano, Pete Ringrose on bass, Buster himself on drums and providing the necessary eye-candy glamorous blonde saxophonist Jo Fooks.

Together they provide a tight attractive sound which was obviously greatly to the taste of the St Mary-in-the-Castle Friends for this, the final Sunday Jazz Breakfast of the season.

Billed as Buster Plays Buster the first half was a tribute to the greats remembering the performers, writers and film-makers of the 1920s and 1930s, before the second half when St Mary’s was miraculously transformed into a cinema thanks to the ingenuity of resident sparks man Josh.

This was for the showing of a Buster Keaton movie of 1924 in its original sepia, the ‘silent’ film Sherlock Jnr.

This was shown as it would have been at the time, though not with the addition of a honky-tonk piano of the period but the smooth accompaniment of Buster Birch’s group.

The music followed the action supporting but not over-powering it.

The film included a catalogue of adventures and ‘stunts’ which were still breathtaking in their execution, and obviously really thrilled the audience.

No models or synthetic sounds were around in 1924!

Buster described how lengthy was the process of marrying the sound to the pictorial aspect working on it full-time for a minimum of three months. In view of this, when asked what was his next project, this was a matter of conjecture!

Assuredly we hope one day to see the results of his next venture.

In the meantime, certainly many other audiences once they hear about Buster Birch’s work will be anxious to see not the occasional clips which appear from time to time in TV programmes, but the complete film as we were privileged to enjoy on Sunday at St Mary’s.


Coming up next at St Mary-in-the-Casle is Herbie Flowers’ 75th Birthday concert on May 31.

The event will feature music from Herbie Flowers and Mike Hatchard.

Ticket details will be available soon.

For information on the venue and events visit