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! 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.
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. The Marquee could have The Settlers along with The Chris Barber Soul Band. Strange days indeed. 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.
We’re still buying the platters that matter of course. You hit the sunlight of central London with some real beauties tucked under your arm like a copy of ‘Boiler Maker Jim’ by Terrell Prude on the Tangerine label because the flip ‘Funky Soul’ knocked you out. 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?