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year by year

by Simon Spillett
and Paul 'Smiler' Anderson



SOHO SCENE ’59 LP /
SOHO SCENE '59-60 CD
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1959
November 1959: An icy cold wind blows through Frith Street as I make my way along her pavements, with my head down and my collar up. This weather is not appropriate for the threads I love to wear. As I pass some workmen digging up the road, in their thick, snug donkey jackets, they sense I’m giving up my belief in the thin French mac, and they laugh as I seek refuge in the Moka Coffee Bar.
Warmth! Ah, the aroma from the Gaggia coffee machine conjuring up images in my head of distant beaches and much needed warmer climates. I quickly dispose of the mac, desperate to reveal my beautiful, new, three-button, sky blue bumfreezer jacket, courtesy of Henry London at Clapham Junction.
“Beautiful baby!” says Dougie, who is pondering the next platter to select on the neon-lit Rockola jukebox. He is hunched over, taking his time, as if the next button he presses might just end the entire world. In some ways, that is too near to the truth; a wrong selection may be the end to his world of transatlantic dreams. Suddenly, the air is filled with the sound of ‘Poison Ivy’ by The Coasters. The world needn’t worry, it is in safe hands. Dougie has the whole Modernist dream etched upon his soul.
I study him from head to toe. A beautiful haircut, fresh from the scissors of the Italian maestro, Anselmo of Venice, in Hanway Street. Immaculate knitted cotton blazer jacket, tan and black on white stripes from the creative hands of Teddy Tinling. Olive coloured needle-cord slacks from Vince Green’s in Newburgh Street, and finished off with Hutton’s half boots with side laces, snatched from the shelves of Russell and Bromley. Pow! The Look!
He comes bounding over. Hugs. A meeting of likeminded souls, bound together by a love of hip clobber and even hipper music.
“Another sensation from the wizard at The Junction!” he cries, as he feels underneath my thin lapels.
“When in Rome....” I reply.
“The weather is hardly the same” he retorts.
My mind flashes back a few months to the joyous summer we had spent in the sun, cruising about on scooters. Posing in Dean Street as if we were on the Via Del Corso. Dougie’s gun-metal grey Vespa Clubman parked up outside the Trattoria ‘Da Otello restaurant, gleaming in the July sunshine. Me, parking up next to him on my Lambretta LI150. Snow White, with flame red horn casting and side panels. Sleek lines, seductive curves. A hundred and seventy quid’s worth of envious eyes falling upon it. Well, from those that understood, of course. The cats that wanted to close the curtains on dreary post-War Britain, and ride headlong into the new world.
This means looking through the windows into another universe, at shops such as Austin’s in Shaftesbury Avenue or Cecil Gee’s in the Charing Cross Road. Prices beyond our pockets, so memorising each detail of a garment, and instructing frustrated staff at Burtons to recreate these masterpieces.
It means visiting James Asman’s record shop in St. Martin’s Lane and delving through an Aladdin’s Cave of black precious vinyl. Maybe over to Dave Carey’s Swing Shop in Streatham, or Dobell’s in the Charing Cross Road.
Check those babies out! The Blue Note label giving us Jimmy Smith’s ‘House Party’ and ‘Blues Walk’ by Lou Donaldson. The Prestige label seducing you with Eddie Harris and Shirley Scott on the ‘Jaws’ LP. You settle for the Mose Allison album on Esquire.
Dougie hands me this week’s Melody Maker.
“Check the headlines. Cliff Richard has signed a fifty grand a year contract with Leslie Grade. He’s hit the big time. Imagine that kinda dough.”
“He’s yesterday’s news.” I reply.
“How’d you make that out?” he responds, mystified, and then continues “He’s number one in the charts with ‘Travellin’ Light’ and number twelve with ‘Living Doll’, plus the biggest money deal around.”
“Yeh, but check the charts, Bobby Darin, number two, Neil Sedaka’s ‘Oh Carol’ at seven and Paul Anka at nine, plus The Coasters at thirteen. Real American dream stuff. Not that lame Elvis wannabe rubbish. He should be given a place at the Natural History Museum, next to the rest of the dinosaurs!”
We both burst out laughing.
“Anyway, I’ve got us tickets for the MJQ next week at the Kilburn Gaumont. The support act is Ronnie Ross and Joe Harriott. Should be great.” says Dougie.
Whilst I love American stuff, and usually dismiss British releases. I must say, I do admire our home-grown jazz artists. Currently, we are digging the Tony Kinsey Quartet with the fantastic altoist, Alan Branscombe. They’ve just got a residency down the Mingo, and all our crowd will be there. I chatted to Branscombe once, and he told me he’d been playing since he was twelve. He name checked Sonny Rollins and Charlie Parker, so I knew he was cool.
Tonight though, it’s Ronnie Scott’s for the Tubby Hayes Quartet, plus Eddie Thompson as the House pianist. Eddie’s got his own trio, and makes some top tunes.
Suddenly, I notice that Julie has just walked in. Beautiful girl. Hard as nails, proper East London, and yet pulls off the continental look so well. Just as well really, as she’s stripping down the road at the Peeperama Club, and being billed as ‘Therese - the most daring striptease artist from Paris’.
Dougie shouts across to her “Do you fancy coming to the flicks with me, Julie? I reckon you might like ‘Les Cousins’ with Jean-Claude Brialy, over at the Curzon? It’s the first new wave film from France!”
“I’m not really bleedin’ French! I was thinking more about “Carry On Nurse” at the Classic.”
Poor Dougie, didn’t always get that not everybody was into the continental style.
With that, Dougie shows me his latest purchases, a cool 7” EP called ‘Blue Harriott” which contains ‘Senor Blues’ and a Blue Note copy of ‘Sister Sadie’ by Horace Silver.
We’d heard a French cat talking about them at La Poubelle in Great Marlborough Street.
Dougie smiled. “Sod Cliff, how about a cappuccino in Bar Italia, then on to Ronnie’s?”
Perfect.

Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson

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As Good As Them: 1959 – The British Perspective

“Though still, perhaps, not generating the excitement of the best Americans, our 'bass and bash' men have certainly picked up – after the beating they've taken in the past from the critics, I think they're due some praise.”
Readers letter to Melody Maker, February 1959

The title said it all. This time there would be no dividing line whatsoever between the visiting Stateside Gods and their English admirers. Whereas previous tours by American jazz stars had by and large found the natives operating at a discreet distance – often in the unenviable role of “support act” - this time around they'd all be on-stage together, silencing all the brouhaha about the supposed inferiority of “British” jazz.
Or at least that was the plan.
Organised by the National Jazz Federation, the spring 1959 UK tour by Woody Herman's Anglo-American Herd had generated controversy from the off. The premise had been simple – have Herman and a clutch of key US sidemen (including cornetist Nat Adderley, pianist Vince Guaraldi and one-man trombone explosion Bill Harris) combine with nine or so leading London jazzmen – something which had seemed entirely feasible given that the veteran bandleader had already employed one such player – Victor Feldman – a couple of years earlier. On the surface, Herman certainly seemed enthusiastic, the tours programme notes declaring “it has always been one of [his] ambitions to lead a band including British musicians.” If this were so, then it had been a very well concealed ambition. This first rehearsal, held at the Marquee in Oxford Street, had been a disaster. Some of the English players had already met Herman on a previous visit, finding him affable and unpretentious, the very antithesis of the notion of big band leader as tyrant. But this time was different. After a hopelessly flaccid account of their opening number, he exploded, according to one of those present – trombonist Eddie Harvey - demanding that the band “show us your balls!” And therein lay the invisible but undeniable dividing line between what American musicians saw as total commitment and exactly how much the British pretenders thought they could get away with in terms of input. “Who is the comedian that arranged for Woody Herman to use British musicians for his forthcoming tour?”, wrote one outraged Melody Maker reader on hearing of the idea. “With all due respects to our men, they'll never make a Herman Herd.” The rehearsal seemed to prove the doubters right, the resulting photos published by the paper showing a tensely smiling leader surrounded by his blanched, stunned looking sidemen. A Herd? This had been more like corralling sheep. And it was hard not to extend the analogy to the “Special Relationship” - Herman's no-bull oratory (Eisenhower) set against The Brits drawling deliberation (Macmillan).

But there was one musician among Herman's “star” sidemen who already had something of the measure of what American jazzmen wanted – baritonist Ronnie Ross, who the previous year had both appeared at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival and recorded an LP with the Modern Jazz Quartet's mastermind John Lewis. Arguably the finest exponent of the baritone in UK jazz circles, Ross had come to Lewis' attention during a 1957 tour by the MJQ, on which Don Rendell's Jazz Six (the frontline of which was swallowed whole into the Anglo-American line-up) had performed the warm-up slot. That Ross was clearly going places was confirmed when he signed a one-shot deal for Parlophone Records, part of EMI, that same year, resulting in the LP Double Event, a rare instance of a major label not squirrelling English jazz away on a subsidiary imprint. The tour programme for the Herman junket had a box advert for the album alongside the American's latest offering, its low-key marketing reminding the reader that British jazz remained a world apart from the hipness of the States, where musicians had fun, faintly exotic names like Woody, Nat and Vince. In London, the music was made by men called Ronnie, Eddie and Bert. In another ad for the LP, Ross was presciently hailed as “Britain's New Jazz Star”.

It wasn't all hyperbole. In some ways, the hopes of British modern jazz rode largely on Ross's shoulders that year. The Jazz Couriers, thus far the UK's most successful modern unit (who even had the signal distinction of a best-selling LP to their name, an occurrence rarer than hens teeth), were grinding to a halt, forced out of existence by what Ronnie Scott called “boredom with the continual round of the same old clubs”.
To many, Ross's new unit – The Jazzmakers, co-formed with drummer Allan Ganley the previous autumn – looked like the heir apparent, albeit with a far cooler, less overtly emotional mien. When the band were invited to tour the US as part of an all-star package in the autumn of 1959 – featuring Thelonious Monk, the Adderley Brothers and Lennie Tristano – the news was broken as if they'd been knighted. The trip itself – with Humphrey Lyttelton's band also providing the Brit-contingent – was not without incident: pianist Stan Jones went AWOL after suffering a nervous collapse and Lyttelton's saxophone star Jimmy Skidmore got himself arrested for jay-walking, but the press both at home and abroad had nothing but praise for what the Jazzmakers offered. “The English musicians provided a striking refutation of a widely held impression that jazz in other countries is apt to be a slavish imitation of American models,” wrote John S. Wilson in The New York Times. There were other notable endorsements too: while in the Big Apple, the band recorded an LP for Atlantic Records, the same label to whom John Coltrane and the Modern Jazz Quartet were signed, and Ross picked up his New Star Award from DownBeat, a photo in Melody Maker capturing him accepting the trophy alongside Monk and Adderley.

But Ronnie Ross wasn't the only UK jazzman doing good business in the land of the free. That summer Johnny Dankworth's band had appeared at the Newport Festival, receiving a reception that many of its members simply couldn't believe. “British jazz is coming along”, reported leading US critic Dan Morgenstern after hearing Dankworth. The appearance certainly did the leader no end of career-profile good. Earlier that year US impresario Norman Granz had told that press that Dankworth was number one on his head-hunted list of non-US jazz imports and a few months after Newport, as if to confirm his new world-class status, the Englishman's outfit figured in the Playboy jazz poll. International hope was further bolstered when in October 1959 trumpeter Dizzy Reece emigrated to New York. Already signed to Blue Note (the only British-based musician to ever have such an honour), Reece had felt uncomfortable about London's unambitious musical air and felt he needed a change. “It seems they don't really go for me over there,” he said of his former home. As ever, though, the British music press reported Reece's move with one part pride, two parts surprise. Melody Maker ran the story under the headline “Dizzy Reece Gets A Foot In The Door”, words hardly suggesting a welcome entrance.

Still, in 1959 it was better to look at the few overseas coups like those of Ross, Dankworth and Reece than it was to concentrate on what was going down locally. British modernism, although now over a decade old, remained a distinctly small-time business. Some liked to lay the blame solely at the feet of an unsupportive press. Ahead of his trip to the US, Ronnie Ross had told Melody Maker that “critics could do more to boost it”. Others agreed. “Let's stop the overdone praise of legendary greats and pay more attention to British jazzmen” wrote one MM reader that spring, while another correspondent accused Jazz Journal of being “'all American' so far as modern jazz is concerned.” Indeed, the latter had long been notoriously sniffy about the efforts of the locals (to choose just one example from '59, here's Graham Boatfield on the Vic Ash Quintet: “it's difficult to find any justification for this type of group, other than the fact it exists and presumably finds a listening public.”), a stance virtually confirmed as editorial policy when that year the magazine created a separate British section in its annual critics poll. If the effect was intended to give parochial records – which rarely if ever featured in such round-ups – a plug then it backfired spectacularly. Out of twenty writers asked to vote, seven made no choice whatsoever when it came to British LPs. “There seems to have been a lack of any really outstanding local records this year,” opined Pete Tanner. Even Benny Green – who chose only one UK-made disc - admitted “the category embarrasses me.”
It was another victory for the combined forces that had for so long sabotaged much of British jazz's potential: a surfeit of prejudice and a lack of product.

There were those still in there slugging though, principally Tony Hall, whose Tempo Records initiative remained active, albeit barely subsisting on the stipend awarded by its parent label Decca. As ever, Hall masked penury with purple-prose, ending his Disc magazine round-up of local jazz during the previous twelve months, published in January, with the prediction that “1959 could be even better!” On paper maybe. In February, Tempo re-signed both the Jazz Couriers and Tubby Hayes to contracts aimed at producing “a minimum of two LP's during the next 18 months.” Both the time scale and the projected results were hopelessly optimistic. Tempo did manage to squeeze in a couple more sessions that year, one by Tommy Whittle's Quintet (“as British as Chris Barber or tea and cakes” ran Melody Maker's review) and a one-off LP by Jamaican tenorist Wilton 'Bogey' Gaynair. “I can seldom recall being so impressed or excited by a musician,” Hall noted in his sleeve text for Blue Bogey, adding that Gaynair was “putting down ideas of considerable originality.” That Hall had to explicitly state this last point says a lot about the milieu that surrounded left-field talents like Gaynair's (and why ultimately he, like, Dizzy Reece, chose to base his musical activities elsewhere).

Elsewhere on the UK jazz scene – in the work of everyone from The Jazz Couriers to the Jazz Committee, the latest in the line of reshuffles centred around Don Rendell and Bert Courtley – it was a case of follow the (American) leader. New groups may have appeared, but new concepts and, more importantly, new faces were far scarcer. The re-emergence of Joe Harriott, after a debilitating battle with tuberculosis, promised something though. His Pinewood Suite, an extended work for quintet and guests debuted early in the year, hinted at things to come. “It might just be abstract,” Harriott told the press, favouring a term which he would later use as an LP title. Another innovation – jazz and poetry – also found an early proponent in Tony Kinsey, whose group teamed with poet Christopher Logue for a Parlophone EP taped that spring, transpiring to sound about as hip as a Sunday service. “Please, no more,” was Jazz Journal's verdict. At this point Harriott certainly didn't see himself as operating in a vacuum. In fact, despite the attempts of some later writers to spin the tale of cutting edge American jazz failing to meet the ears of UK record buyers during this time, there was a respectable if not exactly relentless stream of such issues during 1959. John Coltrane's debut LP, Charles Mingus' The Clown and even Ornette Coleman's first album (Something Else!!!) all received British release that year, the reaction to the latter actually far less adverse than might be imagined. “Fundamentally Charlie Parker,” thought Gerald Lascelles in Jazz Journal, “an interesting but not important excursion into the realms of post-bop.” John Dankworth was another sceptic, declaring it “the sort of thing Joe Harriott or Dizzy Reece can do just as well here.”

And, as ever, it was a question of exactly where they were doing it rather than why. The London modern jazz club circuit, such as it was, hadn't really changed much in years. Nor had its method of operation, which generally consisted of annexing available premises for the odd gig, taking out a small ad in Melody Maker and passing the exercise off as a “jazz club”. The few clubs that existed on a full-time basis (The Flamingo in Wardour Street, The NJF-sponsored Marquee in Oxford Street) did so with one eye firmly fixed on the bottom line. The Flamingo's Jeff Kruger had long had his fingers in more commercial pies, but in early 1959 even The Marquee was advertising nights featuring Andre Rico and the Cha-Chaleros alongside its regular slots for The Jazzmakers, Joe Harriott and co. And just as musicians like Harriott were fermenting a reaction to what comprised “modern” jazz within these walls, there were other London jazzmen who were beginning to question exactly what constituted honourable “promotion” of their music. In March 1959, Tubby Hayes famously criticised Jeff Kruger on stage at the Flamingo, earning himself both Melody Maker headlines and a ban from the club. It wasn't so much Kruger's operation that irked him, it was the exploitative nature in which he gained from it. Hayes wasn't alone in this thinking. There were several other notable jazz musicians who thought the same and as the year wore on more than a few tried their own hand at running clubs. John Dankworth was already using 79 Oxford Street and/or the Empires Rooms, Tottenham Court Road to present his own nights (later moving to The Tavistock Rooms in Charing Cross Road). In late 1958, saxophonists Jack Sharpe and Mike Senn moved their Downbeat Club to Soho's Old Compton Street (“a well-furnished room that provided a postage stamp dance floor, numerous tables and chairs, a small stage on which reposed a grand piano, and a bar – seemingly well-stocked -  even to the extent of draught beer”, reported agent Jack Higgins). In general, most London jazz clubs remained “dry” and partly in order to negotiate this impasse, other jazzmen utilised existing pub premises; Tubby Hayes tried his hand at The White Hart in Acton that autumn (“Tubby's Place”) while the Jazz Committee operated a series of club nights at various hostelries in Holborn, Southall, Wandsworth and Dagenham. The band's saxophonist Don Rendell was remarkably transparent about the core aim of these initiatives, telling Melody Maker that these nights “circumvent club owners who want a rake off from ALL the groups’ activities...in exchange for a club residency three or four nights a week.” The slap in the face to The Flamingo couldn't have been more direct.

This DIY-style presentation even interested those who seemed to have got it all sewn-up. Interviewed at the time of the Jazz Couriers break up, Ronnie Scott, already a veteran of the co-operative Club XI back in the late '40s and arguably Britain's most successful modernist, wondered if “someone could use a group five or six nights a week in one place.”
“There is one possible place,” he revealed, “but things are up in the air at the moment.”
The place, of course, was 39 Gerrard Street, and within two months of his first mooting the idea in the press, Ronnie Scott's Club had opened. “In addition to presenting the top names in British modern jazz, Ronnie intends to feature promising young musicians at the club,” reported Melody Maker the following week. “Friday's guest stars included the alto sensation, Peter King.”

At nineteen, King was among the most prominent of a small-wave of new young jazz talent, ready, willing and able to prise open the tight inner circle of UK modernism – the clique a brave few were now calling a “closed shop”. “It is a closed shop, yes,” Pat Brand admitted in Melody Maker that autumn, “the standard of musicianship set by The Few is such as to be almost unassailable by 'unknowns', particularly semi-pros.” Yet despite feeling himself “limited, both technically and musically” King was already proving himself a master of the deeper requirements of the music, leading a vanguard of unknowns who'd soon push the shop doors wide open. Theirs would be the first generation to dispel all the previously held notions of British jazz being a doomed, foreclosed endeavour, the very thing that Victor Feldman had railed against when interviewed the same month as Ronnie Scott's had opened. “At home they don't use the 'third ear' - listening out for each other,” Feldman had said of his former colleagues. As if he were ushering in a new era, King's arrival proved that not only were UK jazzmen at last listening to each other, their music was finally beginning to find the ears of the wider world.

In November, Melody Maker reviewed Stan Tracey's new LP, Little Klunk, enthusiastically predicting the pianist “can be a world figure.” Tracey's drummer, Phil Seamen was minded to comment “it's the first time we've done anything as good as them.” A month later, Tubby Hayes was completing his first post-Jazz Couriers LP, Tubby's Groove. “I fancy playing with a quartet and hope it will give me some fresh ideas,” he had said a few months earlier. Released the following year, the album’s air of supreme confidence and idiomatic authenticity triggered something akin to a referendum on how British listeners and critics regarded the local product. The freshest idea Hayes had come up with? That British modernists could at last, and without any qualification whatsoever, stand tall among the music’s giants. All they had to do now was swing into the Sixties.

Simon Spillett

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1960
1960, a bright new decade had dawned. British music, particularly Jazz, had gone through many changes in the previous decade. Throughout the 1950s, the jazz world had seen the music mutate and divide between traditional and modern jazz styles, because of the advent of Be-Bop. The Jazz scene in Britain was also under the heavy hand of the Musicians Union: American artists could only appear here in exchange for one of our home-grown stars visiting the States. Any planned tours seemed to be quite laborious to complete, so often they didn’t happen. If and when they did, their British counterparts often complained they were sent to small towns instead of big cities. The trouble was, all the true dedicated jazz artists such as Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Ross, Ronnie Scott etc longed to play in the land that had shaped their sound. Luckily, by the end of the 50’s, many had been granted their wish. When they returned home, they used all the experience it had given them to hone their acts to an even more authentic feel in the clubs around Soho.
In truth, by the time 1960 had arrived, it is amazing that Modern Jazz was still such a big force in the British music scene. It had battled against many new fads including Rock’n’Roll, Skiffle, Calypso, Mambo, Kwela, Cha-Cha and the usual dross pop that Tin Pan Alley churned out. By now, Tommy Steele was cabaret and his proposed replacement Terry Dene all but forgotten. Rock’n’Roll had made an impact on jazz. After swing veteran Lionel Hampton had toured Britain playing rock n’ roll numbers, Johnny Dankworth publicly criticising him in the press for the lack of jazz in his set.  British drummer Tony Crombie had partially deserted jazz to form the successful Rock’n’Roll band The Rockets before quitting them in ’57. “Rock’n’Roll is finished in Britain” he declared to Melody Maker in that August. “I thoroughly enjoyed it and we did very well out of it. I earn my living as a musician and will go any way the public wants.” As mercenary as that sounds, he did in fact return to jazz and joined forces with Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes.
Jazz was still hip. The Modernists understood. In 1960 their playground was Soho, and there amongst the many clubs that offered distractions were the holy trinity:
The Flamingo at 33 Wardour Street, a curious mixture of bourgeois pretentions and revolutionary music. They were the first to book a big American name in the form of Carmen McCrae, whose vocals lit up the dark recesses of the basement club. Modern jazz was on the menu Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 7.30 – 11.30 or 12pm. There were all night sessions on Saturdays till 6am. Membership 10s 6d per annum.
The Marquee in Oxford Street, adjoining the Academy Cinema was Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 7.30 – 11.30pm. On Saturday nights you may have caught the amazing West Indian alto saxophonist Joe Harriott and his Quintet or on Sunday evenings during the winter, Johnny Dankworth’s fifteen piece band. Membership 5s per quarter.
Ronnie Scott’s club at 39 Gerrard Street was the newest, having only been open for a year. Sessions seven nights a week until 2am, except Sundays 11.30pm. Allnighters on Fridays and Saturdays until 5.30am. Here you may have caught 24 year old alto saxophonist Harold McNair, who’d previously worked in Paris with such luminaries as Kenny Clarke, Bud Powell and the Quincy Jones Orchestra.  Membership £1 1s 0d a year.
These were the clubs to attend. Most of the London jazz clubs had a chaste menu of Coca-Cola and hamburgers. Alcohol was mainly gained from hip flasks concealed in pockets. The film ‘Jazz Boat’ was released this year, and it interestingly captures the fading remnants of the American biker style with the gang portrayed as slightly moronic whilst the hero of the piece (Anthony Newley) is sporting neat suits, ties and pin collars.
If you were hip, you were reading up to date articles in ‘Man About Town’ magazine. You’d sit in wonder reading about Pierre Cardin’s fashion revolution in France making collarless jackets. In the meantime you’d make do. A putty coloured Italian jacket in wide weave corduroy with a scarlet lining from Jaeger. Poplin shirt, silk tie from Simpsons, cuffless trousers, Cavelli shoes hand made in Italy, Italian coat; Persian suede lined with pony skin from John Michaels in Bond Street. Maybe some Hardie Amies cologne and a Sunbeam Alpine to just top off the look? Well you can dream can’t you!
The big talking point this year, was the arrival of Miles Davis for his twelve day tour of Britain, his first visit ever. The Harold Davison agency had taken the unprecedented step of abandoning any plans for the traditional ‘Welcome to Britain’ reception accorded visiting American stars. Norman Granz who had handled the Davis package had implemented a ban on photographers. But Miles was apparently angered when he found out and stated: “Who the hell do they think I am, the Congolese Ambassador or something? I’d just as soon call off the whole tour.” When the tour actually got going, he managed to divide opinion. Many called him the world’s greatest modernist, a genius. Others proclaimd his not speaking, not introducing songs, not acknowledging applause and his habit of leaving the stage between solos as downright rude.
When Miles went home, the year hadn’t ended for big gigs. There was Carmen McCrae on tour with a specially reformed Jazz Couriers in October. November saw Dizzy Gillespie doing ‘Jazz at the Philarmonic’ with great people like Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Candido plus the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
1960 may have ended with Cliff Richard at the top of the charts with Elvis just behind. I could have easily gone that way… then as Oscar Brown Jnr sang….but I was cool.

Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson

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Blue Streaks: 1960 - the British Perspective

It seems to me that the British critic has the biggest inferiority complex in the world. Why they should have when we are producing musicians like Tubby, I'll never know.
Dill Jones, Jazz News, September 17th 1960

As far as proving its international mettle was concerned, 1959 had been the most impressive year yet for British modern jazz. To purloin one of Harold Macmillan's signature phrases from a speech made early in the following year, the “wind of change” that was now blowing towards the UK jazz scene was a very warm and welcome zephyr indeed, helping melt critical opposition to the once ludicrous notion that English jazzmen could co-exist with the best. Barely three years had passed since the lifting of the embargo on visiting American jazz artists, and in the interim there had been heartening signs that the interaction between US jazzmen and their UK counterparts might prove much more than simply political. By the close of the 1950s, it was no means uncommon to find celebrated US soloists praising the work of London jazzmen in print; both Sonny Stitt and Zoot Sims had made favourable references to the work of the Jazz Couriers – then operating at the cutting edge of London modernism – within interviews in Melody Maker, illustrating how the Smoke's parochial take on Hard Bop fashion now stood shoulder to shoulder with the Big Apple's original. There were other hands-on victories too. In spring 1959, veteran bandleader Woody Herman had toured the UK with his Anglo-American Herd, a line-up conjoining several US stars (such as Nat Adderley and Bill Harris) with a team of top-line English moderns, including Don Rendell, Ronnie Ross, Ken Wray and Bert Courtley. After some initial hiccups, Herman had declared himself well-pleased with the results. And in July, John Dankworth's big band had traversed the reverse route, appearing at the prestigious Newport Jazz Festival, the first ever British band to do so. Dankworth's brief Stateside sortie had galvanised the confidence of London's still beleaguered band of modern jazzmen, a feeling further fuelled by the announcement that trumpeter Dizzy Reece – thus far the only British modernist to have signed a contract to Blue Note records – was to emigrate to the US that autumn. Back in London, Reece's quirky angle on bop idiom had generated as much opprobrium as it had enthusiasm, but he seemed to have the necessary self-confidence to ride things out in the toughest jazz arena of them all – New York. However, as much to the dismay of those who'd talked up his talent as to Reece himself, a red carpet welcome was not forthcoming. Almost immediately he found himself scuffling for work – perhaps unsurprising in a city whose recent wave of trumpet arrivals included Freddie Hubbard and Booker Little – and within a year had been dropped by Blue Note. “It's a great shame, but the public did not really take to our recordings of Dizzy Reece,” the label’s Alfred Lion told the British press shortly after. “It is too difficult to promote non-Americans.”
Indeed, with no little irony, Reece had titled one of the pieces on his final Blue Note LP (Soundin' Off BST 84033) taped in May 1960 Blue Streak,the very same name that had been appended to the UK's much vaunted intercontinental ballistic missile, which had been unceremoniously cancelled by the government a few weeks earlier. It was hard not to see the ironic analogies: opting for Skybolt, a US-made weapon instead, the British government had done much the same thing as the nation’s record-buying public, who continued to favour American LPs over the local product. Reece's international career had been similarly thwarted - rather than shooting skyward, as promised, it had barely left the launch pad. Writing a decade later, no lesser figure than Bernard Levin summed up this in-harness situation with words that apply just as readily to Britain's modern jazz ambitions as they do its international military clout. “They became a dreadful symbol of the country's erratic attempts to move into the future, a paradigm of national impotence as the thrusting rocket failed to take-off...and found itself being withdrawn for reasons outside of anyone's control.”

But just as there were those who were now willing to question how Great Britain's “special relationship” was increasingly leaving the country geopolitically indentured, there were those within jazz who were beginning to feel far less deference to the American model than before. Summing up the English jazz scene in the 1960 edition of Leonard Feather's The Encyclopaedia of Jazz, Benny Green had perceptively noted “as American jazzmen have lost their rarity value [following recent tours], there has been a noticeable stiffening of aesthetic judgement [and] the critical faculty began to reassert itself.” Green might have been thinking of the complaints over programming that had bedevilled the November tour of Norman Granz's Jazz at The Philharmonic, which had corralled a dozen US jazz stars onto one stage, resulting in soloists as potent as J. J. Johnson being reduced to what were effectively fifteen minute cameos. Or he may have been recalling the less than partisan reception given West Coast icon Shelly Manne's band in March (Jazz Journal thought the drummer’s fussy search for “the right percussion [effects] like a Scotsman who simply knows he dropped that sixpence somewhere among the trappings”)

News of recent innovations Stateside also disturbed the equilibrium. By early 1960, the first waves of Ornette Coleman's New York musical tsunami had begun to reach British shores, and were – as could be expected – reported with a time-honoured English mix of curiosity and ridicule. Saxophonist Harry Klein called Coleman “the latest freak”, while oddly, the arch-conservative Stanley Dance thought the altoist “a musical kipper; a hell of a lot of bones but get what you can out of it, for some of it is very good.” Some were wrong as wrong can be, including Melody Maker's Bob Dawbarn, who declared openly “I doubt whether Coleman will have any great effect on the course of jazz.” There were even publicity generating stunts aimed at sending-up the new music, such as Jazz News taking a portable record player down to Regents Park Zoo to play a Coleman album to the zoo's Polar Bears. “Those frigid philistines slept right through the recital”, the paper reported.

A brave few were less antipathetic to new trends, and again, as was the peculiarly unpredictable way with the UK jazz press of the time, the local model of “free-form” then being pioneered by Jamaican altoist Joe Harriott found more critical acceptance than its counterpart played by Coleman. Harriott's aim was clear; “Jazz in this country seems to have reached stagnation point”, he told Jazz News in September 1960, an impasse he was determined to breach by launching a concept of interactive collective improvisations minus pre-set harmonic guidelines. The results were, according to the same paper’s John Merrydown, “the most exciting jazz to be heard in this country since the Jazz Couriers.” Nevertheless, they remained the work of a maverick, and would have little direct impact on the work of the majority of Harriott's contemporaries.

Elsewhere though it was the template of the Couriers and their Hard Bop-derived modus operandi that continued to set the style for local modern jazz groups. The band had folded the previous summer (although its final records didn't appear until a year later) and in its wake came several worthy successors; the MJ6 featuring Stan Tracey; “The Quintet” headed by Ronnie Scott and Jimmy Deuchar; the Bert Courtley/Ronnie Ross Jazztet; the Ken Wray/Bobby Wellins Quintet; Allan Ganley and Keith Christie's New Jazzmakers: the Jazz Five co-led by Vic Ash and Harry Klein. As Benny Green wearily observed, though new, these bands were in fact, “composed of permutations of old faces”, itself a sad indictment on the continued stasis of British modernism. By the middle of the year though, there were positive signs of a change. In summer 1960, John Dankworth reorganised his big band, bringing in new names such as pianist Dudley Moore and Peter King, the alto sensation who had lit up Ronnie Scott's club the previous autumn. “Jazz is at a stage in this country when it needs a lead from the established musicians to pave the way for the most brilliant crop of young jazzmen that we have ever had”, Dankworth told Melody Maker. “I intend to do all I can to encourage them.”

Tubby Hayes was another young veteran who welcomed the rise of a new wave, in one interview singling out not only King but also pianist Brian Dee, drummer Tony Mann and tenorist Stan Robinson as young men to watch. The latter was almost an exemplar of the current plight of the UK modernist. In the words of Benny Green, Robinson “forsook Manchester for the delights of playing with the Allan Ganley group”, and by the summer of 1960 was a regular feature on the London circuit, playing Ronnie Scott's, The Flamingo, The Downbeat and other venues. His playing – a well-assimilated mix of Rollins, Griffin, Hayes and Getz – was a perfect synthesis of contemporary trends and even his cocksure Northern attitude captured something of the time (this, after all, was the year in which Saturday Night and Sunday Morning's Arthur Seaton fascinated cinema audiences and Vic Brown – the bristling anti-hero of Stan Barstow's A Kind Of Loving – first appeared in print). But, like all other UK modern jazzmen, his opportunities for growth and exposure were foreshortened; Robinson's début recording (with the Jazzmakers) was taped in December 1960 but up until its inclusion on this anthology it remained unissued.

At club level, modernism continued to survive if not quite thrive, although the scene was still so small that it occasionally resulted in skirmishes between those promoting the music – most notably a very public spat between Ronnie Scott and Sam Kruger which rocked the pages of Jazz News in December 1960. There had even been an attempt to capitalise on the new blood with the launch of the short-lived Jazz Nursery in Peckham Rye, but otherwise modernists remained on the back foot. Their few successes – the sudden interest in Tubby Hayes following his Tubby's Groove album making the unprecedented leap to Melody Maker's LP of the Month in June 1960, for example (the first British album to ever do so) -  continued to be off-set by negative headlines. A month later came the infamous “Battle of Beaulieu”, a yob-culture fracas at the annual jazz festival held at Lord Montagu's Hampshire home, which somehow or other got blown up into a battle between the respective fans of trad and modern jazz (if anything, it was less do to with music and more to do with a potent mix of live TV and alcohol) and in August came the news that Stan Tracey, pianist with Ronnie Scott's quintet, had been jailed on drugs charges, a golden opportunity for the mainstream press to lead with all the “jazz life” clichés going (even the specialist press reportage was laughably inexpert, Melody Maker noting that Tracey's defence counsel had told the court that an “Indian hemp cigarette” had given the pianist a “fine feeling of well-being and inspiration”).

In such a factious atmosphere, it was easy to let accusations fly. Rereading the leading jazz periodicals of the day – Melody Maker, Jazz News, Jazz Journal and so on – one finds article after article debating why modernism (serious, self-absorbed and elitist) was losing ground to trad (jolly, indulgent and audience-friendly), each side sounding alternatively emboldened and embittered. Much of the debate centred on the more obvious trappings of trad – gimmicky uniforms and overt showmanship – with the modernists using Miles Davis's first UK tour in September 1960 - an event which had generated as much press about the trumpeter’s lack of stage deportment as it had about his music - as justification for their own lack of in-person demonstrativeness. A few modernists, however, were willing to concede that the tradsters were onto something; when the Ross-Courtley Jazztet signed to the Peter Burman Management Organisation that autumn (Burman had openly admitted “if jazz isn't entertaining, I'm not interested”), Bert Courtley promised to include “a certain amount of showmanship [to] get the music across.” Most simply refused to cross the Rubicon. “Trad musicians are holding onto the past, worshipping something that died umpteen years ago,” argued Ronnie Scott, who was nevertheless forced to admit that this “lively enough corpse” was now a serious rival for the public's attention.

Indeed, reanimated (and quaintly anglicised) the New Orleans format was the only part of British jazz that attracted serious attention from the local record industry. The top selling British jazz album that year was Acker Bilk's The Seven Ages of Acker, whose sales figures literally dwarfed that of its best-selling modernist counterpart, Tubby's Groove. To the party-faithful, such a disparity was the last straw. In June, Tempo Records factotum Tony Hall made headlines in Melody Maker railing against his superiors at Decca, who had to his mind failed to give “full exploitation” to Tubby Hayes and had, he revealed, “dropped the contracts of all its other [British] jazz artists.” Hall was still in there fighting, and that year successfully negotiated for both the recording of the Jazz Five and the release of one of the Jazz Couriers albums on the American Jazzland label (as well as personally furnishing Miles Davis with a copy of Tubby's Groove), but he was close to exhausted. Worse still, there was nobody in particular to hand the baton to. Even the announcement that Flamingo boss Jeff Kruger's newly launched Ember label (started in July 1960 with an aim to break the “disc ring” of the “record monopolisers” i.e. Decca, EMI and Philips) was to take a pragmatic interest in local modernists turned out to be something of a false alarm: Kruger had initially expressed a desire to record Harry South's new big band but instead began Ember's British jazz catalogue with a series of re-packagings of the library music end of the Tempo catalogue. As ever, the local press hadn't helped. While it had given Tubby's Groove an effusive thumbs up, the album had failed to make Jazz Journal's album of the year charts. Indeed, in its summary of the best discs of 1960, out of seventeen critics invited to participate only two had included British LPs among their choices for the year (both were trad and mainstream discs, inevitably). For the other fifteen, it was as if indigenous jazzmen didn't exist. “Local jazz had little of interest to say this year,” wrote one, surveying twelve months in which Tubby Hayes and Joe Harriott had both breasted ahead. “There might have been a very good local list” opined another, as if UK-made jazz dare not inhabit the same column inches as that made by US gods (this from a magazine whose January 1960 editorial had promised “to give more space to British bands and British jazz” in the year ahead.)

There were those who looked on at all this with a certain well-founded sense of cynicism, among them Carlo Krahmer, boss of Esquire Records, the label responsible for documenting much of the first wave of UK bop back in the late 1940s and early 1950s. “British jazz has been a red light to [local] record companies,” he said ruefully in August 1960. “I pushed it for a long time and suffered for it in the end.” Like Tony Hall, Krahmer firmly believed that nothing could break the record-buying public's ongoing attachment to American jazz, a belief supported by the cold, impartial facts of sales figures. Although record sales were up for most of 1959, there was a sudden slump just before Christmas, with Melody Maker seeming to take a perverse delight in relaying just how poor were sales by Britain's boppers. “British modern jazz is selling very badly”, reported London record shop owner Chris Wellard, a gloomy verdict mirrored by retailers country-wide. Public derision was one thing (“Who is going to buy a Stan Tracey or a Joe Harriott record when they can get Errol Garner or Cannonball Adderley for the same price”, wrote one Jazz News reader that July) but fiscal failure was quite another. In the very same issue that dealers like Wellard were flagging up poor sales performances by British LPs, Melody Maker highlighted the insurmountably huge difference between the sales for a leading British modern jazz figure like Tubby Hayes and those for an American icon. Cannonball Adderley's latest Riverside LP, the paper announced, had received advance US orders totalling 53,000 copies. Were this not staggering enough, they also casually noted that Adderley's previous disc (In San Francisco) had sold over 100,000 copies. This wasn't just a kick in the teeth though. Adderley's band now included Victor Feldman, the triple-threat talent who was hitherto British modernisms greatest export. Although Feldman had never made any secret of the fact that by far the biggest part of his LA-based workload was as a session- rather than as a jazz- musician, the endorsement by Adderley was yet further proof of a bona-fide claim on authenticity. “The average white musician in America cannot play like Victor,” Adderley proudly told the British press, “Not with that feeling.” (Miles Davis was even more illuminative: “Cannonball cannot let him out of sight,” he said of Feldman in Melody Maker. “All the other groups are after him. It's like when a swinging new chick comes into town...”).

Yet again, as with so many aspects of British modern jazz, it was a triumph of art over commerce. If musicians like Adderley and Davis were falling over themselves to praise Feldman, then English jazzmen could surely stand tall? Record sales figures and petty-minded critics were merely the business side of the music, obstacles to be negotiated and circumvented by turns, but this? – this was the real deal. If it was a somewhat vicarious victory (Feldman hadn't lived in the UK since 1955 and had already said some less than favourable things about British jazz in print) then so what? It was a further step towards genuine equality, another milestone on the road forward, another rocket that had found its target rather than spluttered, fizzled and gone plop.

Simon Spillett

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SOHO SCENE ’60

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1960, a bright new decade had dawned. British music, particularly Jazz, had gone through many changes in the previous decade. Throughout the 1950s, the jazz world had seen the music mutate and divide between traditional and modern jazz styles, because of the advent of Be-Bop. The Jazz scene in Britain was also under the heavy hand of the Musicians Union: American artists could only appear here in exchange for one of our home-grown stars visiting the States. Any planned tours seemed to be quite laborious to complete, so often they didn’t happen. If and when they did, their British counterparts often complained they were sent to small towns instead of big cities. The trouble was, all the true dedicated jazz artists such as Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Ross, Ronnie Scott etc longed to play in the land that had shaped their sound. Luckily, by the end of the 50’s, many had been granted their wish. When they returned home, they used all the experience it had given them to hone their acts to an even more authentic feel in the clubs around Soho.
In truth, by the time 1960 had arrived, it is amazing that Modern Jazz was still such a big force in the British music scene. It had battled against many new fads including Rock’n’Roll, Skiffle, Calypso, Mambo, Kwela, Cha-Cha and the usual dross pop that Tin Pan Alley churned out. By now, Tommy Steele was cabaret and his proposed replacement Terry Dene all but forgotten. Rock’n’Roll had made an impact on jazz. After swing veteran Lionel Hampton had toured Britain playing rock n’ roll numbers, Johnny Dankworth publicly criticising him in the press for the lack of jazz in his set.  British drummer Tony Crombie had partially deserted jazz to form the successful Rock’n’Roll band The Rockets before quitting them in ’57. “Rock’n’Roll is finished in Britain” he declared to Melody Maker in that August. “I thoroughly enjoyed it and we did very well out of it. I earn my living as a musician and will go any way the public wants.” As mercenary as that sounds, he did in fact return to jazz and joined forces with Ronnie Scott and Tubby Hayes.
Jazz was still hip. The Modernists understood. In 1960 their playground was Soho, and there amongst the many clubs that offered distractions were the holy trinity:
The Flamingo at 33 Wardour Street, a curious mixture of bourgeois pretentions and revolutionary music. They were the first to book a big American name in the form of Carmen McCrae, whose vocals lit up the dark recesses of the basement club. Modern jazz was on the menu Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays 7.30 – 11.30 or 12pm. There were all night sessions on Saturdays till 6am. Membership 10s 6d per annum.
The Marquee in Oxford Street, adjoining the Academy Cinema was Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays 7.30 – 11.30pm. On Saturday nights you may have caught the amazing West Indian alto saxophonist Joe Harriott and his Quintet or on Sunday evenings during the winter, Johnny Dankworth’s fifteen piece band. Membership 5s per quarter.
Ronnie Scott’s club at 39 Gerrard Street was the newest, having only been open for a year. Sessions seven nights a week until 2am, except Sundays 11.30pm. Allnighters on Fridays and Saturdays until 5.30am. Here you may have caught 24 year old alto saxophonist Harold McNair, who’d previously worked in Paris with such luminaries as Kenny Clarke, Bud Powell and the Quincy Jones Orchestra.  Membership £1 1s 0d a year.
These were the clubs to attend. Most of the London jazz clubs had a chaste menu of Coca-Cola and hamburgers. Alcohol was mainly gained from hip flasks concealed in pockets. The film ‘Jazz Boat’ was released this year, and it interestingly captures the fading remnants of the American biker style with the gang portrayed as slightly moronic whilst the hero of the piece (Anthony Newley) is sporting neat suits, ties and pin collars.
If you were hip, you were reading up to date articles in ‘Man About Town’ magazine. You’d sit in wonder reading about Pierre Cardin’s fashion revolution in France making collarless jackets. In the meantime you’d make do. A putty coloured Italian jacket in wide weave corduroy with a scarlet lining from Jaeger. Poplin shirt, silk tie from Simpsons, cuffless trousers, Cavelli shoes hand made in Italy, Italian coat; Persian suede lined with pony skin from John Michaels in Bond Street. Maybe some Hardie Amies cologne and a Sunbeam Alpine to just top off the look? Well you can dream can’t you!
The big talking point this year, was the arrival of Miles Davis for his twelve day tour of Britain, his first visit ever. The Harold Davison agency had taken the unprecedented step of abandoning any plans for the traditional ‘Welcome to Britain’ reception accorded visiting American stars. Norman Granz who had handled the Davis package had implemented a ban on photographers. But Miles was apparently angered when he found out and stated: “Who the hell do they think I am, the Congolese Ambassador or something? I’d just as soon call off the whole tour.” When the tour actually got going, he managed to divide opinion. Many called him the world’s greatest modernist, a genius. Others proclaimed his not speaking, not introducing songs, not acknowledging applause and his habit of leaving the stage between solos as downright rude.
When Miles went home, the year hadn’t ended for big gigs. There was Carmen McCrae on tour with a specially reformed Jazz Couriers in October. November saw Dizzy Gillespie doing ‘Jazz at the Philarmonic’ with great people like Coleman Hawkins, Benny Carter, Candido plus the Cannonball Adderley Quintet.
1960 may have ended with Cliff Richard at the top of the charts with Elvis just behind. I could have easily gone that way… then as Oscar Brown Jnr sang….but I was cool.

Paul 'Smiler' Anderson

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rumba Blues Gone Mambo
SOHO SCENE'61 LP /CD
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Dressed to kill, oh yes! Shoes by Bally of Switzerland, the ‘Havanah’ model in black with buckles on the side. They bloody cost nine and a half guineas but, man, the looks they get make it worthwhile. Bronze coloured slenderline needlecord slacks at sixty three bob from His Clothes, and all rounded off with a twenty five guinea ‘Professeur’ tailored jacket in grey and white Prince De Galles check also from the maestro that is John Stephen at His Clothes. The cherry on the cake though has to be the copy of the ‘Home Cookin’ album by Jimmy Smith that I tuck under my arm.
Out the door, in to the light! Soon I’m sauntering the pavement of Charring Cross Road, left into Old Compton Street, past Greek Street and Frith Street before entering my destination, Dean Street. The York Minster in fact. It was as near to a French Bistro as you will find in London. But I’m here for the drinks. Gaston and Jo, who run the place, offer a great assortment of aperitif drinks, including a delicacy known as Capcorse, a drink from Corsica that certainly got the room spinning last time I was in here. The Dubonnet Kirsch is a guaranteed floor hitter, so I order one. Just as the glass is near my lips, I clock Mickey. He’s looking great as usual. I notice straight away he’s got a fantastic patterned inch wide tie that’s got expensive written all over it, but that’s why I like Mickey.
“John Michael’s enit” says Mickey in his dulcet South London tones. “Twenty five bloody bob for a tie. Got it at his Sportique shop up the road.”
Then he spots my LP casually tucked under me arm. I think it’s a case of Jimmy Smith ONE John Michael NIL as I can see the jealousy fill his eyes. You see, as much as ‘clothes maketh man’ as the old saying goes, getting your hands on some great American Jazz is equally important to our mob. Although in fairness Mickey did have a copy of another Hammond organ maestro in the name of Jack McDuff. His album ‘Goodnight It’s Time To Go’ contained a fave of mine ‘Sanctified Waltz’.
The club scene is vibrant at the moment, we are regulars at The Lyceum on the Strand on a Saturday night, Ian ‘Sammy’ Samwell is the DJ there, so it’s a great place to hear American tunes. R&B is the order of the day here, but our mob still crave the sophistication of Jazz.
Ronnie Scott has had his club in Gerrard Street for about a year and a half now. We used to go there just to watch Peter King, an amazing teenage alto sax player with Johnny Dankworth. Ronnie Scott also leads his own Quintet, and their trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar is one of the most natural talents this country has ever possessed. Ronnie Scott’s was also the gaff where we first witnessed Harold McNair, a cool West Indian alto sax player. We call him ‘Little G’ and we used to chat with him during the break in his dressing room. He’d only just bought his flute and was trying to learn how to play it during the breaks. The only thing stopping him becoming the world’s greatest flautist is the fact that we keep talking to him during these practise sessions, and the fact that he keeps losing his instrument in London’s cabs! Ronnie Scott himself makes the night with his little on stage jokes, and the fact that he even advertised his food at the club as ‘Fifty million flies can’t be wrong.’
The Mingo of course, in Wardour Street, is always a great place to catch the ‘Little Giant’, Tubby Hayes. We’ve all got his ‘Tubbs’ LP and you can’t help but love the man. The intro to the album is fantastic. The track is called ‘The Late One’ and Bill Eyden’s drums sound explosive. ‘Cherokee’ and R.T.H’ are the other tunes I’m currently digging. You have to dress smart at The Mingo, it’s a collar and tie job. They certainly won’t settle for continental leisure clothes.
The Marquee is one of the places we check out Johnny Dankworth, but in truth that man seems to play everywhere…and quite deservedly. We used to go and watch another West Indian alto saxophonist on Saturday nights there, in the form of Joe Harriott leading his Quintet through some right experimental form of jazz ,that although not always seemingly coherent, was bloody exciting nonetheless.

One of the best clubs outside of our Soho comfort zone is Klooks Kleek held at the Railway Hotel in West Hampstead. It opened at the start of the year, the only downer being is that it’s on a Wednesday night. Still at two shillings and sixpence, the admission price is a bargain.  It was a great opening night with the John West Group, but more importantly to us, Don Rendell. Don is amazing, and has changed his style recently and you can hear the influences of Johnny Griffin and John Coltrane. It’s pretty exciting stuff and comes across well when he and his alto saxophonist, Graham Bond, battle it out up front. After the gig we chatted to them and they were both in great moods. “Of course it’s Graham’s band but by some strange coincidence I’m the leader!” Don joked. Well seeing as Don is twelve years older I should bloody hope so.  We rated Bond as one of the most exciting soloists we’d seen, and he stood there telling us he’d been influenced by Eric Dolphy and Art Pepper. Their drummer, Phil Kinorra, came over too. He told us he’d come to London last year with a rhythm and blues band, and when they’d split he’d joined up with the Peter King Quintet before joining Ronnie Scott’s Quintet, and finally hooked up with Rendell. I was amazed he’d been in a rhythm blues unit, especially as our mob had only just picked up on R&B after hearing it at The Lyceum. Ray Charles ‘Hallelujah, I Love Her So’ being a favourite as well as the ‘Autumn Song’ album by Mose Allison.
It’s all about the whole modern approach to life. The old lot just keep telling us that they won the war for us. They say they want us to have the best things in life. Well to them, that probably means going to University to study, and then get a nice secure job in a bank somewhere. To me, the best things in life are probably the sable coloured, Regency styled coat that was four button double breasted with a Persian lamb wool collar on show at Maurice Sedwell’s shop in Berner St, or maybe that Lotus Elite I saw in the West End last week.
My brother’s generation had their Teddy Boy revolution but now they look like some dinosaurs escaped from the museum. Then there’s the Trads hanging around at the 100 Club listening to Ken Coyler and Acker Bilk. Who needs New Orleans Dixieland when you can have pure New York cool?
We refer to the Trads as ‘Mouldy Figs’. Don’t ask me why, but it’s our name for them. They hit back by calling us ‘Ooblies’ because they think it funny to take the mickey out of scat-singing, as in ‘Oooblie dooblie , scooby dooby, shebop, shabam’ type stuff.
It came to a head last year. We attended a Chris Barber concert at Victoria Park in Hackney. Some of the Trads made a few comments and we got the usual ‘Go home you dirty boppers!’ Us dirty? The cheek of it! It ended up kicking off big time, and climaxed in a mass brawl with everything flying through the air including chairs and bottles. The Old Bill turned up with their dogs so we had it away on our toes, but you got the feeling it wasn’t going to end there.
A couple of months later we go to the Jazz Festival at Beaulieu, on the lawns of the Palace House, bang in the heart of the New Forest. A beautiful setting, so what could go wrong? Our mob were there decked out in the best clobber Bill Green had to offer from his Vince’s shop. Most of the crowd though were there for the Trad Jazz on offer and you could spot them a mile off in there bowler hats and toppers. Wearing their ‘oh so crazy’ striped socks, but we just laughed at them.
The place looked quite impressive, and they had a full size merry-go-round complete with wooden horses on the stage. Anyway, word got around that they are broadcasting the whole show live on the radio as well as BBC television. Things were going well until Johnny Dankworth came on for his set, and some of the Mouldy Figs started booing him.  The atmosphere changed, and soon the air was filled with chants of “We want Acker! We want Acker!” Acker Bilk later came on stage in a Model T Ford supplied by the Beaulieu Museum. Old cars for old music we laughed. Suddenly somebody had managed to get on stage and grabbed the microphone and shouted something about “More beer for the workers!” Chaos ensued, as people in the crowd started to realise that this fella is on the telly being beamed in to living rooms all across Britain. Everybody wants to be a star it seems. Soon people were clambering up the metal scaffolding where the television lights had been positioned. Kids were on the stage and unbolted the horses from the carousel and were carrying them up the lighting gantry under their arms. Poor old Acker was stood on the stage, clarinet in hand, wondering what the hell to do as he witnessed the piano on stage collapsing.  Next the scaffolding began crashing to the ground with bodies and wooden horses raining down. At this point the BBC pulled the plug early on the broadcast. Rather embarrassing for all concerned.
The papers were full of shock and it mentioned about people being injured, a storage shed catching on fire and two youths being arrested for assaulting the police.
This year we didn’t bother with Beaulieu but did make the first National Jazz Festival at Richmond Athletic Ground in Richmond. God it was hot, and even though the Trads were there, we ignored them. Luckily most of their music was on the Sunday, so they had to wait for the likes of the Clyde Valley Stompers, the Back of Town Syncopaters and Ken Coyler’s Jazzmen. We’d gone on the Saturday and took in the marvellous sounds of the Don Rendell Quintet, Johnny Dankworth Quartet, Ottilie Patterson, The Ronnie Ross Quartet and the Tubby Hayes Quartet. It seemed strange seeing them in the bright sunshine away from the dark surroundings of The Mingo. I reckon by next year everybody will be digging the modern scene.
It’s funny but a week after the Battle of Beaulieu last year, The Sunday People did a two page feature on the ‘Beatniks’. They missed the point completely, and the whole piece focused on the has-been’s. It stated in the article that: ‘Nothing matters to the Beatnik save the ‘kicks’ or thrills to be enjoyed by throwing off inhibitions. If you feel any urge, no matter how outrageous, indulge in it. If the beat of jazz whips up violent emotions, why not give way to them?’ Ha ha, they make it sound as primitive as a witchdoctor with a bone through his nose.
If the press want to talk about ‘kicks’ they could do far worse than listen to one of our influences, Oscar Brown Jr, who in my view is as great a vocalist as Mark Murphy or Mose Allison. On his latest platter he sings an appropriate line that although it’s written by Quincy Jones, it’s Oscar that delivers the message that we want to live by: ‘Kicks is always in demand, ‘cos kicks is full of fun and laughter. Lots of folks get out of hand because it’s only kicks they’re after’. I can just see it one day, there will be a picture of one of us Modernists on the front page of one of their misinformed tabloids with the headline ‘Living For Kicks’ above it. The oldies will howl in despair, and the Trads will join them because they never made it to the hallowed front page.
If you asked me to describe ‘Modernism’ or what’s happening now. I’d just hand you a copy of pianist Harold Corbin’s ‘Soul Brother’ album. Then again why not Grant Green’s ‘Grant’s First Stand’ LP where you get to hear the finger plucking genius that is Grant Green grooving along nicely with ‘Baby Face’ Willette on organ. If I handed you a copy of the Freddie Hubbard album ‘Hub Cap’ and you failed to hear the cool in the track ‘Osie May’, not only would I believe that you must be deaf but I’d probably have to shoot you because these are the things that are important to me and my world.
These songs conjure up New York or some other magical place in the Promised Land. They take me to sweaty dives where I may bump in to John Coltrane, Miles Davis or Art Blakey. I could be offering cigarettes to a beautiful woman as we drink cool cocktails and tap our feet to the cool, cool notes at Birdland.
Here I am though, sat in the York Minster in Soho chatting to Mickey. Still, more importantly, I’m happy, because he understands how I see and think. He’s one of us, and he hears what I hear.
For now, I’ll take the hamburgers and cheap watered down coke down at The Mingo. I’m content with the local birds who frequent Klooks Kleek. I’ll smile at the fact that even though my friend has paid a small fortune for that tie just to get a reaction from me and my friends, he feel inadequate because he hasn’t got the latest Jimmy Smith LP. This is what my world is all about.
You or your friends may not understand but I think I can explain it easily enough to you…

‘Kicks, yeh, yeh, looking for kicks. Just Kicks, nothing but kicks. I’m Satan’s simple servant set to get you in a fix. So look me up just anytime. The name is Mister, name is Mister Kicks.’

Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson

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A little difficult to grasp: 1961 - The British Perspective by Simon Spillett

Not so long ago, the unlikelihood of the Briton as a jazzman would have been perfectly expressed by thinking of him in a bowler hat. Result: complete incongruity, like Mrs Grundy dancing the can-can.
Philip Larkin, The Daily Telegraph, July 15th 1961

It's hard to work out what caused the biggest noise in British jazz circles back in 1961. Was it the one and only UK visit of John Coltrane, the first bona-fide American avant-gardist to play to an English audience, whose London début was dismissed in Jazz Journal as “the low water mark of jazz in this country.” Or was it the installation of a new espresso machine at Ronnie Scott's club, “the most out-of-tune contraption of its kind in all of Britain,” according to Jazz News, issuing “steaming sibilance...guaranteed to blast almost any soloist out of audial existence.”
Then again, perhaps it could have been the clamouring wheels of the Trad bandwagon, pushing its way up the mountainous slopes of the popular charts?

Actually the big story of the year wasn't one at club or concert level, although both appeared to be doing well. Despite the predictions of nay-sayers and the odd spat with other West End promoters (“From Monday to Thursday, the Flamingo quietly folds its wings and drops dead,” observed Scott in December 1960), Ronnie Scott's had survived for just over a year, its successes coming in fits and starts not unlike the splutterings of its new espresso maker.
The coffee machine was a good sign though, as was the long-awaited installation of a bar at the premises in April 1961, an event only made possible by the formation of the clubs own “wine committee”, of which Benny Green made a puzzled secretary.
Ronnie's was by no means the only London modern jazz spot doing well. Regardless of Scott's jibe, The Flamingo continued to pull the punters, pressed into what one magazine called its “dark, Turkish-bath, but always swinging, atmosphere.” Further afield there was success too; opened in January 1961, by November of the same year Klooks Kleek in West Hampstead boasted a membership of 1600, no mean feat for a venue promoting solely local attractions.

On the touring package front, things also looked to be on the up. A welcome relief from what had already begun to seem like a veritable carousel of mainstream and big band artists, the visits of Art Blakey, Thelonious Monk and Coltrane had shown a distinct shift towards the modern, with their respective bands introducing then largely unknown new stars such as Elvin Jones, Eric Dolphy and Wayne Shorter to local audiences. Each of these visits caused moments both controversial and thought-provoking, some less well-publicised than others, including Elvin Jones' memorably Dadaist sit-in at Scott's, which brought delight to some (Tubby Hayes) and dismay to others (a well-known British trumpeter who was moved to scoff “that man can't count four bars!”).

Another US visitor that year – bassist Charles Mingus, in England to appear in the jazz-does-Shakespeare film novelty All Night Long – hung around long enough to get more of a measure of the parochial scene, holding court in a series of interviews which found him unafraid to confront what he saw as the failings of the UK's jazzmen. “The trouble here, so far as I can see, is that everyone's listening to records and taking their cues from these,” he remarked perceptively. “It seems to me if our records weren't issued in Britain, the British cats would have to think for themselves.” Balancing this critique, Mingus had been quick to praise those local players who he did think were onto something of their own, including Ronnie Scott and Joe Harriott (“he's got a good sound”) in whose free-form experiments he recognised the spirit of a fellow maverick .

As cutting as Mingus was, his remarks about “our records”  had an almost laughable irony to them. The label to which he was then signed – Candid – hadn't yet found a UK distributor. Indeed, local modernists weren't nearly as up-to-date as their album-chasing legend might have us believe, something rammed home early in 1961 by the arrival in the UK of the Blue Note catalogue, arguably the finest on-record representation of modern jazz to date. If the label had long exemplified the height of hip to US jazz listeners, its message had taken an age to find English ears. Hitherto available as super-inflated imports or sailor-smuggled luxuries (Tony Hall recalls paying an astronomical £4 per LP in the late 1950s), a deal struck with Central Record Distributors meant that from February 1961, Blue Notes were now regularly available in the UK for the first time. Regardless of a still-expensive price tag (49/9 each, 12/- more than an average British 12” LP), the demand was ridiculous, with Doug Dobell's famed London record shops' initial stock selling out in less than ten days. Within seven months, Blue Note had sold four times as many albums as they'd budgeted for, good news for record retailers and fans but a further kick in the teeth to those trying to sell local modern jazz on record. The timing couldn't have been more bittersweet. Shortly after Blue Note began to appear in the racks, Tony Hall finally threw in the towel at Tempo, the label that had almost single-handedly documented the harder end of UK modernism for close to five years.  Tempo's final modern jazz release – The Jazz Five's The Five Of Us – had received good press, but as a commercial commodity it had been a dead loss. “When you can buy a Miles Davis LP for a couple of bob less, can you really afford to buy, say, Tubby Hayes' latest, however much you dig British jazz?” Hall had asked ruefully in Jazz News.

If the question was somewhat academic, there were nevertheless some signs of a welcome change of pace. At the eye of the Trad hurricane, in February 1961, Johnny Dankworth's incessantly catchy African Waltz three-foured its way into the popular charts, selling a staggering 24,000 copies in a month. Barely had this news broken then Tubby Hayes put his moniker to a contract with Fontana, “the first British modernist to be signed to a major label in some years,” reported Melody Maker excitedly. Indeed, the big noise in British modernism that year wasn't in the clubs, at festivals or on the radio - it was on record.

And, like all things in British jazz, it was a tale of equal parts triumph and disaster. The latter were all too easy to under-sensationalise: the end of Tempo, Blue Note's dismissal of its one ex-British artist (Alfred Lion: “the public did not really take to our recordings of Dizzy Reece”), the Musicians' Union putting the block on Dizzy Gillespie recording in London. After all, hadn't this been the story for years now?
But, for once, the triumphs seemed to be coming in greater numbers; that year the US Jazzland label licensed recordings by The Jazz Couriers, The Joe Harriott Quintet and The Vic Ash-Harry Klein Jazz Five for Stateside release (“MUST HAVE!” Jazzland's Bill Grauer had cabled Tony Hall on hearing the Ash/Klein tapes); pianist Dave Lee's album 'A Big New Band From Britain' spent six weeks in the famed US 'Cash Box Top Ten'; and Don Rendell found himself the first British modernist signed exclusively to an American label (“Forgotten Jazzman nets big disc deal” Melody Maker), effectively resuscitating his career.
Rendell wasn't the only beneficiary. Almost overnight, it was as if the lifeblood had been pumped back into British modernism. Cool, it seemed, was well and truly out. “Filling the void is something which should inject a new life into the whole modern scene,” wrote Melody Maker's Bob Dawbarn that summer, “ - excitement”.
It was hard not to sense a burgeoning confidence beginning to infuse the music. All of a sudden, local modern LPs began to receive rave reviews, with one – Tubby Hayes' initial salvo for Fontana, Tubbs – named Melody Maker's Jazz LP of the Month in July 1961, succeeding none other than John Coltrane's Blue Train.
There was even a sign of an end to the closed shop mentality that had for so long kept British bop hemmed in. Hot on the heels of signing Tubby Hayes, Fontana had also bagged twenty year old Dick Morrissey, a saxophonist whose precocious ability came close to that of Hayes himself. “I'm still trying to find a really serious grouse with the whole thing,” wrote Jazz News's Kevin Henriques reviewing Morrissey's debut disc, as if it just wasn't cricket to favour the local lads.
Even those not generally sympathetic to contemporary jazz styles had at last begun to yield. In late 1961, Denis Preston – Lansdowne studios' maven of mainstream and a leading architect in building the Trad Boom – recorded the Emcee Five, a frighteningly accomplished “territory band” from Newcastle upon Tyne, the mere existence of which said everything about how deeply modernism had taken root throughout the UK.

Where it should venture next was obvious. Having successfully exported recordings by its leading exponents – Harriott, Scott, Dankworth – to the US it was now only a matter of time until we exported the real thing, a pipe-dream that became a reality in September 1961, when Tubby Hayes inaugurated an UK/US soloist exchange deal enabling American players to appear at Ronnie Scott's club while their English opposites played New York.
Earlier that year Hayes had complained, “the British scene is very limiting. It is difficult to get beyond working around the Wardour Street-Gerrard Street area.” Now, he was working Hudson and Spring, attracting audiences including Miles Davis and Cannonball Adderley, a sure fire sign that British modernism had finally made the biggest leap of its short-life – one as much cultural as artistic.
The story of this transatlantic détente was set out on record for all to hear, Hayes recording in New York with a band including Clark Terry while Zoot Sims was taped over several nights at Ronnie Scott's club, sounding just as comfortable with his English accompanists as Hayes had with his US ones. It was the ultimate victory. “Even five years ago, [this] would have seemed like wishful thinking,” summed up Benny Green in his sleeve note to Tubbs in N.Y. “Even after hearing [this record] I find it all a little difficult to grasp.”
What Hayes and has colleagues had grasped though – in essence the nettle of opportunity – was to prove particularly awkward to hang onto in the year ahead. Indeed, far down among the provincial undergrowth lay a threat few would have thought serious at the time. Yet it was there all the same. Reviewing the club scene in Liverpool at the end of 1961, Jazz News cautioned “you would be quite surprised at the 'jazz section' of the evening paper. Some of the groups that appear are called The Beetles [sic.], Undertakers and the Galvanisers...”
The Beetles?
The name said it all: this was to be one hard-shelled opponent.

Simon Spillett
July 2017

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SOHO SCENE '62 LP / CD
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Soho October 1962, I’m bowling along Great Windmill Street. The city is alive, vibrant and colourful. As I look around at the people going about their business, I catch sight of an old guy, looking me up and down and I can see the disdain in his eyes. I’m dressed to thrill, sporting a teak coloured suede jacket that cost me twenty guineas, light coloured cavalry twirl slacks and some great new chisel toes.
His gaze is short lived as he darts in to the Cameo Moulin cinema to catch Pamela Green bare herself in ‘Nature As Nature Intended’. It’s hardly ‘Doctor No’ but at least he gets to gets to see some youthful flesh. I feel sorry for him. It’s a good time to be young. Into a newsagents, and my eyes scan the publications. I pick up a copy of Jazz Journal, the latest edition of ‘About Town’ magazine to check out John Lindsay’s jazz column to see his latest album reviews and a packet of Gauloises French cigarettes. Image is everything and at the moment we are digging anything French.
Café Des Artistes in Radcliffe Gardens, Chelsea is a haunt of ours. A good place for jazz. We also check out the French students at La Poubelle in Poland Street, but that’s mainly for their clothes and their dancing. For live jazz, the West End is still the place. Ronnie Scott’s in Gerrard Street has Johnny Dankworth, Joe Harriott, Harold (Little G) McNair, Allan Ganley, Tubby Hayes and of course Ronnie Scott. The Marquee in Oxford Street has Ronnie Ross and Don Rendell. The Flamingo in Wardour Street has a great mixture of everybody. The Dankworth Club in Oxford Street has most of the greats and on Saturday nights it features The Tubby Hayes Quintet. Dick Jordan’s ‘Klooks Kleek’ club in West Hampstead is a great place to check out the cream of British jazz and ’62 has seen Joe Harriott, Tony Coe and Ronnie Ross tread the boards.
Of course by now the club scene isn’t about jazz so much anymore in the Modernist world as the new places to dig are The Flamingo Allnighter sessions, which are a lot different from the jazz sessions. La Discotheque set above the Latin Quarter in Wardour Street is a place that you are more likely to find us dancing to tunes such as ‘Wiggle Wobble’ by Les Cooper & The Soul Rockers or ‘Twistin’ Matilda’ by Jimmy Soul. Of course the Twist dance is everywhere, it’s definitely the dance of 1962, and of course you can’t Twist to jazz. Further afield, the big dance halls are the place to show everybody the latest dances, so the Lyceum in the Strand, the Tottenham Royal, the Purley Orchid or the Streatham Locarno are the places to be seen. But you'll still find me ordering the jazz records I love.
The Larry Frazier is a great double-sided seven inch released in April 1962 on Impulse! and combines both modal and bossa influences . Both tracks were co-written by legendary soul man Curtis Mayfield.
The Quartette Tres Bien hailed from St Louis and were led by pianist Jeter Thompson.  Thompson had honed his craft by playing among the likes of Jimmy Forrest (who recorded the first ever version of ‘Night Train’ in 1951) and arranger, composer, and bandleader Oliver Nelson. The bassist of the group is Richard Simmons; the drummer Albert St. James had played alongside of Charlie Parker and Tab Smith. Percussionist Percy James added a fantastic Latin flavour to the band which is prominent in many of their songs. ‘Boss Tres Bien’ was a rare jazz dance 45 released on small indie label Norman Records in St. Louis before they signed with Decca.
Sam Lazar was a pianist hailing from St Louis too. He started out playing in local big bands like Count Basie’s. In 1958 Lazar’s life changed when he attended a local gig at the Peacock Alley Club and he witnessed the power of a Hammond B-3 organ being played by Jimmy Smith no less. Lazar quickly swapped piano for organ and formed a St Louis based combo that once featured legendary guitarist Grant Green. ‘Scootin’ comes from his ‘Playback’ album.
Phil Guilbeau was born in Lafayette, Louisianna. After serving in the navy during the Second World War, he moved to Detroit, where he started his professional music career. As trumpet session player, Guilbeau got to play with the best including Ray Charles, Otis Redding, Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones and Count Basie. In later life he joined the group The Young Senators and was involved in the evolution of the funk sound. Featured on this album is ‘Creole Walk’, released as a 45 for Atlantic.
Theodore ‘Ted’ Curson was born in Philadelphia. At the suggestion of Miles Davis he moved to New York in 1956 and went on to play with Charles Mingus, Red Garland, Cecil Taylor, Max Roach and others. ‘Fire Down Below’ was the title track of a six track album on the Prestige label featuring Montego Joe on congas and was also released as a demo 45.
Lou Donaldson was born in North Carolina. He transcended the jazz genres from bop to hard bop to soul jazz. Lou worked with the best including Milt Jackson, Thelonious Monk, Blue Mitchell, Art Blakey, Jimmy Smith and Horace Silver.  ‘Funky Mama’ was written by John Patton and released as a Blue Note 45. The lineup is amazing: trumpet: Tommy Turrentine; guitar: Grant Green; drums: Ben Dixon; organ: John Patton and alto sax: Lou Donaldson.
Boris ‘Lalo’ Schifrin is an Argentine pianist, composer, arranger and conductor. He learnt his trade in the Paris jazz clubs before returning to Argentina to form an orchestra. He famously met up with Dizzy Gillespie and worked alongside him on the ‘Gillespiana’ album giving it a Latin American feel. Schifrin was an in demand writer for film and TV scores and his work includes ‘The Man From Uncle’, ‘Mission Impossible’, ‘Bullitt’, ‘Enter The Dragon’, ‘Joy House’ (featuring Jimmy Smith’s ‘The Cat’), and the Dirty Harry Series of films. ‘The Wave’ appeared on his 1962 LP ‘Piano, Strings and Bossa Nova’.
Louisiana born Don Wilkerson was an R&B/Soul Jazz tenor saxophonist. In the 50’s, he’d worked with Amos Milburn and Ray Charles, spreading the sound of R&B before signing to Blue Note Records. ‘Camp Meeting’ appeared on the ‘Preach Brother!’ album on Blue Note. It also came out on a 45 with superb picture sleeves in France as well as the US.
Les McCann came from Kentucky and was a vocalist and Soul Jazz pianist signed to Pacific Jazz Records. The track featured here ‘The Shampoo’ was recorded live at the Village Gate, New York in 1961.
John Wright’s ‘Strut’ can be found on the flipside of US Prestige 45 ‘Blue Prelude’. It also appeared on his second album ‘Mr Soul’. Wright was also born in Kentucky but his family moved to Chicago. His nick name throughout his life was ‘South Side Soul’ after the title of his first LP in 1960.
Guitarist Kenny Burrell’s ‘Out of This World’ is a B side too, found on the flip of a Prestige promo-only 45 ‘Montuno Blues’. This seven inch was released to help promote the 1963 album ‘Bluesy Burrell’ that he recorded with Coleman Hawkins.  Detroit native Burrell made his recording debut with Dizzy Gillespie in 1951 which led to him to playing with such stars asTony Bennett, Billie Holiday, Jimmy Smith, John Coltrane and Stanley Turrentine.
Edward Lee Morgan was from Philadelphia and made his name as a hard bop trumpeter, playing with Art Blakey, Hank Mobley and John Coltrane. His most famous recording is ‘The Sidewinder’ (1963) and he was surprised by its success as he wrote it as a filler. ‘Raggedy Ann’ featured here was taken from the Lee Morgan Quintet album ‘Take Twelve’. At the age of 33, Morgan was shot by his common-law wife in February 1972 whilst performing in New York. He bled to death in the ambulance.
The fantastically named Prince Lasha was in fact William B. Lawsha, an alto saxophonist, flautist and clarinetist. He attended High School with future jazz luminaries King Curtis and Ornette Coleman. He moved to California in the 50's but by the 60’s was living in Kensington, London. ‘Congo Call’ is from the free avant-garde modal album ‘The Cry’ on Contemporary Records and features the line-up of Prince Lasha (flute); either Gary Peacock or Mark Proctor (bass); Sonny Simmons (saxophone); Gene Stone (drums)
Double bassist Sam Jones was from Jacksonville, Florida. He moved to New York City in 1955 where he worked with Bobby Timmons, Freddie Hubbard, Thelonious Monk and Cannonball Adderley. He wrote ‘Unit 7’ whilst working with Adderley and it appeared on the ‘Down Home’ LP released on the Riverside label in August 1962.
During the 50’s, Ohio’s Johnny Lytle was the drummer for Ray Charles, Gene Ammons and Jimmy Witherspoon, but when he switched to vibes, Lionel Hampton called him the greatest vibes player in the world. He penned most of his material including ‘The Loop’ and ‘The Village Caller’. ‘The Moor Man’ appeared on the Johnny Lytle Trio LP ‘Moon Child’ and also featured Ray Barretto on percussion.
California born drummer Chico Hamilton started in a band that boasted the likes of Dexter Gordon and Charles Mingus and from 1955 onwards he became a bandleader in his own right.  ‘El Toro’ featured on the Chico Hamilton Quintet LP ‘Passin’ Thru’ on Impulse! Records. In 1965 Hamilton formed a commercial and film production company and went on to score films like Roman Polanski’s ‘Repulsion’.
Bennie Ross ‘Hank’ Crawford hailed from Memphis. His big break came when he was recruited by Ray Charles as a baritone saxophonist in the late 50’s before switching to alto, remaining in the band until 1963. He had his own septet and between 1960 and 1970 recorded twelve albums for the Atlantic label. ‘The Peeper’ included here appeared on the ‘From The Heart’ LP and was also released as a 45.
‘Gemini’ appears on the Riverside album ‘The Cannonball Adderley Sextet in New York’ and was recorded at the Village Vanguard on January 12th and 14th 1962. It features Yusef Lateef on tenor saxophone who had only just joined the band. Julian ‘Cannonball’ Adderley was from Florida and he and his brother Nat were in Ray Charles’s band in the 1940’s. He joined Miles Davis and played on the legendary albums ‘Milestones’ and ‘Kind Of Blue’. He also recorded great versions of his brother Nat’s compositions ‘Work Song’ and ‘Jive Samba’. ’Gemini Parts 1 and 2’ were also released on both sides of a Riverside 45.
Paul Desmond was an alto saxophonist from San Francisco and is nowadays remembered for his work with the Dave Brubeck Quartet. ‘Desmond Blue’ was an RCA 45 and the title track of his album from the same year which was recorded at Webster Hall in New York City between September and October 1961. Desmond also worked and recorded with Gerry Mulligan, The Modern Jazz Quartet and Chet Baker.
British Artists
Plymouth-born Don Rendell was a saxophonist (tenor & soprano), flautist and clarinettist who learnt his trade playing around Soho with the Johnny Dankworth Seven, then played with various bands of his own and later with Woody Herman and Billie Holiday when she toured the UK. ‘Manumission’ appeared on the US album ‘Roarin’ under the name of The New Don Rendell Quintet which featured amongst others a 23 year old alto sax player by the name of Graham Bond, who later found more success as an organ player.
Londoner Edward ‘Tubby’ Hayes was a tenor saxophone player, flautist and vibraphone player who became known around Soho mainly for co-leading The Jazz Couriers along with Ronnie Scott. Tubby formed the Quintet after having performed with his Quartet for two and a half years, finding the sound had gone a bit stale. His tenor style may have drawn from Ronnie Scott and Stan Getz but then matured under the influence of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. 1962 would see him go to New York where he recorded with James Moody and Roland Kirk. Tubby, along with Dankworth and Ronnie Scott, was one of our biggest jazz stars but sadly he was gone all too soon at the age of 38.
One person who worked a lot with Hayes was Dundee native Jimmy Deuchar. On ‘Desperation’ he is playing trumpet alongside Ronnie Scott and the legendary Zoot Sims on tenor saxophone. Deuchar was a fine talent and worked with the greats such as Tony Crombie, Johnny Dankworth and Lionel Hampton.
‘Back to the Barn’ was released on 45 in March ’62 as part of Columbia’s Landsdowne Jazz Series and was also released on an EP of the same name. It also formed part of the album ‘The English Experience’ recorded at Landsowne Studios in London, although pianist and composer Galt MacDermot was Canadian in origin. He is best known for composing the music for the musical ‘Hair’.
‘Give Seven’ was released as a Philips 45 in February ’62. Scottish born Bill McGuffie was a pianist who went on to become a film composer and conductor and his work included the 1966 big screen treatment of Dr Who: ‘Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150 AD’ and ‘The Leather Boys’.  McGuffie was voted Britain's top pianist in 1953, 1954 and 1955.
Tony Coe, an alto sax player from Canterbury, made very few records under his own name but did play with the likes of Humphrey Lyttleton, Johnny Dankworth and Stan Tracey. ‘Not So Blue’ and ‘Sack O' Woe’ are taken from the Philips LP ‘Swingin’ Till The Girls Come Home.’
Joseph Arthurlin ‘Joe’ Harriott was an alto sax  player born in Kingston, Jamaica and educated at the Alpha Boys School, which famously produced the Ska band The Skatalites. Arriving on English shores in 1951, he first played with Tony Kinsey and Ronnie Scott. He was a pioneer of free-form jazz in the UK and this is the basis of the album ‘Abstract’ from which ‘Tonal’ is from, which is described on the LP’s sleeve notes as ‘straight Free Form all the way…but swinging like mad!’
Edinburgh sons Alexander ‘Sandy’ Brown (clarinettist) and Alastair ‘Al’ Fairweather (trumpeter) recorded for Esquire Records but never gained great success. Brown returned to Scotland to complete his studies while Fairweather remained in London and eventually ended up playing alongside Acker Bilk. ‘Quartering’ and ‘Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting’ can be found on the 1962 Columbia album ‘Doctor McJazz’.
The British Jazz Trio (Kenny Harris on drums, Derek Smith on piano and John Drew on bass) recorded a four track EP for Ember in September ’62. ‘Charlie Is My Darling’ is one of the tracks on the EP, which also included a version of ‘White Cliffs Of Dover’.
Baritone saxophonist Ronnie Ross’s composition ‘Good Morning Judge’ appears on the Columbia album ‘Jazz Workshop’ recorded at the Ruhr Festival in Germany in 1962. Ross had started on tenor but switched to baritone during a spell with Don Rendell’s band. Ross went back to tenor to play on The Beatles’‘Savoy Truffle’, which appeared on the ‘White Album’ and years later was the featured soloist on Lou Reed’s ‘Walk On The Wild Side’. Ross was also saxophone tutor to a very young David Bowie.
John Dankworth was born in Essex and was a saxophonist, clarinettist and composer of jazz and film scores. He formed a big band in the early 50’s and got to play Birdland in New York. During the 60’s, Dankworth seemed to be everywhere in Soho and members of his band included Dudley Moore and Peter King. He went on to compose music for television including the early Avengers theme and film scores such as Modesty Blaise. ‘Cannonball’ was released as a 45 on the Columbia label.
Alto sax and flautist Johnny Scott's ‘Study For Jazz Quintet’ [Suite In Three Movements] was put together by Peter Burman, originally intended for BBC broadcast and performed at the Recital Rooms, Royal Festival Hall, London. It appeared on Peter Burman’s ‘Jazz Tête-à-Tête’ as part of the Columbia Landsdowne Jazz Series.
The Eddie Thompson Trio featured Eddie on piano, bassist Lewis Berryman, and Ron Lundberg on drums. Londoner Eddie attended Linden Lodge Blind School in Wandsworth and fell in love with jazz via the radio. He became a big part of the London jazz scene playing with the likes of Tony Crombie, Ronnie Scott and Johnny Dankworth. In ’62 he travelled to New York and secured a residency at the Hickory House as their pianist. Whilst there he became friendly with such greats as Duke Ellington and Thelonious Monk.
‘Bossa Negra’ is the title track of an EP that was also part of the Lansdowne Columbia series released in November 1962. Shake Keane plays flugelhorn on this and his backing band are credited as ‘The Boss Men’. Born on the island of St. Vincent, Keane moved to England in ’52 and began playing trumpet in the London clubs, eventually becoming a member of Joe Harriott’s band. He would later play with pianist Michael Garrick and Kenny Clarke.
Victor Feldman was a child prodigy playing drums at the age of seven. He learnt the vibraphone and congas but it was piano that became his main love. He left the UK for America in 1955 and recorded with Benny Goodman, Miles Davies and Cannonball Adderley. In 1957 Feldman moved to Los Angeles, specializing in session work for the US film and recording industry. He later moved away from jazz and performed with Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell and Steely Dan. ‘Ritual’ is taken from his MGM released ‘Soviet Jazz Themes’ LP.
Self-taught pianist Alan Clare was a familiar face on the London nightclub scene in the ‘50’s. He fronted a trio at the West End nightspot The Star Club with Lennie Bush on bass and Tony Kinsey on drums. Parlophone released ‘Screwball’ as a single in September ’62. He later worked with comedian Spike Milligan on his TV series.

Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson

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Something Quieter: 1962 – The British Perspective by Simon Spillett

As for our own jazzmen – stick to listening in the clubs. They are twice themselves there.
Readers letter to Melody Maker, October 6th 1963

It was an affront! Nothing less than an insult! An unnecessary and totally incongruous modernistic excrescence arbitrarily grafted onto what was one of the nations favourite radio programmes. How dare the BBC tinker with this hallowed ground, trying to tart it up to make it more in keeping with contemporary tastes. If the change to the programme title were not bad enough, then what was this?! – a new signature tune, all garish jazzy harmonies and such. Whatever next?!

Outraged of Tunbridge Wells wasn't merely upset, he was incandescent!

So went public the reaction to the BBC's re-branding of Mrs Dale's Diary as The Dales in February 1962. The shows new theme music – an offending burst of modern big band jazz - had been written by none other than John Dankworth, then riding high on the recent success of African Waltz, the chart-friendliness of which had thrust him – always one of the more palatable UK modernists – further towards the realms of the establishment. Indeed, profiled in Melody Maker the same month as The Dales first aired, it was clear that at least for Dankworth and his wife, vocalist Cleo Laine, modern jazz was now providing a living far removed from the starving-in-a-garret clichés normally pedalled by the press. “The couple live in Woburn Sands, Bedfordshire” the paper reported, “and run two cars – an A40 and a Zephyr...”

Although the BBC were to junk his new theme to The Dales within a matter of months, following an avalanche of letters requesting “something quieter”, Dankworth's radio commission was the latest sign that modern jazz in Britain was at last finding its feet. Those same feet were now also gaining ground across the Atlantic. A Melody Maker headline at the beginning of the year shouted America is Booking British, detailing how the Anglo-US exchange deal begun the previous autumn was now gearing up to return Tubby Hayes to New York, soon the be followed by Ronnie Scott, Jimmy Deuchar and Ronnie Ross. Barely a few months before, all this would have seemed impossible. And it wasn't only the British who'd welcomed the trade-off. Even America's jazz bible DownBeat noted the wisdom of the exchange; “If England'll accept, I'm all for sending Noel Coward back and taking Tubby Hayes,” wrote one of its columnists. “Come to think of it, I'm all for sending Noel Coward back whether they give us Tubby or not.”

But for the Englishmen back home in London it was to be an all too brief moment in the noon-day sun. In May 1962, just five months after it had proudly unveiled Dankworth's new Dales-theme, the BBC summarily banned what it termed “uninhibited modern jazz” from its Light Programme scheduling, partly a reflection on the audience figures the network had accrued when latterly presenting traditional jazz bands, partly out of a fear that modernism was a pernicious force undermining the corporations strict, Reithian edicts. “I'm not asking Tubby Hayes to make a commercial sound like Victor Sylvester,” said producer Terry Henebery, as if in mitigation, “but there are limits.”
The almighty row that exploded in the pages of the jazz press following the ban – in which Dankworth himself compared the BBC's policy to apartheid – was also accompanied by an on-going one about how these same modernists presented themselves in public. The argument was an old one, namely that Britain's modern jazz musicians appeared to believe the world owed them a living.
“Whose fault if no-one wants modern jazz?”, asked one Melody Maker piece, laying the blame squarely at the feet of the players themselves. Sam Kruger, boss of The Flamingo had had enough of the studied indifference displayed by many of those he employed, railing against the way “[they] dress in a slovenly way, smoke on stage and play endless choruses”. The musicians tried to fight back. “We must present ourselves properly and have more confidence,” remarked the Jamaican altoist Harold McNair, as if waking to smell the coffee. “It doesn't mean lowering standards – just more communication.” Even those who might not otherwise have appeared to give a damn about Brit-Bop waded in, with one, Trad demigod Acker Bilk, providing a characteristically pithy piece of advice. “If British modernists saw [Gerry] Mulligan,” wrote Bilk after a trip to New York, “they would understand that modern jazz is as much a part of show-business as trad or pop.”

Trad and pop, however, weren't getting the brush off from the record industry. The top-selling UK jazz album of 1962 – itself an almost totemic representation of the entire trad movement - was The Best of Barber and Bilk. British modern jazz LPs on the other hand continued to be rare as hens' teeth. For example, that year, Ember released just two new modern albums by Tony's Kinsey and Crombie, and while Fontana continued its valuable patronage of Tubby Hayes for many other local jazzmen the story continued to be one of A&R neglect. Nothing was clear cut, though. Indeed, looking at recording activity covering the three strands comprising the fabric of modernism at this juncture – cool, bop and the blues-driven end of mainstream – there is as much contradiction as conformity. Again, some thought the music at fault, others the musicians. One unidentified record producer told Bob Dawbarn that he was now loathe to book “a modern jazz group three months ahead [as] I know I will see and entirely different band of musicians [on the session] – if the group still exists at all.” Another mover and shaker, Pete Burman, mastermind of the Jazz Tete a Tete concert packages believed too much emphasis had been placed on chasing the cutting edge of Hard Bop. “I wonder if this intimate, rather formal sort of jazz” he wrote of the music he presented – played by the likes of Johnny Scott and Pat Smythe - “isn't perhaps the kind British musicians are best at.” He had a point; or maybe he didn't. When Philips' Johnny Franz signed saxophonist Tony Coe's Quintet – a group able to straddle several stylistic camps - to a one-shot LP deal in summer 1962, Coe found no such reservations about what might sell, with his producer actively encouraging him to cover the gamut. “[He] was wonderfully sympathetic,” he said of Franz in a Melody Maker interview. “Musically he gave us our heads [and accordingly] most of what was used were first takes.”

Coe's relaxed experience in the studio was an unusual one for a British modernist, but with a repertoire incorporating Cannonball Adderley, Kenny Burrell and Sonny Rollins, his band was playing music typifying the definite shift towards harder, earthier playing that was now the trend in London's jazz club's.
However, regardless of how spirited the music in these venues may have been at this, the last point in musical history in which soul remained an adjective rather than a noun, there were those who continued to see it all as a phoney, fashion-fitting pretence. “A British jazzman must make a living, with audiences and colleagues largely conditioned to Transatlantic fashion,” wrote Kitty Grime in January 1962, explaining the dilemma faced by virtually every local modernist. Pianist Eddie Thompson – who, having finally tired of the impediments of the UK jazz circuit, upped sticks permanently to New York around the same time – was even more direct. “You cannot afford to be original here,” he observed wistfully, “I could go no further in Britain.”
Another English jazzman - one making the reverse journey after years in the States -  bassist Peter Ind, also saw things with a refreshing clarity. “They seem to forsake their own originality for an imitation of whichever American jazz star is currently popular,” he said of the colleagues with whom he'd been reunited, “thus, we have many little Miles', Coltrane's and Cannonball's around, all vying for attention.”
Perhaps the most vociferous critic of all was Danny Halperin, Jazz News' resident curmudgeon, who took every opportunity available to swipe the locals. Having dismissed the London club scene in the autumn of 1962 as “a dreary succession of dimly-lit miniature steam baths peopled by drags,”, he then delighted in tearing a strip off of several of the capitals leading lights. “I wouldn't give you a plugged farthing for any of them. Yes, and I mean that tenor man who runs changes till the cows come home. Also I mean that charming bandleader who plays the most wooden alto this side of heaven.”

But, as the year drew to a close, it was to be that same “charming bandleader” who was to prove himself more man of steel than saxophonist of wood. In fact, during the very same week that John F. Kennedy faced down the Soviets, John W. Dankworth stood up against an equally formidable foe – the BBC.
Having relaxed its ban on modern jazz somewhat during the late summer months, the corporation had engaged Dankworth's band to appear on its Jazz Club programme on October 11th. During rehearsal, one of the bandleaders' pieces – Freeway, a quintet feature for Kenny Wheeler – had been vetoed by producer Terry Henebery as “too advanced for Jazz Club”. Come the broadcast, Dankworth was asked to restore the piece to the shows playlist, which he flatly refused to to – live on air – resulting in the programme under-running and a flustered response from compère Alan Dell. Was it a protest at the stylistic vacillations of the corporation? -  a held-over response to their earlier outright ban on modern jazz? - or even a fit of pique over them scrapping his theme for The Dales?
The answer was simple: Dankworth was standing up not just for his music, but for himself, showing the genuine grit which British jazz was so often said to lack. “If I am well-known for anything,” he had written earlier in 1962, “it is certainly not for obeying rules.” It was clearly a watershed moment, a very public display of the “more confidence” Harold McNair had thought was woefully absent in many local jazzmen. Indeed, at the end of the year – twelve months that had mixed controversy, confrontation and consolidation in equal measure – Britain's modernists had come out stronger than ever. Battle-scarred but undimmed, now all they needed was a wider audience. Maybe 1963 would be their year, after all?

Simon Spillett
July 2017

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SOHO SCENE ‘63 LP / CD
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“Rarely has a new year caught the British jazz scene in such as state of flux.” So began an article in Melody Maker on January 5th 1963, outlining what the paper thought might be likely trends within the music over the coming months. The Trad Boom - for so long the mainstream media idea of what British jazz was all about -  it maintained was finally over, while Rhythm and Blues, the new style that had latterly begun to feature in London jazz hot spots like The Flamingo and The Marquee, had yet to truly prove its worth. Elsewhere in the same issue, R&B was the subject of a piece with the provocative strap-line Trend or Tripe, in which figures including Alexis Korner and a nineteen year old called Mick Jagger debated what the music’s likely impact might be in the near future. Having now got its foot firmly in the door of two of the country’s leading jazz clubs, was it possible that with Trad now on the wane, this might be the next real threat for Britain's tight clique of modern jazzmen? Not everyone thought so. To the surprise of some, Pete King, manager of Ronnie Scott's club believed R&B could “definitely assist modern jazz”, adding that when played by jazz musicians the new music “sounds really good.”

King's comments were the latest in a series of indications that, after a decade of cool indifference to public tastes, the capital’s modernists were starting to thaw out. Indeed, as the country froze in the grip of the coldest winter since 1947, there were even signs of them melting. “The modernists are beginning to move backwards towards less-complex, more easily assimilated music”, Melody Maker concluded, a prediction borne out by the launch the following month of The Seven Souls, a co-operative band headed by John Dankworth, which aimed to “please the dancers” with “uncomplicated arrangements and a strong beat.” The band’s début gig was a roaring success, with Melody Maker's Bob Dawbarn postulating that the group might even shake the British record industry out of its almost total indifference to local jazzmen. “If [the producers] had heard [them play] Hoe Down they would have had the contracts out on the stage,” he gushed.
Sadly, the musicians knew just how unlikely this pipe-dream was.

Despite the predictions of writers like Dawbarn and Benny Green (who in an article in Scene magazine in October 1962 had even gone so far to suggest that “the prospects for British modern musicians...so far as recording studios are concerned, are...better than they have been for many years”) things had fallen ominously quiet on the album front. Although Fontana had made some in-roads into recording local modern jazz during the previous two years – signing both Tubby Hayes and Dick Morrissey in 1961 – there was little resulting windfall on other labels. In fact, looking at the number of British modern jazz recordings reviewed in the pages of Melody Maker, Jazz Journal and Jazz News and Review during 1963 reveals the story in stark black and white. MM reviewed a dozen such LPs and EPs, JJ thirteen and JN&R just eight discs, a meagre ratio when set beside the space allotted American albums, and a statistic also somewhat skewed when one remembers that “modern” back in 1963 could still take in certain fringe artists, such as Steve Race. But this wasn't just the old conundrum of local press prejudice – the problem was Britain's modernists simply weren't recording. In fact, in this regard, 1963 was a truly dismal year. Modern jazz recording sessions in London over those twelve months could almost be counted on the fingers of one hand; a couple of Dankworth dates, one by Jamaican guitarist Ernest Ranglin, a session each for Dick Morrissey, Michael Garrick and Joe Harriott, but little else. “The [record] companies have virtually closed their doors to modern jazz,” complained saxophonist Don Rendell in an interview in March, believing “only US records will sell well here.”

Painful as it was for men like Rendell to hear this, the record labels had a point. Some thought money an issue; in October of 1963 Ronnie Scott suggested that British jazz might sell if “available on record at prices lower than those charged for American LPs” a suggestion also made more than once that year in Melody Maker's Mailbag (Scott himself briefly tried his hand at record store management, opening a short-lived shop in Soho's Moor Street in May 1963). But this had already been done, disastrously as it turned out, by the SAGA Company back in the late 1950s. A cut in record prices from all the major UK labels - following Purchase Tax relief in January 1963 -  hadn't helped much either.  No, what was needed was an ingenious way to drip feed the work of London's modernists to the record buying public; in other words – the jazz single.

The success of the 45rpm of Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd's Desafinado the previous year (lifted from the Grammy-nominated album Jazz Samba) was all the argument needed to prove that just occasionally modern jazz could find favour with popular taste. And although bossa-nova's insinuating mood of gentle romance hadn't moved everyone who heard it (Jazz News’ critic Patrick James had dismissed it as “a curious Latin-American scrubbing sound”) nobody could deny its commercial potential. For a jazz recording, however diluted, to reach the Top Twenty was nothing short of a minor miracle. Surely Britain’s jazzmen could cash-in too?

And so they did – or rather they tried to, with the new Brazilian rhythm inspiring a small wave of singles by British artists over the winter of 1962/63 – Shake Keane, Vic Lewis, Elaine Delmar, Johnny Scott – each hoping that a little of the Getz magic might rub off. A few of the locals even went for the expedient option of refitting existing material to meet the new groove, like Bill Le Sage, whose composition Autumn in Cuba dated back to the late 1950s but whose title  – post-October 1962 - now had a delicious irony to it. In spite of their good intentions, none of these discs really hit the spot, with Melody Maker's review of one – Vic Ash's Banco – more or less encapsulating the fate of them all: “haunting on repeated spins but we can't see it scoring highly.”

But bossa wasn't the whole story. Other influences were at play too, among the most pervasive that of soul-jazz, a music whose imprint could be felt in the work of several of the newer London jazz groups of the day, such as the John Burch Octet, one of whose members – Graham Bond – had done the impossible, signing a five year contract to EMI that spring. Bond had gone the whole hog, of course, abandoning his alto saxophone – and eventually jazz altogether – in favour of an earthy, R&B-driven mix of Hammond organ and vocals. This new “back to the roots” angle had also thrown a lifeline to those associated with older styles of jazz; Humphrey Lyttelton was now playing things like One Mint Julep alongside his otherwise solid diet of mainstream, while vocalist Beryl Bryden weighed into the singles market with a surprisingly effective version of Bobby Timmons' Blue Note anthem Moanin'. Normally all washboard and Trad, Bryden re-emerged like a female Ray Charles.

Crass commercialism was still an ever present trap though, with some of the years British jazz output hanging unashamedly from the coat tails of others; Dave Lee's Five To Four On openly aped Dave Brubeck, and the likes of Laurie Johnson (There's A Plot Afoot) and Ken Jones (Dodgy Waltz) proffered a bastardised reflection of the latest jazz fashions more suited to Come Dancing than the floor of The Flamingo. The well-tried conceit of co-opting the songs of a Broadway show remained popular too, with Tony Kinsey's How To Succeed In Business Without Really Trying notable if only for the absolute mauling the group received when the album was reviewed in Jazz Journal, a critique describing the band as “highly proficient dance band musicians playing at jazz” whose performance was “unforgivably trivial.”

However, there remained one British modernist whose work seemed positively unassailable, and it was he who provided what was perhaps the biggest surprise of 1963. Yes, in the same year when Christine Keeler went to bed with John Profumo, Valentina Tereshkova went into orbit and Ronnie Biggs went to ground, Tubby Hayes went pop. Then the éminence gris of British jazz, Hayes' bid for chart stardom began in February 1963, when the saxophonist’s recording manager at Fontana, Jack Baverstock, bolstered by the recent success of his label's release of Take Five, suggested his recent signing take a crack at recording a single. Hayes agreed, taping four potential items, out of which Baverstock plumped for the highly unusual choice of Sally, former property of none other than Lancashire legend Gracie Fields. Nobody has ever quite been able to fathom what informed this selection; was it some sort of in joke? Had Hayes been given the most unlikely piece Baverstock could think of as a challenge? (“There you go, Tubbs! Try and make jazz out of that!”) Was it a reference to the early sixties' cultural fascination with all things Up North? Was Lancashire being played off against Rio De Janeiro? Whatever the reason, to his credit, Hayes had actually managed to transform this most innocuous of English ditties into a rather neat Horace Silver-like arrangement, but beyond that – and in spite of some canny publicity from Fontana and an in-person airing on ATV's otherwise pop-dominated Discs-a-go-go - the record wasn't a success. “This one doesn't stand an earthly,” said Dusty Springfield when she was played the record in Melody Maker's Blind Date that summer. “It's probably well done but I don't like it. It doesn't get anywhere.”

Indeed, the fate of Sally seemed to speak volumes about what a naïve folly it had been to ever believe British post-bop could score a commercial hit. The message from the pop world was clear: this is our turf, so leave us to it. With the monopolising force of the Beatles about to break through, advice like this was soon to be rendered academic. Nevertheless, one could see some sense behind the efforts of Jack Baverstock and co. It hadn't all been about sales figures, it had been about keeping the music visible, a point driven home by remembering that not only had 1963 been a lean year for British modern jazz records, it had also been a particularly bad time for modernism on the radio too. For much of the year, players like Tubby Hayes had found themselves shut out of the BBC's popular Jazz Club slot, the after effect of a ban on “weird stuff” initiated by the corporation’s Light Programme the previous spring. “Many of them just don't play ball,” said Jazz Club's producer Terry Henebery at the start of the embargo, shaming the hermetic “take it or leave it” attitude with which many of London's modern jazzmen then regarded their art. The irony was laughable; the very things the modernists had so admired in their American role models – lengthy solos, ambitious original material and harmonic complexity – had actually cost them a valuable part of their already shrinking workload.

However, when the ban was finally lifted in the summer of '63, it was clear that something had been learned in the interim, a lesson in part drummed home by the catchy and condensed requirements of the three-minute single. Indeed, it was telling that, on his first appearance on Jazz Club's new Saturday slot that September, John Dankworth had included Hoe Down, the spirited slice of soul-jazz which Bob Dawbarn had predicted would turn heads back at the beginning of the year. There could be no resting on laurels though. “British musicians should try to find something that is individual,” Dankworth remarked in the final weeks of 1963, as if sensing the next great leap forward for UK jazz. “One shouldn't say 'I'm going to make this sound like an American.' To me it should be completely the opposite.” 1963 had been a year of transition then – twelve months in which Britain's modern jazzmen had gone from chasing hits and following fashion to realising their own worth. Where they went next would be quite a story...

Simon Spillett

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SOHO SCENE '64 LP
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January 1964, the first edition of Jazzbeat magazine has hit the shelves. On the cover is jazz band leader Chris Barber next to blues artist Sonny Boy Williamson. Inside the magazine there is an article written by Giorgio Gomelsky entitled ‘Is there a Rhythm & Blues boom?’ A few pages along there is a two page piece on the Rolling Stones. The centre pages of the magazine are dedicated to music predictions for the coming year, with Ted Heath declaring ‘I predict the return of the unsurpassable, swinging excitement of big band jazz.’ Kenny Ball was optimistic too: ‘I predict that a few trad bands will be a little better in 1964 and the scene will be fairly healthy provided jazz clubs stay open even at the expense of some promoters losing money. I think that most rhythm and blues groups in this country are pretty appalling and have nothing to do with jazz.’ The Beatles, who were the top pop group in Britain at the time, also gave their prediction: ‘We would like to think that rhythm and blues will become popular.’
The Beatles were right. More right than they could ever have hoped. Whilst the Marquee in Oxford Street still featured the likes of the Joe Harriott Quintet and the Ronnie Ross Quartet (featuring Bill Le Sage on vibes and piano) on Saturday nights, the weekdays featured mostly R&B acts such as The Yardbirds, Manfred Mann and Long John Baldry. Tuesday evenings were given over to Siggy Jackson’s newly acquired Blue Beat nights, with Duke Vin’s Sound System. Jazz was being pushed out of the West End and was more easily found at venues such as the Leather Bottle in Edgware, the Bulls Head in Barnes or the Six Bells in Chelsea.
The Marquee’s days were numbered too. The Academy Cinema had notified the owner, Harold Pendleton, of their intentions to build a second screening room in the basement, where The Marquee was situated. On Sunday March 5th 1964 the final evening took place and featured jazz saxophonist Stan Getz. Also sharing the bill that night were The Yardbirds, and this would show the direction that the club intended to follow when it moved to its new premises in Wardour Street a week later.
Seeing good live jazz in 1964 seemed to get harder. The BBC did give some deserved coverage with their television programme ‘Jazz 625’ which started in April that year, spotlighting some of our home grown artists. Early shows featured the Tubby Hayes Quintet with singer Betty Bennett, the Johnny Ross Quartet, Johnny Dankworth and Tony Kinsey. The show was not just restricted to British talent though; the programme delivered performances by American artists such as Dave Brubeck, Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet and Thelonious Monk.
In June 1964, Bill Le Sage and his group Directions in Jazz appeared on the programme. Introduced by presenter Steve Race, the atmospheric ‘Night Talk’ was aired, featuring four cello players to give a huge sound. Bob Burns gives a great performance on alto sax, then the slick-looking Ronnie Ross joins in on baritone sax before Johnny Scott blows up a storm on flute. By now Le Sage had switched from piano to vibes and the whole thing was swinging; ‘Jazz 625’ captured the vibe so clearly.
Tubby Hayes though was destined for the silver screen, and in 1964 landed himself a part in a major film, ‘Dr Terror’s House of Horrors’. This was his second cinema screen outing after having appeared in ‘All Night Long’ in 1962. Under the guise of ‘Biff Bailey and his Band’, Tubby’s Quintet played the backing band to trumpeter Roy Castle (although in reality Castle mimed to Shake Keane from Joe Harriott’s band). The song in the film, ‘Voodoo’, showed exactly how good the band were to an untapped audience. Many fans already knew, and had heard fantastic uptempo tunes such as ‘ The Killers of W1’ around the Soho club circuit.
The second side of this vinyl you are holding is a great showcase of the American side of things. It kicks off with Les McCann’s ‘El Soulo’ from his Pacific Jazz LP ‘Spanish Onions’ and an EP of the same name. Ahmad Jamal’s ‘Feeling Good’ appeared on an Argo 7” and also the LP ‘The Roar of the Greasepaint the Smell of the Crowd’. ‘Rattlesnake’ by Jamaican pianist Monty Alexander was on the back of the ‘Spunky’ single.’  Bobby Sharp was the original composer of ‘Unchain my Heart’ that was covered by Ray Charles and Trini Lopez amongst others. ‘Blues For Mister Charlie’ got a UK release on the Stateside label. ‘Broadway Caravan’ by saxophonist Clifford Scott came out on the prestigious King label. Clifford had pedigree and had played with Jay McShann, Amos Milburn, Lionel Hampton and Ray Charles. He is probably known best for his solo on Bill Doggett’s ‘Honky Tonk Pt 2’. ‘Little Susie’ by Ray Bryant may have been re-recorded in New York in 1964 but it was far from a new record. He’d recorded the song as early as March 1959, and would later add parts 2, 3 and 4 plus a song called ‘Big Susie’. Willis ‘Gatur’ Jackson had built up a name working alongside Jack McDuff and released a steady stream of albums and singles on Prestige. In Jamaica, Prince Buster cited Jackson's song ‘Later for the Gator’ as one of the first ska songs. ‘Nightingale’ first appeared as a B-side to ‘People’. The last offering also a single on Prestige, ‘Champin’, by Chicago saxophonist Eddie Chamblee really gets the whole place rocking.
Apart from in the clubs, the records on the second side of the album would have been almost impossible for people over here to have heard at the time. Importing records wasn’t easy back then. These days we can be thankful that hearing and getting these records in one form or another is much easier. Then again, what would you give for one night to venture back to the hot sweaty nights of Soho 1964 to dance to these records in some dimly lit basement club or maybe catch Tubby or Bill Le Sage playing live? Sadly, that isn’t going to happen, so the next best thing is to pour yourself a drink and put this record on LOUD!

Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson

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SOHO SCENE '65 LP
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November 1965: If you survey how the Mod scene looks by ’65, it seems a million miles from how it all started back in ’57. Back then it was a few of us distancing ourselves from those dinosaur Teds with their bootlace ties and multi-coloured suits. What a gas! Back then, for us it was those lovely bumfreezer jackets made by Henry London at the Junction. All the shoemakers seemed to be Greek, ours was in Camden Town. Short points and long points were in vogue, but how we looked down at anybody wearing those ridiculous long points.
Today there are all these ‘Mods’ hanging around Carnaby Street in their bullseye T-shirts, chevrons, stripes and even medals on their chest. It’s a different world.  Being a bit older, our crowd stay away from that whole Disneyland element. We wouldn’t wear that tat for a firing squad.
Subtlety is the key, and having money helps. At the moment it’s a six-button, double-breasted, wool flannel jacket with wider lapels and naval buttons, courtesy of The Sportique Shop in Soho. Then there’s trousers from Cecil Gee’s 78 shop, ‘Europa’ shoes from Bally and ‘Mustang’ American import sunglasses from Austin Reed. On the third floor at Reed they’ve just opened the Cue boutique and I’m currently in love with a shirt-shouldered lamb’s wool jacket with clover- leaf lapels.
It’s now deciding where to go. The Scene club is now full of kids with that beach fighting mentality. The Flamingo is still good but has pretty much given up on jazz. Nik Cohn calls it ‘in many ways, by far the best of the central London clubs. The music is good, the audience adult and unblase’ and there’s a cheerful tattiness about the place that stops just short of chaos.’ Ain’t that the truth!
The Marquee earlier this year was very strange; it really didn’t know what direction to go in. Thursday residencies were given over to Long John Baldry and the Hoochie Coochie Men and the Alex Harvey Soul Band. It had a Friday night residency of Gary Farr & The T Bones, who although more of a conventional R&B band, could knock out a storming version of Mongo Santamaria’s ‘Get The Money’. Saturday evening slots were handed over to two live jazz acts that might include the Tony Kinsey Quintet, Ronnie Ross Quartet, Dick Morrissey Quartet or Johnny Scott Quintet. Sundays would also be jazz with acts such as Ted Heath. Monday evenings were often Manfred Mann, who flitted between R&B and jazz. Then Tuesdays were definitely for the new breed; The Who had their residency under the banner ‘The Who London 1965’ as if they were the cutting-edge prophets of Mod style. These nights would see a legion of devotees to the newer style of aggression and loud noise. Wednesdays were a lot quieter and often folk-orientated with The Settlers being the regular band, but on one occasion we went, The Chris Barber Band played as well. Strange days indeed.
It really seems to be a transitional period. R&B has taken over most West End clubs, so these days to hear Jazz, we travel. You walk straight out of Kentish Town tube and you head to the Tally Ho! at the junction of Fortess Road and Highgate Road. Even though it’s a bit spit and sawdust with mental 1920’s hunting décor, Jim and Lilian always give us a warm welcome. Maybe a tube via Hammersmith and hop on a number 9 bus, and you arrive at the Bulls Head, Barnes Bridge. Unlike the Tally Ho!, it tries for a more modern feel with the walls displaying contemporary art from the students of nearby Hammersmith Art School. On more expensive evenings recently, the landlord, Albert, has managed to put on Mark Murphy and Jimmy Witherspoon, but for the usual price of 3/6d you still get the best of British with Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrissey or Ronnie Ross with Bill Le Sage. Best recent gig here though was the Roy Budd Trio. The band rocked but as usual there was the ‘no dancing’ policy.
The West End hasn’t totally surrendered to the R&B crowd.  On a Saturday night you can still slip in to the basement at the Phoenix in Cavendish Square and catch Don Rendell and Ian Carr blowin’ up a storm. Then on to Ronnie Scott’s in Gerrard Street around 11 to see the band warming up, and if you’re lucky it’s Harold McNair or Tubby. At fifteen shillings entry and beer at two shillings and sixpence, it ain’t cheap, but it’s still the best jazz club in the world. In fact the club is just about to move to bigger premises in Frith Street with the promise of a month long residency of Yusef Lateef with Ernestine Anderson.
We’re still buying the platters that matter of course. 77 Charing Cross Road and you’re hitting Doug Dobell’s Jazz Record shop. Two tiny rooms filled to the brim with 20,000 new and second-hand jazz, folk and blues discs that you can listen to in one of their private listening booths. Then of course you head down the staircase in to the bargain basement. John Kendall runs it and is often holding court, talking jazz - what’s hot and what’s not - to like-minded folk in search of that elusive, perfect tune. Old boys, all teary eyed, pawing through old 78s of long lost trad bands on even obscurer labels. Of course, that’s not for you.
You hit the sunlight of central London once more, only this time you have some real beauties tucked under your arm: a copy of the 45 ‘Boiler Maker Jim’ by Terrell Prude on the Tangerine label because the flip ‘Funky Soul’ knocked you out, as well as the ‘Soul Message’ LP by Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes. A smile comes across your face. It’s only a couple of weeks until the Dizzy Gillespie Quintet and the Jimmy Smith Trio appear at Fairfield Hall in Croydon.
This is the life. Who says jazz is dead?

Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson

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SOHO SCENE ’66 LP

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Getting the platters that matter. It’s what it’s always been about. Straight in to Transatlantic Records Limited in Marylebone Lane W.1. Eyes scanning some great records such as ‘Kirk’s Work’ by Roland Kirk, and ‘Hip Soul’ by Shirley Scott. I pull out a copy of ‘Presenting The Harry South Big Band’ and check out the dream line up of British artists involved. Look at the sax section alone: Roy Willox, Alan Branscombe, Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrisey and Pete King. ‘Six To One Bar’ is a blues in 6/4 time, and it hits the spot. Of course I already know of Harry South, having seen him with his orchester earlier in the year at the Marquee, playing alongside some of the musicians already mentioned plus Georgie Fame on vocals. I love the British sound and seeing the performers live, but it’s the American sounds I dig on record.
I pull out a copy of ‘A Bag Full Of Soul’ by Hammond maestro Jimmy McGriff containing ‘Hallelujah’ that I’d heard played at The Flamingo one night.  I check the singles out, and find a copy of ‘You’ve Got Your Troubles’ on Prestige by Freddie Roach. It has a great flip side called ‘One Track Mind’ with a lovely Hammond sound bubbling underneath until it finally breaks free. I start looking for anything by Milt Jackson, mainly because since hearing Tubby Hayes on the vibes a few years back, I totally dig that sound.
Got the tunes, so now start thinking about threads as usual.
Oh man, if we are talking clothes, then the changes this year are the most! We’ve had the fads for sure. There’s been the gangster look, the Duke of Windsor look, the Fred Astaire look and even the neo Romantic Beardsley look.
The shop I use most is probably the Ivy Shop at 10 Hill Rise in Richmond Surrey. Dear old John Simon sorting me out the latest and finest in American clobber. Obviously I still use all my old haunts to put my look together, but new places such as the Take Six boutique in Wardour Street are draining my wallet too!
My look at the moment is an American import Ivy-style blazer in an antique gold colour, matched with a maize coloured Trural ‘Career Club’ button-down shirt in Oxford cloth. The accessories are Washington Tremlett’s hand-made sari silk ties with matching handkerchief. Trousers from Jaeger in Regent Street, Bally auto shoes from New Bond Street and topped off with a Junex short fly-fronted raincoat with heavy stitching and flap over the breast pocket from Cecil Gee’s.
Bang! That’s THE look baby!
Casual shirts are also in favour, so it has to be Smedley Ban Lon tops in Bri-Nylon, needlecord Sabre shirts or Sportsman sweater shirts by Wolsey. If you want formal, it’s probably a lightweight mohair suit from the new branch of Cecil Gee’s in the Kings Road.
The places to show off the threads throughout the week will depend on who’s playing where. Mondays it’s often The Bulls Head in Barnes or The Ship in Long Lane S.E.1, Tuesdays probably Ronnie Scotts, Wednesdays it’s The Phoenix in Cavendish Square, Thursdays maybe The Hopbine at North Wembley Station, Fridays could be at The Palm Court Hotel in Richmond or The Croydon Jazz Club based at the Star Hotel in Croydon, Saturday night is either The Flamingo in Wardour Street or Ronnie’s, and Sundays it’s The Marquee Club in Wardour Street or The Thames Hotel, Hampton Court.
It’s all about getting the nights right. You usually avoid the 100 Club as it’s too trad, but every so often they may put on somebody like Art Themen, so you pop down there, but if you have the night wrong,  you are bombarded with R&B styles such as Steve Darbyshire and The Yum Yums or maybe The Artwoods. Even our old haunt, Klooks Kleek in West Hampstead, has given itself over totally to these kind of acts. No jazz on the menu there these days!
The best place in town, is in fact the newest place in town. It is of course, dear old Ronnie Scott’s, who has moved to new larger premises at 47 Frith Street, although it still only holds 160 people. Now it’s open from 8.30 till 3am, with the good news being that the bar is open until it closes and not 1am like the old gaff. Best gig for me personally was the fantastic Mark Murphy with Alan Haven on organ duties and Tony Crombie on drums. That was some gig!  But that’s the great thing about Ronnie’s, the fact that although some may say it’s expensive, in reality they always provide a great vocalist backed by a great band. For instance, earlier this year Ernestine Anderson backed by Yusef Lateef, or Sonny Rollins on another occasion. Its lack of dancefloor guarantees you have to watch and listen to the band.
Last week we were entranced by none other than Roland Kirk. He is a one man show, with tenor sax, flute and baritone sax. He had one of the best house rhythm sections available at Scott’s with my favourite drummer, Phil Seamen. ‘Three For The Festival’ sounded great as did his two new numbers ‘Boss of Nova’ and ‘Here Comes The Whistle Man’. On the latter Kirk handed out whistles to us in the audience to join in, resulting in a cacophony of sound.
It isn’t hugely expensive. Coke at 1s. 6d and bottled beer at 2s. 6d, plus if you’re hungry there’s twenty main dishes on the menu, including fillet steak, spaghetti and West Indian curry.
The Scott club was badly damaged by fire in September but manager Peter King and staff had it back in business in a few days. Still, it gave Ronnie some new comic material for banter between songs. He is the master of the one liner. “That’s the end of the music, ladies and gentlemen. But you don’t have to go home yet. As long as you get out of here.”

The year of Jazz ’66 belongs to Ronnie Scott’s smoke-stained club!

Paul 'Smiler' Anderson

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