EM170 Peter King and Terry Shannon (June 2017)...
From Ken Taylor...
Well as I outlined to you last week I planned to go to The Bull's Head on Saturday evening to see Peter King (and Mornington Lockett) and then on Sunday visit Terry Shannon at his home in Kent. I managed to do both as planned and in summary it turned out to be a superb weekend with great music and just wonderful memories.
First up was seeing Peter King and his group. In this respect I have attached a picture of Peter and Mornington in full flight. Other members of the group were also very good. The highlight of the evening was towards the end of the 2nd set when Peter played The Billy Strayhorn tune Lush Life as a solo. It was just great and one very quickly realized what a superb modern (bebop/rebop?) saxophonist Peter is. Wonderful!
Next up was on Sunday when I went to see my old work friend Terry Shannon. I say work friend as we both worked for the same company during 1956/57 (the company was Esso and we worked in Thames House Nth - Lambeth Bridge which is now the HQ of MI5!).
Terry I must say was looking great for someone who will shortly be 88 years old! I had printed quite a few of the articles from this website and we spent a good deal of time going over them and Terry giving me the lowdown on and of the characters in your articles. He literally knew about 90-95% of the guys (mainly guys although he did mention Kathy Stobart and Cleo). So mid way through our conversation I told him that I had the previous evening been to see Peter King and how well it had gone etc. I then mentioned that Peter had played the tune Lush Life and Terry immediately said 'well how about this then' and he went over to the piano in his lounge, sat down and played Lush Life! I couldn't believe it! Someone nearly 88 years old playing a lovely version of a great (difficult to play tune - even more difficult to sing except for Johnny Hartman) jazz tune and being quite relaxed about it. the picture of Terry was taken whilst he was playing Lush Life.
It was a great afternoon and a wonderful weekend. Couldn't ask for anything better i.e. being with two guys basically from a different age who could still do the business without any fuss or fireworks. I intend to see Terry again later this year and I will go to the Bull's Head in late August when Peter is booked again.
PS. I was in Soho to-day (Tues) and I had a wander along to Archer St. I just thought as I meandered along what used to go on here on a Monday all those years ago (1950/1). Also that Terry Shannon must be one the last ones standing who used to use the meetup for some possible gig work. Those were the days!
Ken Taylor (1st visit to the Flamingo Club Autumn 1954 - Coventry St)
EM169 National Jazz Archive...
The June newsletter from the NJA contains the following links that may be of interest...
Gems from the Archive - Kathy Stobart
This month we feature tenor sax, clarinet and flute player Kathy Stobart. One of the few women British jazz musicians, Kathy delighted audiences during a career of over 50 years.
Pictured here with Jimmy Skidmore...
Kathy is mentioned regularly in The Beat, "The Official Magazine of the Ted Heath Club" in the 1940s and here is one from 1949, showing Kathy and Johnny Gray 'Speedway racing' at Club Revel. The introduction reads: Our yearly Ted Heath Club Revel, held this time at the Lyceum Ballroom on December 27th, once more provided a thrill packed musical evening with an abundance of torrid tempo entertainment outshining the attractions of any similar function.� Kathy and Johnny Gray...
In 1961, Kathy was interviewed by Kitty Grime for Jazz News, where she explains her jazz influences, her many jazz musician friends and her concerns for the future of jazz. The two pages can be read here... and here...
Les Tomkins interviewed Kathy for Crescendo in 1974, when she talked of her musical experience, and her contemporaries who supported and admired her as a musician. interview...
From Richard Hazlewood...
Richard has sent this picture of an informal reconstruction of the Dankworth Seven He thinks the pianist is Brian Dee, tenor sax Danny Moss and baritone sax Alex Leslie. I think the trumpet payer is Dickie Hawdon. Can anybody identify the others please?
EM167 Moss Gathers no Moss...
From Richard Hazlewood...
A few words from Western Australia. A recent and excellent gig by Danny Moss Jnr got me thinking about the contribution of his father Danny Moss Snr, a wonderful musician who shared his life between the UK and Australia. Sure there were many obituaries when he passed away only a few years ago, and sure he was much admired by musicians, but the jazz press and general public rarely give Danny Moss the attention he deserves. Without doubt Danny was a wonderful tenor sax player whose playing throughout his long career embodied the key elements of musicianship, melody and emotion. To the end he could swing like crazy, his ballad playing could bring a lump to the back of your throat, and oh, that tone – so rich, full and totally consistent. As he got older he just got better, but he always fitted in his own unique way to the school best represented by Ben Webster and Coleman Hawkins.
His output on the Nagel-Heyer label should be essential listening. His taste in material was impeccable and his set lists always comprised jazz standards and beautiful ballads. For British jazz he was a giant of his era who could stand proudly on the world stage. He toured Europe as a member of Louis Armstrong’s All-Stars, played with Jimmy Witherspoon, Bud Freeman, Maynard Ferguson, Tony Bennett, Ella Fitzgerald, Scott Hamilton and many others. He also played with a who’s who of British jazz musicians getting his grounding with the likes of Ted Heath, Humphrey Lyttleton and Johnny Dankworth.
Known primarily for his work on the tenor sax, he was also a very impressive clarinettist. He could hold his own in almost any context from ‘trad’ to swing to mainstream, and with many ‘modern’ musicians, yet whatever the context his playing was always instantly identifiable. His first love however was always his quartet and his great musical partnership with pianist Brian Lemon.
He may no longer be with us but his son, Danny Moss Jnr (pictured above), continues his dad’s legacy. He can pull a good crowd in a small Perth WA club like Ellington’s, and he can hold down a gig in his own name at Ronnie Scott’s in London.
Danny is an excellent musician in his own right, his bass playing just gets better and better, but his performances channel the spirit of his father as well as his idol, Ray Brown. Jazz standards, classic ballads, and music that swings. He picks the best of local young musicians, and clearly inspires them to play at their best, and his playing simply connects with his audience. People actually listen, heads bounce up and down, and applause is genuinely enthusiastic.
I recently congratulated Danny Jnr on a well-attended session and commented on his legacy. His response was typical of how so many of us (especially senior citizens like myself) feel about much of the live jazz scene today, and I will quote his text message verbatim: “That’s a nice thing to say, very glad you enjoyed it. I wish jazz was being played and delivered that way far more around the world where there’s a real connection with the audience, through swinging inventive jazz, and thoughtfully crafted and well presented sets. Far too many people are playing long, indulgent and forgettable so called ‘originals’, and relying on grants, because they haven’t learned the craft. No wonder the general public thinks they don’t like jazz! They rarely hear it”.
Fighting words to some maybe, but Danny makes his own living playing ‘real’ jazz, travels around the world, and plays with many other great musicians. He walks his own talk. This is in contrast to another so called big name who works internationally and who played in Perth recently. His managed to slowly empty a club with long drawn-out meandering solos that went nowhere, playing ‘originals’ which had no connection with any of the audience, accompanied by a drummer whose idea of good jazz was to physically attack his drum kit at full force the whole evening.
Finally, on a sadder note, Danny’s mother, the excellent UK jazz singer Jeanie Lambe, who had tremendous stage presence and travelled the world with Danny Snr and made many excellent albums, suffered a stroke a year or so ago and will never sing again. Jeanie is now confined to a nursing home and is severely disabled. She has the benefit of her two sons and grandchildren living in Perth, and the best we can do is wish her comfort and peace in what has become the autumn of her life. Like her husband she leaves a legacy of excellent music for which she needs to be acknowledged.
Richard Hazlewood, Perth, WA
EM166 Peter King...
From Jamie Evans...
I am a friend of Peter King and live a few streets away from his Putney home. You may know that he has been in poor health for the past year or so and I have been helping him as much as I can with shopping and other bits and pieces.
Although his book Flying High - a jazz life and beyond was published some years ago, I only recently got round to reading it and regret it took me so long.
I have quite a lot in common with Peter King. We were both born at the beginning of World War II, brought up in humdrum family circumstances in the South London/Surrey region. We have both been troubled by addiction problems over the years although Peter massively more so than myself. We both made our own faltering attempts to copy the music of our jazz heroes by listening and copying in the days when jazz tuition was rare and college courses were never even contemplated. The resemblances end, of course, with the fact that Peter went on to become a world-class jazz saxophonist and I pottered about in an enjoyable role as a run-of-the-mill, semi-professional, mainstream pianist.
I was both exhilarated and saddened by his autobiography. Attached is a review... which I included in my own tribute website to Alan Cooper (http://www.alancooperremembered.com ).
You might find it interesting enough to attach to the King biog on your own bebop website.
Best wishes, Jamie Evans
EM165 Lennie Best...
From Jon Stone...
Ah Lennie! I used to co-run the Highgate Jazz Club at The Gatehouse, at the top of Highgate West Hill in the 1960s as bass player with the Colin Peters Quintet. We had a guest artist every Friday, John Dankworth, Ronnie Ross, Jimmy Skidmore, Joe Harriott, Bert Courtley, Ian Carr, Kathy Stobart, Tubby Hayes, Pete King ...... the list seems endless. Even Jimmy Witherspoon on one occasion but that's another story.
Lennie frequently guested with us and he was always a delight, both in his excellent musicianship and expansive personality. I can still see him In my mind's eye, clanking all the notes together at the end of the evening, before wrapping them in an old grey blanket, to the inevitable cry, "that's the best they've sounded all night, Lennie". He was hugely popular and quite rightly so.
EM164 British musicians and Charlie Parker...
From Simon Spillett...
I've just been sent this fantastic photograph taken at Birdland circa. 1950.
It was sent by the son of saxophonist/clarinettist Keith Bird who discovered it recently in his uncles effects. You can easily spot Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Kenny Clarke, Billy Taylor and Stan Getz. Keith Bird is seated between Bird and Billy Taylor. I think it may be Jack Honeyborne seated next to Klook and could that be Lennie Bush next to him with the swathe of hair? I think the guy kissing Bird is drummer Norman Burns.
Any clues very welcome.
(Tony Middleton has subsequently commented that the man with 'the swathe of hair' is in fact Keith Bird, not Lennie Bush...)
EM163 2016 British Jazz Awards...
From Simon Spillett...
The winners of the 2016 British Jazz Awards have just been announced and I'm pleased to announce that I have won the Services To British Jazz Award.
I had no idea that I had been nominated (an naturally assumed that an award of this type would go to someone with far more miles on the clock than me) but I'm very honoured to have been chosen.
More information on this years winners and awards here...
EM162 Pete Chilver...
From David Chilver...
My late father was guitarist Pete Chilver who is listed on your site. There is one correction I should point out regarding the biography section. He never actually visited New York with Laurie Morgan. He told me that he had planned to do so, and had gone to see Geraldo about a job on one the transatlantic liners. To his disappointment Geraldo said he wanted him instead to do a job helping him in London to manage the operation as a kind of assistant. He didn't fancy that and declined the offer so his trip to New York never happened.
As regards the discography, I am not aware of any other recordings but I did find in my Dad's possessions a cassette recording of a BBC jazz club date in 1947. It's something of an all-star band comprising Johnny Dankworth, Denis Rose, Ronnie Scott, Tommy Pollard, Ralph Sharon, Jack Fallon, Tony Crombie and my Dad. The recording quality is pretty good and the performances good all round. It may be that this session exists in some form or other on a CD but if so I am not aware of it.
One anecdote which Jack Parnell told me was that Dad was the first electric guitarist (on this side of the Atlantic at least) to take solos standing up , when with the Ted Heath band, and that this was considered pretty radical and exciting at the time. (He has a lot to answer for....!)
Warm regards David Chilver.
Tony Middleton has since commented that Pete Chilver made three BBC Jazz Club appearances in 1947, on May 17, June 14 and June 28. The programme referred to above was actually on January 24, 1948. Looking through a listing of ORBS/ENSA discs Tony also noted that Pete recorded a few titles with the Charlie Short Trio possibly in the late 1940s.
EM161 National Jazz Archive...
The November newsletter from the NJA contains the following links that may be of interest...
Gems from the Archive - Bobby Wellins
This month we feature Bobby Wellins's who sadly passed away on 27 October, 2016. A proud Scot, Bobby has long been considered one of the UK' greatest tenor saxophonists. His career extended over five decades and had many highs and, regrettably, a few lows.
The Wellins-Wray Quintet at Ronnie Scott's.
In 1965 Bobby recorded Stan Tracey's "Under Milk Wood" the suite inspired by Dylan Thomas' radio play, with Stan at the piano, Jeff Clyne on bass and Jackie Dougan on drums. This album has rightly become regarded as one the finest UK jazz albums ever produced. In 2010, Guardian critic John Fordham wrote of Bobby' performance "Wellins' softly hooting sax, the rippling tone poem Starless and Bible Black is widely acclaimed as one of the great jazz performances".
In 1996 Bobby recorded an album which was his personal favourite "The Satin Album", which was his instrumental interpretation of the 1958 Billie Holiday album of the same name. "You Don't Know What Love Is" here is a track from Bobby's version
In 2006, Bobby gave JazzUK magazine an interview in which he talked candidly about his life. Read the first part here and the second part here
In recent years's Bobby made himself known to younger jazz fans, appearing at many venues across the UK. He was rarely seen without a smile, was down to earth, self-effacing and happy to greet his many admirers. And apart from that he was a fabulous tenor player and will be sadly missed. Put simply, Bobby you did it "Your Own Sweet Way" here
EM160 Tubby Hayes Blue Plaque...
From Simon Spillett...
Little Giant GetsThe Blue Plaque Treatment At Last...
Tubby Hayes,London's very own Jazz Legend, has at last been awarded the coveted Blue Plaque treatment. On Wednesday August 31st 2016, a small crowd gathered at 34 Kenwyn Road, SW20, now the home of David and Maureen, to witness Tubby's son Richard unveil a Heritage Foundation plaque in honour of his father, who lived in the house from 1936 to 1951. vimeo.com...
There have been mooted plans for such an award for some years, all of which had come to nothing, but the Heritage Foundation's interest was piqued by writer and film-maker Mark Baxter, mastermind behind the recent documentary film Tubby Hayes: A Man In A Hurry (Mono Media Films, 2015). The Foundation have previously honoured pop and rock icons including Beatles' John Lennon and George Harrison and Dusty Springfield, among others. Thanks to Baxter's dedication and belief, the plaque for Hayes marks their first award to a jazz legend.
Those who attended the unveiling included the director of A Man In A Hurry, celebrated film-maker Lee Cogswell and long-time Hayes' champion, saxophonist Simon Spillett, author of The Long Shadow of The Little Giant: The Life, Work and Legacy of Tubby Hayes (Equinox Publishing Ltd. 2015). Says Spillett: "The awarding of a Blue Plaque to Tubby's childhood home is, I think, along-overdue acknowledgement of his cultural importance. His story and music are well known, but this award gives credit to his being a key figure in what was a truly special era for the arts andentertainment in the UK. In fact, there's a slightly surreal feeling in realising that Tubby's world class jazz talent was incubated no in New York or Los Angeles but in post - war suburban London. You can just imagine him as a teenaged lad, saxophone case in hand, trotting off down Kenwyn Road to catch a train into the West End. His career may have been on an international level, but the plaque plants him firmly on the map as a London icon, a distinctly British jazz legend."
Hayes frequently returned to his family home during his stormy twenty three year professional career, living there again briefly during the early1970s while recuperating from open-heart surgery. His mother, Dorothy Kenyon lived in the house until the 1980s.
EM159 National Jazz Archive...
The August newsletter from the NJA contains the following links that may be of interest...
Gems from the Archive – Tubby Hayes
This month we feature UK jazz genius Tubby Hayes. Best known for his tenor sax, Tubby was a multi-instrumentalist performing and recording on flute, baritone sax and vibes, and also an original composer and arranger for his quartets, quintets and big bands.
Tragically, Tubby died in 1973 during a heart operation, at the age of 38 after a too-short 22-year career. Following his cremation, his epitaph reads “Long live his memory and his music”. Fortunately he left a legacy of recordings, many of which have been re-issued on CD.
The Archive contains two features by Les Tompkins which provide a fascinating insight into Tubby and his music.
In the first Tubby chats to Les in 1963 and 1965.
The second feature... is an extract from the cover notes by Les from a CD of live recordings at Ronnie Scott's in 1964-5
The Archive has many more articles and features on Tubby which may be accessed here
EM158 Jo Hunter...
From Mick Hamer, Brighton...
A sad footnote to your page about Jo Hunter. Jo died peacefully last Sunday (14 August 2016), at home in Hove. He was 89. A lovely man and a beautiful musician, I last worked with him a couple of years ago in Brighton. It was one of his last gigs. He was still playing fluently--brim full of ideas and with an encyclopedic knowledge of standards. Not long after this Jo stopped playing in public because of trouble with his teeth, but he was still active and a regular face in the audience at local gigs. Indeed he came to the last gig I played at the Albion in Hove on 8 August, the Monday afternoon before he died, a music lover to the end. It was a pleasure and a privilege to know him.
EM157 National Jazz Archive...
The May newsletter from the NJA contains the following links that may be of interest...
Gems from the Archive – Stan Tracey
This month we feature Stan Tracey, internationally acclaimed jazz pianist and composer, with one of the most distinctive musical signatures on the British jazz scene, a true British legend.
Three articles by Les Tomkins about Stan originally published in ‘Crescendo’ can be read on the Archive website here... (The same link also gives access to three articles about pianist, composer and vibes player Victor Feldman.)
The first piece details Stan’s successful musical career of over 60 years. The second features the Stan Tracey Big Band’s classic recording ‘Alice in Jazzland’ from 1966, and in the third, Stan talks about the years he spent as house pianist at Ronnie Scott’s. And many more articles and news items about Stan can be accessed here...
‘Starless and Bible Black’, a wonderful example of Stan’s work from his ‘Under Milk Wood Suite’, featuring Bobby Wellins on tenor sax, can be heard here...
This poster dates from 1989, and advertises the performance of Stan’s Genesis suite and Ellington arrangements in Gateshead (National Jazz Archive collection). poster...
To learn about the NJA visit, National Jazz Archive...
EM156 Tito Burns and Terry Devon...
Photograph forwarded by Elliott Foskett...
"I found this picture in an old photo album.
On the back it says:
....Tito Burns, Terry Devon,
Lewis's record dept.
Personal appearance for autographs,
Week commencing 8/1/51"
Tito was leading his sextet at this time, Terry was his vocalist who became his wife and was a popular singer in her own right from the late 1940s.
Does anybody know the location of Lewis's record store where this picture was taken?
Tito Burns / Terry Devon...
EM155 National Jazz Archive...
The latest newsletter from the NJA contains much of interest...
A new jazz archive project was launched Upstairs@Ronnie’s on 16 March. With funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Gearbox Records has acquired, and will restore, digitise and distribute a collection of around 240 recordings made by Les Tompkins in London during the 1960s. Twenty sets of vinyl records of some of these will be distributed to venues such as the British Library and music institutions. At the launch three of the restored recordings were played and then reinterpreted by a group of young musicians from Tomorrow’s Warriors. read more and listen...
Gems from the Archive – Jimmy Deuchar
This month we feature Jimmy Deuchar, jazz trumpeter and big band arranger, best known to UK jazz fans for his work with Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes. Jimmy is featured in numerous articles through the 1950s and 60s, particularly in Crescendo and Jazz News, many of which can be read on the Archive website. The earliest photo of him is from 1950, when he played with Johnny Dankworth. See the picture here...
Two articles about Jimmy on the Archive website were originally published in Jazz Professional. The first, a tribute by Ron Simmonds, was written in 1993. The second is an account by Ronnie Scott of a trip to New York he made accompanied by Jimmy Deuchar and baritone player Ronnie Ross in 1963.
Many more articles mention Jimmy, and here is a wonderful example of Jimmy playing with Tubby Hayes in 1965.
Gems from the Archive – Jimmy Deuchar
EM154 A request for information from Michael Downend about violinist Bob Clarke....
Does anyone remember Bob Clarke, jazz violinist who played at the Mandrake Club in Wardour (?) Street or a club somewhere in that area in the 1950's. Here's a photo of Bob (with the beard) taken at the Mandrake. I'm the lad in the striped tie. We used to hang out as well in the clubs in Lancaster Gate, Bayswater Road area. There was another one somewhere with the unlikely name of The Shanghai Paper Club. I lost the location in the fog of memory.
(Bob Clarke, born around 1930, was a shipwright by trade. As well as the "Mandrake" he was part of a resident trio at London's "Cottage Club" during the mid 1950's. He toured and played in Europe and Las Vegas and from1965 until 1973 played at the "Crazy Horse" in Paris.)
Anybody with a memory of Bob or the other London locations mentioned please get in touch via the e-mail link at the bottom of the page...
EM153 The UK's National Jazz Archive....
I am reminded by Mike Rose of The National Jazz Archive (NJA) in the UK that although this website began life there some ten years ago I have never made any mention of this fact on my website. The NJA does indeed have an amazing amount of research material and with the friendly staff is an ideal place to delve into our jazz heritage. It is safe to say that this website would never have reached fruition without the initial help that I received there. To learn about the NJA visit, National Jazz Archive...
Below are extracts from recent e-mails that I have received from Mike...
The NJA mission statement reads as follows:
The National Jazz Archive holds the UK’s finest collection of written, printed and visual material on jazz, blues and related music, from the 1920s to the present day. Founded in 1988, the Archive’s vision is to ensure that the rich tangible cultural heritage of jazz is safeguarded for future generations of enthusiasts, professionals and researchers.
Apart from Archivist David Nathan who is employed by Essex County Council 12 hours per week as part of their support for the Archive, the rest of us are jazz loving volunteers. David is in post specifically to assist with research queries either in person at the Archive or via ‘phone/e-mail. He successfully deals with many enquiries from researchers via the telephone and e-mail. If you know of anyone who needs assistance then you’re very welcome to put them in touch with David – he loves a challenge.
Situated in Loughton, Essex,UK it is physically impossible for many people to access the Archive in person. Hence our application to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) for funds to develop the web site. Having spent some years making applications to funding organisations and, in particular, the Lottery I can assure it ain’t an easy task persuading them to give you money. To present an application requires a distinct project which has to be highly detailed and costed down to the last penny. Not an easy exercise as we were applying for the project to run for three years. How do you know the cost of even a postage stamp three years down the line?
So, the project decided upon was the ambitious telling of the Story of British Jazz. Now, how do we show the HLF our method of doing this? The answer that was settled on was to catalogue our book and journal collection for the first time, and then take respected jazz magazines e.g. Crescendo, Jazz News, Jazz UK etc, published over the decades that corresponded with the development of jazz in Britain, and which we were able to establish the copyright situation. We added to those interviews with musicians, hundreds of photographs and other ephemera all that were held in the Archive in hard copy form. The project involved digitising this material so it could be installed onto a web site. This is an extremely costly process and was a major spend of the £346,300 HLF award. As part of the project we also arranged exhibitions, talks, visits, performances and continue to do so – register for our e-Newsletter for the latest events. http://www.nationaljazzarchive.co.uk
Overall was the HLF project a success? Well, HLF thought so as they’ve just awarded the Archive a further £83,000 for a new oral history project to be announced shortly (see October e-Newsletter for details).
For some years, the Archive has had an arrangement with a good guy, Scott Nichol who operates as Rabbit Records. Scott will negotiate and purchase unwanted vinyl and CD collections. Depending on the sellers wishes, they will either receive the bulk of the financial value or, if preferred, they can agree to donate the profit to the Archive. Here’s a link... which has full details. This is a worthwhile facility because it prevents desirable collections from being dumped in a skip and either the individual or the Archive benefit financially. It's a win-win situation. We intend to carry out some major publicity on the services offered by Rabbit Records in the new year.
Finally, as you’ve admitted your success was partly due to your access to the Archive, I invite you to write a blog piece about how the availability of research material gleaned from the Archive enabled you to build your excellent and informative web site which we’ll publish on our web site. In this way we may share your efforts on behalf of British Modern Jazz with all supporters of the Archive and “ensure that the rich tangible cultural heritage of jazz is safeguarded for future generations of enthusiasts, professionals and researchers”.
I hope to receive material from the NJA to add to my site in the not too distant future and would advise anybody who can get to Loughton in the UK to make a visit and have a look around... ..
EM152 Tubby Hayes....
Subject: NOW PUBLISHED: 100% Proof - The Complete Tubby Hayes Discography by Simon Spillett and Tom Davis
Date: 10 October 2015 11:23
Hi, I'm very pleased to announce the publication of '100% Proof: The Complete Tubby Hayes Discography', a collaboration between Canadian discographer Tom Davis and myself. This new 240 page volume covers sessions for commercial album release, radio broadcasts, television appearances and private recordings made between 1951 and 1973. It also includes an overview of Hayes's film soundtrack work. The book is published by Names and Numbers, highly regarded discography specialists based in the Netherlands, and is available direct from their website (see link below).
Best Wishes Simon Spillett
EM151 Tommy Pollard....
I am Tommy Pollard's niece via his marriage to my aunt. Unfortunately I cannot give you much information on Tommy. I have some photos including one of him with Charlie Parker. I have no idea how my aunt and Tommy met as she was from the Valleys in Wales. A true blonde bombshell.She never spoke much about Tommy to me who died in 1960. After his death, she remained in London until sometime in the 80's when she returned to Wales to look after her mother.My aunt was a fun loving, very witty person who was extremely direct. The directness of her nature could suggest that she went through some tough times. She talked of many a famous name including Ronnie Scott sometimes sleeping on their floor and she did absolutely adore Johnny Dankworth and his first fiancee.
We had some records of Tommy but somehow they became lost. I was always told that he died of a stomach ulcer and during the 90's used to put flowers on his grave in Hayes cemetery as I often worked in the area at the time. My father knew Tommy and I have some pictures of them together flying model aeroplanes. My mother never met him and if they visited London Tommy would stay in his room. My mother believes that this was because she was a doctor and may well spot the truth of his known drug addiction. Quite sad really, not only for my aunt, but also for a musician who was said by some to be truly gifted.
Not really relevant to your jazz history but puts a little personal background to Tommy. I've often wondered if any recordings exist and maybe you could enlighten me here. photos... CDs...
EM150 Thanks to Ron Mathewson....
Sharing good memories. More than thirty years ago I met Ron at a Jazz Concert at the South Parade Pier in Portsmouth. I later visited him and went to one of his performances at Ronnie Scott's Club. Now in my seventies looking back I would like to thank him for his music and this experience. Ron Mathewson
EM149 The Jazz Couriers....
I found your web-page after listening to a few Jazz Couriers' tracks on YouTube. I saw the Couriers at the Gaiety Ballroom, Grimsby. It was a one-night stand and from your summary would probably have been in 1959.
The Gaiety was a typical dance venue, huge, with a decent resident band. I was pleased to hear that John Dankworth's band, with Cleo, was to visit. It was a great night of music, and the dancing carried on as normal. A few weeks later The Jazz Couriers appeared. The initial attendance was well down on normal, nobody danced, and many soon drifted away. A hard-core of perhaps 100-200 stood around the bandstand and were blown away by one of the most exciting groups most of us had ever heard.
I was also quite an early member of Ronnie Scott's in the Gerrard Street days and recall the All-Nighter sessions. The musicians were the ones you would expect - Tubby, Stan Tracey, Jimmy Deuchar, Joe Harriot, Phil Seamen . Shake Keane is another who comes to mind.
I saw a few of the American guests, most notably Stan Getz and also Zoot and Al. With the latter pair, around the end of their set, Tubby came bouncing in (as he so often did). I think it was Pete King who was pressed into service and we briefly had Four (tenor) Brothers. An almighty blowing contest ensued. It will be no surprise that Tubby was last man standing.
You can add the unexpected name of Grimsby to the list of venues that the Couriers played.
EM146 Emrys Baird reports (April 2015) the passing of trumpet player Stu Hamer....
I enjoyed your article on Stu. Unfortunately Stu passed away just before Xmas 2014. He was a real character!
You might like to mention Stu's involment with Hi Life International who I think released 2cds on The Sterns Africa label ...
There is going to be a bbc radio doc about him Ill try to let you know when.....best wishes Emrys
Anybody with a memory of Stu, brother of Ian Hamer, please get in touch via the e-mail link at the bottom of the page...
EM143 Ian Rose has an LP record from 1970 by pianist Eddie Thompson, recorded in Germany in 1970 but never apparently issued in the UK. The title is different to the listing in Lord's Discography and was originally deemed not politically correct.
I have an album[LP] entitled Out of sight. It has the same front sleeve picture as another issued as Piano Moods and I understand from your text that this title was changed due to a feeling of "political correctness". Does this indicate that the album was released in the UK under its original title by Decca before they felt the need to make the change?
The sleeve is printed in English by Robert Stace & co. Original recording by MPS/BASF. Sleeve notes, in English, are by Eddie Thompson. Eddie was introduced to one Siegfried Mohr in a cafe who proposed that he should record some tapes for Mr Brunner-Schwer of MPS. Recordings were made in studios in Villingen, Germany. Eddie was very impressed with the piano, particularly the treble register and rich sounding bass. One number written by Eddie was One Mohr Time dedicated to Siegfred. In the notes Eddie tells us that all the numbers were recorded in one take; the tape was left running throughout the session. Eddie goes on to say; "The naming of this selection of tracks Eddie Thompson Out of Sight was my idea. When issued in Europe it was called Piano Moods a nothing title if ever there was one. I don't know the reason for the rejection of the original title! If people really feel that way then I say T.S. It is nice to know that in this country at least BASF have the courage of my convictions."
Details of the set are; My Romance, One Mohr Time, Jitterbug Waltz, How could you do a thing like that to me, Soft Winds, Spring is here, I wish I were in love again, Tea for two.
Tony Archer (Bass), Terry Jenkins (Drums).
Recorded; December 1970 by MPS/BASF at MPS, Tonstudio, Villingen This issue in 1974 by Decca London. Stereo. BAP 5044. Can anybody add anything? Was the album ever issued in the UK, if so on what label and when. Decca do not appear to have issued it here.
EM142 Over the last few years I received e-mails from a member of Kenny Graham's family who wishes to remain annonymous. Trumpeter Ron Simmonds said it was clear that Kenny was very uptight on his own views of jazz, so that no one ventured to ever cross him or his convictions. These extracts give an insight into Kenny's thoughts.
God, Kenny hated rock and roll when it came on the scene - it destroyed his livelihood and he was not street wise enough to adapt and survive. He was best friends with Stan Tracey but he could never come to terms with how he made a living touring on the British Council grants, he would not consider it and if he had he would have had a bust up with the organisers and stormed off.
God knows what happened to Kenny's copies of his albums but they were not in his stuff when he died. I know we used to visit a guy who ran a pub in Clacton who once upon a time played drums for Billie Holliday. His name escapes me but he used to have all Kenny's '78s. KG used to call him his archivist. The way we were told it KG stopped playing after his TB in 1957 He played a lot of Spanish guitar at home for his own entertainment.
Kenny said once that Dickie Devere's breaks were so astounding he would forget to come back in and just be staring at him. He also used Phil Seaman as well, did he not? I had the pleasure of meeting him and, though he was well f****d up and died shortly after, he had a hell of a lot of presence.
The family has next to nothing as Kenny's flat became damp due to his love of the old Essoblue heating system, All his tapes and books were mouldy and rubbish and all went to the tip I understand. Still if we had all of everything from history it would overwhelm us all. Some of what Kenny wrote for Crescendo makes me laugh: he was such a charmer to the outside world and such a sad man behind the mask. One thing I can say though is that he never compromised and went to his grave knowing he was great and that it was up to the rest of the world to catch up. I once asked him if he was thinking of doing an Ellington and writing a sort of mass at the end of his life (he loved requiems and especially Ellington's later work where Kenny said he was preparing for death so it was not such a strange subject).
I also knew, due to a chance encounter that Humph was keen to commission something new from Kenny. His reply surprised me at first: he said "f**k the lot of them, I can hear it all in my head and if they don't want it I can play it all to myself. Tragic in a way but quite believable.
I still think the Beaulieu Festival Suite was the best thing Kenny composed but that is very different from the sheer energy and originality of the Cubists in their hey-day. Sadly I was too young to ever hear them live. That backing percussion set up must have sounded awesome.
Which brings me back to Dicky DeVere. I think I said before that Kenny really rated Dicky's drumming - even more than Phil Seamen. He used to tell the story of how he would fail to come back in after one of Dicky's drum breaks because it had been so original and unexpected. I have a memento Kenny brought back from the 1951 Jazz Festival in the Hague. It is a ceramic tile made especially for the event and is signed on the back by Ralph Dollimore (piano), Dicky DeVere (Drums), Leonardo (maracas), Cliff Ball (Bass) Bob Caxton (conga Drums) Jo Hunter (trumpet - he draws a trumpet) and what may be another name or date but is too faint to read. July or Judy something or other. (Possibly Judy Johnson who was vocalist with the band at that time). It took place in the Kurhaus in Scheveningen. I remember hearing Kenny telling someone or other about it and recalling that they returned to England penniless, having spent the entire fee getting blasted both at the festival and on the boat back. Sounds like a good trip.
Kenny was regarded locally as a 'jazz fiend' who obviously ate babies and did not go to church parade. Then there was the conversation Kenny had with the vicar when he came around to investigate. Kenny was a keen astronomer. He had also purchased a beautiful Victorian microscope along with dozens of vintage slides. I only go on reports of the meeting between KG and the vicar. As Kenny had it, he invited the vicar to look at a fly's eye under the microscope, then to look out the window at the birds in the garden and, if he wished to know more, to come back that evening and look at the rings of Saturn through his telescope. "This is my church; this is where I know god". They were also in the room where Kenny composed his music. I don't think he was accused of being a heathen again in that parish.
EM141 An annonymous email addressed to Richard Rainbird, son of drummer Dickie Devere. (I am unable to pass this on personally but hope that Richard may read it here)
Dickie Devere... Dear Richard...
What a small world this is, but especially through the internet. I was revisiting a YouTube clip of Ronnie Scott's club and the important figures of the time. Jimmy Deuchar (of whom more later) was one of many names I knew in the late 1950s/early 1960s. I saw, among respondents on various clips, the name, Anne DeVere Harper, and bells began to ring. DeVere, I recalled, and wondered if this lady was related. One thing led to an other, and I eventually stumbled on your excellent commentary on your father. I'd no idea of the name Rainbird as that had never shown up on the radar way back then.
Cutting to the chase: I by chance met your father in 1959. I was on my student summer vac from art college in Scotland, living with relatives in London and working part of the holiday there. A couple of mates from Scotland turned up out of the blue, incurring the displeasure of my prudish aunt in Lewisham. It was a nice place to live back then, but only my aunt wasn't the nice person she was when I was a kid. Anyway, said mates and I took off for the West End that evening to see what mischief we could get up to (i.e. girls!). No luck there, and we finally found ourselves in Gerrard Street way after hours.
A group of dark-suited youngish men were criss-crossing and ambling their way to nowhere in particular, looking in and out of club doorways to see if there was any action, and one of my mates (like myself an embryonic jazz musician) said: "Look, there's Ronnie Scott." Sure enough, it was the very man. I assumed his companions were also jazz musicians, although at that time I didn't recognise any other than Ronnie. So, I plucked up courage and asked (or probably mumbled to) the one nearest me: "Are you a musician?" (or something equally stupid). Yes, he said, smiling, and not a bit taken aback. I felt quite flustered and embarrassed, but pressed on (uncharacteristically), asking him his name. "Dickie DeVere", he responded without a flicker. Right away, I knew the name and asked if he was the drummer, to which he confirmed. Result - phew! I liked him for his laid-back candour. He, Ronnie and the others, were looking for somewhere to kill the small hours before heading home.
I'd never possessed that level of courage before, but was impressed that your father actually took the time to answer civilly a curious youth in early morning Soho. Well, I transformed from feeling like an idiot to one who'd actually crossed a social barrier. Dickie, to me then, was a charming, fine-looking man, and we exchanged a few words more before his group moved on to a basement joint in the street. We followed on tentatively, but on descending one staircase and peering inside, realised this wasn't a place for teenagers, so we retreated into the night. I was driven back to Lewisham and the other pair slept in their car somewhere or other. Dickie, at that time, would have been 31 years of age. I was 19. Only now have I discovered that he ended up, terribly and prematurely, like so many of his peers, a victim of drugs. I would never have known it at the time. He, and the rest of his companions appeared to me stone-cold sober and otherwise unaffected on the night in question. I'll ramble on a bit, and forgive me for getting stuff out of sequence as I'm recalling events off the top of my head over a period of quite long ago. (Although in some respects it feels like yesterday.)
After my pals departed, we were joined in Lewisham by my uncles, one whom's son went on to have a very successful life in music before his premature death 4 years ago. Another uncle, also a musician, who evidently made sax reeds for Don Rendell and others, took me back up to Soho and to the Flamingo. There I was introduced to the likes of Bill Le Sage, Tony Kinsey, Kathy Stobart and a good few others. Dickie might well have been there, but I don't remember clearly all of the names I met. At the time, it was all of a blur and I was starstuck, but enjoyed the moment. My uncle was a First-Class Bullshitter, but he introduced me to a world until then only known to me then through the pages of Jazz Monthly, Melody Maker and the like. I joined the Flamingo the following week and still have my membership card 55 years on! A couple of years later, a mate and I bumped into Sammy Davis Jnr in Wardour Street, and he autographed the back of my Flamingo card. I joined Ronnie's original club in 1961.
I look at and listen to these YouTube clips from time to time and the years roll back. The music is still thrilling and way before its time, and I'm kind of disheartened that our guys failed to get the more widespread recognition they certainly deserved. Most were on a par with, if not better than, many of their American contemporaries. Talking of which and I'm digressing here, lest I forget I met Lester Young in New York in 2000. Not of course the man himself, but the son of. He was the spitting image of his father.
Among the many names you mention, more than a few come to the forefront of my mind. Tubby Hayes, Stan Tracey, Eddie Thompson, Alan Clare, Kenny Graham, Allan Ganley and Jimmy Deuchar are just a handful. Jimmy D was from my neck of the woods. My pal, mentioned earlier, was a trumpeter who desperately tried (and failed!) to emulate Jimmy. It was in 1961 after we'd finished college that I went back to London (Lancaster Gate), and tried and failed to convince publishers that they should hire me. Bad time that was. Yet, I still managed to get myself to Ronnie's once every few weeks, even if it meant a few miles trek through Kensington Gardens, Hyde Park and Green Park to get there and back.
Still in that same year (summer of 1961), my trumpeter pal and his fiance turned up in London on my 21st birthday and we decided to go to Ronnie's. I hastily arranged a date with an impossibly beautiful girl from another pal's place of work, and off we went. This was just before I became a member. We arrived at the door, and tried to gain entrance. No chance for non-members, said the doorman. My buddy, ever the bluff vociferous type, played the "I know" card meaning Jimmy Deuchar, and within minutes, Jimmy arrived at the door along with Peter King, whom I'll always remember as a jovial character and fine sax player and without much more ado, we were in. I can't remember who was on that night besides, Peter, Ronnie, Jimmy, Stan and others, but it was a typically enjoyable experience. Maybe Dickie was drumming that evening it's all a kind of a haze now.
Dickie DeVere's name will be fondly remembered by anybody who knew the London jazz scene way back then. Another drummer who came to grief at that time was of course Phil Seamen. I'd seen Phil play several times at Ronnie's and, sad to say, my most abiding memory of him was at the end of one late-night session at the club. I was standing outside as the band emerged. Dave Goldberg staggered up the steps carrying his guitar, and looked decidedly done-for as we exchanged eye-contact. Phil S got to the top of the steps then collapsed by the railings. Nobody came to his aid. I was shocked, to say the least. He looked in a very bad way, and it was clear that his state was drug-induced. He had another 12 years of life in him. How sad.
So, Richard, I thank you for your contribution to an area of life which meant a great deal to me at the time, and the memories live on. Your dad was an OK guy, believe me.
Kind regards, Frank
EM136 From Aimee
Lilliput Hall... I am searching for information and memories of Lilliput Hall in Old Jamaica Road, Bermondsey, South London, that was a jazz venue for many years. Double bass player Spike Heatley remembers it and adds "I knew about the conversion to flats but many big English/Scottish stars have played there, I remember it was there I first met Danny Moss, Tubby, Ronnie Scott, Don Rendell Bob Efford and a host of others in the time I was playing there regularly, oh yes, Vic Ash, Brian Lemon and Bill Le Sage"... We would appreciate it if anybody with any more information about who played there and when would please email via the link at the bottom of the page, thanks...
EM127 From pianist Brian Priestley
"My attention was recently drawn to your fine discography of Don Rendell, and I was flattered to notice that you had included the Cadillac LP of the Brian Priestley Special Septet called Love You Gladly. You might be interested to know that six years later I also included Don on a CD that was mostly solo piano, but his contribution was as follows: Brian Priestley featuring special guest Don Rendell - July 25th, 1994 (You Taught My Heart To Sing - Spirit of Jazz SOJ CD09-0995) Don Rendell (ts, sop, fl), Brian Priestley (p). DANCE OF THE INFIDELS / THE STAR CROSSED LOVERS / ECLYPSO / HEAVEN / IN WALKED BUD."
"I recall too that in 1989 the Special Septet did a cassette with the addition of trumpeter Bill Berry, which was commercially available through the offices of The Wire magazine."
EM126 From Robert Oakley
"Have read with great interest Alan Bond's musical experiences in the 50s and 60s. I too was out and about in a very similar way in those halcyon days. I spent a lot of time at the Ritz Ballroom in Kingsbury and I think that the orchestra he is talking about is not Alan Kirby's but one that was led by an ex Dankworth altoist Rex Ruttley. It was indeed a very jazzy outfit and included a number of the lesser known names of the period including Norman Moy, and the drummers Don Lawson and Dave Pearson The singers were Cynthia Lannigan and Neville Cameron and occasionally Bobbie Breen would dep".
"The trumpeter Alan Bond refers to is I believe Trevor Lannigan, husband of Cynthia, who was at the time with Edmundo Ros, and used to come in on a Sunday evening. These were the most jazzy of the nights there. Incidently this band did actually broadcast on the BBC but as far as I can remember it was only on Music While You Work broadcasts. A reduction in the number of days that the ballroom was open, brought about the demise of this band and it was replaced by Alan Kirby's. But it was not long before he was sharing the stand with a rock group. With the redevelopment of the area the ballroom was demolished and became a petrol station. This was sometime in the early to mid 1960s."
EM124 Memories of Eddie Thompson
Derek Sheinwald was a friend of pianist Eddie Thompson for many years. As Dave Shaw he played drums with Eddie recording with him for Columbia in 1954 ..."I was never, nor wanted to be a professional musician, I just played for enjoyment. I knew and admired Eddie for quite a long time. I still admire both his ability to overcome what I would consider to be an impossible burden and his brilliance as a pianist. I had the honour to meet Oscar Peterson a few times and consider Eddie to be up there with him in ability."
"Eddie, (rest his soul), was a very funny person and tended to disapprove of people who could not accept his blindness as his "normal" situation, and never understood why people shouted at him - "I'm blind in the eyes not the ears" he would say. I was often the fall guy for his humour - "I read a book last night" he would say, "that's nothing, so did I" was my line - "what? under the covers with the lights out!" would be his response. Of course I would receive dirty looks from all present not realising that we had a rehearsed act of similar quips. I remember the first time I drove Eddie home, he unlocked the door and marched into the kitchen, "I'll put the kettle on for coffee" he said. The room was in darkness and the curtains closed, crash ,bang wallop, as I collided with all of the furniture. "Oh I,m sorry, I forgot you can see, I'll put the light on".
In December, 1970 Eddie recorded a trio album in Villangen, West Germany titled "Piano mood" It was issued on MPS, a German label and was issued in the UK... "Piano mood" was originaly entitled "Out of sight" (typical of Eddie's acute sense of humour) but the record company was worried about political correctness and altered the title.
I would drive him home some late evenings and he would turn his head as if to look at me - "You look tired" he would say "shall I drive?" He was so convincing you could forget for the moment that he was having me on. Eddie had a Ronson Variflame lighter, I used to buy the small cigars -Hamlet- that we both enjoyed as a change from cigarettes. I would peel the cellophane covering (Eddie found that difficult wthout breaking the cigar) and put it in his mouth, like a flash he would have the lighter out and do what he knew upset me, his practice was to place the flame on his left index finger and guide it to his cigar or cigarette.the result was that his finger was black from years of this practice, although he insisted that he could not feel it as by now all nerve endings were destroyed, it still upset me but worse still he would then hold the still burning flame pointing in my direction to offer me a light. I never did beat him to the draw."
"Eddie always wore a waistcoat, 4 pockets, Jacket 3 pockets, Trousers 2 pockets. why? Ha'penny- Penny - Theepenny piece - sixpence - Shilling - Florin - Half Crown - Ten shilling note - Pound note. each distributed in order that when purchasing (for example drinks at a bar) he could offer exact money and not hold his hand out for change which if not given carefuly could scatter. After his sojourn in America I had not seen him for some 12 or 13 years. I attended Ronnie Scott's for a benefit evening (I forget who was the recipient) and saw Eddie sitting on a stool at the bar. I sat down next to him asked the barmen for two cigars, peeled one then squeezed Eddie's arm as he had taught me to, "I've just peeled a cigar and I will put it in your mouth" - "thanks Dave" he replied. "How did you know who I was?" I asked - "how did you know who I was" he replied - "I recognised you" was my response - "so I'm not allowed to recognise you?" he questioned."
"Sound was Eddie's whole life and I should not have been surprised that even after all that time he would know everybody by voice. I took him home one Guy Fawkes night, he placed indoor Fireworks in the Piano and lit them. The resulting sounds and reverberations were quite amazing. He asked me "Why do you have fireworks" - "to see all of the pretty colours I explained". "Yes, and these sounds are my pretty colours".
"I was fortunate to have attended a good school and receive an excellent education. The things I learned from Eddie were just as valuable in life. I hope this gives you some little insight into the man behind the musician..."
EM123 A personal recollection of the British modern jazz scene in the early 1950s...
I was born in July, 1936 and being very precocious haunted the jazz clubs. I worked at Rick Gunnell's Blue Room until he did a runner (quite usual in those days). Ambrose Cambell's West African Rhythm Band played in the Blue Room, and Xmas and New Year 1952/53 I danced with the band. Also Sam Wilde, Fire Eater was there.
For fun I visited an African club in Berwick Street the Abracadabra. This appeared in Colin Macinnes "City of Spades" and Ambrose Campbell was in it under a pseudo name. I believe I was too, depicted as a silly young girl. I also visited the Sugar Hill and the Sunset Clubs. the first in St. James and the second in Carnaby Street before it became 'gentrified'. I was a regular at the 51 Club and I recall that the doorman wore a commissioner's hat and was ginger! A great guy, when I was short of 2/6d to get in for a Saturday or Sunday afternoon session, he would loan me the money or even let me in for free. Whilst I was studying at the Italia Conti Stage School, then in Archer Street, despite my Shakespeare I was already a modern bebop fan, and haunted the Harmony Inn also in Archer Street and the place for musicians. I remember Vic Ash, and I knew Ronnie Scott very well as I was romantically attached (foolishly) with a pianist with his combo, before Ronnie was famous. Benny Green was a great pal, and I was on friendly terms with Tony Crombie, the drummer. Phil Seaman broke my heart to see his addiction and Tubby Hayes was a dear sweet lad. Joe Harriott was a gem, unappreciated and a gentleman. He was often without the means to eat properly, but held his head high. Tony Hall was a nice man and there was Jack Higgins, somewhat of an enigma.
Weekdays in the evenings I would travel with the Ronnie Scott group to Tottenham, Manor House and other grotty places where they were playing. Kenny Graham was great and I heard him a couple of times. I think Dizzy Reece played with him before he went to the States. Then there were the clubs, not jazz clubs as such, but fun, such as The Gargoyle, The Mandrake, The Collonade, Cabaret, etc. Also the coffee houses, which really were fab. Moulin Rouge and Chiquitos off Tottenham Court Road, The Coffee House, Trafalgar Square and Bunjes, a cellar off the Charing Cross Road. Oh, I also went to the Flamingo and the Taboo in Greek Street. How's that for a good memory. It all took place, 59 years ago!
I met my husband at the Cafe Vienna in Baker Street in 1956 and we married in 1957, and still are married. Quite an accomplishment these days. I remember the Empire Ballroom, often went there, and also Cafe Anglais. Sadly I think that for my sins I'm one of the last surviving - Too bad for heaven and the devils too busy! Shalom, Anne...
(Any comments on the clubs etc mentioned in the above email would be welcomed. Please send to email@example.com).
EM118 more on The Mandrake Club - From June Soltnseff...
I worked at the Mandrake as a barmaid in 1954-55 when it was called a chess-club. A few people did play chess, I remember, but it was mainly a private drinking club. You had to be a member and you had to have some food if you wanted a drink - that was the law.
Some famous people were members. I recall Dylan Thomas drinking until he fell off his stool. He has a wonderful voice, proclaiming his poetry; I loved listening to him. And I remember a handsome young giant coming in with his entourage, that was Rock Hudson. He was in London making a film with Patricia Neal. I can't remember the names of all the actors and artists, but we barmaids were always invited to parties after closing time.
Upstairs was the Gargoyle Club, where Alec Alexander's jazz quartet played Saturday night gigs. Alec was a drummer. Peter, his son, would sit in for him now and then. I remember sitting there with a drink, looking up at the ceiling and seeing two rats poking their noses down at me!
I'm pretty sure there was no music either at that time. I think it came later, when Ronnie Scott's and Humphrey Lyttelton's clubs were in Oxford Street. I recall being entranced by Cleo Laine's magnificent voice, such a wide range. I have collected her over the years and still get a thrill listening to her. Sorry that we lost Johnny Dankworth recently - he was a lovely feller.
A little group of Welsh artists would drink at the Mandrake. Augustus John did a lovely pastel of another artist, Nina Hamnett, while they were both well into their cups and I remember she swore like a fishwife when she saw it. They were both getting on in years but could drink like there was no tomorrow, along with Dylan Thomas of course.
I was only there for a few months, I'm not a professional barmaid, in fact I don't drink...a girl friend told me they needed someone at the Mandrake. It was very hard work, lugging crates of bottles and I hurt my back so I moved on. I am almost 84 years old, but I can remember it all quite plainly. It was a great time, London was really swinging, and I wouldn't have missed that experience.
(The Mandrake was a drinking club in Meard Street, Soho during the 1950s and although not a jazz club many musicians would spend "off-duty" hours here. Bass player Wally Wrightman worked there for ten years with Cab Kaye and others and wrote of his time at the Mandrake Club for this website...)
EM117 - The Mandrake Club - From Frank X...
I was doorman on and off for 4 years at the Mandrake and prior to that the Taboo in Greek street...latterly Ronnie at 2.am in the morning...spieling in Berwick St asked me to find him a club premises...I put him in touch with Jack Fordham who had a place in Gerrard St....where I helped with my then sparring partner John Upton....an artist, a fine one, a boxer...a contender and a pacifist (concientious objector.)...also myself won the olympic team trials but decided to 'wrestle' with Giselle in Antibes and not at the Games...I myself at that time at the Mandrake worked for the owners...Teddy and Sheilah Turner...stories I have but you are too young and would blush...1 mainly with Harold Becket trying to make the peace between him and Jo Herriot etc etc I am called Frank and I am truly frank...the Greek boss(es) were brothers Popacopulos and Chris Arragou.....(financed by the court shoemaker in Bateman st) Frank...the grand piano I believe was a Bechstein !
I note in passing that Ronnie's had it's 50th and of course the originators of the club..amongst those moi �me... would not have been contacted although I dropped an email (hopefully current) to Dizzy Reece (NY) who also played at the Mandrake with Jimmy Scott (West Indian)....London's first black cab driver and owner of a race dog which won the dog Derby I believe financed his short lived jazz club, in the area of Aldgate...lastly the Caves de France closed at 11 and the Freuds (Lucien), and the Bacons (Francis) and generally the artistic community of Soho who still had legs standing just had to cross into Meard St past the Gargoyle.... to the Mandrake where I had to carry-up the staircase those that had left their legs behind such as Jeffery Bernard and even Bacon, before the Colony had surfaced.
p.s didn't Lauri open the Downbeat adjoining GAGGIA machines....which I built so to speak... with Jack Sharpe ?
(The Mandrake was a drinking club in Meard Street, Soho during the 1950s and although not a jazz club many musicians would spend "off-duty" hours here. Does anybody remember Frank the doorman who sent the above e-mails or have any other anecdotes about the club? Bass player Wally Wrightman worked there for ten years with Cab Kaye and others and wrote of his time at the Mandrake Club for this website...)
EM113 - From Bob Fox...
Read the item on Ralph Sharon with great interest. Way back in 1951, I was Manager of the Pier Bandstand at Weymouth, and Ralph had been engaged with a sextet (I say "a" because it was obviously not his usual one). The Weymouth Council had done a deal with Ralph's agent at the time for the resident summer season, and in order to "boost" the sound as it was only a sextet working on an open air stage, Ralph was required to play a hammond organ. He was also required to play typical "bandstand" music - "Student Prince:"etc, and even, on one night a week, play for Old Time Dancing.
We got on very well - but I don't think it would have been one of his happiest seasons.
EM109 - From Alan Bond...
Like quite a number of other jazzers he, (baritone sax player Benny Green), appeared on occasion on the BBC radio programme 'jazz score', a show that is sadly missed. It would be nice to find that at least a couple of these gems of 'jazzical humour' had been saved for posterity.
(Did anybody tape this comedy show from the radio - if you still have the tapes please get in touch...)
EM107 - From Steve Bartlett...
(From Gramophone Magazine 1940s)...I have included below the info on what I beleive must have been Victor Feldman's first recording. I always thought that the Esquires he made in 1948 were the first and had no idea of the existence of anything earlier. It must be more a swing date than modern jazz..
Victor Feldman Trio - Drummin' Man / Sweet Georgia Brown
(Parlophone F2050. 4/6d.)
Victor Feldman (drms) with Robert Feldman (cl); Monty Feldman (accordion); Vic Lewis (g); Bert Howard (b). Recorded November 4th, 1944.
(Does anybody know of any other records by the Feldman Trio. In this recording the trio has become a quintet. Information of any other records by this group would be appreciated...)
EM105 - From Fred Elwell...
Does anyone remember The Blue Lagoon, if I remember it was just off Oxford St? I remember the night that Dinah Washington and her pianist Beryl Booker played there I think it must have been 1959. The Dill Jones trio were playing that night. When Dinah came on stage ( very small) she dispensed with the microphone and had all the lights turned on. It was absolutely terrific, I think one of the best nights I've spent in a jazz club.
Another short lived club was Benny Green's " Jazz City" in Tottenam Court Rd.
Double bass player Spike Heatley adds "I was with Dill Jones` trio at the time and we also accompanied Helen Merrill and Abbey Lincoln at the same venue subsequently, the Blue Lagoon sadly, was very short lived but was great whilst it lasted."
Harry Monty adds: "I certainly remember The Blue Lagoon. I was lucky enough to have gone there twice - can't remember who was playing the first time but the second time was when Helen Merrill was appearing and invited Dinah Washington up to sing. That was a fantastic night!!! The Blue Lagoon was located in Carnaby Street before it became famous as the fashion centre of London.
(Can anybody add further information about these two clubs? Any information would be appreciated...)
EM104 - From Bill Towers...
Thanks for the memories (The Feldman Swing Club). I was there one war time night when Glen Miller and some of his American Band of the AEF dropped in. What a night for me seeing and hearing US jazz musicians in the flesh for the first time- I remember seeing Beryl Davies dancing with a member of the band whilst the rest played Star Eyes. I shall always remember that tune because of that magical night.This was in 1944 and sadly Glen Miller died shortly after this.
I visited 100 Oxford Street a short time ago and it looked as tatty then as it did all those years ago. Nobody cared because the music was hot.
I add a piece of trivia - no alcohol was served on the premises so the session musicians went out to the nearest pub leaving the stage vacant for visiting musicians to jam. Ever grateful to the Feldmans for allowing me to see and hear the best of the British jazz musicians.
Further trivia -it was very interesting to see some of the clothes the musicians wore bought on trips to New York. It made me envious struggling with utility clothing and clothes rationing.
(Is there anybody else with personal memories of the jazz clubs of the war years? There is a war years page on the website and I would like to add personal recollections like this to the page...)