The studio is dark; voices can be heard approaching its main doors. Soon, a flick of a switch brings light, which reveals a white walled room full of musical instruments of every shape and size, glistening under the rays thrust upon them, all fighting for space with a plethora of recording equipment already set up. The voices heard earlier, now file in through the doors.
The room falls silent as a piano lid is lifted to reveal black and white keys that stare back at the man now carefully placing his long fingers upon them.
‘Ok chaps’ he says, ‘shall we give the first number a run through?’
The arranger had arrived, the process had begun…
Harry South may not be a household name in the UK, but among its jazz world of the 50s to the late 60s, it was held in very high esteem. Even when jazz fell into a sharp decline in the UK mainstream in the late 1960s, you couldn’t hold a man like Harry South back. By then, mainly writing for film, theatre and TV, he composed perhaps one of the most iconic television themes of all time – The Sweeney.
This set contains over 60 tracks all written by Harry, the majority of them from the decade 1956-1966 when British jazz was at its peak and ranges through soul jazz, bebop, Latin stylings and funky 60s big band sounds. The Harry South family have kindly allowed us to access their archives and most of the tracks are receiving their first release.
‘Sure, you can learn a lot listening to other people on record’, Tubby Hayes said in 1957, ‘but Harry taught me more than I ever got from records’.