Long distance Information
Give me mention, then we'll see
Help me find a party ...
(with apologies to Chuck Berry (click here)
Please contact us if you able to help with any of the following requests for information?
Richard Moore who works with Matt's daughter Michele for the Matt Monro Estate has come across an item we have on our Profile page for Bunny Austin. On the page, Bunny sent us a photograph of the occasion where he played at Ron Weedon's wedding. Richard has picked up on two things that Bunny wrote at the time:
'This picture was taken in the late 1950s when pianist Ron Weedon was married. Matt Monro was a guest and sang with our quartet which included George Cox, a very fine pianist. One of the guests had a reel-to-reel tape recorder and taped Matt singing with the band - someone has a collector's item!'
Richard and Michele ask whether anyone might know of what happened to Ron Weedon and whether the recording Bunny mentioned might still exist? Please contact us if you can help.
If there was ever any doubt that Matt Monro could swing, listen to this recording of a live performance at the BBC Saturday Club in 1963 of It's Alright With Me with Matt and the Johnny Spence Orchestra - click here. Michele Monro says: 'This is one of my favourite tracks of dad letting rip!'.
Colin Harper writes: 'I'm working on substantially revising/expanding a short chapter on Big Pete Deuchar that appeared as an ebook extra with my John McLaughlin biog 'Bathed In Lightning'. I'll be publishing a limited edition hard-copy version of the ebook extras next year, and thought it a good opportunity to fully explore Pete's career (outside of his short involvement as John McLaughlin's first bandleader in 1959-60).'
'I've done a couple of new interviews and I'm exploring a couple of research avenues and trawling vintage magazines, but I wondered if your readers had any information?'
If you can help, Colin can be contacted through his website at www.colin-harper.com
Roland Ashpool has been trying to find out who the members of the Ron Russell Jazz Band were in this gig filmed at the Tunbridge Wells Jazz Club in April 2017.
Barry Watson suggests: Digby Fairweather (trumpet), Dave Hewitt (trombone,) Rod Brown (drums), Ron Russell (bass) and possibly Jim Douglas (banjo) ......
Click here for the video. Please contact us if you can help.
John Griffeth has been searching for the composer of the tune that Bob Wallis and his Storyville Jazz Band played in the 1962 film It's Trad Dad (known in America as Ring-A-Ding-Rhythm). The film included Chris Barber's band with Ottilie Patterson, Acker Bilk's Band, Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen, Terry Lightfoot and his band and the Temperence Seven.
According to the International Movie Data Base, the tune was written by Milton Subotsky, a major British film maker of the time who with Max Rosenberg formed 'Amicus Productions' with the aim of producing low - to medium-budget horror and anthology films (they also formed 'Cinerama Releasing' in 1966), usually shot in England and Scotland. These included The House That Dripped Blood (1971), Dr. Phibes Rises Again (1972), Scream and Scream Again (1970), Tales from the Crypt (1972) and Oliver Stone's first feature film, Seizure (1974). Prior to becoming a film producer, Subotsky was a composer of rock'n'roll songs. After Cinerama Releasing folded and went out of business in 1975 due to the lack of British investment, Rosenberg and Subotsky went their separate ways. Rosenberg rarely continued with film making, but Subotsky kept his hand in American horror films, helping to bring a number of Stephen King's novels to the screen. He died in 1991 of heart disease.
Click here or on the picture for the Bob Wallis band video from the film.
Denise Knowelden writes: 'I'm looking for any information on Dennis Price, born in 1930 in Birmingham. He played trombone with Ronnie Mills and his Orchestra in 1956, then he became one of Tommy Steele's Steelmen, playing piano. From 1958 – 1960 he had his own Quintet at El Condor in Soho and then he was in The Polka Dots from 1960 – 1963.'
'Dennis moved to Australia in 1963 and remained there apart from a spell in the 1980s. He died in 2013. I’m hoping there might still be people around who knew him and remember him.'
Please contact us if anyone can help Denise.
Maureen Connolly has sent us this picture of 'Banjo George' Baron. The picture was taken in around 1957/58 with George playing Maureen's husband's (David Snell) Clifford Essex banjo. Maureen says: 'We are trying to find out more about the banjo as we have never seen another one like it. We are hoping to sell it and give the money to our son. We would love to know if anyone else remembers Banjo George, any anecdotes etc.'
If anyone is interested in the banjo, contact us and we will pass on your details to Maureen.
We are still looking for more information about trombonist Mac Duncan who we featured on the site last month (click here). Tony Rose writes: 'The best trombone player Ken Collier ever had and was a huge personality.'
Please contact us if you can add any more.
Brett Matthews writes: 'Going back some time now have you ever heard a band playing called " the Roadhouse Comp Band" with a Frank Draper as drummer? If you have I would love to see if you have any information on this, picture etc, it's for my partner as it's her late father.'
Please contact us if you can help.
Jonathan Plumb writes having seen our page on the Dancing Slipper (click here): 'My dad, Carl Plumb used to play bass guitar for 'The Teenbeats' at the Dancing Slipper Nottingham and I wondered if you may have some recordings of them?'
I have replied that the band sounds more like a pop band than a jazz band, but if anyone remembers them, please contact us.
Frank Daniels writes: 'I remember one time when I was with Tony Milliner, he wanted to meet up with Tim Mahn, who was staying with the rest of the band in a hotel in Nottingham. We went for an afternoon stroll along the banks of the River Trent, and Tim told us that the other guys in the band had been ribbing him about his other job (as well as playing in the Al Fairweather-Sandy Brown band and the Diz Disley String Quintet, he also had a lucrative job playing in a Strip Club on certain nights). They had been saying such things as he wasn’t allowed out to play (jazz), except when the girls permitted it. We also found this rather amusing, but Tim was after sympathy!!! Do you know what happened to Tim Mahn after he left Al and Sandy?
Please contact us if you are able to help with any information about bass player Tim Mahn.
From Wolfgang Buchhalter in Germany:
Let me utter a couple of late remarks concerning my hero Ken Colyer. I met him and Delphine many years ago, in the early fifties here in H. Unforgettable impressions! Ken was a genius, an extraordinary charismatic person. In my opinion, only two people made a real personal contribution to Jazz i.e. European Jazz History : Ken and Django Reinhard.
By all means in his early years he was a carbon copy of Bunk ... but what a copy! Sometimes he actually was better than him. Same thing with Sammy and early Lewis. There is some mistake about Ken´s pronunciation. He had read a lot and was no fool. It was the southern dialect of the Black (African American) population in New Orleans that he admired and tied to emulate. They laughed: "Man this guy comes from Europe and talks like us." When I was in New Orleans in 1960, Doc Souchon said they took him for a reincarnation of Bunk. I heard every kind of American Music, from Oldtime to Blues to Bluegrass etc. but Ken´s phrasing, timing and dynamic was better than most A.M.stuff.
By the way, one question comes to my mind. Many, many hours did I spend at old Studio 51 watching and listening like in a trance. They were the days of Wheeler, Ward, Duncan, Bastable. I read about all of them, only Mac Duncan who blew that great pumping trombone never is mentioned with a single word. How come? Can you tell me anything? At this moment I am listening to Ken live in 1972 at the York Art Centre. Man... what a session!! I am 82 but still I dig that. All the best and keep on groovin.
(Please contact us if you are able to give us information about or your memories of Mac Duncan).
Geoff Leonard writes:
'The film, The Party's Over, released in 1965 but filmed in '62/3 has a score by John Barry, including a song over the credits sung by Annie Ross, but some of the source music doesn't sound like his style.
Stanley Myers and Tony Kinsey are rumoured to have been involved in the music for some party scenes, but I'm also interested in a scene in a jazz-club (set in The Crypt in Redcliffe Gardens, London SW10) which begins at approx 1 hour 15 minutes into the film and lasts on and off for about 10-15 minutes.
I'm fairly sure the singer, played by Ann Lynn, is miming, but does anybody recognise the musicians/band, who appear to be genuine?
The entire film is on YouTube (click here). I'm hoping you can include this query in the forum in a future edition of Sandy Brown Jazz, because I know you have some very intelligent readers!'
Click here for other details about the film.
Peter Rooke writes:
Ron Drakeford’s reminiscences of the jazz scene in and around Kingston in earlier issues of Sandy Brown Jazz (click here) reminded me of the first time I ever saw jazz/swing played on an electric violin.
Occasionally on a Friday night when the Mike Daniels Jazzmen took a “refreshment break” at the Thames Hotel, a tramp used to get up on stage with a box of knobs and wires hooked-up through a rudimentary loudspeaker to a violin and play during the interval.
When I say tramp, I mean that he was a tall cadaverous individual who looked pretty scruffy and dressed in a dirty old coat with baggy trousers held up with a piece of string. Ken Tree and I and our little clique couldn’t quite make out whether he was genuinely down on his uppers or dressed that way for effect (I now know it was for effect). However, once he set-up his box of tricks and started playing, the effect was amazing, he was obviously a very accomplished violinist and played a mixture of jazz and swing in much the style of Stephane Grappelli or Stuff Smith. He was very good indeed and could really swing, so much so that we christened him “Snatch and his Swinging Strings”. Nobody seemed to know anything about him or where he came from and it wasn’t until many years later when I was reading Spike Milligan’s war diaries that I realised that one of Spike’s mates, Bill Hall and “Snatch” were one of the same person. The Bill Hall Trio (Bill, Spike and Johnny Mulgrew) entertained the troops during the later part of 1945 in Italy and continued playing until 1949 when Spike left to join the Goons with Michael Bentine, Peter Sellers and Harry Secombe.
Click here for a clip of the Bill Hall Trio. I would be interested if any of your readers have any other memories of Bill Hall, where he played and if he ever recorded etc.
Please contact us if you have any recollections of Bill Hall.
Ken Tree finds reference to Bill Hall in a 1970 interview between Tony Brown and Spike Milligan for Jazz Professional:
Tony Brown: I happen to know from the old days how involved you’ve been with music. Can you say what music means to you?
Spike Milligan: What stopped me becoming a musician was that my lip went. I really wanted to be a trumpet player. When my lip went - it was during the war - I went back on to guitar and became a member of a trio. Ultimately we did variety shows . . . one thing led to another and I became what I am. But music has been my unending and constant love. It gives a tranquillity such as no other medium can give you. It is not a language, it’s an emotion. It’s something that I am hooked on forever. I am completely and utterly hooked on music.
Sometimes I escape into music. I lock the door and play my music. And I resent any intrusion. There’s no such thing as really sharing. Someone can listen with you, but that’s not quite sharing. I want to share it with myself. The trio I worked with was the Bill Hall Trio - which became Hall, Norman and Ladd eventually. Bill Hall died from consumption; Johnny Mulgrove, who used to play bass with the Ambrose Octet before the war, he died - also from consumption. I think the act is still going. Click here for the full linterview from the National Jazz Archive.
Harry Randall writes
'In the 1950s I was a semi-pro bass player. I played mostly with the Joe Morris Quintet in East London. We often went to the Ilford Palace dance hall (part of the Mecca circuit) where we would see some great guest bands. For a while Bert Quarmby was resident band and we got to know all the members of the band. As far as I can remember Bert on trombone; June Robinson, trumpet and vocal; Harry Miller, drums and vocal; Bill Samuels bass, who, incidently used to give me bass lessons. One Sunday whilst our quintet was rehearsing Harry turned up and said to me "This is your chance to turn pro!" He said that Bill had fallen ill with malaria which he contracted while he was in Malaya with the army and sometimes it re-occurred. As I knew a lot of the arrangements Harry had arranged for me to deputize for Bill. I was with the band for a month or two - it was a great experience.
I recently tried to trace members of the band and what they did subsequently. Leslie Garbutt's news about her father and Harry Miller was very interesting (click here). Does anyone know anything about Bill Samuels - bass? I can't find mention of him anywhere.'
Todd Allen writes asking if anyone can help with regard to this photograph. Todd says:
Eric Sandiford from the Grimshaw instruments site sent me this photo which apparently features the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (OBJB) and includes Emile Grimshaw who sat-in with the band. Eric writes 'I have attached a photo which I believe is the "Dixieland Jazz Band" . . . Emile Jr. is the one on the back row in the light suit.'
'I do not have certain date for the photo but have always believed it to be circa 1950.
Maybe someone else can verify the photo - it would be good if they could.' - Eric S.
I'm under the impression that the ODJB was only in the UK in 1919-20 (?). Is Eric's photo of the ODJB? Emile had been a professional musician since 1920 so the timeline is right.
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
Please contact us if you can help.
Ian Simms asks if anyone remembers the GIGI Coffee Bar and Keith Cooper: 'I was nostalgically web-browsing names from my music past - George Baron, Tony Pitt, Alan Leat, Neville Skrimshire, Diz Disley - sadly nearly all gone now - and I was delighted to see photo of the Tattie Bogle (on our Banjo Jazz page - click here) where I sat in with the guys and the lovely Lois Lane, who's still going strong! I can never find any mention of the GIGI coffee bar on Finchley Road where they all came to sit in with resident guitarist Tony Lafrate who had the best right hand in the business and where I was lucky enough to sit in and get tutored. We were all Django fans and I'd been lucky enough to meet his brother Joseph in Paris in 1963. I wonder who else might remember the Gigi and those great Paris bistro-style nights? I still have Diz's old Colleti G40 guitar from the '60s - what a mellow tone it's developed over the years.'
'Is Keith Cooper still around? It'd be good to hear. Keith gigged for many years with the great Denny Wright - Stef's favourite rhythm player after Django died. The Gigi became a focal point simply because Tony Lafrate played there, he knew them all, was a superb rhythm player, very much a musician's man and 'Banjo' George was there 2 or 3 times a week, as was Les Muscutt - very sad to hear he too has passed away. I first went there in 1963 at 17 yrs and for the next 6 years learned "on the job" sitting in and gigging in Beaucham Place, where the Borscht and Tears was another venue with great guys dropping in. I gigged with the late Gerry Shepherd, whose son Pete is a well-known swing guitarist. I never took it up full time and nowadays I only play for myself after 3 operations on my hands. How ironic to end up damaged like my idol! Other names I recall: Lucien, a French guitarist who Gerry toured France with, a fantastic swing guitarist, and Alyosha, leader of the London Balalaika Ensemble. he was so good George said: "I throw my banjo at your feet". Sweet memories!!!'
Please let us know if any of these names bring memories for you.
Keith's son, Dominic, who lives in America has been in touch and towards the end of 2015 visited Keith who is now in a care home in Battersea.
Dom says: 'I am sending some photographs of of him playing solo (B&W) and one of him with Diz Disley. I passed on Ian Simms's your good wishes and he smiled. He is up and down these days, so that was a good sign.'
Photograph © Dominic Bloomington
Keith with Diz Disley
Photograph © Dominic Bloomington
Dom has also given us links to a track on Soundcloud with Keith playing Together Again For The First Time with Keith Cooper - Vocals & Rhythm Guitar; Diz Disley - Lead & Rhythm Guitar; Clive the Jive - Double Bass; Roger Limb - Backing Music (click here). The track list is on the page.
'This compilation is about three musicians who met in 1955 and played jazz and standards together throughout the rock 'n' roll era. During this time they were also playing with different groups. Diz was with the Mick Mulligan band, Humphrey Lyttelton, the Soho String Quintet and Bobby Clark, as accompanist to Beryl Bryden, and appearing on TV and Radio with Stephane Grappelli.
Keith was singing and playing guitar with Eddie Calvert, The Londonaires and at the top clubs in London, as well as doing TV work.
Clive the Jive was playing with groups such as the Westcott Skiffle Group and appearing on TV and Radio, at the Bread Basket. 2 1's and the Treble Chance Club, with Phil Phillips, George Melly and the Mel Felham Quintet.
Then they lost track of each other, meeting up again in 1986 and playing together again...in 1999 they went into a studio and recorded some standards for old times sake...."Together Again For The First Time" was born....'
Roger Trobridge tells us: 'I recently spent a Wednesday lunchtime with, Julian, the General Manager of the Fox and Goose pub, Hanger Lane, in Ealing. It featured in the Cyril Davies story but it was the location of the Ealing Jazz Club run by Steve Lane with his band the Southern Stompers in the 1950s.
Julian is interested in the musical history of the pub and we had some photos of Cyril and Steve's band playing at the pub. I was there with Colin Kingwell who played trombone in the band at this time. We established that the room where they played had been a skittle alley but has now been replaced by a conference room and the new kitchen.
One of the photos was interesting but we could not pin down where it was. It shows the band at the time and a sign pointing to the club room. It would be good to find out who remembers the club and how the pub was laid out.
The pub has changed a lot and is now a successful hotel/pub next door to Wembley - you can take a tour on their website if you click here.
If anyone remembers the pub and can help Roger and Julian, please contact us. Sadly, Steve Lane passed through the Departure Lounge in August 2015.
In July 2015 we raised a question from Joe Spibey, whose excellent website jazzonfilm.com is a comprehensive directory of jazz in film. He asked whether the Wood Green Jazz Club was shown in the film West 11.
West 11 was released on DVD in February. A 1963, Michael Winner, X certificate film it boasts a strong jazz soundtrack. Set in Notting Hill, 'then a seedy slum', Alfred Lynch plays Joe Beckett, a down-on-his-luck young man who is recruited into crime by Eric Portman as bad man Richard Dyce. Dyce persuades Beckett it will be in his interests to bump off Dyce's wealthy aunt for her money. Beckett travels to the old lady's house on the South coast, and prepares to murder her, but loses his nerve and in a struggle, accidentally pushes her down a flight of stairs, killing her anyway.
There are appearances by Ken Colyer and his band and Tony Kinsey's band, and Acker Bilk plays the title theme. Click here for the movie trailer. Click here for a jazz club scene where Ken Colyer's band arrives to play.
Pete Lay has written to say: 'In discussion with some members of Ken Colyer’s Jazzmen at the time of West 11 being released, said that Club 51 was recreated in the film studio.' June Bastable wrote with the same information.
Frank Griffith writes: 'West 11 is available from Amazon (click here) and they have it in stock at £6.50.'
Joe Spibey found the following information from David Meeker's website at the Library of Congress:
Soundtrack Personnel: Inc: Roy Willox, alto sax; Harry Klein, baritone sax; Acker Bilk, clarinet; Stanley Black, piano; Ray Dempsey, guitar; Martin Slavin, vibraphone; Arthur Watts, acoustic double bass; Kenny Clare, drums.
The Tony Kinsey Quintet.
Ken Colyer and his Band.
June Bastable picks up on confusing aspects of this information saying: 'By "sideliners" does he mean "sidesmen" or does he mean actors? As I have confirmed previously, all the band members were used in this scene apart from John Bastable who was replaced by actor Sean Kelly, although John can be heard on the soundtrack.'
Mike Rose at the National Jazz Archive is looking for information about this pub that used to be a jazz venue. If anyone can remember jazz being played there, and perhaps any details of dates, bands etc. Mike would be able to approach Waltham Forest Council with a view to having Blue Plaque installed on the building.
The Heathcote Arms
Photograph courtesy of Mike Rose
Mike says: 'The Heathcote Arms is on Grove Green Road, Leytonstone E11 and I have vague memories of the upstairs hall being used as a jazz club during the 1950s. Of those who performed there I recollect the name of John Dankworth being mentioned. I also believe that Harry Randall, brother and one-time manager of Freddie, was involved with the club. However, my vague memories are not sufficient to make a strong enough case to approach Waltham Forest with a view to installing a Blue Plaque. If any readers can confirm the existence of the club, particularly a membership card or some physical evidence, I’d be delighted to take up the case for the Heathcote with Waltham Forest, as part of the Story of British Jazz. (I am aware that my good friend Clive Fenner ran the East Side Jazz Club from this location in later years before decamping first to the Lord Rookwood and then in 2014, to Tommy Flynn’s pub.)'
If you are able to help Mike with information you can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org making the title of your email 'Blue Plaques'.
London Jazz Club
Steve Castle writes: 'I have just been some programmes by my father that relate to evenings at the London Jazz Club (Mac's Rehearsal Rooms) in the late '40s (1948/49) where Humph seems to be an ever-present performer. I am wondering if this was the same venue as the Cy Laurie Jazz Club? I have a host of programmes along with tickets and some other memorabilia including a newsletter for the Humph Lyttelton Club in 1953 citing Sidney Bechet as president. I have inherited my parents' love of jazz and wondered if these items relate to the same place you write of?'
We have replied that our page on the Cy Laurie Club (click here) says that the Club was used by Mac's Rehearsal Rooms, but that possibly not every London Jazz Club broadcast came from there. Does anyone know?
Noreen Wills writes from Australia: 'I’ve just been looking at your blog about the jazz scene in an around Kingston on Thames in the 1950’s and 1960’s (click here). I grew up in the area and remember going to the Thames Hotel in the early 60’s. My friend and I used to go on two different nights; Jazz on one night (Mondays I think) and Rock-pop on Friday’s. My memories are vague (its a long time ago) and wonder if you confirm that this venue hosted music events other than jazz during this period. (I’m researching for a biography I’m writing). I do remember it was a great venue, full of atmosphere. I also noted your reference to a gig at the Hinchley Wood College (in Esher) in the mid 50’s and wonder if you knew or knew of my brother Ron Wills who was a student there around that time. He went on to be a senior sports journalist on Fleet Street.'
Please contact us if you can help.
Garry Capon has written trying to track down an old friend. Garry says: ‘Hi, I have no idea if you can help but here goes. I wonder if you have ever heard of a jazz drummer by the name of Colin Seymour? I knew Colin back in '92 - '93 when we worked together in Weybridge - we were both Engineers. Colin however played drums .... jazz drums. He played often back then in the 606 club in Lotts Road, Fulham and at the Bull’s Head pub in Barnes, West London. I hung out with him - he was a great bloke, very unassuming but clever. He lived just behind the Bull’s Head in I think Catherine Road. We lost contact and this was pre mobile phone days (remember them) but I would like to get in contact. I guess Colin would be about seventy now.'
Please contact us if you can help.
Chris Duff in Canada writes:There was a very strange session I attended around 1965/66 (I think!). Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band had been booked to play in a large ballroom which, if memory serves, was below street level in a building somewhere in the vicinity of the Scala Theatre in Tottenham Court Road, London. I’m sure it was Joe Turner fronting the band. The strange thing is I was the only one there! No one else turned up. Humph and Joe played for a couple of hours and I was the only one applauding. I would love to know if anyone has knowledge of this gig and can confirm I wasn’t dreaming!
Chris Duff also asks: An old jazz friend from Sussex was enquiring recently about clarinetist Les Wood. Les came from Sussex and was a popular member of the local jazz fraternity in the 1960s. He was a member of the original Bob Wallis Storeyville Jazzmen and could be seen later guesting with many Sussex bands from The Fourteen Foot Band to the New City Jazzmen. He had a strange habit of disappearing from time to time. I have a note datelined January 1969 that he was coming out of retirement (again!) to lead a new quartet, with Gerald Geogehan (banjo), John Boyett (bass) and Geoff Simkins on drums. They played a few weeks at the King & Queen, Brighton. That’s about the last we’ve heard of him. Can anyone help?
Roland Ashpool writes:
I have been reading John Codd’s blog about the Dave Carey Band and the Wood Green Jazz Club with great interest. I used to buy my books, records and reeds from Dave's jazz shop in Streatham SW16. I also worked with Tony Gibbons in London in the print industry for about 10 years he then married and moved to Thames Ditton we kept in touch for many years, but then he dropped off the radar and I could not catch up with him again. I would appreciate any news of him.
If anyone is able to give any news of Tony Gibbons please contact us.
John Codd replies:
I had an email from Tony Gibbons daughter some time ago telling me that Tony had sadly passed away, cannot remember the date unfortunately.
In the early days of the Sandy Brown Band, Bob Craig, he of the majestic moustache, played trombone. We have received the following request from Alan Dowie, but we have not been able to help him. It may be that Robert Craig is a fairly common name, but just in case, we raise the query here. Alan says:
'I have just read an article on the sandybrownjazz website about Bob Craig, a jazz musician from Edinburgh. The reason I came across this was that I was searching for a Robert Craig who painted a picture of Edinburgh signed 1968 and lived at 44 Vandeleur Avenue, Edinburgh. This seems to be the same person'.
'Do you know if he was an amateur painter? The picture is signed. It was framed by John Mathieson and Co., 20 Frederick Street, Edinburgh who were highly reputable picture restorers and framers in the New Town in Edinburgh.'
[Click here for our profile of Bob Craig].
Some months ago, author Keiron Pim contacted us about a book he is writing on David Litvinoff. Keiron said:
Do you remember David Litvinoff? He was around the Soho jazz scene in the 1950s and '60s, a well-known face at Cy Laurie's and a friend of George Melly, who describes him in vivid fashion in his memoir Owning Up. Litvinoff was, wrote Melly, ‘The fastest talker I ever met, full of outrageous stories, at least half of which turned out to be true, a dandy of squalor, a face either beautiful or ugly, I could never decide which, but certainly one hundred percent Jewish, a self-propelled catalyst who didn’t mind getting hurt as long as he made something happen, a sacred monster, first class.’
Melly also mentions giving a lecture at the ICA on the subject of 'Erotic Imagery in the Blues', which descended into drunken chaos and culminated in Litvinoff manhandling the event's chairmen from the stage, stripping naked and belting out his own version of You've Been a Good Old Wagon. If you knew him, you'd probably remember him. Also, I'm keen to contact Victor Bellerby, whom I think had some dealings with Litvinoff. Does anyone happen to know of the Vic Bellerby who was a jazz critic and who chaired the infamous lecture at the ICA by George Melly?
I've been told David Litvinoff worked briefly as road manager to Mick Mulligan's band and he was a familiar figure in both Soho and Chelsea during those years, cultivating connections that spanned the worlds of music, art, journalism and criminality. He was born in the East End in 1928 and died in 1975. I'm writing a book about him, to be published by Jonathan Cape, and I would be extremely grateful if anyone who remembers him would get in touch. Any details can be of help, no matter how insignificant they might seem to you! Please call me on 01603 487679 or 07921 376656, email email@example.com or contact me via my website, www.keironpim.co.uk
2014.2 / 2014.9
Don Coe wrote saying: 'I played with various jazz bands in the '50s and '60s and for some years, every Thursday or Sunday at the Cy Laurie Club in Windmill Street, Soho, Litvinoff was a regular visitor - or should I say, invader - of the basement and usually left the band and the dancers shell shocked with his whirlwind entrances and even more flamboyant exits!'
'I have one on those appearances etched into my memory. During one evening session he burst through the door immediately to my left, in company with Marcel Steiner loudly reciting some un-intelligible poetry and circumnavigated the room without his feet touching the floor. He used nearly every chair, sofa, wainscoting - and even a couple of dancers - to reach the toilets at the back of the room and disappeared inside. Moments later he reappeared and made his exit by reversing his course accompanied by a whooping Marcel. The room took some time to recover.'
'With regard to Marcel Steiner, I'm pretty certain that Marcel put on a one-man show to a one-man audience in the side-car of a motor cycle. I seem to recall that 'War & Peace' and 'The Battle of Waterloo' were two of his productions. Litvinoff must surely have had something to do with that! I like to think that he did!'
Alan Bond writes:
I was transferring some of my stuff from cassette to CD and I came across one side by the above band which I think I recorded from one of Humprey Lyttelton's 'Best of Jazz' shows. According to Tom Lord's TJD online the personnel is :-
Bobby Pratt, Bert Courtley, Derrick Abbott, Les Condon (trumpets) Keith Christie, Gib Wallace, Bobby Lamb, Bill Geldard (trombones) Johnny Scott (alto sax) Tommy Whittle, Eddie Mordue, Bobby Wellins (ten sax) Ronnie Ross (baritone sax) Tommy Watt (piano) Malcolm Cecil (string bass) Bobby Orr (drums).
Most of the names are familiar but I have never heard of Gib Wallace, Bobby Lamb, Bill Geldard or Eddie Mordue before and I wondered if anyone had come across any information on any of these guys. By coincidence, I was at a session with Geoff Nichols' 'Good Vibes' band in Minehead recently and I was chatting to a chap who told me that Derrick Abbott was a cousin of his but he hadn't seen him for at least forty years. It's amazing how these people come out of the woodwork - must be something about Jazz.
This one side I have by the '42' is C Jam Blues and is one of four issued on Columbia 45 rpm singles, of all things (Columbia DB 7050 & DB 7275). They were recorded in the spring of 1963 but don't appear to have been re-issued at all. Any information on the band or any re-issues would be appreciated.
Tony Middleton replies:
Centre 42 band played at the Centre 42 in London. Gib Wallace (Canadian? ex. Dankworth); Bob Lamb (ex. Parnell; Heath; Trinity Big Band; Lamb/Premru Orchestra). Bill Geldard (ex. Rabin; Dankworth; Heath), Eddie Mordue (ex. Winstone - married Julie Dawn); Kenny Grahame.
In April 2014, trombonist Mel Henry picked up on correspondence about the Centre 42 Big Band and says: 'With regard to the contribution regarding the Centre 42 Big Band, Bobby Lamb was an Irish trombonist and composer. I have an album of the Bobby Lamb - Ray Premru Orchestra recorded at Ronnie Scotts in 1971. Readers might also like to know that Ben Watt, the son of pianist Tommy Watt, has written a family memoir, Romany and Tom, which has been well reviewed and has lots of information about Tommy. Ben is also a musician as well as being an author and a DJ.
The book, published by Bloomsbury at £14.99, is introduced with:
'Ben Watt's father, Tommy, was a working-class Glaswegian jazz musician, a politicised left-wing bandleader and a composer. His heyday in the late fifties took him into the glittering heart of London’s West End, where he broadcast live with his own orchestra from the Paris Theatre and played nightly with his quintet at the the glamorous Quaglino's. Ben's mother, Romany, the daughter of a Methodist parson, schooled at Cheltenham Ladies' College, was a RADA-trained Shakespearian actress, who had triplets in her first marriage before becoming a leading showbiz columnist in the sixties and seventies. They were both divorcees from very different backgrounds who came together like colliding trains in 1957'.
'Both a personal journey and a portrait of his parents, Romany and Tom is a vivid story of the post-war years, ambition and stardom, family roots and secrets, life in clubs and in care homes. It is also about who we are, where we come from, and how we love and live with each other for a long time'.
Click here for more information.
Please contact us if you can help Alan.
Clarinettist and saxophonist Bill Greenow died in 2011 and Jamie Evans has written to say that it is a shame that we could not include more information about Bill on the website. With the help of various people, that has now been remedied and you can find a profile of Bill on the site if you click here. We are, however, missing any photographs and if anyone has any that we might use, please contact us. Equally, if you have any memories of Bill that you would like to add, we should be pleased to hear from you.
Jim Campbell from Exeter Jazz Society has written saying: 'One of our members in Kate Sanders who was for years married to a drummer called Sandy Sanders. They divorced and he's now dead. They were for years heavily into the trad scene, Sandy playing and Kate dancing and making their house a refuge for down-on-their-luck musicians. Kate lives in Exeter but spent the best part of her life in London. She is looking for information on the pianist Punchy Wren and she knew him when he was with Bill Brunskill, particularly at The Fighting Cocks, Kingston on Thames in 1955.'
We asked Don Coe if he remembered 'Punchy' and he replied: 'Kate & Sandy? Yes, they do mean something to me. Sad to hear about death and divorce at any time but sadder when it involves those one knows/knew. When Johnnie Fletcher, our washboard and cowbell man became ill and had to leave the band, Sandy obtained a drum kit and so began his career as a drummer - with us, the Bill Brunskill Jazz Band. Up until that time Sandy had been acting as our booking agent and travelled to all of our engagements. I recall many hilarious journeys by train or car with Sandy and Kate. Everything seemed fun in those days.I cannot recall how or when Bill Wren left the band. I do know, however that Bill Brunskill warned us never to call him 'Punchy' to his face!'
Can anyone else help with this query? Please contact us if you can.
Stan Goodall has seen our page on the old jazz venue at Cook's Ferry Inn (click here) and writes:
I was fascinated by the info on Cook’s Ferry Inn and reminiscences of other people . I was about 15/16 (late 40’s) when I regularly caught 2 buses to take me from Dagenham to Cook’s on Sunday evenings to listen to Freddy and so many other great musicians. One memory that sticks in my mind was when the band would walk off into the bar and leave Lennie Hastings playing ‘Battle of Hastings’ , which must have gone on for 5 minutes or more – he needed the drink after that.
There were so many great players there and it was nice to be reminded of their names, but to me Freddy Randall was a “natural” , his instrument wasn’t something he picked up and put to his lips – it seemed to be part of his body which could produce different notes and sounds with remarkable range and agility.
I’ve got a cassette of Dixieland Favourites and often play Memphis Blues with Freddy and his All-stars . His muted solo in that makes me chuckle with pleasure, he does everything but make it “talk”. I’m trying to track down a CD of the same number so that it can be played at my funeral, at the end, as they all depart with a smile on their face!
Please contact us if you can help.
Pete Smales has written in asking where he might get hold of jazz musicians' waistcoats. I remember Acker Bilk telling me that it was a publicity officer who originally came up with the idea of his Paramount Jazz Band wearing striped waistcoats, bowler hats and calling the band members 'Mister ...', and that somehow it stuck. Other Trad bands, I notice, wear boater hats with their waistcoats.
Not being able to find an answer to Pete's question online, I put out a query on Facebook. Someone replied 'Tell him not to do it! We are trying to get away from that image!' Where do people get the waistcoats? Are they made to order?
Jim Vallance has written in asking:
'I'm trying to find a drummer, John, who played with the Peter Long Trio on the ship 'Oronsay' in 1967. Any idea how to find him? Are there crews lists somewhere? He was from Motherwell, Scotland. I was a passenger on Oronsay in 1967, age 15. I was an aspiring drummer, and John (the ship's drummer) was very generous to me. Lots of "music chats" and some lessons as well. I ended up becoming a profession drummer myself and have spent my entire life in the music business (now age 61). Wouldn't have traded it for anything.
I wanted to thank John for his kindness and inspiration, but it's difficult to find information on the ship's crew. There was also a waiter on the ship (Steve) but I've not been able to locate him either. He was only a few years older than me, and we had some great chats as well. All in all, the Oronsay voyage changed my life in many ways. Hardly a day goes by I don't think about it.'
Alan Jones in Australia responded saying: I’m interested in the letter from Jim Vallance. You may remember that you published a piece I wrote about being a musician, drummer in my case, on the boats including my time on the Óronsay’. I left the ship at the end of 1966 to get married and come and settle in Australia. There were actually two bands, a quintet and a trio and I was in the 5 piece. All of the ship’s musicians were booked by Hubert Warren Agency in the Strand in London. The Pete Long Trio weren’t on board in 1966. I was by far the youngest member of the quintet at 32 years of age. After that I always met my former colleagues when the ship was in Sydney. The drummer that replaced me was a Tom Donohue who also emigrated to Australia. Obviously, this information won’t help Jim much but I thought he might be interested in background. (Click here for Alan's article)
Does anyone else remember John? Please contact us if you can help.
Alan Jones from Woy Woy in Australia writes:
'For sometime now I have been trying to discover the whereabouts of bassist / arranger Kenny Napper with whom I did National Service in the Royal Signals Band. He then played with Jack Parnell, John Dankworth and the Jazz Couriers, later moving to the Netherlands.
I recently acquired a CD entitled ‘A Tribute to Kenny Napper’ which is a bit worrying. Can anyone shed a light on this? '
We have found reference to Kenny on a Swiss Radio site that says: 'Kenny served in the Army and after demobilization worked with Jack Parnell (1953-54), after which he freelanced extensively through the 1950s with the top names of British modern jazz including Ronnie Scott, Don Rendell, Alan Clare, Stan Tracey, Tubby Hayes, Tony Kinsey and Tony Crombie. From March 1960 to January 1962 he was with the Ronnie Scott - Jimmy Deuchar Quintet. Subsequently with Johnny Dankworth and Ted Heath in 1965. After this he again worked with Dankworth (1967) and Stan Tracey (1966). Through the 1960s he also worked successfully as arranger and composer writing for films, television and radio. In the early 1970s he worked in Germany and Holland as composer and arranger.'
Eric Wilson from Gold Coast in Australia has also written expressing his interest, saying:
'My interest in Kenny Napper is purely selfish when, as a young aspiring bassist in the 50's, I heard him play and realised how awful my playing was! The other aspect is that we should honour musicians such as Kenny Napper for they were the pioneers of British post war jazz. If I was the mayor of London, I would erect a statue bearing all their names. Yes, their contribution was important culturally and they should never be forgotten'.
Jeroen de Valk writes:
Kenny was living in Holland during most of the 70s and 80s. He was staff arranger for the 50-piece Metropole Orchestra (a combination of a chamber orchestra and a big band) and working continuously. Often, he also conducted the huge band. He didn’t speak Dutch but most of the people over here speak English fluently and if they don’t, they try hard to learn. He was also teaching ‘harmony at the piano’ at at least two conservatories in Holland, which means he taught non-pianists to play chords at the piano. At a certain point, there was reportedly some vague conflict with the band and he concentrated more and more on teaching. I studied with him at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague, where he stood out because A – he showed up every week (most of the new jazz teachers did not, although they got paid) and B – stimulated creativity. Instead of playing standards, he said I could bring a song of my own each week. He was a real gentleman to me, and couldn’t care less about what the other, very strict teachers might think. Sometimes, he had a hang-over and started explaining how to arrange my recent song for strings and brass. I had to remind him I didn’t have my own private Metropole Orchestra. He never touched a bass during these decades, as far as I know. Around 1990, I lost track of him. I’d love to know what became of him. It seems likely he returned to the UK and retired.
Please contact us if you can help further.
This is rather a long shot, but Vicenti O. Osin-Juan Adegbola writes saying:
'I came across the site whilst searching for the name of a guitar duo I
saw at the Cooks Ferry Inn around the late 60's.
Appearing as cavaliers, they played Renaissance and Baroque music exquisitely.
They had a major, and life changing effect on me as this was the
specific event that introduced me to the tradition of "classical"
Spanish guitar, which later lead to my studying music formally.
I cannot even remember the band they supported, as because of their
superb playing, and my near ecstatic enjoyment of their music, they had
become, for me, the major music event of the night.
Regrettably however, I cannot remember their name now, except that it
was noteworthy and intriguing.
I am hoping that I might get information on the bands, organisers,
agents, venue organisers and administrators, anything at all.
Even, a direction or suggestions of where to search would be appreciated.'
Please contact us if you can help.
Vikki Horder writes from Nottingham asking:
There were three black and white clips on YouTube, of Big JoeTurner with Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band, they were filmed in 1966 at Pebble Mill Studios in Birmingham (no longer exists). Pianist Johnny Parker told me the story of how he was summoned by Humph to get his self up there to play with them (as his piano style was what Big Joe wanted). They have taken the clips off now. I did find one put on by a Theodore Frank but now its under 'Big Joe Turner 1966, Shake Rattle & Roll' (click here), not really Humphrey's style but maybe Humphrey Lyttelton was accompanying Big Joe on a UK tour. Johnny Parker was back at the factory in Cricklewood when he got the call from Humph. Do you think any of your readers have got these tapes and if so, could you track them down? I've tried to put a comment on YouTube to this Theodore Frank person but with no luck.
In April, Vikki Horder wrote about clips on YouTube of Big Joe Turner with Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band. They seemed to have disappeared from YouTube. Pianist Johnny Parker had told Vikki the story of how he was summoned by Humph to 'get his self up there to play' as his was the piano style Big Joe wanted.
At the time, we were unable to find the clip Vikki mentioned but she has now written to say that the video is there under the heading Big Joe Turner Plays Shake Rattle n Roll (1966) (Click here to watch it) - there is good footage of solos by Humph, Tony Coe and Johnny Parker - and you can see why Big Joe wanted Johnny there.
Geoff Gullon writes:
'A gent called Colin Widdison living in Washington DC put a footnote to a 2009 article about Tony Milliner regarding The High Curley Stompers and Alan Roe (click here). The Stompers were the favourite band of my dad, who gave me an enduring love of Trad as well as his name, and who claimed that they had once sacked as a member of the band Chas McDevitt of Nancy Whiskey and “Freight Train” skiffle fame. Dad’s story was that Chas was for a brief time a member of the High Curley Stompers (his biography does say that he was in a “Camberley Dixieland band" for a short while) but that Alan Roe and the rest of the band didn’t think he was good enough! In any event, Alan was still blowing in the mid - 70’s. I went to several gigs of the Alan Roe Jazz 6 in this era - my mate Steve Barton’s dad, Dave, was the drummer and an ex High Curley Stomper, John Shoebridge, played trombone. Lost connection after that, I’m afraid.'
Roger Trobridge is looking for a copy of a BBC4 programme which was broadcast in 2005 and again in 2008. Jazz Britannia was shown on BBC4 in three parts and Roger is looking particularly for the first part Stranger on the Shore as he is working with a young film maker who he is helping to understand what was happening in London in the 1950s.
There do not appear to be copies available either on the BBC site or for sale, so Roger is hoping that someone might have recorded it. Please contact us if you are able to help.
Barry Elson has written asking for help with information about trombonist Dave Cutting. Barry says: ‘I am currently searching the internet regarding my trombonist brother, Dave Cutting, who passed away at his home in Northampton, and I noted mention of him amongst your 'Ron's Reflection' page (click here). Dave never had any photographs of his band days, and so far I have only come across one on the internet, that taken with 'Kid' Shillito's band, and I have been in touch with John Shillito, who is going to have a rummage round to see if he has any others.'
'I was fortunate to have been taken during my youth by my brother to quite a few sessions with him, and at the time was dropped off back home by banjo player Greg Potter or drummer Don McMurray, but this was all 50 odd years ago, and I appreciate that those who knew Dave are getting thin on the ground now. Apart from John Shillito, the only other person I have managed to ask is Colin Bowden, which was back in 2008 whilst Dave was still alive, but he couldn't come up with any of him in the Colyer line-up unfortunately.'
'I wonder if anyone is aware of any photo's of Dave that may be still in existence?'
Thanks to Ron Drakeford, Don Coe and Alex Revell for their help with this query. Please contact us if you can help further.
The Art Wood Combo
Tony Freer in Canada is researching the jazz band The Art Wood Combo that eveolved into the R&B band Artwoods and is looking for as much information about them as possible. Tony says: 'I am trying to put together a full history with as many photographs and stories by band members and recordings that may be available. This is strictly a personal project for band members only. This is not for publication or anything. I am not in the music or publishing business, but a retired banker in Canada. It is amazing just how many individuals I have been able to contact who have provided photographs and some private recordings, but I am still looking for some very important individuals to complete the picture. The one recording that I know about, but will probably never be found is a recording made at the 100 Club in late 1965, or early 1966. I know, because I remember being there and seeing the tape deck set up in the club. Anything at all that anyone is able to provide will be appreciated.
Tony specifically would like the following information, if you can help please contact us.
1. In early 1960's Diz Disley, along with John Barton, Mick Waldron and Malcolm Pool made a recording under "THE HOT CLUB OF LONDON". Has anyone heard of this recording or know how to obtain a copy. Also, would anyone have any photographs of this group.
2. Would anyone have any photographs or details of the Art Wood Combo or Redd Bludd Bluesicians who played at Wood Green in 1963/64.
3. I am trying to contact the following individuals, would anyone have any contact details: Barry Kerswell, Lennie (Buddy ) Cole, Jim Willis, Johnny O'Donague, Gerry Waite, Andy (Andrew) Wren, David Rome (Slater), Jim Butchart, Vic Dawson (possibly moved to Canada), Barry Laver and Mike Waldron. Also Johnny Jones who played with the London City Stompers.
Trevor Lee and Chris Flanagan have been steadily putting together a record of bands that appeared at The Festival Hall, East Kirkby over the years. The booklets that they have produced entitled Band Call have also included interesting background details to the bands. They are now putting together the next issue in which Betty Smith and her band will be featured. Trevor says:
'I've got plenty of references to jiggle with but can't find who may have been in her quintet in August 1958, and January or April 1960 apart from Jack her husband on bass and Stan Bourke, drums. Is it possible that anyone can help me identify her Quintet personnel at that time?'
If you are able to help, please contact us.
Clarinettist Bob Ross has been trying to find the score/sheet music for Here Today played by Wally Fawkes. He says: 'I can competently play the solo but I'm trying to encourage other musicians to help bring the who number to life with the appropriate arrangment. Any suggestions?' Please contact us if you can help.
David Thickins asks:
I am currently in the process of writing my lifetime memoirs and I was wondering if anyone could let me have some information on Terry Heap. The Terry Heap to whom I refer was the excellent Lead Trumpet player with the Clive Carnazza band playing at a venue in Leeds city centre around 1963/4, but that is only my estimate of the date.
I was the Lead Alto player for a short while until unfortunately all of us in the band had the sack following an altercation between Clive and the band's pianist at the time. It would be great if I could exchange some memories with Terry and to learn how his career developed.
Syd Wardman replied:
Terry Heap was a marvellous trumpeter. I knew him well at that time. I remember the band Terry was in, ‘64/’65 is about right as far as I can remember. Terry came from a brass band family – his brother played trombone. He was a star on cornet with the famous brass bands at the time – Brighouse and Rastrick, Black Dyke, etc. He came from the Halifax region. He could also play vibes very well. I wrote about him in my article ‘Remembering Leeds’ earlier in the year. Unfortunately I lost touch with Terry (who I remember changed his name to 'Heath') when he became MC to Dickie Henderson, the comedian and entertainer. Terry had a son called Roden (an old Yorkshire name – almost Danish, don’t you think?). I wonder what happened to him? He’ll be 50’ish now. I wonder whether the pianist who argued with the band leader was called Norman Blakemore a fine pianist who sometimes played with Terry Heap or Heath? Norman was very argumentative.
David Thickens responds:
Thanks ever so much to you and Syd Wardman for the information about trumpet player Terry Heap (Heath). I had no idea Terry also played vibes in addition to being a fine Lead Trumpet player and a gentleman.
That's another precious piece in the complex jig-saw that's going to make up my life story. I'll do some tracking down of Norman Blakemore. Unfortunately, the pianist with the Clive Carnazza band was only with us for a few days before we all got the sack through the incident in the band room. So, I never got to know him at all, least of all remember his name, but I'll do some research on that.
Best regards, and thanks once again for your interest in my project.
Paul Wood writes:
'I was sitting listening to my grandmother tell me that I looked like my grandfather's brother. Her name is Joan Heap and she used to be married to Jack Heap, the trombonist. So I'm told that I look like Terry. Apparently Terry emigrated to Australia many years ago. My uncle, Stephen Heap (Terry's direct nephew) lives in New Zealand so I'll get in touch and ask him if he is is still in touch with Terry. Unfortunately Jack passed away last year.'
We have not yet heard whether Paul managed to contact Stephen - we shall let David Thickens (and you) know what transpires.
If you are able to help with any further information, please contact us.
David Van De Gevel wrote from Greece asking if anyone could help with information about Marion Williams and Eddie Thomson (unfortunately since David first wrote we seem to have lost contact with him, but others have been remembering Marion and Eddie):
Marion Williams, who was a singer in the 50s with Johnny Dankworth before being supplanted by Cleo Laine. She went on to sing with the Oscar Rabin Band. The only occasion I heard her sing was back in the mid-70s at a small pub, The Anchor, run by ex-flautist, Rod Marshall, in the Yorkshire town of Brighouse. We had a regular Thursday-night jazz session in an upstairs room with the resident pianist being the consummate Eddie Thomson. One evening he introduced Marion as making a comeback. She was a beautiful, statuesque lady with a voice to match and blew the audience away. Beyond that, I can find no trace of her on the net, no recordings, no resume, except this early photo of her. What happened to her? What was her background? Any information would be greatly appreciated.
On the subject of Eddie Thomson: I was privileged to be invited to the BBC TV studios in Leeds, again in the mid-70s, to watch Eddie record a short series for BBC Bristol called "It Don't Mean A Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)". I know it was broadcast nationally as I remember watching the series at home in Halifax. Again, no trace can be found of this gem. Does anyone know if it was saved or even recall watching it?
Thanks from an ancient and ardent jazz devotee in exile on the small Greek island of Zakynthos.
If anyone can help Dave please contact us.
Cathy Pound and Ben Wallis wrote on 13 February 2014 to say:
Sad news that Marie Power (formerly Marion Williams) has passed away today at the Royal Free cardiac care unit, Hampstead, London.
Marion Williams was her name when she was a performer.
London born in 1931 to an Irish mother and Nigerian father, she
had high profile already by age 18, and in her 20's
was with Johnny Dankworth before Cleo Laine. I believe along with other bands
she reverted to her maiden or married name later in life when we knew her in Camden. She left the scene I think younger than she needed to and worked with Virgin finance department until her retirement.
The only information we have been able to find about a recording of Marion Williams with John Dankworth is:Johnny Dankworth - Sam's Song / Haunted Ballroom Theme (Esquire (E) 5-005) Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet) Eddie Harvey (trombone) Johnny Dankworth (alto saxophone) Don Rendell (tenor saxophone) Bill LeSage (piano) Eric Dawson (bass) Tony Kinsey (drums) Marion Williams (vocals) London, England, July 29, 1950
However, Jane Stobart writes to remind us that Marion is the singer in Kathy Stobart's band, on a CD called Arbeia, which is still available on Amazon- click here.
Mike Forbes writes concering Eddie Thomson: 'David Van Der Gevel mentions the Anchor pub at Brighouse, West Yorkshire, where Rod Marshall was landlord. At the time Eddie Thompson was playing there on Thursdays I was on banjo with John Pashley's Treasure Island Jazz Band, at Sunday lunchtime. I've played banjo in 'trad' bands for many decades and now enjoy our local U3A Jazz Appreciation Group where I have given several presentations. I still have the Wally Fawkes and Sandy Brown Quintet No 1 EP from 1956 - one of the first jazz records I ever bought. It's still such a fresh and wonderful sound!'
Brian Hills (clarinet/alto wth Spencers Nighthawks / Vintage Hot Five) is trying to contact Phil Bennett. Brian says: 'I replaced Bob Gordon Walker (clarinet) in the Original Downtown Syncopators back in the 1960's, and I seem to remember he was quite fond of them (they re-created a lot of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band repertoire), and I am trying to track down any recordings they made (maybe live club recordings I may have been on - you never know!). Any help would be great!'
Please contact us if you are able to help.
Norman Mongan writes from Paris asking whether anyone can help with information about guitarist Bert Crossland:
'I'm an Irish jazz guitarist and writer who worked with the late guitarist Bert Crossland in Danish jazz violinist Leif Reck's Quartet back in the 1960s. Bert lived in Ireland for many years where he later also played regularly with Dutch trumpeter Piet Sluis' Band. I lost contact after I settled in Paris in 1962. I've just rediscovered some early tapes made in concert and for Irish Radio circa 1960 with Leif Reck. The Quartet later played at the Cork Jazz Festival in 1983.'
'I've learned from musician friends that Bert had returned to his hometown of Southampton with his wife Trudi around 1993 and passed away c1998/9? Their daughter Fiona was first married to Mark O'Carroll, the son of a good friend of mine, but later divorced and she remarried a Douglas W. Fairbairn, now said to be living in Southampton? I see from your profile on Bunny Austin (click here) that Bert had also played with his band in the Southampton area. I was wondering if you might have a contact for Fiona Crossland Fairbairn in Southampton or with any musicans who might has some further biographical details of Bert's musical career?'
Norman recalled: 'I worked with the late guitarist Bert Crossland in the Danish jazz violinist Leif Reck's Quartet back in the 1960s. Bert lived in Ireland for many years where he later also played regularly with Dutch trumpeter Piet Sluis' Band. I lost contact with Bert after I settled in Paris in 1962. I've just rediscovered some early tapes made in concert and for Irish Radio circa 1960 with Leif Reck, Bert and myself which are being digitally remastered for a CD. The Quartet later played at the Cork Jazz Festival in 1983.'
The late Bert Crossland
on guitar playing with Dutch trumpeter Piet
Sluis at the Brussels Bar in Dublin c1981.
© Norman Mongan
'I've learned from musician friends that Bert had returned to his hometown of Southampton with his wife Trudi around 1993 and passed away in around 1998 - 1999. Their daughter Fiona was first married to Mark O'Carroll, the son of a good friend of mine, but later divorced and she remarried a Douglas W. Fairbairn, now said to be living in Southampton? I was wondering if someone might have a contact for Fiona Crossland Fairbairn in Southampton or with any musicans who might has some further biographical details of Bert's musical career?'
Bert had also played with Bunny Austin's band at the White Hart in Burley near Southampton (click here for Bunny Austin's profile).
In August, Norman wrote to say that he had been able to make contact with Bert's daughter:
I just wanted to bring you up to date with my quest to find Bert Crossland's daughter. I was at a barbecue two weeks ago and through a friend I was able to get the name of somebody in Sydney, Australia, who was said to have Fiona Crossland's contact. After a few phone calls to her number, I finally contacted the person in Sydney. Et voila! I talked with Fiona in Southampton this morning and she told me about Bert's final years in music.
After some 30 years living in Dublin he returned to Southampton around 1998 and quickly became involved with the jazz scene there. He did play with Bunny Austin's Band, at the White Buck Inn in Burley, and then got involved with Dicky Solomons’s Quartet, with Dicky on clarinet/alto sax, Bert and Peter Finch on guitars, and Ray Hinks on bass. He also worked occasionally with Pete Weston's Big Band. He died in 2006. His daughter Fiona has all his tapes and CDs along with many photos from numerous gigs which she will share with me. We now plan to make a memorial CD for Danish Jazz Violinist Leif Reck, with whom Bert and myself played, back in 1961. I will let you know as soon it happens.
Nearby on the Isle Wight is where Dublin-born piano ace Ian Henry now resides. We are organising a concert for him at the Kevin Barry Room at the National Concert Hall in Dublin on Friday, Nov 9, later this year. He's performing with bassist Australian-based Danny Moss Jr who's father was the late great tenor sax star, Danny Moss. They have already performed at the Royal Elizabeth Hall in London, and have a huge repertoire from the Great American Songbook. Great evening to look forward to in November.
Click here for more information: www.ianhenrygarber.co.uk.
Back in the early 1950s there was an artistic invasion of Ireland as a wave of talented Dutch artists and graphic designers hit Dublin where they immediately made a major contribution to the evolution of Design and Advertising – notably in their work for Bord Failte and Aer Lingus; thus forging a new image for Ireland as a burgeoning tourist destination.
This story has been chronicled in Norman Mongan's Open Roads Films documentary [and accompanying Conor Clarke book ORANJE & GREEN Holland-Ireland Design Connections 1951-2002 (www.bispublishers.nl) which features the Piet Sluis Jazzband on the soundtrack. (www.oranje&green.ie)].
Among the leading Dutch designers at that time were Guus Melai, Jan de Fouw, and Gerrit Van Gelderen. One of these artists, Piet Sluis, was also an outstanding talent as a jazz trumpeter – quickly establishing himself as a regular on the Dublin Jazz scene from the late 1950s onwards.
Born in Zwolle in 1928, Piet moved to Amsterdam where he worked in various advertising agencies, also becoming a founder member of the COBRA art group. He quickly became a prominent player in the Amsterdam jazz scene, so that when he arrived in Dublin in 1955 he already had a well-honed trumpet sound, drawing inspiration from jazz greats Louis Armstrong, Roy Eldridge and Wild Bill Davidson.
Norman says: 'I can still vividly recall playing guitar with a Dublin jazz group The Nightowls in the late 1950s at the now long-defunct Green Lounge Café on St Stephen's Green when one night, in walked a young guy with a trumpet under his arm who asked if he could sit in. Warily we agreed and then this new guy on the block proceeded to blow us away with fiery, crackling solos. Piet had arrived and spent the rest of the evening on the bandstand with us, inspiring us all.'
'By the 1970/80s he was leading his own jazz groups around Dublin. He became a stalwart at the Cork Jazz Festival for eleven years during the late 1970s/1980s, where he had the opportunity to jam alongside his long-admired hero, Wild Bill Davidson.'
'At Bruxelles bar just off Dublin's pedestrian Grafton Street, Piet held forth for several years in the 1980s. He admired some of the big jazz names such as Louis Armstrong, Ruby Braff, Wild Bill Davidson and Bud Freeman of Sinatra's Tommy Dorsey Band, who called Piet 'the finest trumpeter in Europe' and begged him to tour with him. Piet often designed the posters for the jazz festivals in which he starred. He stopped playing in the eighties, he says: "Because all my teeth fell out – at once!" and he bares his gums. "I blame the war" says Pieter, "Children didn't get enough vitamins". '
Piet Sluis 'Kid Ori'
On the website thefreekick.com, there is an amazing article about Piet Sluis (click here) from 2008 that starts:
'There is a man who sits, every day, on a bench in Blackrock, Dublin, yards from its suave restaurants and boho bars. His trousers are falling down, his Mac jacket is painted with miscellaneous stains and his thick beard seems a botanists' paradise. Occasionally he gets up
and shuffles across to the shop for more cigarettes and alcohol. Then he goes back to his bench. He is fed, for free, by Eddie Rocket's, the American style diner......'
Later, it continues .... 'He gave his trumpet away to a passing vagrant, a "wandering minstrel" in Piet's words, with no idea how to play it. Piet's flat contains jazz CDs scattered like petals. He plays the CD of his old band, lovingly preserved by a fan and starts to tap his ramshackle shoes on the floor. When he gets to his old friend Collie Walsh's clarinet solo, he crumples into tears. "But oh we had some fun times!" he says.'
'With no teeth and no trumpet, he tried to capture the ecstasy of jazz in paintings and produced portraits of Miles Davis, Charlie Christian, Dave Brubeck and Thelonious Monk....'
It ends ..... 'We cannot, we must not – leave this wonderful artist to rot on a bench'.
Piet Sluis died in Dublin in 2008 and was buried in Shanganah cemetery in Shankill. On losing his teeth he was forced to retire from professional playing. In Ireland he is now recognised as one of the leading contemporary artists, with his works being acquired by the National Gallery of Ireland. Click here for a video of an interview with Pieter Sluis made in 2008. Click here to see some of Piet's art.
Ellie Alderton has written in response to our mention of trombonist Geoff Sowden:
'My name is Ellie and Geoff Sowden was my Great Uncle on my mother's side. My memories are of Geoff teaching me to play various things on his beloved trombone and of him and his wife - my Aunty Line - sharing time with the family. His larger than life stature and character left a huge impression on me as a child and I know my mum (Johan Sowden), his neice, was incredibly fond of him too.'
'I am convinced he influenced my choice of career - I am a professional singer, although operatic rather than jazz. I'm really eager to find out more about my Uncle's performing and would really love to hear any anecdotes people may have. It would also be nice to give my Aunty Line a few stories that she may not be aware of.'
Phil Godden has written saying:
'After reading about the death of Kenny Ball today and knowing Geoff Sowden and Kenny were good friends during the period I knew Geoff, I started to wonder how Geoff was. I came across your article asking for information and anecdotes regarding the Trombonist Geoff Sowden. I played in the Geoff Sowden Big Band which was a spin off from the Havering Youth Jazz Orchestra. I knew Geoff and Lyn from the mid 1980’s through to the breakup of the Band in the 1990’s. I may be able to provide you with some information along the names of other musicians of that era.' (We have passed this information on to Ellie Alderton).
If anyone has any other memories of Geoff, please contact us and we will pass them on to Ellie.
Sydney Wardman writes:
'I am trying to find out about Geoff Sowden. I knew him in Leeds when I played trumpet with a band called the Delta Dixielanders and amongst my friends in those days were Freddieand Ernie Tomasso, Diz Disley, Dick Hawdon, Mac Duncan (we were at school together) Alan Cooper, Geoff and others. Gerry Salisbury tells me that Geoff died aound 2004/2005. Gerry was in Monty Sunshine's band with Geoff but also played with him quite a lot in Spain near Malaga. Norman Simpson has also been in touch - he has been putting together some information about Geoff but only has a little so far'.
From Phil Godden:
'After reading about the death of Kenny Ball today and knowing Geoff Sowden and Kenny were good friends during the period I knew Geoff, I started to wonder how Geoff was. I came across an article asking for information and anecdotes regarding the Trombonist Geoff Sowden. I played in the Geoff Sowden Big Band which was a spin off from the Havering Youth Jazz Orchestra. I knew Geoff and Lyn from the mid 1980’s through to the breakup of the Band in the 1990’s. I may be able to provide you with some information along the names of other musicians of that era.(We have passed this information on to Ellie Alderton).
Alan Bond writes in response to Eric Jackson's enquiry for information about clarinet player Harry Lock on our Information Request page (click here). Alan says:
I see from the website that someone is asking for information on Harry Lock. I remember Harry when he was with Eric Silk in the early 'sixties. That was a band that could stomp along with an unbelievable drive and Harry was just about the loudest clarinet player you would ever find. His rasping tone and brilliant technique enabled him to compete with three brass with no trouble at all.
I later played next to him on the (loosely described) bandstand at The Tally Ho at Kentish Town at the jam sessions which were held every Sunday night. He could even outblow some of the front lines that aggregated there. His collaboration with Alan Littlejohn(s) dated from the Eric Silk days so Alan was well versed in all the ways of Harry. The nice thing about the Tally Ho was that anyone and everyone was welcome to join in, even rank amateurs like myself, and it gave you great confidence to give of your best. Sadly the pub has gone, its demise probably hastened by a diet of heavy rock for some years, which must have annoyed the neighbours no end.
The Woodside Musicians Association which held sessions at the Green Dragon at Borehamwood on Sunday lunchtimes was similarly welcoming and I remember being on the stage with Jimmy Skidmore on one occasion - frightened me to death I can tell you, as there was no safety in numbers on that occasion.
I have searched in vain for information on Harry Lock but so far to no avail - his name doesn't throw up anything when entered into any general search engines. I think I will have to search a little further afield and see what I come up with.
Finally, I would like to throw in a query of my own regarding the vibraphone player Peter Shade who often used to turn up at the Tally Ho. I have been able to find out very little about him so if anyone knows anything it would be nice to hear. (Please contact us if you remember Peter).
Dave Burman writes: 'These have been enquiries from time to time about Peter Shade. I've known him for rears and he played with me in Poland recently on vibes. They provided the vibes which I am glad were all good!! He can be seen with me on Youtube - click here.'
John Codd, trumpeter with the Dave Carey Band, wonders whether anyone can tell us whether other members of the band are around?:
'I have just been reading about the old Wood Green Jazz Club,' John writes. 'Some great memories of playing there with the Dave Carey Jazz Band, one of the best clubs we played at, always a good audience. The band was formed in 1954 with myself on trumpet, Tony Milliner (trombone), Tony Gibbons (clarinet), Pat Hawes (piano/vocals), Bob Mack (guitar/banjo), Eric Starr (bass), and Dave Carey (drums). We made our first recording for Decca, issued on the Tempo label - it was the first time that a band had had its first recording issued on an LP - this was 1955 and 78s on their way out.
I also recall that we appeared at the NFJs concert at the Royal Festival Hall, we had a great reception, and I think it let people know who we were. I will never forget all the lads, and sadly Dave and Tony Gibbons are no longer with us. I have been trying to trace any of the band that are still around but have had no luck. At 80 I still play flugelhorn, trombone and some flute, just for fun - can't leave Jazz alone! Regards to all - John Codd'.
We are able to contact Tony Milliner about John's message, but please contact us if you can help regarding Pat Hawes, Bob Mack or Eric Starr.
Trevor Lee and Chris Flanagan have undertaken recording the bands that appeared at The Festival Hall in East Kirkby (now Kirkby In Ashfield) in Nottinghamshire. Trevor has discovered that pianist Bill McGuffie played at the Festival Hall in June 1957 and wonders if anyone knows what the band line up might have been at that time. Please contact us if you can help.
Eddie Fowler, who manages website for manouche guitarist Paul Vernon Chester, has written to say that it is likely the band personnel were as listed on his website - Bill McGuffie (piano); Bob Burns, Peter Hughes (alto & tenor saxophones, clarinet); Bobby Lamb, Jimmy Wilson, Keith Christie, Bill Geldard (Trombone); Derek Watkins, John McLevy, Paul Tungay, Greg Bowen (trumpet); Alan Metcalfe (guitar); Frank Donnison (bass); Bobby Midgley (drums).
There is much more information about this band and in particular about guitarist Alan Metcalfe on Eddie's website: click here for more information.
Trevor Lee, however, thinks that Bill McGuffie brought a Quintet to the gig at the Festival Hall, and has raised the interesting question of what instruments a dance band quintet would have involved in 1957 - piano, bass, drums .....?
Dean Rafferty is researching the early nineties with a view to making a documentary of the era. He is looking for information about the bands Guilt Edge and Charm School, and the musician John Marshall. Although they were not jazz bands, Dean had noticed our page on Merlin's Caves (click here) and wondered if anyone had come across the bands there. Please contact us if you can help.
Trevor Lee has written to say:
I'm compiling a history of every band that appeared at our Local Dance Hall -The Festival Hall, Kirkby In Ashfield Nottinghamshire in the 1950's, and with a colleague producing a series of A5 publications giving details and some background information about the leader and players where space permits.
Sandy Brown only appeared with his Jazz Band once on Saturday March 2nd 1957 and from the advert in the local press I have the list of featured players. I have one which doesn't appear on your list and wonder if you can confirm him and my guess that he may have played bass as there doesn't appear to be anyone else in the list who may have played it.
The full list is Al Fairweather, Jeremy French, Ian Armitt, Diz Disley, Graham Burbidge and my mystery player Jimmy Raka. Perhaps you can also confirm this would have been the complete line up. The spelling of the name could be wrong as the paper was very local!
Hope you don't mind me troubling you but I like to get the information as accurate as possible and it looks as if you are my best reference point. Thank you for producing a very informative web site I have only found it tonight.
(We have replied that we think Jimmy Raka might be a mispelling of bass player Timmy Mahn's name, but if anyone has any other ideas, please contact us).
A couple of months ago, we received an enquiry about a lady named Eddi MacPherson who might have sung with the Sandy Brown band during the late 1950s / early 1960s. We were not aware of this and wondered if it rang a bell with anyone else?
Jo Thorpe wrote to say: 'I saw your request for information about a lady called Eddie Mcpherson... I knew her too she was a good friend of my mum's.. I couldn't say whether she sang in any band, I do know she used to work in clubs... because my mum used to look after her son Graham a lot.... Graham later went on to be very famous as the lead singer of Madness... He was also one of those kids running around the Merlin's Cave on a Sunday afternoon'.
Josephine Lambourne has written saying: Someone was asking about Eddy Macpherson. Eddy used to manage or run the Kismet Club. She is still around the Soho scene'.
Toby Follett, writing on behalf of Eddi's son, Graham, (a.k.a. Suggs from the band Madness) says that Suggs is in touch with his mother but is trying to work out is if there is anyone who remembers her husband, Suggs' dad. 'Maybe people who Eddi has forgotten from the past who have their own stories, and any other stories from that time that may jog Eddi's memory.'
Suggs has been staging a one-man show in which he looks back on his life.
Please contact us if you can remember any other stories about Eddi or her husband.
Vicky Jones has sent us this picture with a couple of queries. Does anyone recognise people in the picture, and could it have been taken at the Six Bells in Chelsea?
Vicky says: 'I happened upon your site when my sister and I were trying to find out whether the Six Bells was still operating as a pub. My Dad, Leonard Jones, together with his best friend, Stanley Peake, were great friends of Bill Nicholls who was landlord in the sixties. I believe there was a tragedy involving Bill's daughter falling from the upstairs balcony of the pub and he gave it up soon after. Here is a picture of Dad and a group of chaps that Bill took out to a New Years event. We think it is either a Brewery Do or was related to the Jazz Club. (Click on the picture for a larger image).
The big chap front left is Stanley Peake, next to him with glass to lips and ciggie is my late Dad, Leonard Jones.
Unfortunately you can't see Bill the landlord clearly (bald head) as he is behind the chap with glasses next to my Dad. I believe one of the chaps in the picture is called Lawrie but they were all regulars at the pub and a few of them may have been merchant seaman like my Dad and Stan.
I do remember as a teenager when they had the disco (Birds Nest by then). Sadly more and more of the smaller live venues close in favour of the mega stadiums. It is happening all the time where I live in Kingston-Upon-Thames but the Grey Horse and Fighting Cocks struggle on. The Grey Horse started out as a Jazz Venue but now has all sorts of music.
Please contact us if you can help Vicky.
Danish trombone player Fessor Lindgreen has written to ask if anyone is able to help him to contact the Jamaican trombone player Rico Rodriguez. Please contact us if you can help.
Wikipedia tells us that Rico Rodriguez was born in Kingston, Jamaica. In 1961, he moved to the UK and started to play in reggae bands here. In the late 1970s, with the arrival of the 2 Tone genre, he played with ska revival bands such as The Specials. One of his most notable performances was on The Specials' song, "A Message to You, Rudy". Rodriguez also led his own outfit, Rico and the Rudies, to yield the albums Blow Your Horn and Brixton Cat. Since 1996, amongst other engagements, he has played with Jools Holland's Rhythm and Blues Orchestra and he also performs at various ska festivals throughout Europe with his own band.
Click here for a video of Rico playing Take Five with the Cool Wise Men in Japan in 2007 - hard not to get up and dance!
Click here for more about Rico Rodriguez.
Sydney Wardman is trying to find out information about trombone player Geoff Sowden. Geoff's first band was the Delta Dixielanders and some of the bands he went on to play with include those of Freddy Randall, Joe Daniels, Monty Sunshine and Terry Lightfoot. Sydney says: 'I knew Geoff in Leeds when I played trumpet with the Delta Dixielanders and amongst my friends in those days were Freddie and Ernie Tomasso, Diz Disley, Dick Hawdon, Mac Duncan (we were at school together), Alan Cooper, Geoff and others.'
February: Gerry Salisbury and Norman Simpson have replied - Gerry Salisbury says that Geoff died aound 2004/2005. Gerry was in Monty Sunshine's band with Geoff but also played with him quite a lot in Spain near Malaga. Norman Simpson has been putting together some information about Geoff but only has a little so far. It is on an Excel spreadsheet that we are not able to share on the website, but if anyone is interested, we can forward a copy.
If anyone else can help, please contact us.
Charlotte Roberts has written to us and is trying to find out more about her great gandfather. I anyone can help, please contact us. Charlotte says:
'My name is Charlotte Roberts and I believe that my great grandfather Gordon Hillier (DOB 1931) was a trumpet player with George "Bunny" Austin. The photo I attach is from Bunny Austin's profile on your website (click here) and was taken around 1982 in Shirley Social Club, Southampton. It says in the narrative that Gordon Hillier (trumpet) was out of the picture which is a shame as I would have loved to have seen him. Unfortunately, I have just found out recently that he is my great grandfather and my father's grandfather, my father only finding out two months ago that his mother Olive Smith (nee Hillier) was his mother and sadly passed away when he was 2 months old. Gordon Hillier was Olive's father. Gordon Hillier unfortunately died in 2004 in Torquay. His full name was Gordon Thomas Alfred Hillier. I would be grateful if you could let me know whether the Gordon Hillier (or should I say the trumpet) is in fact my great grandfather. Do you have a full copy of this photo with Gordon in it or any photos at all of Gordon. I would really love to see them.'
Bunny Austin remembers Gordon and has contacted Charlotte, but if anyone else remembers him, please let us know.
Collette Wijkander has written with the following enquiry. Collette has discovered that the musician in the picture is her father, and she is trying to trace him. She only has a little information:
'I'm looking for a Cuban Bass (standing Bass) player who toured and played in Stockholm 1957. I have a press photo from Aftonbladet, Photographer Kurt Berggren. Any information is important to me. I think he played Cuban Jazz. He was probably in his twenties.'
In February 2011, Collette wrote: 'I have got a tip from Svante Grundberg who knows a lot about jazz.' Svante had sent Collette a link to a website at http://william.houston.se/ she wondered if this is the same bass player and if anyone knows anything about Bill Houston?. Collette also says:' I have also detected the Lecuona or Havana Cuban Boys - playing all summer 1957 in Stockholm. Haven't found any good pictures of them though.'
Please contact us if you think you can help.
John Ferguson and Albert Craske have been in touch with us about 'once upon a time' jazz venues they remember and wonder if others recall them too?
John says: 'Alas, I think the 'Down At The Res' got swamped out years ago by a malignancy of Noisicians! The 'Prince of Wales' Buckhurst Hill was another pleasant venue in those old days'.
Steve Fletcher writes: 'Do any of your readers know if Erroll Garner, my all time favourite pianist,
was ever married - and to whom?' We have had a quick look on Wikipedia, but there is no clue there.
Eric Wilson has written to say that, according to the biography of Erroll Garner written by James Doran, Erroll never married but in the last six years of his life, had the close companionship of a lady called Rosalyn Noisette. Apparently she was with Erroll in the elevator of the apartment building where they lived when he collapsed and died.
Roger Trobridge has been contacted by someone who went to school with jazz harmonica player Cyril Davies in New Denham, London, and later played with him in the Barbecue Jazz Band in the early 1950s. Roger was unaware of this and thought Cyril had just played with Steve
Lane and the Southern Stompers. The Barbecue Jazz Band started up in 1950 and in 1952 featured Ron Ware (cornet/leader), Mick Clift (trombone), David Morgan/Frank Bond (drums), Kenneth
Eltringham (clarinet), Terry Bowler (tuba), Brian Powell (piano) and
Cyril Davies (banjo/vocals).
Can anyone help with more information about the Barbecue Jazz Band and the musicians who played in it? It probably lasted from 1950 to 1952 and met in The Hut, Yiewsley, Hillingdon? It appears that the band was recorded at The Hut by someone with a portable machine who recorded direct to a disc. The players all got a disc afterwards. Roger, who has a recording on an aluminium disc coated with plastic (an 'acetate'?) which looks unplayable, also wonders if anyone can help with more information about this? The label has the words 'A Gold Star Recording and the brand SMS around the central hole: HUT 29-1-52.
Roger is also interested in finding out about people who were recording some of the early bands in the 50s in the clubs. 'Not the proper labels who had their own studios. I think there was a shop in Oxford Street where bands could go and I think there was a singer called George Brock who had a recorder...'
Please contact us if you can help.
Eric Jackson writes: Would anyone know the fate of Harry Lock - Peanuts-style clarinetist often in the jam sessions at the Tally Ho on Sundays in the sixties and prominent on the LP recorded there? He was big mate of Alan Littlejohns and sometimes depped in the Kenny Ball band.Very smart dresser and subject to jokes about bow locks and employment in Cecil Gee's window.
Joe Harriott was featured in our Photographic Memory item - see picture below (click here for Photographic Memories). Pete Pohl writes:
'I heard Joe Harriott play at the 100 club ca.1952. He "sat in" for a few numbers with the Band of the evening (Humph ???). Took Me back a few years! I had fogotten him completly till I read the article.'
Does anyone else remember Joe?
In last month's Photographic Memory picture with Joe Harriott was drummer Harry Miller. We wondered if anyone knew what had become of Harry. There was a well known bass player also named Harry Miller that some people picked up on, but that was a different Harry. Bunny Austin has come up with some other interesting information about 'drummer Harry':-
'Harry Miller (real name Harry Shillingworth) was a very good drummer, playing in the Freddy Randall band from circa 1946 to 1950 when Freddy replaced him with Lennie Hastings. Harry recorded with the Freddy Randall band in June 1948 and again in September 1948 on the old Cleveland Rhythm Club label. Harry also recorded six sides with Freddy on the Tempo label in September 1949.
Harry Miller (left) with Joe Harriott
Photograph courtesy of Bunny Austin
In the 1950's Harry Miller ran his own band, and also acted as a band booker. I played for Harry in the Whitechapel area of the east end of London along with my friend Laurie Harris, an alto player. The venues were generally over a type of Burton's clothing stores. Harry's mum and dad used to carry in Harry's drum kit and assemble it on the stage, then when the gig was finished they would dismantle the drum kit and march off! Harry's dad was an accordion player. Sometimes, to liven things up, Harry would fire off his blank cartridge automatic! (Not exactly the way to introduce the band to the citizens of Whitechapel!). Laurie Harris told me half the audience vanished when Harry did his party trick!
In the 1960's Harry Miller was a member of the Ferry Boat Jazzmen who played on Sunday lunchtimes at the Cook's Ferry Inn at Edmonton, north London.This band had Nevil Skrimshire on guitar, Harry Miller on drums, Ted Fawcett bass, Alan Wickham trumpet, Dave Jones clarinet, Bert Murray trombone, Pat Mason on piano and Jack Jacobs alto/clarinet. Harry would sing one or two numbers (he was quite a good vocalist).
About this time Harry Miller also lead a band on Sunday nights at a rugby club not far from
the Ferry. I played at this venue a few
times. One night Jimmy Skidmore and Art Elefson turned up to play - they
nearly blew the roof off!
I lost touch with Harry Miller towards the end of the 1960's, but perhaps
there are a few people who can help with later news. I know that Harry has died, quite
some years ago, diabetes trouble, but don't have a definite date, but I'm
tracking it down.'
Kwaku, editor of British Black Music, has written to us saying:
'We were in Edinburgh a fortnight ago and whilst waiting for our train, decided to while away the time in the central music library. I asked if there was any black music from Scotland that I could browse through. I read the history of Scottish rock and pop, which had a smattering of R&B connections and the staff were very nice and helpful but had to admit there was hardly anything so specific.'
We contacted the Central Music Library and are grateful to Garry Gale who looked into the query again. Garry says:
'I've done a bit of digging about and haven't really come up with anything .... lots of black musicians came to Scotland to perform.. Louis Armstrong, Big Bill Broonzy and many other great American and European jazz musicians. In the 60s there was a thriving interest in soul and ska, especially in Glasgow, and there were some clubs which specifically catered for that audience but, again, there is no evidence of any local black musicians being involved ... performers tended to come from London or Liverpool.
There is a new book, just published, which claims to be the most authoritative history of popular music in Glasgow: Minstrels, Poets and Vagabonds (click here). Our copy hasn't arrived yet but I will scan it when it comes in for any relevant information.
Finlay Quaye was born in Edinburgh, and went to school there for a while... but spent most of his career in London. He now lives in Berlin. His formative years introduced him to jazz and his father and uncle were both well established black musicians.. but again not in Scotland ... Finlay's mother was Scottish (white)
I have also looked at quite a lot of archival jazz photographs and cannot see any evidence of any black musicians in any of the bands and nor can any 'current survivor's of the old Edinburgh Jazz scene recall any local black musicians playing in Edinburgh.
Via 'pub talk' a couple of names have come up: Aki Remally is a funk guitarist based in Edinburgh, he plays sessions with other musicians across the UK and beyond (Hendrix inspired) click here for details, click here for video. Also Jimmy Hebrews who has now passed away apparently played in Edinburgh in the 1980's - I have no details as yet.
I will keep this enquiry 'on file' though, in case something comes up or if one of my contacts can shine further light on the subject.'
This is intriguing! Can anyone give us any details of black Scottish jazz musicians? Contact us.
November 2010 - Dave Keir writes:
'Regarding the subject of Black musicians in Scotland -you might have a look at the subject of Carl Barriteau who, if my memory serves me, was born in Glasgow. One day, so the story goes, he was playing at the docks in Glasgow and on seeing a West Indian (Jamaican ?) banana boat being unloaded and seeing that all the sailors were like him, he decided to stow away on the boat and when he reached Jamaica he was adopted by a family there. Eventually he became a very fine jazz clarinettist coming to Britain as a member of the "Snake Hips" Johnson big band, When Johnson was killed during an air raid during the Blitz on London, Carl took over the leadership of the band and it became one of the leading big bands in Britain in the 40s. Latterly he had a residency at some ballroom in Edinburgh (I've forgetten the name) and the last I heard he had moved to Australia.'
Sorry Dave - other information suggests that Carl was born in Trinidad on 7th February 1914, although he did apparently play in Leith for a while. To read about Carl click here. ....unless of course someone with access to Glasgow's register of births can prove otherwise ......
Josh Sutton has written to say that his father Alan Sutton played washboard on the 1956 Decca recording of Alan Lomax and the Ramblers with Sandy Brown on clarinet. Josh would like to track down an original copy of the EP. Can anyone help?
David Gent writes: I can't help with the original, but two tracks have appeared on the CD British Traditional Jazz At a Tangent on Lake LACD317. The tracks are Oh Lula and Railroad Man, and the personnel is given as: Alan Lomax (guitar and vocal), Peggy Seeger (banjo and vocal), Sandy Brown (clarinet), John Cole (harmonica), Brian Daly (guitar), Jim Bray (bass), Alan Sutton (washboard), Ewan MacColl (vocal) and Shirley Collins (vocal). Recording date was 2nd August 1956.
Mike Walmsley is trying to track down a video of the Mike Daniels band reunion he thinks was taken at the Pizza Express in the 1980s. If anyone can help please contact us.
Wellington Choy writes from New Zealand: "I have been listening to Johnny Dankworth's 'Zodiac Variations' and am most impressed. One question that comes to mind is whether Dankworth's UK based musicians went to New York to play behind the US 'guest' artists (Clark Terry et. al.) or whether they dubbed the US solos over the London based band that recorded in London a few days later. The first alternative would be rather expensive, the second raises the question as to what rhythm section the US guys had - or were they listening to a 'rehearsal' date tape of the UK band. Does anyone know? (Contact us if you do).
Dave Bowen has written to say:
"Just thought I'd comment on Wellington Choy's inquiry about the American guests who appeared on Dankworth's Zodia Variations. I don't know how the final recording and the US solo contributions were managed but if you go to the Jazz 625 recording of the Clark Terry Bob Brookmeyer Quintet on YouTube (which has the British rhythm team of Laurie Holloway, Alan Ganley and Rick Laird) I can confirm (because I was in the audience) that the first part of that BBC concert consisted of extracts from the Variations featuring the live contributions of Terry and Brookmeyer. (Humph does comment in his introduction that flying American guests in for a BBC programme was very rare "outside of This Is Your Life"! I have never forgotten the quintet performance which I still consider one of the greatest evenings of small group jazz I ever heard."
Click here for the Jazz 625 video.
© Sandy Brown Jazz 2009 - 2016
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