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Jazz Remembered


Norman Cave



Norman Cave

Norman Cave
Picture by Harold Chapman


Reviewing a recent Lake Records release of music by Freddy Randall and his Band, I was reminded of the fine playing of trombonist Norman Cave. I thought it might be interesting to include an article about him in the 'Jazz Remembered' slot but I can find very little information about Norman online. Do you remember Norman? Can you add anything?


We can see a video of Norman playing I Found A New Baby with Sid Phillips and Kenny Ball.




Fortunately, John Chilton recorded some information about Norman in his book 'Who's Who Of British Jazz', so we have something to start with. John's entry tells us that Norman was born in Liverpool, Lancashire on 2nd June 1925, and that he:

Played piano from childhood, took up the trombone and became part of the Salvation Army Band in Liverpool. He played trombone in the 7th Hussars band during Army service and after demobilization in November 1949, he joined Freddy Randall on piano, but switched to trombone with Randall from May 1950. Norman worked in Liverpool with Mrs Wilf Hamer's Band in late 1950 and 1951, then he rejoined Freddy Randall in July 1951. He was with Harry Gold for a year from autumn 1952, then two months with Freddy Randall in late 1953. Norman led his own band in 1953 and 1954, then worked with Sid Phillips from October 1954 until July 1957. During the late 1950s, 1960s and 1970s he worked with Betty Smith, Bernie Stanton, Bruce Turner, Danny Moss, Bobby Mickleburgh, Kenny Baker, Chick Mayes, Cyril Stapleton, etc. but in the late 1970s he worked mainly as a solo pianist or as an accompanist for singers. He moved to California in July 1981 where he continued to play on keyboards and trombone.

John Chilton's item only gives us information as far as 1995.

Mrs Wilf Hamer (Marie Daly) took over the band that played at the Grafton in Liverpool when her husband died from pneumonia. Trumpeter Ian Hamer and his brothers Stuart and George also began their musical careers at the Grafton Ballroom in Liverpool in the band run by their mother.



Sid Phillips band


The Sid Phillips Band at the Aberdeen Ballroom with Norman Cave on trombone.
Photograph courtesy of Sandy Pringle.

Sandy Pringle remembers the occasion pictured in this photograph: 'I was a GP and friendly with the manager of the Beach Ballroom in Aberdeen. I played the trombone in a local dance band and in a jazz band. Norman Cave took ill and as I was on call that night I was sent for and advised him to stop playing, advice which he ignored!'


Listen to Norman with Freddy Randall and his Band playing I Ain't Gonna Give Nobody None Of My Jelly Roll in 1952.





The photograph by Harold Chapman at the top of this article is of Norman in the Mandrake Club in Meard Street, Soho. Harold Chapman, was named 'The Invisible Photographer' by Beat poet Allen Ginsberg because he 'sought to capture the scene as it actually happened, without staging or intervention'. Chapman was a significant figure during the 'Beat' generation time in Paris and in London. His own story is interesting in itself and you can read an interview with him here. His encounter with Norman Cave is remembered during the interview:


'From whom have you have learned the most secrets about the music & photo'?

'From music, Norman Cave, the trombone player, who used to come into the Mandrake Club in Meard Street, Soho, London, which was a crummy cellar dump where jazz musicians would gather after their gigs and hold informal jam sessions.  I particularly liked this venue as the complications of the licencing laws for alcohol in England were particularly bizarre.  After 11pm at night, which was the closing time of English pubs then, you could only get a drink if you bought a meal.  At the Mandrake they served a huge plate of salad Harold Chapmanwhich legally constituted a meal, so every time you wanted to have a drink, say, a pint of beer, you got a plate of salad.  Most of the salads sadly never got eaten nor were they intended to be, they were all scrapped at the end of the night’s session and probably ended up as pigswill.  So, as the place was always littered after 11 o’clock at night with salads, if one was discreet, one didn’t even have to buy a drink but simply helped oneself to two or three salads and had a large healthy meal! …'


Harold Chapman
Photograph by Claire Chapman


'One day, I was wandering around at dawn in Hampstead with my camera, looking for something to photograph in the deserted streets.  Having given up, I decided to go home about half past nine and much to my amazement who should be coming out of one of the houses, dressed in full evening dress, but Norman Cave.  “What on earth are you doing here at this time in the morning?”  “I have just come from my embouchure tutor after a gig.  I have to keep on learning all the time,” he said.  That taught me something I have remembered all my life and that is, every day I carry on trying to learn something new, practise a better way of holding the camera, breathing, etc., and even at 85 I know I don’t know very much but I will keep on trying to learn until the moment I drop dead'.

If anyone can remember more about Norman, it would be good to expand this article. Please contact me if you have more information or memories.


A 78 rpm record with Norman Cave playing Dark Night Blues with the Freddy Randall Band.





Philip Hays-Nowak writes: 'Every so often I head online to see what new information might be available on Norman Cave.  I had a busy year last year and obviously missed the excellent piece you published and which has prompted me to write (click here). I've not got much to add about Norman (that you would want to include at least) beyond the fact that he passed away in a San Francisco nursing home in May 1999.  The other thing that you may be mildly interested to read is that I suspect that Sid Phillips wasn't best pleased with Norman because just a few months after Sid had successfully concluded a long search for a new female vocalist, Norman began a relationship with her and she fell pregnant. Sid had to let her go when it became too obvious. Sid's short-lived vocalist was my late mother Rosemary Archer, and my father was of course Norman.

Rosemary continued with her singing career, which included joining a German orchestra for a time (the name of which we don't know) and touring Europe; we know she sang with an outfit called the Helmut Weslinski Sextet who I think were signed to Columbia, and we know that she headlined a summer season at the Chikito Club in Bern. She also made a lot of broadcasts for the American Forces Network and eventually married an American working on a base in Germany.  After that she moved to Denver and sang with a band called the Johnny LaPorta Trio as well as working with other names we're unfamiliar with such as Joe Flores, Eric Ross and Dean Bushnell. Just to underline that genes will always out, I had been head chorister in a Cathedral choir and subsequently helped form a jazz big band in which (after briefly flirting with trombone) I played second trumpet before I discovered anything about my parentage.  Thanks again for the interesting article and the photo, which I hadn't seen'.



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