A JAZZ band that evolved from informal jam sessions to an Inverclyde institution is still in full swing after more than 40 years.

The evergreen Capitol Big Band is one of the area's longest-running musical groups and continues to perform in Greenock every week.

The 'three Joes' - Joe McGrath, Joe Hogan and Joe Baldi - have been involved since the very beginning in 1976, and hope to encourage more people to get involved and keep jazz alive locally.

They are the last-remaining Inverclyde representatives in a group that has attracted and continues to lure some of the finest big band musicians from near and far to their Tuesday evening practice sessions in the Custom House Hotel.

Gourock trumpeter Joe Hogan, 83, said: "We came in one night and two young guys were there and we asked if they were doing much.

"They had been playing at the South Bank in London the night before at a prestige gig for the BBC, probably getting handsomely paid, then came down here to play for nothing.

"They come from Glasgow and further afield and the fact they come down and play for free shows the standard of the band is high.

"What keeps it going is the determination to keep music alive."

The 17-piece band, accompanied by resident singers John Griffin and Heather Whiteford - daughter of original trumpeter Roy Whiteford, next meet this Tuesday and it's free entry.

Capitol Big Band was formed in July 1976 in Hastie's Club, which was located at the corner of Union Street and Campbell Street, and took its name from the downstairs 'Capitol Suite'.

After many local music venues such as the Cragburn and the Palladium closed, there was a void for local musicians to hone their skills.

Following initial jam sessions in the RAF Club, the group secured a permanent residence in Hastie's and the Capitol Big Band was born.

Port Glasgow trumpeter Joe McGrath, 74, who now lives in Inverkip, said: "Of the original band there's only the three of us still going.

"It's a social thing as well, with people getting together on a Tuesday night - even if nobody else turns up."

Since its origins in Hastie's, the band has performed at various Greenock venues, including the Dockers, the Greenock Rangers and Port Glasgow Town Hall, pictured, but one thing remains constant.

Drummer Joe Baldi, 75, who lives in the town, said: "Big band music is an American art form which goes right back to the likes of Glenn Miller and Buddy Rich and we're trying to keep it alive.

"Sadly, a lot of kids now leave school with their trumpet or trombone but have nowhere to go and their instruments go under their bed and they lose interest."