Melody Maker bands...
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The Melody Maker bands...
For 74 years the Melody Maker was the weekly 'trade paper' for the dance band and jazz musician as well as all those interested in the modern music scene. First published in 1926 it continued until it was taken over by the New Musical Express in 2000. During it's lifetime it survived major changes in the demands of the musical public and the music profession. One of it's continuing features and talking points were the annual Readers Polls where readers voted under different categories for individual musicians, singers, big bands and a host of other categories. Esquire Records used these poll results to form and record hand picked modern jazz groups. Esquire recorded the Melody Maker All Stars as they were called, from 1951 until 1955. The first "Waxing the Winners" record was a success and with the close co-operation of the Melody Maker editor Pat Brand the records became an annual event.

A number of other groups were recorded with Melody Maker as part of the title. In 1954 Mike Nevard, a reporter for the Melody Maker organised a couple of recording dates for the All Stars for two American labels, MGM and Blue Note. After 1955 when Esquire stopped recording, Nixa took over and recorded a handful of tracks under the All Stars name for another two years.

The Melody Maker name had been attached to a number of earlier recordings. The first time was in 1942 and then when there was increasing interest in bebop in 1947, Melody Maker and Columbia Records organised the Melody Maker's Jazz Rally. Unfortunately, few of the tracks recorded are available on CD. The very first recording in 1942 was not a 'modern jazz' group but a number of the musicians went on to have careers in the jazz environment.
More on "the Melody Maker All Stars"...
Kenny Baker, Ronnie Scott, Vic Ash (1954)
Kenny Baker, Ronnie Scott and Vic Ash, 1954

Ronnie Chamberlain, Johnny Dankworth, Harry Klein, Don Lusher (1954)
Ronnie Chamberlain, Johnny Dankworth, Harry Klein
and Don Lusher, (1954)

This was recorded as a tribute to the second world war effort of Britain's Merchant Navy, the proceeds from the sale of the record went to provide comforts for the sailors.
Melody Maker's Competition Band - May 31st, 1942 (Decca)
Dave Wilkins, Kenny Baker, Tommy McQuater (tp), George Chisholm, Woolf Phillips (tb), Harry Parry (cl), Harry Hayes (as), George Evans, Aubrey Frank, Reggie Dare (ts), George Shearing (p), Joe Deniz (g), Tommy Bromley (b), Jock Cummings (d).
Red Duster Rag*/Red Duster Rag.
(*Hep Records CD - Kenny Baker, Birth of a Legend '41-'46)
(*Proper Records 4CD Box set - Jazz in Britain 1919 - 1950)

With the increasing interest in the new modern jazz sounds at this time, the 'Melody Maker' and 'Columbia Records' held a joint jazz rally at which the Harry Hayes Band and the Woolf Phillips group played. 'Blue Moon' includes a relaxed flowing solo from Ronnie Scott (then a big toned tenorman), and good contributions from Pete Chilver and George Shearing. Reg Arnold played a solo hinting at something different to his usual swing sound.
Melody Maker's Jazz Rally - June 29th, 1947 (All issued on Columbia)
Dave Wilkins (tp), Woolf Phillips (tb), Harry Parry (cl), Reggie Dare (ts), Ralph Sharon (p), Pete Chilver (g), Jack Fallon (b), Norman Burns (d).
Who's Sorry Now (part 1)/Who's Sorry Now (part 2).
Same date
Reg Arnold (tp), Woolf Phillips (tb), Frank Weir (cl), Ronnie Scott (ts), George Shearing (p), Pete Chilver (g), Jack Fallon (b), Norman Burns (d).
Blue Moon (part 1)*/Blue Moon (part 2)*.
Same date
Reg Arnold (tp), George Chisholm (tb), Bertie King (as) Cliff Townsend (vln), Ralph Sharon (p), Frank Deniz (g), Jack Collier (b), Jock Cummings (d).
I've Found A New Baby.
Same date
Frank Weir, Carl Barriteau (cl), Harry Hayes, Bertie King (as), Tommy Whittle (ts), Ralph Sharon (p), Dave Goldberg (g), Jack Collier (b), Jock Cummings (d).
Confessin'/C Jam Blues/Thriving On A Riff*.
(*Proper Records 4CD Box set - Jazz in Britain 1919 - 1950)

The 1951 Melody Maker All-Stars - February 3rd, 1951 (Esquire 10-115)
Kenny Baker (tp), Gordon Langhorn (tb), Ronnie Chamberlain, Henry McKenzie (cl), Ronnie Scott (ts), Johnny Dankworth (as), Dave Shand (bs), Victor Feldman (vib), Ralph Sharon (p), Ivor Mairants (g), Charlie Short (b), Jack Parnell (d).
Brand's Essence*/Marshall's Plan*.
(*Giant Steps Records CD - Great Scott)

Esquire's first 10" LP recorded the winners in the 1951 Melody Maker readers poll.
The 1952 Melody Maker's All-Stars - March 24th, 1952 (Esquire 20-001)
Jimmy Deuchar (tp), Keith Christie (tb), Vic Ash (cl), Ronnie Scott (ts), Johnny Dankworth (as), Victor Feldman (vib), Ralph Sharon (p), Ivor Mairants (g), Joe Muddel (b), Jack Parnell (d).
Leap Year (2 takes, one take on*)/Up The Poll (2 takes)/M.M.Special (Part 1)/M.M.Special (Part 2).
(*Giant Steps Records CD - Great Scott)

the Melody Maker's New Stars were the choice of the Melody Maker critics and columnists who conducted their own poll of what could be described as 'up and coming talent'. Jimmy Walker later became involved with the 'Polka Dots' vocal group and Geoff Taylor drifted out of jazz when he adopted an 'Earl Bostic' style that for a while brought him some success. The others continued in the jazz world...
Melody Maker's New Stars - May 8th, 1952 (Esquire 10-234/237)
Ken Wray (tb), Vic Ash (cl), Geoff Taylor (as), Jimmy Walker (ts), Ralph Dollimore (p), Cliff Ball (b), Don Lawson (d).
Searchlight/The Fifth Man*/Mike's Choice*/St. Maurice.
(*Hallmark CD - Basement Bop - British jazz in the 1950s)

The 1953 Melody Maker's All-Stars - March 4th, 1953 (Esquire 20-008)
Kenny Baker (tp), Jackie Armstrong (tb), Vic Ash (cl), Les Gilbert (as), Ronnie Chamberlain, (sops), Ronnie Scott (ts), Martin Slavin (vib), Bill McGuffie (p), Ivor Mairants (g), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Jack Parnell (d).
Ballot Box (2 takes, one take on*)/Anidina/Coronation Jump (2 takes).
(*Giant Steps Records CD - Great Scott)

The 1954 Melody Maker's All-Stars - March 7th, 1954 (Esquire 20-031*)
Kenny Baker (tp), Don Lusher (tb), Vic Ash (cl), Johnny Dankworth (as), Ronnie Chamberlain, (ts,sops), Ronnie Scott (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Vic Feldman (vib), Bill McGuffie (p), Tito Burns (acc), Ivor Mairants (g), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Eric Delaney (d).
For Voters Only# (2 takes, one take on*)/Gallop Poll (2 takes, one take on*)/Swingdido*.
(#Hallmark CD - Basement Bop - British jazz in the 1950s)

Melody Maker's Modern Group - April 7th, 1954 (Esquire 20-030)
Kenny Baker (tp,flhrn), Jimmy Deuchar (tp,fhr), Bruce Turner (as), Tommy Whittle (ts), Vic Feldman (vib), Dill Jones (p), Sammy Stokes (b), Tony Kinsey (d).
If I Could Be With You (2 takes)/Young And Healthy (2 takes)/A Long K.B. Blues.

Aces Anonymous or Mike Nevard's Melody Maker All Stars - May 13th, 1954 (The Cool Europeans - MGME3157)
Don Rendell (ts), Johnny Dankworth (as), Albert Hall (tp), Ralph Dollimore (p), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Allan Ganley (d).
Deep Purple*/Rhumblues/I'll Remember April/Amalgam/Two Sleepy People.
(*Avid 2 CD set - Cleo Laine & John Dankworth: Three Early LPs & More)

Aces Annonymous or Mike Nevard's Melody Maker All Stars - May 15th, 1954 (New sounds from Olde England - Blue Note BLP5052
John Dankworth (as), Don Rendell (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Albert Hall (tp), Ralph Dollimore (p), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Tony Kinsey (d).
Quick Returns*/Crystal/I'm Putting All My Eggs In One Basket(1)/Jazz Club USA/Nom De Plume/Epigram.
(*Avid 2 CD set - Cleo Laine & John Dankworth: Three Early LPs & More)

Melody Maker's All-Stars - March 7th, 1955 (Esquire EP56)
Kenny Baker (tp), Keith Christie (tb), Vic Ash (cl), Johnny Dankworth (as), Ronnie Chamberlain, (ts,sops), Tommy Whittle (ts), Harry Klein (as,bs), Vic Feldman (vib), Bill McGuffie (p), Tito Burns (acc), Bert Weedon (g), Joe Muddel (b), Eric Delaney (d). (Add Joe Harriott (as) on Waxing The Winners)
Gershwin Ballad Medley: (Summertime/Someone To Watch Over Me/Love Walked In/Embraceable You)/Waxing The Winners (Part 1)/Waxing The Winners (Part 2).
(*Hallmark CD - Basement Bop - British jazz in the 1950s)

Melody Maker's All-Stars - October, 1957 (All the Winners - Nixa NJT509 )
Kenny Baker, Eddie Blair, Bert Courtley (tp), George Chisholm, Keith Christie, Don Lusher (tb), Joe Harriott (as), Don Rendell, Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Harry Klein (bs), Bill Le Sage (vib), Dave Lee (p), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Allan Ganley (d).
Top score*/Mood Indigo*. (Other titles on this LP are by Kenny Baker's Half Dozen, Dill Jones Trio, Vic Ash Quintet, Don Rendell jazz Six and Cleo Laine).
(*Castle 3CD box set - Too Hot - The Best of British Mainstream Jazz)
(*Vocalion CD - Presenting Kenny Graham)

Melody Maker's All-Stars - November, 1958 (All the Winners - Nixa NJT518 )
Tubby Hayes (ts), Ronnie Ross (bs), Bill Le Sage (vib), Dave Goldberg (g), Johnny Hawksworth (b), Allan Ganley (d).
Hark Dog*. (Other titles on this LP by Lennie Felix, Polka Dots, Kenny Baker All Stars, Cleo Laine, and Vic Ash Sextet).
(*Vocalion CD - Jazz Today - Buddy Featherstonhaugh, Harry Klein and others)

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