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Sunday, June 01, 2008

Cambell Burnap passes.

From Mike Pointon comes this sad news;-
This morning, following a short illness, Campbell Burnap died.
I had a long association with Campbell, which more or less started with the Legends of American Dixieland Tour in 1989, with Wild Bill Davison and Art Hodes. Campbell was featured on most of the dates on what became the last tour both the American octogenarians. He was a fine jazz singer with a magnificent voice and in my view he could have had a career as a singer had he been so inclined. As well as his trombone playing career in such top UK bands as Terry Lightfoot’s and Acker Bilk’s, Campbell’s warm, rich voice, combined with his passion and knowledge for swinging jazz , made him a natural choice for presenting informed and intelligent jazz shows on BBC Radio. The birth of Jazz FM in the 80s, promised much and delivered little. The station did offer a further glimpse at the skills of this fine broadcaster with his excellent show, ‘Mainstem’, which not only played great recordings from the past, but gave exposure to new CDs, which most other stations ignored. British traditional jazz has lost many legendary figures during the past year, George Melly, Dick Charlesworth, Humph and today Campbell. Somewhere in heaven there must be a hell of a jam session going on". - I first had contact with Campbell when he rang to ask for a list of NW gigs to bring a balance to his programme after we lost "Tony's Tradtime" on JazzFM. We have been in occasional contact ever since and Barbara & I were lucky to meet up with him, first at Maghull, and then at Rawtenstall' s Rhythm Station where we sat with John & Jasmine Lawrence who brought Campbell over. It was to be John's funeral when we were to meet again for the final time. In all that time he never forgot Barbara's name and always asked about her. We are deeply saddened to hear this news about a gentleman and a musician who still had a lot to give. - Fred

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Humphrey blows his last note.

Humphrey Lyttelton, broadcaster and jazz musician, dies aged 86Humphrey Lyttelton, the jazz musician, journalist and radiopresenter, has diedat the age of 86.Humph, as he was affectionately known, was still working and planning a tour with his band right up to his admission to hospital on 16 April for surgery torepair an aortic aneurysm. He died at 7pm this evening in BarnetHospital, north London.His admission to hospital had forced the spring series of I'm Sorry IHaven't a Clue, the Radio 4 comedy show he presented for 30 years, to becancelled earlierthis week. In an email to members of the show's fan club, its producer, Jon Naismith, had said he was "otherwise fine and in good spirits".Last month, Lyttelton had given up his role as presenter of BBC Radio 2's Bestof Jazz, saying he was leaving to "clear a space for some of my other ambitions". He had been at the helm of the show since 1967,introducing thousands of listeners to many different styles of jazz. At the time, the Radio 2 controller, Lesley Douglas, said: "Humphrey Lyttelton is not only a giant in the world of jazz, but has also remained a giant of music broadcasting for the past 40 years. The world of music broadcasting will be poorer without his weekly show."He was still touring with his eight-piece band, performing sell-out shows around the country, although his forthcoming tour had been cancelled due to his illness. Lyttelton was born on 23 May 1921 at Eton College, where his fatherwas a housemaster, and where he duly became a pupil. He first picked up atrumpet in1936 and, after spending the Second World War as an officer in the Grenadier Guards, became a pioneering figure in the British jazz scene. Onbeing demobbed from the Guards he spent two years at Camberwell Art School, an experience he later called upon when he joined the Daily Mail as a cartoonist in1949. He wenton to work as a journalist for Punch, The Field, and the British Airways magazine, Highlife. Lyttelton formed his first band in 1948 after spending a year with George Webb's Dixielanders, a band that pioneered New Orleans-style jazz in the UK. The Humphrey Lyttelton Band quickly became Britain's leading traditional jazz group, and continental tours gave them a following in Europe.In 1949, he signed a recording contract with EMI which led to a string of records in the Parlophone Super Rhythm Style series and which have become highlysought after. 1956 was a good year for Humph. Eight years earlier, at the Nice International Jazz Festival, Louis Armstrong had said of him: "That boy's comin'on," and now the King of Jazz asked Humphrey Lyttelton and his Band to open a series of shows in London for him. The same year, Lyttelton became the first musician to enter the top 20 with a British jazz record, "Bad Penny Blues", which stayed in thecharts for six weeks. By the late 1950s he was branching out, enlarging his band and experimenting with mainstream and non-traditional material, and shocking his established fans in the process. In 1959, the band made a successful tour of the United States.He was a keen amateur calligrapher and birdwatcher, and in 1984 formed his own record label, Calligraph. He composed more than 120 original songsduring his career. In 1993 he won the radio industry's highest honour, a Sony Gold Award. He also won lifetime achievement awards at the Post Office BritishJ azz Awards in 2000, and the in augural BBC Jazz Awards the following year. Lyttelton played for the younger generation too: he performed on Radiohead's track "Life in a GlassHouse" in 2000, later joining the band on stage for aconcert in Oxford. He said it was one of the most moving experiencesof his musical career. Throughout his life, keeping a sense of humour remained a priority. On announcing his death, his website carried his words: "As we journey through life, discarding baggage along the way, we should keep an iron grip,to the very end, on the capacity for silliness. It preserves the soul fromdessication."
- Sadie Gray, The Independent, London, April 26, 2008

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

The Dutch Swing College Band on TJR

A popular saying goes: "There are two kinds of music, good music and bad music". For the true fan of good traditional jazz music the choice is simple, because there is only one Dutch Swing College Band. The Dutch Swing College Band started out as an amateur-college combo on liberation day (1945, may 5th) and through the years it has grown into a worldfamous jazz ensemble that has toured all five continents to much acclaim. The DSC played a prominent role during the post-war period. At the time many youngsters fell under the spell of the original Amerian music: jazz. The band, which has existed for more than sixty years, has given concerts all over the world and the sounds have been registered on practically all types of sound recordings since 1945. The band also appeared frequently on TV and in film productions.
Through the years many big names in jazz music were backed by the DSC, from Sidney Bechet, Joe Venuti and Rita Reys to Teddy Wilson. The expression "The Haque School" was born out of the big influence of the DSC on the Dutch jazz scene. Deservedly many jazz fans consider the DSC almost as an institution. Fortunately, the Dutch Swing College Band has never presented itself as a show or glitter orchestra. The musicians have always succeeded in capturing the public's attention with their excellent jazz performances. Cheap show tricks were absolutely out of the question. In 1960, the DSC turned professional. Throughout the music's evolution and in spite of quite a number af personnel changes (and contary to many imitators) the DSC remained the showpiece of Dutch traditional jazz music. Bob Kaper heads the current line-up, in succession to Frans Vink Jr (1945-'46), Joop Schrier (1955-'60) and Peter Schilperoort (1946-'55 and 1960-'90).
From the very beginning the most striking characteristic of the band has always been its unique and recognizable sound. In other words, no recordings of American virtuosos were ever copied: the DSC created their own interpretations, arrangements or compositions. An entirely personal approach. The current line-up of the highly experienced band has proved that the old name Dutch Swing College Band still guarantees professional performances of traditional jazz music of international standard!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

The Ian Wheeler interview

During a tour I did with the Best of British Jazz Gala, a special all-star line picked by a German promoter for a one week tour of Germany, I had chance to sit one afternoon with clarinet legend Ian Wheeler. We talked about his last 60 years of playing jazz.
Sean: Ian how did you get into music?
Ian: In a ‘round about way I started with stringed instruments. Ukulele first and I played a little bit of piano when I was very young, about 6 or 7 years old. That did not last for very long. The I discovered George Formby.
Sean: How did you get into clarinet from ukulele?
Ian: I went via guitar. I stopped George Formby-ing and started Josh White-ing. I really wanted to play trombone. I was playing with Charlie Connor, playing guitar and Dickie Bishop was playing banjo in the band. I was also with the Mike Jefferson Trio on guitar in about 1949/50.
Sean: This was before the trad. jazz revival then?
Ian: Yes it was, this was around East London. I used to go down to a place called the Dutch House, which had a jazz club once a week. Then there was the Red Barn at Bexley. I was about 18 or 19 year old.
Sean: What were the audiences like then?
Ian: They were Contempories really, as they still are! I eventually joined Charlie Connor, although I originally wanted to play trombone. I hadn’t been able to afford one and then the trumpet player offered to sell me a cheap high-pitched clarinet for 25 Bob. Because it was high pitched one but I put a bit of string down the centre and it lowered the pitch. If you cut the string to the right length it would go a semitone down. Charlie taught me two or three notes and then next week I was playing it in public, only the two or three notes of course, but I would back Charlie with them.
Sean: Was Charlie your teacher then?
Ian: No, he taught me the rudiments but I taught myself. We all did really, we didn’t have teachers, we’d listen to records. The only lessons I ever had were a few on guitar.
Sean: What was the first gig like?
Ian: The first professional gig I ever did was a New Years Eve with a dance-band quartet. I used to be a motorcycle nut and this trio used to come and play at our club meetings sometime. Anyway, this time they had to augment to a quartet and asked me. I played a round hole acoustic guitar and played until just past midnight and got Two pounds fifty.
Sean: So gig fees have not gone up that much then?!
Ian: Not really, but that was my first paid job.
Sean: How did your association with Ken Colyer start?
Ian: I’d met most of the guys before. I had played with my own band called the River City Jazz Band, based in S.E. London. By that time I knew most of the jazz people. It was a small scene and most people knew everybody. I’d met the Cranes and Pat Halcox and we talked about forming a band together. I was with the Mike Daniels Band; he said I wasn’t very good but showed promise! I would never have been interested in jazz had my wish of becoming a pilot come true. I suffered from ill health and I ran away to sea. A friend had left me his record collection and I started listening to jazz.
Sean: Do you remember that first record that started it off?
Ian: Yes, it was an HMV of Sidney Bechet, "Texas Moaner". That was it! I was still with the Mike Daniles Band but Pat and I were thinking of forming a band together.
Pat had been playing with the Chris Barber Band, which became the Ken Colyer Band.
Ken came back from New Orleans so Pat left. Then Ken left and formed another Band with Acker Bilk, Eddie O’Donnell and Diz Disley I think was in it. Pat Halcox was asked to join Chris Barber in the summer of ‘54 and did not want to be a chemist anymore. Meanwhile I had got into listening to George Lewis, which I was impressed with, so I started going around sitting in with Ken. I must confess that I wanted to join his band so I sort of "worked it" by being there, sitting in as much as possible. Acker decided he was going to go back to Bristol so my strategy eventually worked. Ken asked me to join and that was about four or five months after Pat joined Chris. I remember when he (Pat) was asked to join we had a long discussion together at my house with my Dad, whether or not he should do the big leap to turn professional, and my Dad said "you’re young, it won‘t hurt for a couple of years". And then the same thing happened to me when a few months later when I was asked to join Colyer.
Sean: How long were you with Ken?
Ian. 1954 until 1960, 6 years. The first gig was a residency in Germany. I actually got off the sick bed to do that! I had a bout of bronchitis or something and Acker actually did the first jobs we had booked with the band in Ireland. We did two months in Düsseldorf, Hamburg, Luneberg and were the first jazz band at that time to do the German scene.
Sean: How did the German audiences differ from what you had back in London?
Ian: At that time the German audiences were businessmen, with nightclubs made up to look like jazzclubs. Ken thought it was great. We played every night, long sessions from half past eight until two the next morning, four at weekends. The way we did it was we would play three numbers, take a break and so on and then take a long break so they could sell the beer and food. We were not blowing our heads off. We all thought we had iron lips and thought we would blow everybody off the stage when we came back to England. However, our first job we did when we got back was a concert and we played for two hours. We were not used to playing that long!
Sean: How did you bump into Rod Mason?
Ian: Rod had been with Acker I think. I decided for various reasons to move to Cornwall and along with Jimmy Garforth we ran a small scuba diving company. This was in the 1970’s. I had heard of Rod and gave him a ring and he asked me to join his band. I’d been with Chris Barber for eight years by then and left him to go down to Cornwall. The first band with Rod lasted about six months when Rod went back with Acker, so I formed a local band. I was doing the scuba diving and playing a bit. Then Rod came back, having left Acker so we formed the Rod Mason-Ian Wheeler Band, which, though I say myself, was a damned good band.
Sean: Who was in the band then?
Ian: Jimmy Garforth, Chris Haskins, Dicke Bishop and then Pete Sumner, Bobby Fox, Rod and myself. We were really big in Germany and used to sing a song about how good it was to be back on the road, and we really meant it then. A big time promoter in Hamburg wanted us to be his "top" band and asked us to spend two thirds of the time in Germany but the other guys did not want that, so that was it really. Then Rod wanted to team up and form what he called the Bad Joke Band. This is when it all fell apart. He wanted to stay working in and around Plymouth so I decided that was enough and I teamed up with Keith Smith. He had been working in Denmark with Papa Bue but came down to Cornwall and we formed Hefty Jazz, which was the remnants of one of the little bands I was running down there. Hefty Jazz was only a front line. Bobby Fox, Keith Smith and myself. We would pick up a rhythm section and toured all over, East and West Germany for example. I lived in Denmark for a while too and for a few months joined a band before moving back to England. I also took a pub in Saltash for about a year that had a big music room.
Sean: So you were a promoter?
Ian: Not really, I was promoting my own band! Then Chris Barber asked me to rejoin so I did.
Sean: How long were you with Chris?
Ian: Altogether, 27 years in total.
Sean: So you know each other quite well?!
Ian: Yeah! I have a lot of respect for Chris really. He would go through a thing like doing a lot of Kurt Weil numbers. When I left the first time he was doing things like the Battersea Rain Dance and then he decided he wanted to do more New Orleans things so I rejoined. It was when Norman Emberson was on drums. When I left he started running the big band, which he is running to this day. He is very enthusiastic for anything he does and really believes in what he does. Because he is so good at business and what he does he can say "hang the rest of you" and do it, which is a nice position to be in. I do respect him.
Sean: Tell us about the favourite record that you ever made?
Ian: Oh, it was a duet with Ed Hall, High Society. The most annoying thing is that although it has been reissued four or five times, it has never said who was on it. It was with the Chris Barber band but it was just Ed and I who started it until right at the end the band comes in. It really is, to me, the epitome of what I love. It worked so well. That is really something! It was when Ed Hall came over for a two or three-week tour and we went into the recording studio and right out of the blue we just did it. It may sound terribly big headed but sometimes you can’t tell if it was Ed or me, it just worked. He took me right up there to be with him. Anyway, that is my greatest moment and most annoying.
Sean: Word has it you are bit of a genius constructing things?
Ian: It has always been my hobby, since I was about eight I’ve made flying model aircraft. So, it is a thing I can spend my spare time in. I did photography too, but it was just a craze.
Sean: What advise would you give any up and coming jazz musicians?
Ian: Exactly the same advice I gave about forty years ago…"don’t listen to me, listen to the originators!".
Sean: That sounds advise Ian, and many thanks for your time.
Sean Moyses.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Acker Bilk vintage rarities featured this month on TJR

Bernard Bilk was born in Pensford, Somerset on January 28th, 1929, and the nickname of "Acker" was given to him at school. No-one, not even Acker himself, knows what it means (if anything), but this is of little consequence. The name somehow seems to fit, and it is certainly original. There's only one Acker whichever way you look at it. If Bilk's name came by chance, then also it would appear. did the fact that he took up music. 1947 was the date, Egypt the place, and Acker had been imprisoned for falling asleep on guard duty. He asked for a clarinet to help pass the time. and eventually got down to practising five hours a day. Acker's interest in music, and traditional jazz in particular. thus aroused he formed a semi-pro jazz band when he went to Bristol after his demob. Soon, his proficiency became such that he felt ready to come to London-and conic he did, joining the Ken Colyer band in 1954. But the urge was strong to again form a group of his own, and so it was that the Paramount Jazz Band came into being in 1957. One of their first assignments was to go to Poland, and then, after a while back in London, they did a stint at the Beer Bar in Dusseldorf with quite a measure of success. Back in London again it was not such a happy story, and shortage of work almost forced the group to disband. However, the original issue of the recordings contained in this album raised quite a lot of interest amongst agents and major recording companies, and things started to go Acker's way. The rest of the story is history. A great deal of clever publicity certainly helped to make the Acker Bilk story, but there was more to it than that; Acker's own ability and personality, aided and abetted by as loyal and dedicated a bunch of sidemen as any leader could wish for. These original recordings are not as polished as those which came later (nor in fact, of course, are the earlier recordings of Louis Armstrong and other jazz greats!), but they do have a character, sincerity and vitality all of their own, and a great feeling for the New Orleans idiom which will never date.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Just about as good as it gets!

Fresh off the press are four double CDs sent to me by "Smith and Co" featuring the absolute cream of the crop from the "Trad. Jazz" era. The sound and product quality is truly excellent and it is like having the band in your front room - without the cigarettes and beer bottles! The double CDs have between 40 and 50 tracks per package. Ordering details are from or trySmith and Co Sound and Vision B.V.
I'll be featuring 8 tracks from each CD next month on Trad. Jazz Radio in the run-up to "Rudolph the RNR" time and be sure to hear some more from these wonderful CDs in the following months.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Jazz in Spain with John Westwood

Regular Trad Jazz Radio contributor sent me this which may be of interest to listeners. John is also responsible for sending a lot of home recordings which will be featured from time to time on the station playlist. These are little gems of bands doing what they do best...playing to an audience in a relaxed atmosphere. I hope you enjoy them.
Best wishes,
Sean Moyses.