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Jazz Remembered


Jack Jackson

by Jeff Duck


Jack Jackson


From the 1920s through to the 1970s, multi-instrumentalist, band leader, radio presenter, actor (straight and comedy), artist, chat show host, booking agent and compère, Jack Jackson had an enormous fan base along with receiving great respect from everyone around him.

He was born in Barnsley, Yorkshire in 1906 where his father was a brass player and conductor. By the age of eleven, Jack was playing cornet in local brass bands and at the age of sixteen he started to play violin and cello in a local dance band. Jack was Jack Jacksonaccepted at the Royal Academy of Music where he also learnt to play trumpet under the guidance of John Solomon. The career that followed saw him working in various ballrooms, on ocean liners, circuses and playhouse revues. He also played at the Birmingham and Hammersmith Palais for the Canadian band leader Bill Shenkman and toured with a revue titled “Stage Struck”. In this revue Jack was leading the pit orchestra as well as playing many solos.

With all of this going on Jack was always busy but continued to expand his playing by fronting gig bands at the Holborn Restaurant and the Hotel Cecil, he also led a band called The Metropole Band at the Links Hotel in Ashford, Kent. When Bert Railton spotted the 19 year old he immediately asked Jack to join his Havana Band. In 1926, the Railton band left England for a tour of Africa, unfortunately Railton was shot dead in February 1927 but the band completed the tour being led by saxophonist Bill Barton before returning to England in June 1927.

Once back in England Jack did session work for a while playing for the likes of Ambrose and Ronnie Munro and he also made quite a few recordings on Parlophone and Crystalate (Imperial Records) with Syd Roy’s Crichton Lyricals playing some brilliant hot Jazz solos on The Baltimore, She Don’t Wanna and Somebody Said.

Jack’s big break came when he joined Jack Hylton’s band in 1927. By now his playing was so much more confident, with a touch of Bix Beiderbecke and Red Nichols combined with his own styling. As lead trumpet/cornet player with Jack Hylton, Jack played many hot jazz solos as well as singing scat.





Here is the Jack Hylton Orchestra in 1928 playing You're The Cream In My Coffee
(I am assuming it is Jack on trumpet although there is no note of this here).







He eventually left Hylton’s band in November 1929 to join the Howard Jacobs band, playing at the Berkley Hotel, but he soon moved to the Savoy Hotel to play in the house band that was being lead by Percival Mackey who was then replaced by Arthur Lally. As well as recording with both these leaders, Jack continued to do freelance work with the likes of Harry Hudson at Edison Bell.

In March 1931, bandleaders Jack Payne and Roy Fox were both after the services of Jack; he joined Payne and spent two years at the BBC as a key player in Payne’s band not only as a soloist and vocalist but also assisted in many of the comedy aspects of the performances.


We can listen to Jack with the Hylton band in 1931 playing Little Girl. It gives us a chance to taste his trumpet playing before he moves on to become a bandleader himself.




In February 1933, Jack went on to form his own band for which he had already secured a recording session at HMV and in August, Jack Jackson's band opened at London's Dorchester Hotel. Along with some top musicians in Jack's band there was also ace arranger Stanley Andrews and vocalist Helen Clare who sadly passed away in September 2018. Jack and his band became very popular with the smart set at the Dorchester, setting a good dance tempo as can be heard on many of his HMV recordings, but in December 1933 Jack and his band were on the move again, first to Rector’s Club and then in March 1940 to the Mayfair Hotel.


Jack Jackson and the band playing Everybody Loves My Marguerite in 1933 with Sam Costa singing the words. Some might remember that Sam went on to a radio career with the BBC in the It's That Man Again (ITMA) shows with Tommy Handley, with Kenneth Horne and gang in Much Binding In the Marsh and also presenting Housewive's Choice.





Sam was by no means the only vocalist with Jack Jackson -here is Al Bowlly, also in 1933 and with a little more syncopation, singing I'm Playing With Fire.






Jack Jackson Orchestra



YouTube has this 'Unissued Take' of Blue River, Roll On recorded in 1933 by Jack Jackson 'recording as John Jackson and his Orchestra' with a more upbeat tempo and a brief bit of hot trumpet. The person posting it (?Panachord) says: 'Take 2 of "Blue River, Roll On" was released by HMV on HMV B6338. This is the first time that the unissued first take, made on 31st March 1933, has been made available to "the public". This single-sided disc has not only never been issued, but it has been out of copyright for over quarter of a century. It has been remastered by this user. Jack Jackson had recently left Jack Payne's BBC Dance Orchestra and was in the process of forming his own orchestra. The musicians used in his two recording sessions made under the name of "John Jackson" in February and March 1933 were to form the nucleus of his Dorchester Hotel orchestra. Bill Harty was the drummer for these sessions, probably thanks to Ray Noble who would have been behind them as MD at HMV'.





It is sometimes forgotten that the wonderful American vocalist Alberta Hunter appeared for the 1934 winter season with Jack Jackson's society orchestra at the Dorchester, in London. Here she is with Jack's Orchestra singing Noel Coward's I Travel Alone from that time.





For those who might not remember Alberta Hunter watch this marvellous video of her singing in Berlin in 1982.




One of the popular tunes of the time was My Very Good Friend The Milkman, always associated with Fats Waller, but here is Jacks' Orchestra and their version in 1935. The person sharing it says: 'A hit in the U.S., surprisingly British dance bands virtually ignored it. Jack Jackson was the only 1930s bandleader to record it. Judging by its scarcity today the record did not sell well in the '30s.'




There are many Jack Jackson tracks to sample on YouTube but the choice becomes less as War approaches. This 78 rpm scratchy recording of Please Be Kind is from 1938:




As the war started, Jack joined the Ministry of Information and was tasked with drawing cartoons for pamphlets, he was also working as a booking agent at Foster’s Agency. Jack didn’t get on well with desk work and after leaving the Ministry he made a comeback with a new band at Churchill’s in February of 1947. This was followed with playing with his own band at the Potomac in October 1947. It was after this engagement that Jack gave up band-leading after he received an offer from the BBC to compare a BBC big-band series of programs called Band Parade.


Jack Jackson




Just under a year later (June 1948), Jack had his own late night show, Record Round Up, which ran for over 20 years making Jack a household name with a new generation of listeners. He also made a number of broadcasts on Radio Luxembourg along with various TV appearances, hosted his own chat show on ITV in September of 1955, and continued to work outside of his radio activities compèring band shows at theatres across the UK as well as appearing as a solo act on various occasions.





This 2015 video was made seeking money to preserve the Jack Jackson studios where Jack became known as the 'Father as DJs'. It begins with Jack's usual introduction: 'Hello there music lovers everywhere and welcome to the show ....'




In 1962, Jack Jackson left England to live in Tenerife. He built himself a sophisticated and technically advanced studio where he would record his radio shows and the recordings were sent by jet plane each week to London. At the age of 67 Jack became quite ill, his illness was aggravated by the climate where he was living and so he returned to Rickmansworth, England where his two sons were running their own recording studio. Reports state that that Jack had aged tremendously, all of his energy being sapped by emphysema. After approximately two years Jack made a remarkable recovery and although having to rely on an electric air-compressor for his breathing he began to present a new radio show in 1975 called The Jack Jackson Show.


Here is a brief taste of Jack's show on the radio which, as you will hear, involved comedy as well as music.





The multi talented Jack Jackson, all round gentleman and good friend to many, died on 15th January 1978.


Jeff Duck runs CJRO Records in support of charities - click here for more information.



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© Sandy Brown Jazz 2018

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