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How To Sing The Blues: A Useful Starter Kit

From Dorothy Eaton, Canada. (May 2007)

How to Sing the Blues, A Useful Starter Kit by Lame Mango Washington (attributed to Memphis Earlene Gray with help from Uncle Plunky, with revisions by Little Blind Patti D. and Dr. Stevie Franklin).

 

Roger Bell

(From Roger Strong and Bill Hasler, New Zealand and Australia, June 2008)

Roger Bell (born: Melbourne, Victoria. 4 Jan. 1919) was Graeme Bell's younger brother. With Ade Monsbourgh and friends he discovered jazz on radio and records in 1932, while at school. He began playing drums in 1935, formed a band with Graeme playing local dances, and took up cornet in 1938. Apart from a period in 1943 during the war the brothers' musical activities were linked until the famous Graeme Bell Australian Jazz Band broke up in September 1952. Roger left jazz music for a while, then joined Max Collie's Rhythm Aces. He worked with various bands until becoming a member of the Melbourne Jazz Club house band in June 1958. This band evolved into Frank Traynor's Jazz Preachers and Roger remained with them until mid 1967. He recorded between 1949 and 1980 with his Pagan Pipers, freelanced during the 1970s and made overseas playing trips in 1976 and 1981. He was still active on the Australian jazz scene up until the mid-late 1990s and a regular and popular performer at the Australian Jazz Convention and Australian jazz festivals. Rude health (to borrow the name of his 1968 original composition) eventually forced Roger into reluctant retirement. He died on Tuesday, 17th June 2008 following a long illness. He was a dear friend with a great sense of humour, a passionate and dedicated supporter of Australian jazz, a popular and enthusiastic performer, innovator, prolific composer and extremely knowledgeable regarding Australian music, its history and importance.
Bill Hasler.

Walter Hanlon Jazz Photographs

Photographer Walter Hanlon's book 1950s Jazz In London And Paris (Tempus - £15.99) has recently been featured at London's National Portrait Gallery with a selection of photographs from the book. The exhibition finished in July, but the book is still available.
Walter has written to tell us that the book is selling well, but there are one or two corrections people might like to note:
Page 13: Humph's date of birth should be 1921.
Page 51: Should read 'John Dankworth and pre-Cleo singer Marion Williams, who was with the Seven for a short time.
Page 61: Missing name is Flip Phillips
Page 71: Should read 'the Christie Brothers, Pete Appleby, Dick Hawdon and Nevil Skrimshire', the rest as is.
Page 79: Third from right is French bassist Pierre Michelot.
Acknowledgements: 'Clare Brown' should read 'Camilla'.

The photographs in this book are well worth seeing.

Regional Jazz Websites

From Jeff Matthews, (February 2008)

Have you come across Fred Burnett's site at www.jazznorthwest.co.uk? I wonder if there is room for a website like Fred's which would encompass bands south of the Liverpool/Manchester line? Geoff Inwood runs a site covering the Midlands. I wonder if I should put up a website covering bands in the Midlands and South? It would take money to launch and I don't have a lot of time to administer it, but there are bands from the rest of the country contacting Fred for inclusion on his site all of the time I believe. It would open up the Trad/Dixieland scene somewhat and show it to be a popular interest. I think the media believe it is already dead and buried. Why would they think any differently!

Fred Burnett runs for the North West of England - www.jazznorthwest.co.uk. Jazz In Scotland is already included in our Links page and Andy Roberts runs a site Jazz In Wales - www.jazzinwales.co.uk that also has a link to BBC Jazz In Wales.

 

 

Applause at Jazz Gigs

Initial Letter - The Clap

Why do people do it? A while ago I went to a gig in Taunton, Somerset. Behind me sat a couple who had evidently brought along a jazz virgin and after the first number, they were at great pains to tell her that the done thing was to applaud after each solo. And so they, and the rest of the audience did, whether the solo was good, bad, or indifferent. I swear they must have missed the first few bars of the solo that followed.

Was it always like this? If you listen to the live recording of 'Splanky', the audience applaud after a couple of Sandy Brown's solos but otherwise the applause comes at the end of the number. I don't remember clapping after every solo when I went to a Fairweather-Brown gig at the Six Bells in Chelsea in the early 1960s, but that was a long time ago, and perhaps my memory fails me. Things may have been different then. I do remember there were very few chairs in the fairly small room and we all stood in front of the band under a cloud of cigarette smoke, holding a pint of Best Bitter, Strongbow Cider or lager and lime which made it quite difficult to clap too often. Similarly, I don't remember clapping every solo at a Steely Dan gig in Birmingham, nor after every brilliant pas seul or pas de deux at Swan Lake.

I can understand that people want to gasp 'yes, yes' and respond to a particularly fine solo if the mood is right, the musician is inspired and the solo really hits the spot, but do the band really want the audience to politely fake it throughout the performance? At the end of each number it is usual for the bandleader to offer up to the audience the musicians who have taken solos and the audience applauds them again. Isn't this the best time to clap, shout 'Oh Yes!', whistle, stamp your feet and swing from the ceiling if the musicians are swinging too? It seemed to work for Steely Dan.

Just Listen Please

From Andrew Edgington

The Clap (see The Clap above ) - I agree - I went to a jazz club about 25 years ago, and can recall a few knowledgeable looking beardy types acknowledging solos with a nod of the head and a sort of desultory 'yeah!'. I have now recovered fully and am a Bob Dylan fan. One thing that REALLY irritates me is when fans cheer and shout when the recognise what song Bob is playing. Dylan officianados will be aware that Bob has completely mangled his back catalogue as far as his live shows are concerned, and it can be some time before you recognise what he's playing. Indeed, a few years ago I saw Bob in Nashville with one of the most serious Dylan fans you could ever meet, and it was only in the closing verses that he turned to me and said, 'Is this Mr Tambourine Man?'

Being Appreciated

From Penny Robinson

I go to a jazz club twice a month, mostly to see local bands who love to play good traditional New Orleans music and the venues on the whole are fairly informal. The people I go with are jazz fans of all sorts, but one of our number travels the world to indulge his passion and he has no problem at all in showing his appreciation for a good performance. Some of the soloists are good, some not so good, but as individuals they do need to know that they are being appreciated and so as a rule, the audience gives a short burst of applause after the solos ... in fact, most of the band leaders actively encourage it. The 'clap' (see The Clap below ) doesn't go on for long and sometimes it's barely audible, but they know that we are listening and enjoying, and there is a seamless progression to the next solo without that much of an interruption.

At a large concert venue I can see that it may be more of a problem, and purists may get annoyed if they miss some of the next solo, but personally I think performers would rather hear applause than silence, at least that way they know their audience is still awake!

Now You Can All Go Home

From Bill Robbins

What is this clap I thought (see The Clap above ), was it something one contracted in small dark cellars full of cigarette smoke and alcohol fumes, when being covered in spit from the musicians' instruments only yards away from you? To avoid the clap, listen to your music at home and thereby you avoid not only any potential physical effects, but also the necessity to join the poseurs physically 'clapping'. Such clapping seems de rigeur when a clever musician interrupts a perfectly good tune for what seems like an eternity to show off their technical mastery of their instrument. Given my low threshold of boredom I have forgotten the tune by the time they get back to it. Similar bouts of clapping go on at party political conferences when someone tells a clever set of lies and all those who hope for advancement from any success of the individual goes into raptures over what, when it is deconstructed, is usually very little. No, I am not in favour of clapping, but it does seem the only decent way to acknowledge something is at an end and you can all go home!

Clapping The Solos (March 2010)

In conversation with one musician last month, he raised the question once again of the indiscriminate clapping after every solo, good or indifferent, at live jazz gigs. We included some correspondence about this topic some time ago (above), and it still appears to be an area where there is difference of opinion. As the earlier correspondence said, it seems to have become a habit, exclusive to jazz, to clap after every solo. One earlier correspondent wrote: "... behind me sat a couple who had evidently brought along a jazz virgin and after the first number, they were at great pains to tell her that the done thing was to applaud after each solo". I wonder why this has occurred in jazz, and why applause is not left until the end of a piece when the band leader acknowledges the soloists?

Clapping After Every Solo - A Bad Habit

From Tony Augarde (March 2010)

Clapping after every solo has seemingly become a bad habit among many jazz audiences. It is not a sign of appreciation for the musicians but actually an insult to the musicians, as it conceals the first bars of the next musician's solo.  And it is a habit, not a spontaneous recognition of a good performance. Audiences seem to applaud after EVERY solo, whether it is good or not. Applause might be justified for particularly excellent solos, but not for every bloomin' one!   Besides, the habit reveals the ignorance of many audiences, who clearly cannot distinguish between a good solo and a poor one. Their ignorance is often underlined by the times when they applaud in the wrong place - thinking a solo has finished when the structure of the tune shows that there is more to come.   Please join my campaign to stamp out this pernicious practice which, as some of your correspondents suggest, has not always existed.

 

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Limeribilia

From Doug Harris (stride.environmental@virgin.net) (May 2007)

I actually stumbled upon your site when doing a search on Ron Rubin! I am also a limerick writer plus amateur historian and collector of limerick books and all manner of 'limeribilia' with some 850 items in my collection - mostly books, but also posters, magazines, audio going back as far as the early 1900s, postcards, playing cards, even limerick toilet paper! I hope one day to to create a museum in appreciation of the humble AABBA 5-liner that continues quietly to be 'The People's Poetry' as they make jokes about life and the notorious folk of our times, just as they have always done since the invention of the workplace and the ale-house. I have just had a letter from Ron in which he tells me he is producing a 4th book of musical limericks. I look forward to it, because his are of the highest quality.

Before I go, you must suffer the fate that most folk do in even the shortest correspondence with me:

So, exactly what is 'all that jazz'?
It's music of course, but whereas
Normal forms follow rules,
They can't teach this in schools!
It's ambrosia with razz-a-ma-tazz.

(If anyone would like to contact Doug about his limerick collection, please send him an email to the above email address).

Brazilian Music

Howard Gabe in Brazil has written to us to say that he has become an aficianado of Brazilian music whilst he has been there and if he can be of help to anyone - searching for a particular piece of music or a named artist, he will be pleased to be of assistance. Contact us if you would like to get in touch with Howard about this.

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2007 - 2014

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