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Jazz Remembered

Harry Parry


Some while ago, Steve Fletcher in Spain wrote to us asking us if we could track down another musician. Luckily we were able to help. Steve also suggested that we might take time out to remind ourselves of the Harry Parry Sextet.

Harry Parry Sextet

Steve points us in the direction of this video from 1947 and the Sextet playing Honeysuckle Rose (click here). The band members are not listed, nor is the singer, but I am sure someone will recognise them?

Tony Middleton suggests they are: Pat Barnett (trumpet); ?Alan Clark (alto); ?Joe Riley (tenor); Dennis Wilson (piano); ?Hank Hobson (bass); ?Dennis Neale (drums): unknown (voc) 1947 (Note: sound and vision not always in sinc!)

Clarinettist Harry Owen Parry was born in Bangor, Wales in 1912. He was a natural musician who started out playing cornet, flugelhorn, drums and violin but settled on clarinet and saxophone in the late 1920s. He trained to become an instrument maker at Bangor University and then moved to London in 1932 when he was 20 and played with a number of dance bands before forming his own sextet. In 1940, his became the house band at the St Regis Hotel and he led the BBC's Radio Rhythm Club show.


Here is an excellent video where 'Harry Parry and his Radio Rhythm Club Sextet play cool swing music' in 1942. I am not sure whether the tune is Hot Dogs or whether that is the title of the series - again can anyone name the musicians? Tony Middleton again suggests: Sounds like "Dark Eyes ": Roy Marsh (vibes); ?Reg Dare (tenor); ?Tommy Pollard (piano); Joe Deniz (guitar); Charlie Short (bass); Bobby Midgley (drums) 1942.




His sextet recorded over 100 titles for the Parlophone label. His style has beenHarry Parry album compared to that of Benny Goodman and his band included at various times vibraphonist Roy Marsh, pianists George Shearing and Tommy Pollard and trumpeters Dave Wilkins and Stan Roderick.

After the War, during which his band entertained the troops, Harry continued to work for radio and television and toured internationally with the sextet during the 1940s and 1950s and for a brief period formed the resident band on the BBC's Crackerjack children's programme.

Harry died in London in October 1956.


There are a number of audio tracks on YouTube you can listen to (click here), and a number of albums are available (click here), including Parry Opus, one of Harry's best known numbers, although I have not been able to find that track for you to listen to here.

Here is a video of the band playing You Are My Lucky Star with complementary dancers in 1943. Tony Middleton again helps us out with the personnel, but says he might have made some spelling errors: Dave Wilkins (trumpet); Derek Neville (alto); Ken Oldham (tenor); Yorke de Sousa (piano); Sam Molineaux (bass); Syd Raymond (drums) 1943


Doreen Villiers



Harry Parry and Doreen Villiers

Bob Ross, clarinetist from Dundee writes: 'A quick search reveals that Harry often featured Doreen Villiers in his band. Might this be her singing in the clip?'

Click here to listen to Doreen singing Don't Get Around Much Anymore with Geraldo and his Orchestra. Not a 'jazz' recording, but the personnel is interesting: Leslie Hutchinson (trumpet), Ted Heath (trombone), Nat Temple (saxophone), Ivor Mairants (guitar) ....





David Moore writes: ‘Browsing through the "Jazz Remembered" series and I came up with your Harry Parry highlights.   I remember during the war listening to his Radio Rhythm Group and funnily enough when forming my U3A group listening to "Swing and Trad. Jazz" music via CDs, I chose for my "Signature Tune" Harry playing "You Are My Lucky Star”. Harry, I think was one of the nearest British clarinettists to my hero Benny Goodman.   I really look forward to receiving your monthly epistle and enjoy the various articles and tributes.’  

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