Jazz CDs

    1. Blues For Sue (Unknown)
    2. Regrets (Pat Smythe)
    3. Down On The Nile (Unknown)
    4. Silver Serenade (Silver)
    5. Step Lightly (Golson)
    6. Blues For Three (Unknown)
    IT’S JAZZ b/c February 22, 1965, recorded February 4, - Colin Purbrook for Michael Garrick
    1. Blues Row (Howard Riley)
    2. Rendell Introduction 1
    3. Spooks (Rendell/Carr/Green)
    4. Rendell Introduction 2
    5. Hot Rod (Carr/Garrick)
    6. Rendell Introduction 3
    7. Jubal (Rendell)
    8. Rendell Introduction 4
    9. Dusk Fire (Garrick)
    JAZZ CLUB (Jazz Scene) b/c April 3, 1966, recorded March 29, - Jeff Clyne for Dave Green
    1. Birdwalk (Rendell)
    2. Lyttelton Introduction 1
    3. Webster's Mood (Garrick)
    4. Lyttelton Introduction 2
    5. Tootin' and Flutin' (Rendell)
    6. Lyttelton Introduction 3
    7. The Snows Of Yesteryear (Carr)
    8. Torrent (Garrick)
    JAZZ CLUB (Jazz Scene) b/c July 10, 1966 recorded July 4, 1966
    1. Sweet and Lovely
    2. Sweet Lotus Blossom
    3. You Are My Heart’s Delight
    Ronnie Scott (ts); Stan Tracey (p); Rick Laird (b); Ronnie Stephenson (d) BBC Jazz Club, London, February 8th 1965  
    1. Close Your Eyes
    2. Waltz for Debby*
    3. Music That Makes Me Dance/When She Makes Music*
    4. The Night Is Young
    5. I’ll Be Seeing You
    Ronnie Scott (ts); Stan Tracey (p); Freddy Logan (b); Bill Eyden (d); Mark Murphy (vocal*) BBC Jazz Club, London, April 17th 1966  
    1. Close Your Eyes
    2. What’s New?
    3. Avalon
    Ronnie Scott (ts); Stan Tracey (p); Malcolm Cecil (b); Jackie Dougan (d) Free Trade Hall, Manchester, June 6th 1964  
  • ***RELEASE DATE AUGUST 10th*** 1966-1967. Two years of seismic change in UK history, a time of World Cup wins, of psychedelic 'happenings' and Sgt. Pepper, when London's streets rocked to the sight of mini skirts and Mini Coopers and home-made British pop culture - drawing in everything from satire to sitars - really did look likely to change the world. British jazz was growing too. Having defined itself through the razor-sharp cool of 'modernism', by '66 it was ready to loosen its collar and let its hair down, feeding directly from an anarchic new breed of young musicians able to move between styles as never before, allowing everything from the avant-garde to R&B colour their work. London was now swinging in every direction, like some vast kaleidoscopic merry-go-round. This, then, is the story of those British jazzmen who came along for the ride, some clinging on with white-knuckles and gritted teeth, others enjoying the trip of their lives. Booklet notes by Simon Spillett RANDB062
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    Johnny Burch is probably best-known for songs he wrote in 1963 for Georgie Fame such as “In The Meantime” and “Preach and Teach”. This was at a time when the boundaries between modern jazz, rhythm and blues and beat music were being broken down at such places as the Flamingo and the Marquee. For a few months, Burch was leader of a group that included several musicians who found fame in the blues and rock scene of the late 60s such as Graham Bond, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. This CD features the earliest-known recordings of Bruce and Baker together in a live broadcast for the BBC from March 1963. It also contains five tracks from a session that Burch’s 1965 line-up recorded for BBC’s Band Beat. Burch was never a major figure in the London jazz scene but this collection highlights his group’s unique role which acted as a bridge between modern jazz and the nascent British R&B movement. RANDB055
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    THE HARRY SOUTH BIG BAND WITH GEORGIE FAME AND THE DICK MORRISSEY QUARTET When the BBC invited pianist/composer and arranger Harry South to front his own big band for a special edition of its flagship radio programme Jazz Club in 1960, few could have predicted the broadcast’s fall-out. Although the Beeb would offer a similar helping hand to other British jazzmen in the decade ahead – making big band leaders of a range of leading figures from Humphrey Lyttelton to Stan Tracey – none of these other bands evolved quite like South's. Beginning as a showcase for his distinctive, often darkly dramatic, original material, and operating as a 'jobs for the boys' forum for those British modernists he felt closest too (among them Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrissey and Joe Harriott) the sheer clout of South's star-packed aggregation ensured it soon attracted interest from outside the normally closed borders of jazz purism. Indeed, when Yeh Yeh hitmaker Georgie Fame decided to pursue his wider musical ambitions, he chose South and his big band as his collaborators, creating the album Sound Venture, a cross-over classic that has become one of the iconic LPs of the decade. Assembled from South's own tape archive, and featuring a wealth of PREVIOUSLY UNISSUED material, including NINE killer Georgie Fame tracks, Further South is both a prequel and sequel to that landmark achievement, a four-disc document of one of the most vibrant times in British music, a souvenir from the days when Swinging London created its very own sound from a heady amalgam of small band Hard Bop, Big Band Swing, R&B and Soul. Containing no fewer than ten complete radio sessions by South's big band (and two by the Dick Morrissey Quartet) and packaged with rare period photographs and an extensive booklet essay by award-winning saxophonist and author Simon Spillett, this set is a must-have for all fans of British modernism. RANDB051
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    British record buyers had to wait until 1960 to hear the great American albums of 1959; John Coltrane's debut LP, Charles Mingus's Ah Um and Horace Silver’s Blowin' the Blues Away. On the home front, in December 1959, Tubby Hayes was already absorbing influences from these albums while cutting his latest LP, Tubby's Groove. This 4CD set pits Britain’s finest jazz tracks of 1959-1960 up against the very best music coming out of the States at the same time, showing that British modernists could at last stand tall among jazz music’s giants. Compilation Nick Duckett Sleeve Notes Paul ‘Smiler’ Anderson RANDB049
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    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’. RANDB040
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    THAT WAS THE YEAR THAT WAS: 1963 – The British Perspective by Simon Spillett “There is a new look to British jazz these days. The soloists are still going their own way but against a more saleable framework.” Melody Maker, February 2nd 1963 “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... RANDB043
  • 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 nation’s 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 show’s 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 to 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 corporation’s 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 an 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 clubs. 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’s, 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 at 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 capital’s 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 bandleader’s 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 show’s playlist, which he flatly refused to do – 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 RANDB035
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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 club’s 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 than 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 Riverside subsidiary Jazzland 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 - also Jazzland - (“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 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 studio’s 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 a 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. RANDB042
  • As the UK fired up to the 'White Heat' predicted by its new Prime Minister Harold Wilson, the nation's jazz scene was already aglow with talent, both established and up and coming. Indeed, London was a boiling crucible of jazz invention, mixing R&B, Hard Bop and a pinch of the Avant-Garde to forge its very own alchemic brand of jazz. Soho Scene '64/'65 captures this moment perfectly, a time when The Beatles and Bond were both new and fresh and when Brit-Jazz sounded as colourful and swinging as anything sashaying down Carnaby Street. Booklet notes by Simon Spillett RANDB058