Kenny Graham discography...
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Kenny Graham...
Born in Ealing on July 19th, 1924 Kenny played his first professional job at the age of 16 on alto saxophone before switching to tenor just before he went into the army. Played in a number of dance bands throughout the 1940s including Johnny Claes Claepigeons (1942), the Feldman Club band (1947), Nat Gonella (1948), Victor Feldman's Sextet (1949), and Harry Klein's Quintet (early 1950) before forming his own original group, Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists in April 1950. In 1942 he had volunteered for the army, hoping to be assigned to a service band but the army had other ideas. Kenny dyed his red hair black and went absent without leave, assuming the name of Tex Kershaw, joining the band of Johnny Claes' Claepigeons. He was eventually caught and demobbed after four miserable years.

Along with Ronnie Scott, Johnny Dankworth and Denis Rose he was, as a tenor saxist, composer and arranger, a genuine, often overlooked pioneer of the modern jazz movement in Britain. He truly was a pioneer, although Dizzy Gillespie had used Afro Cuban rhythm to colour his big band modern jazz arrangements and Machito and others had combined their purely Latin bands with modern jazz soloists Kenny Graham was the only musician to convincingly fuse Afro-Cuban rhythms with modern jazz in a small group context.
After a spell with the Ambrose band, the one with the contingent of modernists, Kenny took the plunge and formed his own group the Afro-Cubists in April 1950 which he led for two years. The band was an artistic success and a lot of fun but the public did not take to it and it was a financial disaster disbanding after two years when trumpeter Jo Hunter and drummer Dicky DeVere quit.
Kenny then played for five months 1952/3 on baritone sax with Jack Parnell, occasionally. reforming the Afro-Cubists, with widely differing line ups, for recording sessions or the odd live date. He was much in demand as a powerful swinging tenor player and played with a variety of mainly dance bands.
c1955

From 1955 Kenny Graham concentrated on writing to the exclusion of tenor playing and wrote many arrangements for Ted Heath and Humphrey Lyttelton as well as acting as musical director at recording sessions and providing backing for many on record. Kenny's tenor playing matured over the years into a post-Lester style - as a person he was completely dedicated to his strong belief in how jazz should sound. He also composed music for films and experimented with electronic keyboards. He even wrote an orchestral suite, commissioned by the BBC that was given one performance on radio before disappearing for good.

Following a serious illness in 1958 Kenny gave up playing the saxophone and whatever the reasons he drifted into what he called musical labouring and for the last thirty years of life he was virtually inactive on the jazz scene. He had many gifts, he was an expert in electronics and was a skilled amateur and watch and clock maker. He had various jobs in his late non-musical life including maintaining ticket machines on the London Underground and later as a caretaker in a block of flats in Putney. He had lost his inspiration for music and wrote rarely and then only at Lyttelton's instigation with whom he had remained friends since started writing for Lyttelton's band in 1958. He died in London mid-February 1997.

Kenny Graham biography and discography...
the early classic records...
The Afro-Cubists...
The Afro-Cubists and the Melody Maker...
Kenny Graham the composer...

Joe HunterxxxDickie DeverexxxTerry BrownxxxPhoto
An ongoing tragedy is that not a single recording of the original Afro-Cubists is currently available on CD. Only one recording date, made with a studio band that was nothing like the original group line up is currently available. In the period from February 1951 to September 1955 Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists recorded some 54 titles for Esquire records of which only six from 1951 were ever re-issued in a long discontinued 4 CD set (Bebop in Britain). Sixteen titles, (up to 5/2/53), were issued on an LP issued by Esquire in the 1970s in the Treasure Chest re-issue series. This is titled "Mango Walk - Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists Volume One". Volume Two included his Caribbean Suite....


Kenny was deep into African folklore. It was clear that he was also very uptight on his own views of jazz, so that no one ventured to ever cross him or his convictions. At the Kursal in Southend one night he got into a long complicated discussion with some guy he'd never met before on the qualities and talents of the American jazz pianist Joe Bushkin, whom Kenny didn't rate at all. The guy waxed enthusiastic over Joe, and nothing Kenny could say would alter his opinion, so in the end he told the guy to get lost.
After the dance we were entertained by the sight of our coach driver, Bert Harris, who was having a great time trying to back the band bus out of the loading bay without demolishing all the cars carelessly parked behind him. As we boarded the bus the man who had been bugging Kenny Graham suddenly appeared by his window and shouted, "Joe Bushkin! Joe Bushkin!". At once Kenny dashed out in a rage and chased after him. They disappeared into the Kursal grounds and we had to hang around waiting for Kenny. He returned, breathless and red with anger. When he sat down he kept muttering, "Him and his Joe Bushkin. I'll kill the idiot!"
Later in life Ted Heath hit on the idea of having three or four arrangements written of some hit pop tune, the idea being that he would buy the one that pleased him the most. Kenny was one of the arrangers involved, but Ted didn't like his score. He was then able to go around saying that he was one of the lucky ones who had lost the great Ted Heath Arranging Competition. I thought Kenny was a very talented musician, and he also wrote some brilliant articles for the Crescendo magazine. He ended his career quite abruptly and became the caretaker to a block of London flats.
Ron Simmonds (Trumpet player)

Nat Gonella and his Georgians - July 22nd, 1946 (Decca RFL12)
Nat Gonella, Monty Montgomery, Bruts Gonella, Fred Dinning (tp), Frank Osbourne (tb), Bertie King, Sandy Herd (as), Ronnie West, Kenny Graham (as,ts) Al Dallaway (p,arr), Roy Plummer (g), Lennie Bush (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Murder.

Harry Hayes And His Orchestra - c1947 (HMV)
Big band including: Harry Hayes (as), Kenny Graham (ts), Tommy Pollard (p).
Four titles (details not known).

Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - February 10th, 1951 (Esquire)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham (ts), Jack Honeybourne (p), Roy Plummer (g), Cliff Ball (b), Dickie Devere (d) + maracas, conga and bongo.
Mango Walk*#/Pina Colada*.
(#Giant Steps 2CD set - Soho After Dark 'London's '50s Modern Jazz Scene')
(*Charly/Esquire 4 CD box set - bebop IN BRITAIN - issued in 1991 currently only available second hand...)

Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - June 4th, 1951 (Esquire)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham (ts), Ralph Dollimore (p), Roy Plummer (g), Cliff Ball (b), Dickie Devere (d) + maracas & conga.
Chloe*/Over The Rainbow*/Skylon*/Dome Of Discovery*.
(*Charly/Esquire 4 CD box set - bebop IN BRITAIN - issued in 1991 currently only available second hand...)

Ronnie Scott & Kenny Graham - December 3rd, 1951 (Esquire)
Ronnie Scott (ts), Kenny Graham (ts), Victor Feldman (vib), Ralph Sharon (p), Lennie Bush (b), Tony Crombie (d), plus other rhythm.
Not So Fast+/Battle Royal*+/Fast+/Twin Beds+.
(*Giant Steps Records CD - Great Scott)
(+Proper Records 4CD Box set - Ronnie Scott "Boppin' With Scott")
(+Acrobat CD - Ronnie Scott Not So Fast - The Complete Esquire Recordings 1951)

Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - February 13th, 1952 (Esquire)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham (ts), Ralph Dollimore (p), Roy Plummer (g), Stan Wasser (b), Don Lawson (d) + maracas, conga and bongo.
Mike Fright/Pip Squeak/Kenny's Jig/Cuban Canon.
(These titles have never been re-issued in CD format but are available on CD via this website...)

Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - October 8th, 1952 (Esquire)
Terry Brown (tp), Kenny Graham (ts), Ralph Dollimore (p), Bruce Swain (b), Dicky Devere (d) + maracas, conga and bongo.
Boom/Barbados/All The King's Horses/Peanut Vendor.
(These titles have never been re-issued in CD format but are available on CD via this website...)

Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - February 5th, 1953 (Esquire)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham , Derek Humble, Joe Temperley, Bertie King (ts), Oscar Birch (bs), Ralph Dollimore (p), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d) + conga.
I'll Remember April/Jump For Joe* (two takes)/A Night In Tunisia (two takes)/Take The 'A' Train (three takes).
(*Proper Box 4 CD set - Seamen's Mission: Phil Seamen)
(These titles have never been re-issued in CD format but are available on CD via this website...)

Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - April 29th, 1953 (Esquire 20-012) (JMC2)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham, Norman Fantham, Eddie Mordue, Wally Moffatt (ts), Oscar Birch (bs), Ralph Dollimore (p), Joe Muddel (b), Phil Seamen (d) + maracas and conga.
Afro-Kadabra (parts 1 and 2)/Flamingo/Keni B'sindika.
(These titles have never been re-issued in CD format but are available on CD via this website...)

On Esquire LP 20-023, (titled Caribbean Suite), the eight movements of Graham's 'Caribbean Suite' are linked together by Dennis Preston's narration, which was dubbed on later. Recording details as below:
Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists - October 23rd* and 27th, 1953 (*Esquire 20-023)
Jo Hunter (tp), Kenny Graham, Joe Temperley, Norman Fantham, Eddie Mordue (ts), Don Honeywell (bs), Dill Jones (p), Roy Plummer (g)*, Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d), Judy Johnson (voc), + maracas.
Beguine*/Tempo Medio Lento*/Saga Boy*/Bongo Chant*#/Mango Walk/Dance Of The Zombies/Wha' Happin' Sah?/Haitian Ritual#.
(#SWP Records CD - The Late, Great Phil Seamen)
(#Proper Box 4 CD set - Seamen's Mission: Phil Seamen)

(Most of these titles have never been re-issued in CD format but are available on CD via this website...)

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - April 27th, 1954 (Esquire)
Dizzy Reece (tp), Kenny Graham (ts), Joe Harriott (as), Eddie Mordue (bs), Freddy Logan (b), Ginger Johnson (d).
The Continental/Cottontail/Fascinating Rhythm/Blues In The Night.

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - August 23rd, 1954 (Esquire)
Kenny Graham (ts), Dave Goldberg (g), Arthur Watts (b), Phil Seamen (d), + conga.
Good Bait/Bike Up The Strand.

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - December 3rd, 1954 (Esquire)
Kenny Graham (ts), Dave Goldberg (g), Freddy Logan (b), + maracas and conga.
Jeepers Creepers/Sunday, Monday or Always/The Nearness Of You/Lover Come Back To Me.

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - May 6th, 1955 (Esquire EP83*) (JMC17*/25^)
Leo Wright (tp), Kenny Graham, Eddie Mordue, Pete King, Alan Rowe (ts), Bill Andrews (bs), Lennie Metcalfe (p), Victor Feldman (vib,conga), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Caravan*/Kings Cross Climax*#/When Your Lover Has Gone^/When A Bodgie Meets A Widgie^.
(#CD Harkit - Jazz Brittania '56!)

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists with Victor Feldman - September 8th, 1955 (Experiments in Time - Esquire 20-064) (JMC18)
Kenny Graham (ts), Victor Feldman (vib, p, d), Ray Dempsey (g), Eric Peter (b), Dizzy Reece, Barry Morgan, Phil Seamen (perc).
Mogambo*/Keep Happy*/Algo Bueno*/SOS*.
(*Real Gone Jazz 4CD box set - Victor Feldman Eight Classic Albums)

Ronnie Scott/Tony Crombie Orchestra - February 18th, 1956 (Decca LF1261...10" LP)
Ronnie Scott (ts), Derek Humble (as), Kenny Graham (ts), Jimmy Deuchar (tp), Les Condon (tp), Ken Wray (tb), Benny Green (bs), Stan Tracey (p), Lennie Bush (b), Tony Crombie (d).
Basie Talks*/It Might As Well Be Spring*/Drop Me Off At Harlem*/Ting-A-Ling*/Straight Life*/Flying Home*.
(*Acrobat 2 CD set - Soho Blues - The Ronnie Scott Anthology 1956-62)
(*Real Gone Jazz CD - Tony Crombie: Seven Classic Albums plus bonus EP)
(*Real Gone Jazz 4 CD set - Ronnie Scott: Six Classic Albums plus Bonus Singles)

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - May 25th, 1956 (Tenorama - Nixa NJL4)
Kenny Graham (ts), Jack Ellory (f), Major Holley (b), Phil Seamen (d), + maracas and bongo.
Poinciana*/Teddy Boy*.
(*Vocalion CD - Presenting Kenny Graham)


From the 2nd to 11th July, 1956 MGM recorded an LP(C764) comprising the ''Moondog Suite'' and Kenny Graham's "Suncat Suite". Full details of these works are available from Trunk Records who re-issued the work in CD and vinyl format in February, 2010...
Kenny Graham and his Satellites - July 2nd, 1956 (MGM C764)
Kenny Graham (ts), Danny Moss (b-cl), Jack Ellory (f), Stan Tracey (cel), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d), Don Lawson (perc), Yolanda (voc), + maracas.
Lullaby*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

Stan Tracey (vib), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d), Don Lawson (perc), Yolanda (voc), + maracas.
Tropical Sun*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

Kenny Graham (ts), Danny Moss (b-cl), Stan Tracey (acc), Martin Slavin (vib), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d), Don Lawson (perc).
Sunday*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

July 3rd, 1956 (MGM C764)
Kenny Graham (ts), Stan Tracey (vib), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d), Don Lawson (perc).
One Four*.
(*SWP Records CD - The Late, Great Phil Seamen)
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)
(*Proper Box 4 CD set - Seamen's Mission: Phil Seamen)


Kenny Graham (ts), Danny Moss (b-cl), Jack Ellory (fl), Stan Tracey (or Martin Slavin) (vib), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen (d), Don Lawson (perc).
2 West 42nd Street*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

Kenny Graham (ts), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen, Don Lawson (perc).
Two Four*/Three Four*/Four Four*/Five Four*#.
(#SWP Records CD - The Late, Great Phil Seamen)
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)
(#Proper Box 4 CD set - Seamen's Mission: Phil Seamen)


July 4th, 1956 (MGM C764)
Kenny Graham (ts), Danny Moss (b-cl), Jack Ellory (fl), Sammy Stokes (b), Don Lawson, Eddie Taylor (perc).
Fog On The Hudson*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

Kenny Graham (ts), Danny Moss (b-cl), Jack Ellory (fl), Stan Tracey (p), Sammy Stokes (b), Don Lawson, Eddie Taylor (perc).
Sunbeam*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

Kenny Graham (ts), Danny Moss (b-cl), Jack Ellory (fl), Stan Tracey (vib,p), Martin Slavin (xyl), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen, Don Lawson, Eddie Taylor (perc).
Sunstroke*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

July 11th, 1956 (MGM C764)
Vic Ash (cl), Danny Moss (b-cl), Jack Ellory (fl), Ivor Slaney (oboe), Stan Tracey (vib, cel), Sammy Stokes (b), Phil Seamen, Don Lawson, (perc), Yolanda (voc) + marimba.
Chant*/Utsu*/Sunrise*/Sunset*.
(*Trunk Records CD - Moondog and Suncat Suites)

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - Summer, 1956
Kenny Graham (ts), other musicians unknown, (possibly including Jack Ellory (fl) and Martin Slavin (xyl,marimba).
Kilroy Was Gone*/Begin The Beguine*.
(*Harkit CD - Jazz Britannia '56!)

Bertie King Jazz Group - September 20th, 1956 (Nixa NJT506)
Kenny Baker (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (as), Kenny Graham (ts), Cliff Townsend (bs), Derek Smith (p), Cedric West (g), Lennie Bush (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Blue Interlude*/Skip It*/Lazy Afternoon*.
(*Vocalion CD - Kenny Baker & The Jazz Today Unit - Operation Jam Session)

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - January 14th, 1957 (Presenting Kenny Graham - Nixa NJL12) (JM0258)
Jo Hunter (tp), Jackie Armstrong, Laddie Busby, George Chisholm (tb), Kenny Graham (ts), Cliff Townsend (bs), Stan Tracey (p,vib), Sammy Stokes (b), Jack McHardie (cga).
Cuban Fantasy*/Rockin' In Rhythm*/Monkey Business*/I Dreamt I Dwelt In Harlem*.
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(*Vocalion CD - Presenting Kenny Graham)

February 5th, 1957 (Nixa NJL12) (JM0258)
Personnel as January 14th.
Tuxedo Junction*/Swallowin' The Blues*/Don't Get Around Much Anymore*/Times A Wastin'*#/Bongo Chant*.
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(*Vocalion CD - Presenting Kenny Graham)
(#Retrospective CD - George Chisholm The Gentleman of Jazz - A Centenary Tribute)

Kenny Graham's Afro Cubists - February 25th, 1957 (Presenting Kenny Graham - Nixa NJL12) (JM0258)
Jo Hunter (tp), Jackie Armstrong, Laddie Busby, George Chisholm (tb), Kenny Graham (ts), Don Honeywell (bs), Dick Katz (vln), Eddie Thompson (p,org), Sammy Stokes (b), Frank Holder (cga).
Olwen's Dream*/I'll Get By*^.
(^Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(*Vocalion CD - Presenting Kenny Graham)


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