|Jimmy Deuchar (1985)...|
Jimmy Deuchar was born in 1930 in Dundee, Scotland. This, in his own words, is his jazz story...
My father was an alto player and my mother had two brothers who were professional trumpet players - Bill and chick Smith. Bill was the major influence on me because he brought all the jazz records into the house - Jimmy Lunceford, Tommy Dorsey and things like that. I always wanred to be a musician. Quite honestly, I had no other thought in my head - I was going to be a trumpet player and nothing else!
I went into the airforce and they sent me down to Uxbridge. I was in for eighteen months and in the meantime I had been down to Club Eleven and seen Johnny Dankworth. He'd heard me play a bit and said As soon as you get out I'd like you to join me so that's how I joined the Johnny Dankworth Seven. This was in 1950 - I was twenty years old. The other guys in the band were Don Rendell, Bill Le Sage, Eddie Harvey, Joe Muddel and Tony Kinsey. Johnny Dankworth taught me so much! He put in a nutshell what would have taken me years to learn.
After the Dankworth Seven I went with Geraldo. That was a good band - a very good band. It was a tremendous trumpet section. We did studio work and some radio work. I also remember a couple of sad gigs at the Grosvenor Hotel. Awful! But it's all experience, you see. That's what I try to get into my kids. One's a drummer and one's a bass player. Do everything. Work! Whatever it is, work, do it, go!
I left Geraldo in a huff beccause he wouldn't let me off for one night. I was only 21. Then I wanted to go to Paris to play with Ronnie Scott's Sextet, which I did. My god, that was some rhythm section - Tony Crombie, Victor Feldman and Tommy Pollard! And they switched around - Tommy played the vibes, Victor played the drums and tony played the piano. Lovely scene - it was marvellous. It was at the Salle Playel. We were playing opposite Dizzy Gillespie and he was sitting there in the wings listening to us play. We had an arrangement called The Champ, which Dizzy had just written, and we played it before he went on. He didn't like that at all! It worked, but it scared me to death just seeing him!
I then went with Jack Parnell's band (1952/5) and had a most happy sojourn with him. Jimmy Watter was in the middle, Joe Hunter and myself. There were only five brass including Ken Wray and Matt Mitchell. Then there was Ronnie Scott and Pete King on tenors, Derek Humble on alto and various baritone players who shall be nameless! Phil Seamen was on drums. One of my favourite arrangers was the piano player Norman Stenfalt. That guy just drove me - it was so beautiful. Everything he did was right, every time. Sammy Stokes was on bass.
After that I went with Oscar Rabin's band. Then I went to Germany with Kurt Edelhagen. We were doing a broadcast with Ronnie Scott's Sextet with Derek Humble and the same rhythm section - Phil Seamen, Kenny Napper and Stan Tracey. We were in this studio in Piccadilly and Kurt came down and said, Would you like a job with my band? It was money and there wasn't very much of it about in those days, so we all said Yes - Ken Wray, Derek Humble and me.
I went there in 1957, came back at the end of 1959 and went back to Dundee to visit my parents. They'd moved back to Arbroath from Malden in Surrey where I had lived as a child. Then Ronnie Scott phoned me and said Do you want to come with me? I did two and a half years with Ronnie and then three years with the Tubby Hayes Quintet.
I had met Tubby Hayes when I was working with the Johnny Dankworth Seven. He was only about fifteen at the time. I was about twenty and had just come out of the airforce. I heard Tubby playing and that man just changed - he completely dissolved everything I had heard. He had changed from a young lad, a callow youth, into a perfectionist musician, an instrumentalist, and he was writing all sorts of arrangement. I just didn't believe the change in that guy, it was incredible! In a year, he must have gone into the woodshed. I know he did that because that's the only damn way you can do it. He did it and he proved the rule - practise man!
I think there was a fusion of musical thought because he thought the same was as I did. The other three guys in the band were Allan Ganley, Freddy Logan - ferocious Fred - and one of my all time favourite piano players, Terry Shannon. Terry was always a lovely, beautiful player - the only trouble was that he couldn't read! We started off with Gordon Beck. He was the original piano player, one of the best I ever worked with. However Gordon went his own way and we got Terry.
There were two TV shows which have been re-shown recently. One was the Tubby Hayes Big Band. It was a twelve piece band. I think that show was one of the best things the band ever did. The other one was the Benny Golson Big Band. They were Benny golson's arrangements and I think Tubby put the band together. God that was a band! Would you believe that band? Twelve brass, umpteen reeds, the rhythm section, everything. No strings. You don't use strings in jazz, I've tried and it doesn't work. Write minims for strings and your OK, as soon as you deviate from minims, forget it.
We had three great years with the quintet before Tubby just folded it (1964). He just said Well I'm going to take off on my own. I'm going to make it with a quartet. It was a different rhythm section, a different bag of tricks. It was up to him. I went back to Germany with Kurt Edelhagen again. I really gave up playing for quite a long time and did only a few gigs. I was mainly writing. That's why I quit and joined the Francy Boland Band. That was a good band - a fantastic band.
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We had Sahib Shihab on alto, Johnny Griffin and Ronnie Scott on tenors. We did a good few recording sessions and a good few concert, all over Europe. Then Derek Humble died and I think that killed the band.
I made a record with Friedrich Gulda, don't know if you can get that one over here. Then in 1979 I made another called The Scots Connection with tenor player Gary Cox, a very good friend of mine. Gary was working with drummer Jack Parnell, piano player Johnny Patrick and bassist Dave Lynane and I did a couple of gigs with the band and we made it into a quintet. Then Alistair Robertson from Hep Records phoned me and said Do you want to make an LP? I said Yes and he said Who do you want to do it with? I said Jack Parnell, Johnny Patrick, Dave Lynane and Garry Cox.
A few months after that I went to hong Kong and spent a year there playing both trumpet and flugelhorn. It was supposed to be a six month thing and the guy kept renewing the contract every three months. It was a big band kind of thing, in a hotel club called Cabaret, but it wasn't very good musically - a lot of Glenn Miller stuff. The music was OK for it's time and all that, but I didn't like it too much.
I came back from Hong Kong and worked for a while with the BBC. During the summer it all falls away so you have to go and do something else. I phoned this guy in Miami who was working for a Norwegian shipping line. I was six months on a Norwegian cruise liner. It was all right. Nice weather, use of all the amenities, good food, as much as you could eat. You could never get hungry - they threw more food to the sharks! But since then I have just been working with the BBC. That's a good band too - Ronnie Baker, Dave McClellan, Frank Bentrini - all good players.
More recently I have done a lot of writing for Jack Sharpe's big band. Jack and I go back a long, long time. We grew old together! It's been a long time, but he just phoned me up and said We are getting this little band together, seven pieces It was the same combinations as the Johnny Dankworth Seven actually. Of course Jack plays the tenor and the baritone which makes all the difference. So I have done a lot of writing for that and now he has come up with the big band, which is terrific. I think that it is going to be one hell of a band. The guys he's got in this band you wouldn't believe! Really, the trumpet section alone will blow your head off. Derek Watkins, John Barclay, Steve Sidwell and of course Dick Pearce. You couldn't get a better trumpet section than that anywhere!
Jack arranged it all because he very kindly invited me down to work with the band, and he fixed up five or six gigs on the trot in a week. It was great. He laid it all on. That was actually the first time I had been down to London for a good number of years. Everybody kept saying Why don't you move back down? I'm thinking seriously about it. A very serious maybe! We really did enjoy it, my wife Moira and I. That's what makes me think about returning. I was very grateful to Jack for organising it all. If it does happen I will probably be doing a couple of gigs with Jack's big band. I'm writing for the band anyway.
(At the time of this conversation in 1985 the Jack Sharpe big band had not been recorded. However, in 1989 it was recorded and Jimmy Deuchar was in the line up).
Then the Charlie Watts Big Band thing came up. I had a call from John Stevens.He said You might not remember me Jimmy but a long time ago.... I did remember him. Charlie Watts is getting it together, do you want to do it? Do you want to do it? You ask a silly question! Of course I want to do it, great! So that was that fixed. How can you not want to do something like that? Just the amount of names in the band are enough to turn you on.
John Stevens explained what Charlie was going to do. They are all standard tunes you see, so it's not going to sound like the Rolling Stones at all, it's going to sound like a big band. He had been thinking about this big band idea for so long and had eventually got around to doing it.
There are so many guys in the band who I know - literally all the saxophonists and most of the rest of the band. With all those guys it cannot be bad. I'ts all the old mates you see, who I hadn't seen for ages. We played standard tunes for the first couple of gigs - Stomping at the Savoy, flying home etc. but now there are plans to include some new material. Bobby Wellins has done an original thing for the band and it is being extended upon. I think Stan Tracey is going to do a couple of things. I think the book will be enlarged because Charlie wants to keep it going, so we can't play the same charts all the time...
This takes the Jimmy Deuchar story up to 1985. By now his health was not good although he did record with the Jack Sharpe Big Band in 1989 He played little now but still worked as an arranger. He did the big band arrangements for the Joe Temperley "Concerto" on CD 2061 (Hep). But by the time it was recorded Jimmy had died, at the age of just 62 in 1993.
Jimmy had done a lot of arranging as well as being a virtuoso trumpet player and was widely regarded as a huge talent but sadly had succumbed to alcohol addiction. He had also done drugs with Tubby Hayes and the 'gang' in the 1950s and the damage had been done. In the years before his death he had both legs amputated because his circulation had packed in - not a nice way to go! He is widely regarded as the best modern jazz trumpeter that Britain ever produced.