Sunday, May 04, 2008

The Cheque Presentation

Geoff’s Jazz Nag Sunday 4th May

As promised, a more filled out Nag this week.

First up, don’t forget that on Tuesday 6th you have a real decision to make. Do you go and listen to Scott Hamilton and Lynn Garner at High Wycombe Town Hall, or do you go to The Bourne End Community Centre for one of Mo’s jazz nights? This week they have that British (Welsh?) saxophonist Al Nicholls with his trio. It’s a difficult call, but someone’s got to make it!!

On Thursday 8th at Hedsor, we have, almost guesting there, Clive Burton joining his group this week. Clive has had a number of well rewarded gigs just lately so that he has had to relinquish his place at Hedsor (well, he does have to eat) and he has had his placed filled by a number of star players, but his week, we welcome him back. So come and listen to some of the new arrangements that Mike Wills has for the band. Usual start time 8.30 pm. Usual costs too. We are so cheap!!

Harking back to last Thursday I finally presented the cheque for £1000, the profit from our Dixieland to Swing Concert, to John Pell from Cancer Research UK. The photo is on the Blog (as is any other artwork referenced here).

You may recall that our guest last week was saxophonist Duncan Lamont. Well, I’ve nicked a bit from his website about him:-

Duncan's CV

Born in Greenock, Scotland. Played trumpet with Kenny Graham’s Afro Cubists changed to tenor sax became a jazz studio player. Played with almost everyone in show business. He has worked (often as a featured soloist) with Henry Mancini, Robert Farnon, Benny Goodman, Gil Evans, Bill Holman, Nelson Riddle, Peggy Lee, Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Bing Crosby, Count Basie, Fred Astaire, Benny Carter, Mel Torme, Paul McCartney…the list is endless.

Well, he has now played twice with our local team, and really does want to be invited back again!

His approach this time was pretty avant guard, but everyone playing with him showed that they could keep up with his changes in key, time, and structure. For some in the audience maybe not enough of the melody came through, but for the majority it was a riveting experience. And yes, it is him in the photo holding me up! The other gent is John Pell, collecting the cheque on behalf of CRUK.


I didn’t really do justice to the passing of Humph last week. Much has been said about him this last week on the radio and some on TV. However, for most of my lifetime he has been the guiding figure, either there in front of me, playing the trumpet (as I once tried to do) at the 100 Club, or on LP (I spent my first weeks wages as an apprentice on “Delving Back with Humph”), or for over 40 years as an educator through his Monday Evening “Best of Jazz” programmes. The extension to my love of jazz, and an understanding of who played what, came largely through his Monday program. It was also a place of solace at the start of another week in engineering!

Over the years I have collected a large number of Humph CD’s. He “introduced” me to Bruce Turner, and Tony Coe, both very influential British saxophonists, both with distinctive sounds of there own.

I had the please of meeting him, and members of the orchestra, many times over my lifetime. I’ll never forget the first time I heard the band live, it was at The Pavilion on Southsea pier. I must have been all of 14 at the time. I managed to get Bruce Turner and Wally Fawkes to autograph the program after the event. An evening of sheer magic and wonder. The memory lingers on, I’m not so sure of that program though!

In later years I met both Humph and Bruce at Brecon. Sadly they are now both gone.

Tony Coe, happily still with us, I remember seeing and talking with at Maidenheads Bell pub. It was the first jazz event I went to having moved out of London to Cookham. And there at The Bell, were Tony Coe and John Pickard, another one time trombone player with Humph’s band. The Quartet they were playing with was led by Vibs player Lennie Best. Lennie’s son Tim sometimes plays piano for us at Hedsor, it’s a circular world!

So, what would I recommend anyone listening to now on CD from my Humph collection?

Without doubt, one I would take to my Desert Island is “Humph at The Conway”. I have 2 LP’s of this ( I wore one out )and the CD too. Recorded live at The Conway Hall in September 1954 it contains “the” Island track, “St James Infirmary Blues” A feature for Bruce Turner. On the Calligraph Records reissue The Conway Hall Concert is coupled with another famous concert. In November 1954 he played a concert at The Royal Festival Hall (his band played the first jazz concert there in1951 too), which was recorded, and I have the 10”LP of that one too. I can even remember reading the newspaper review of it as well. It was significant in being one of the first outings with that trombone player, John Pickard. The track to listen to on that is “Basin Street Blues”. The CD number is CLG CD 038

Humph returned to the Conway Hall in 1960 with a different more modern sound. It was to my mind his best band. John Pickard, and Tony Coe I have already mention, now add in Jimmy Skidmore, Joe Temperley, Ian Armit, Pete Blannin and Eddie Taylor and you have one of the best British bands ever. There are some wonderful arrangements, including “Love For Sale” (last Thursdays finale) and Blue Lou. This one’s on Lake Records LACD202.

Of course so far I haven’t mention his recordings with Buck Clayton, or Buddy Tate, or his later work, that will be another day.

Now, the only way to here Humph again is by buying the records. Catch live jazz whilst you can, because no one lives forever.

Without doubt, we are all going to miss Humph, and I haven’t even mentioned his comedy!

Geoff C