Harold McNair discography...
the bandsthe musicianshome pagethe clubsthe recordstime linegallerydiscographiesodds + endslinks
Harold McNair...
c1965 Harold McNair was born in Kingston, Jamaica in 1931. By the time he arrived in London in 1960 he played alto and tenor saxes, flute and clarinet. He had played in the Jamaican All Stars in the late 1940s mostly playing tenor. He came to London via work in the Bahamas, Cuba, Florida and New York and while in London worked in Europe with pianist Martial Solal and the Kenny Clarke Quintet as well as touring Europe with Quincey Jones' band.
In London in 1960 he worked with Stan Tracey and played a residency at Ronnie Scott's before returning to the Bahamas. After work in New York with Quincey jones he returned to London mid 1961 for club bookings and work with Charlie Mingus in the film All Night Long. He led his own band in the UK in the early 1960s and also worked with the Phil Seamen Quartet in 1966 as well as freelancing extensively.
By the time he arrived in London the audience for modern jazz was in decline and he never achieved the acclamation given to fellow West Indians Joe Harriott and Dizzy Reece in the 1950s. His Parkeresque alto, Rollins-influenced tenor and superb flute playing impressed the London jazz scene in the early 1960s but he probably arrived too late for many. His flute was heavily featured on the soundtrack for Ken Loach's film 'Kes', as was his tenor saxophone on the original 1962 soundtrack theme from the Bond film 'Dr. No'.
record sleeve

Harold McNair had been working in London with Les Condon and Jack Sharpe in 1970 before his early death from lung cancer in 1971. He was just 39...


Harold McNair recorded on only a few occasions and his few LPs are much sought after by collectors. He made an LP in Jamaica for Top Rank (RM316) that was not issued in the UK sometime in the 1960s titled Bahama bash. The album featured the voice and saxophone of "Little G" and McNair played alto sax...

Tony Crombie Orchestra - August, 1961 (Ember EMB3336)
Harold McNair (as,f), Tommy Whittle (bs,b-cl), Gordon Beck (p), Malcolm Cecil (b), Tony Crombie (d).
Gut Bucket*#^+/Just Like Old Times*+/Keep It Light*/Look For The Real Thing*/Flute Salad*/Brazilia*^/Penthouse Party*/Journey's End*. (#Another title Sadie's Song which appears to be by the same group also appears on the Ember Tribute CD)
(#Ember CD - Tony Crombie - A Tribute)
(^Fantastic Voyage 2 CD set - Ember Jazz - The Flamingo Connection)
(*Fantastic Voyage CD - Whole Lota Tony)
(*Real Gone Jazz CD - Tony Crombie: Seven Classic Albums plus bonus EP)
(+Acrobat CD - British Modern Jazz Singles, EP tracks & Rarities 1960 - 62)

Tony Crombie Orchestra - August, 1961 (Ember EMB3336)
Harold McNair (as,f), Bobby Wellins (ts), Gordon Beck (p), Malcolm Cecil (b), Tony Crombie (d).
Yodelin'*#/Stop That Man#/Round the 'Ouses#/The Gang Busters#.
(*Fantastic Voyage 2 CD set - Ember Jazz - The Flamingo Connection)
(#Fantastic Voyage CD - Whole Lota Tony)
(#Real Gone Jazz CD - Tony Crombie: Seven Classic Albums plus bonus EP)

Harold McNair Quartet - Live at Ronnie Scott's, November 13th, 1961 (Fontana TFL5176)
Harold McNair (as,f), Terry Shannon (p), Jeff Clyne (b), Phil Seamen (d).
Tangerine*#/Harry Flicks#.
(#Acrobat CD - Zoot Sims at Ronnie Scott's 1961 - The complete recordings)
(*SWP Records CD - The Late, Great Phil Seamen)

Sometime during 1964 McNair recorded an album in Miami, Florida for the Bahamian Rhythms Limited label (BRH43) that was not issued in the UK. Titled Up in the Air this featured McNair on flute, tenor sax and vocals accompanied by a rhythm quartet...Details below have been supplied by John "G"...
Harold McNair Quintet - c1964 (Up in the air with Harold McNair)
Harold McNair (ts,f,vcl), Hernando Becerra (p), Neville Sampson (b), Eduardo Martinez (d), Berkeley Taylor (goombay drums).
Fly Me To The Moon/I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face/Desafinado/Just In Time/Witchcraft/Speak Low/The More I See You/Easy To Love/Secret Love/Stella By Starlight.

Harold McNair Quartet - October, 1965 (Affectionate fink - Island ILP926)
Harold McNair (ts,f), Alan Branscombe (p), David Izenzon (b), Charles Moffett (d).
You Stepped Out Of A Dream/Here's That Rainy Day/I Love You/Affectionate Fink/Angel Eyes/O Barquinho.

Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis - March 26th and April 1st, 1967 at the "Manchester Sports Guild" (Oh, Gee! Live in Manchester - Jasmine 2 CD set JASCD629)
Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis (ts), Harold McNair (as,fl), Pat Smythe (p), Kenny Napper (b), Tony Crombie (d).
Gal In Calico/On Green Dolphin Street/On A Clear Day/Moonlight In Vermont/The Shadow Of Your Smile/Four/Oh Gee!/Intermission Riff/West Coast Blues/Speak Low/This Is Always/The Chef/Lover/Land Of Dreams/Hey Jim/Intermission Riff.

The record detailed below was re-issued in 1972 on B&C Records with three titles (Secret love / Darn that dream / On a clear day) left out and replaced by a 12.45 minute version of a tune named "Spacecraft"...
Bass player Spike Heatley adds "One thing I can tell you about the record, Harold had already tried to record this material with some Americans who I believe were either at Ronnies or on tour in UK. However, it was a total cock up as he later told us rather sheepishly, he had spent time in NY before coming to England and knew these people vaguely and the record company thought it would be a coup to have them on the label. WRONG, they didn`t know the material and Harold wasn`t one for writing arrangements. As this was all stuff we had played together for months at the Bulls Head the only option to rescue the project was with us which obviously was the answer. The people responsible gave him one session of 3 hrs to get it done et voila ! British is best. I can imagine why the first session with the Americans failed because once in the 1960s I was invited to a Miles Davis recording session in NY and and 1hr after the session started they still hadn`t played a note. That would never be allowed in a London studio for a jazz record, the most time ever I spent to make an LP of any kind of music is 2 sessions with a maximum of 20 minutes music recorded in one session, thats the way it was, so when I hear of these so-called pop and rock stars taking a year or minimum 6 months to make a record I have to chuckle.."
Harold McNair Quartet - July, 1968 (Harold McNair - RCA SF7969)
Harold McNair (ts,f), Bill Le Sage (p), Spike Heatley (b), Tony Carr (d).
Mento*/Indecision*/The Hipster*/Mini Blues*/Secret Love*/Darn That Dream*/On A Clear Day You Can See Forever*/The Cottage*/Lord Of The Reedy River*.
(*Vocalion CD - Harold McNair / Flute and nut)

Trailways Express - October 1st, 1968 (Trailways express - Polydor 2460142)
Les Condon (tp), Chris Pyne (tb), Peter King (as), Harold McNair (ts,f), Mike Pyne (p), John Hart (b), Philly Joe Jones (d).
Trailways Express*.
(*Black Lion CD - Mo' Joe)

Trailways Express - October 31st, 1968 (Trailways express - Polydor 2460142, Black Lion 157000)
Kenny Wheeler (tp,fhrn), Chris Pyne (tb), Peter King (as), Harold McNair (ts,f), Mike Pyne (p), Ron Mathewson (b), Philly Joe Jones (d).
Mo' Joe*/Gone, Gone, Gone*/Baubles Bangles And Beads*/Here's That Rainy Day*/Ladybird*.
(*Black Lion CD - Mo' Joe)

Harold McNair with Orchestra - c1969 (Flute & nut - RCA INTS1096)
Harold McNair (f), accompanied by unknown orchestra with brass, reeds, woodwind, strings, harp, + p,b,d,perc.
eight titles of mood music.
(*Vocalion CD - Harold McNair / Flute and nut)

Harold McNair - July - August, 1970 (The Fence - B&C CAS1016)
Harold McNair (as,el-sax,f), Keith Tippett (org,p), Alan Branscombe (p), Colin Green (g), Rich Greech (el-b), Danny Thompson (b), Terry Cox (d), Tony Carr (perc).
The Fence*/Scarborough Fair*/True Love Adventure*/Early In The Morning*/Here And There And Everywhere*.
(*Hux CD - The Fence)
(*Body Heat CD - The Fence + bonus tracks)

Flautist John Devitt has transcribed three of McNairs' jazz flute solos. Full details on his own website...


This page was updated during February, 2015.
Any comments welcomed, please click on email below...