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Mick Clift

 

Mick Clift played jazz trombone. It was not until 2011 that Todd Allen in Canada wrote asking us about what had happed to Mick.

Click here for a video of Mick Clift, Jon Penn, Geoff Over, Ben Cohen and Alex Revell playing The Georgia Grind at the Keswick Jazz Festival in 1998.

An entry on The Free Library internet site (click here) says: 'Back in 1979 trombonist Mick Clift had to leave Ken Ingram's band in Birmingham because his work took him to Cornwall.... Mick Clift will blast out a musical goodbye to all his followers, at the Coach and Horses in Daventry on Thursday, before retiring to Skegness.'. The date of the 'musical goodbye' is a little unclear.

Ken Colyer albumGriff Thomas, Alex Revell, Greg Platt, Tony Quinn and David Braidley start to fill in some of the gaps.

David Braidley first came across Mick on a 1957 Decca EP by Ken Colyer's Brass Band, where Mick and Mac Duncan were the two trombone players. The album, Marching To New Orleans by Ken Colyer’s Omega Brass Band is still available, second-hand as an LP, or you can sample and download the tracks by clicking here.

Alex Revell remembers how: ‘Mick and I played together in Steve Lane's Famous Southern Stompers in late 1959/1960. Mick then played in my band with Chez Chesterman, Alan Thomas, Geoff Over, Geoff Blackwell, Bob Sinclair and Pam White - a fine singer - handling the vocals.’

David next heard of Mick soon after David 'came out of retirement' and started playing again. ‘The band I was with was gradually recruited to Ken Ingram's Society Syncopators; cornet, piano, clarinet, tuba, where they joined Mick in the King Oliver/Morton style band. His last gig with this band was, I think, a recording session for Norman Field's Neovox Cassette label. This must have been in the late 70s. I no longer can find the tape, but do have a CD copy of Ken Ingram CDa USA radio broadcast, on OKOM in 1979 of 'Our Kind of Music' which reviews the tape and plays some of the tracks.’

Tradjazzproductions, an American company, is selling a CD of Ken Ingram’s New Syncopators playing ‘King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band Classics'. The album features the two horn front line of Ken and Chris Mercer; trombonist Mick Clift; clarinetist John Osborne; Roger Catley - piano; George Linder-banjo; Chester Oakley-tuba and drummer Nick Ward. (click here).

David continues: ‘Mick left, moving south for the benefit of his wife's health and subsequently I replaced him in Ken's Ken Ingram's New Syncopatorsband, now called Ken Ingram's New Syncopators. As ever with Ken, he broke up the band, and it wasn't until the 1990s that he formed another 'Classic' band, Ken Ingram's Creole Jazzband, which performed up to Ken's death. Incidentally I was simultaneously a long term dep. in his Central City Jazzmen, while Nick Williams recovered from his heart surgery.’

 

Ken Ingram's New Syncopators: Roger Cattley (piano).  Des Hillier (banjo), Nick Ward (drums). Chez Oakley bbs. Dave Lind (clarinet), Ken Ingram (cornet), Chris Mercer (cornet), David Braidley (trombone).
Photograph © David Braidley.

 

David next met Mick in 1992 on Bourbon St. in New Orleans. ‘We then played together in Clive Wilson's Camelia Parade Band, parading from David Braidley & Mick Clift New OrleansBourbon St to Jackson Sq.  There is a (brief) video and a cassette recording (which isn't lost), plus a front page photograph in the New Orleans Times-Picayune, I'm on the left, Mick on the right.' 

'A couple of days later we were playing at Fritzell's bar on Bourbon St. with Nick Ward, Chris Mercer, Chris Reilley, Roy Kirby, Mick Unthank and others. Again there is a tape of some of this made by Mick's wife.’

David Braidley (left) and Mick Clift (right) leading the Camelia Brass Band
Picture courtesy of David Braidley.

 

‘I only met Mick again a few more times back in England, but he was with Chris Watford's Dallas Dandies and his Dixieland Thumpers for quite some time, possibly until  he stopped playing. He was also with the Ben Cohen bands, but these, I think were 'festival only' line ups.’

Alex Revell recalls that Mick moved to Cornwall where he started his own band. ‘The last band that Mick played in was the Ben Cohen Hot Five and Seven, from 1993 until Ben's death in 2002. Mick loved the Hot 5 and 7: 'A dream come true. The best band, by far, I've ever been in,' he was always telling me.’

‘The last time I played with Mick, and probably the last jazz gig he did, was a tribute to Ben at Bude in 2004, with Enrico Tomasso in place of Ben. I say 'last jazz gig,' because when he finally went up to Skegness, he joined a local brass/silver band. He delighted in telling me on the 'phone that he had been promoted to making the tea at their rehearsals - typical Mick. Mick was a beautiful trombonist, with a wicked sense of time - particularly in his two bar breaks.’

Mick eventually died in Skegness, although as yet we don’t have the exact date. Greg Platt remembers going to Mick’s funeral: ‘Lucky to play occasionally with him with John Paddon at Louth, and the odd gig elsewhere’. That funeral was somewhere around 2005. Griff Thomas recalls that Mick died a short time after the passing of Ken Ingram. The Club 90 website records that Ken died on June 11th 2005. In 2011, Tony Quinn wrote 'I was the percussionist in Ken Ingram's band from 1997 to 2002. Ken, of course, died about 6 or 7 years ago. My new band is The New Washboard Syncopators' (click here for The New Washboard Syncopators playing Beale Street Blues).

Alex Revell: ‘After losing touch with Mick for some years after my own band split up, he sent me a tape of him playing with the Ken Ingram Band. After playing it in the car, my then wife turned to me and said. 'You know, there's no-one plays the trombone like Mickie.' I think that sums him up. But he was a very talented man of many parts. I miss him and Ben more than I can say.’

 

Mick Clift with Chris Watford's Dallas Dandies

Mick Clift with the Dallas Dandies

 

Richard Taylor sends us this poster of Chris Watford's Dallas Dandies to add to the gradual increase of information we are getting about trombonist Mick Clift - please let us know if you have any other pictures or information we can include.

Front row left to right - Mick Clift, Dennis Armstrong, Chris Watford.
Back Row left to right- Dennis Mowatt, Jerry Card, Geoff Over.

 

Chris Watford remembers Mick Clift

‘I first met Mick Clift under strange circumstances.  Travelling down from Lincolnshire to Swindon to do some railway research, I stopped for a sandwich in a pub, and spotted a copy of Jazz Guide on the bar counter. I saw there was a local band playing at a village pub, so on my way back that evening, I dropped in to listen.  In the interval, I went up to the musicians, and as I had only just started playing clarinet again after a 20-year layoff through a serious illness, I asked who each was, in case I hadn't recognised someone who had once played with me.  None of them Mick Cliftwould tell me, fearing that, as I was wearing a suit, I might be from the Inland Revenue, or the Performing Rights people.  The bald headed trombonist said to me "I don't mind telling you who I am - I'm Mick Clift, and I'm up here for the launch at the 100 Club of Ben Cohen's Hot Five ".   That would be in the summer of 1995, and a few months later Mick phoned me up from Cornwall, and asked me to send him copies of local newspapers as he was thinking of moving up to the Kettering area.’

Mick Clift at the first public performance  of the Augmented Dallas Dandies, in Swaffham, Norfolk, prior to an 8-session tour to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the classic recordings by King Oliver's Creole Jazzband in 1923.
Photograph courtesy of Chris Watford.

‘The first time we played together was at the Oxfam Stomp in Birmingham, the following January (1996). I'd forgotten what he looked like, and when I saw this bald headed old man, I though "He can't be any good, he's so old!" How wrong I was!  We got on well together, and having moved to the Kettering area, he was looking for a band to play with, so he joined my newly-formed Dallas Dandies, and stayed with me until he moved half way to Denmark - Skegness to be precise - at the end of 2000, which effectively forced him to leave my band.'

'During that time, we travelled together in my car to the various gigs all over the country, notching up over 100,000 miles together, so I got to know Mick pretty well.  Quite early on, he annoyed me on one of our journeys, and I said to him "You're a miserable old bastard, aren't you?", and heMick Clift with Dallas Dandies replied "That's what they called me at work before I retired!"  We got on really well after that, and he became my right-hand-man in the band for the next four years. His musical knowledge was substantial, and he was particularly good at the recorded work of Honore Dutrey, which helped me when I decided to augment the Dallas Dandies with Mike Daniels on trumpet to do a fortnight's tour of the jazz clubs in a Tribute to mark the 75th anniversary of the recorded sessions by King Oliver's Creole Jazzband in 1998.  Margaret, the wife of my other trumpeter, Brian Craig, recorded some 8 hours on video of most of the sessions, and I am currently working on editing and transferring to DVD.’

Mick Clift with Chris Watford's Dallas Dandies in the middle of Poole Bay, during the Swanage Jazz Festival, late 1990s. Left to Right :- John Arthy (bass); Mick Clift (trombone); Arthur Fryatt (drums-hidden);
Brian Craig (trumpet); Chris Watford (clarinet) and Bill Stotesbury (banjo).
Photograph courtesy of Chris Watford.

‘We kept in touch after he had retired to Skegness, and having joined a local brass band, he got my band a booking at the local Butlins camp in 2003. This was the last time I played with Mick, and the first time I played with trumpeter Bill Dickens, who had left the remnants of the Chris Blount band the previous summer after his old bandleading friend had passed away.  After the session, Mick and I agreed that Bill's playing was as if we were standing next to Elmer Talbert !  I retired from playing in 2004, but visited Mick occasionally when he was kind enough to copy tapes and CDs for me. A few months before he died, I phoned Mick up, but he was not his usual confident self, so I knew he wasn't well.  I went to his funeral, and was glad to see pianist Jon Penn had come over all the way from North Wales to represent the Ben Cohen Hot Five.’

‘Mick was a real character, and a tremendous help with running my band. Wherever we played, it seemed that someone in the audience knew him. On our way back from a gig, we would chat away to keep me awake at the steering wheel, but he would wait until I had forgotten to turn off the motorway, and then say to me "Weren't you supposed to turn off back there ?", which usually meant a long detour - at 2am in the morning ! His great schoolboy friend, Tony Parker, who also took up the trombone at the same time as Mick, once told me that Mick turned up one day with
a large bag of sweets, and Tony said "Can I have one please?", and Mick retorted " No, 'cos you asked ", and proceeded to scoff the lot !   They were great friends, but must have been a right couple of lads as youngsters!’         

[We should like to add to this profile of Mick if any readers have more information - particularly if anyone has information about Mick prior to 1959].

© Sandy Brown Jazz 2014 - 2015

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