Keep on swingin’

Dear George

I was intending to write earlier in response to your monster blog sent earlier in Sept. but a succession of illnesses to me and Mrs J. plus a long list of appointments with Doctors, Hospitals (plural), clinics etc. – all par for the course at our age anyway – put paid to the idea.

Anyway thanks very much for an entertaining manuscript.

George Shearing. Presuming he is still in the land of the living, I would have thought that in this age of Computer tech. It would be easy to locate him and in fact tell you what he had for breakfast yesterday.

A friend of mine demonstrated to me the wonders of Google. “Gimme a name” he said, “not too common”. So I said “Jimmy McPortland” (Chicago cornetist). A few clicks and on screen came a wonderful rare film in some night club with McPortland playing a great blues with Pee Wee Russell, clarinet, and Willie “The Lion” Smith on piano. Mind boggling.

I still love to hear Shearing’s jazz piano on those Harry Parry parlophones – I have all I think on tape, plus 78 & LP.

He made his name in USA with that Quintet playing a very stylised method that was away from jazz but brought great commercial success. The happy vibraphone player was Marjorie Hyams, who also played with Woody Hermans Large Modern Jazz Orchestra “The Herd”.

Good stuff about the Don Rendell – Ian Carr jazz and following developments, even though it’s not my meat, musically, being a disciple of the Duke Ellington Bible which says It don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that swing. Ie. A good old solid 4/4 or 2 beat thing to it.

I’ve seen reviews of the Jim Godbolt book(?) in “Just Jazz” – an English monthly mag. I receive, and sometimes contribute to. I never met Godbolt but knew of him back in his Royal Navy days when “Melody Maker” reported him finding rare USA 78’s in South Africa, like Ken I did in Calcutta with those 3000 American Boneshakers of the 1920’s that we had to leave behind!

Ken Albos knew him, being a Promster and President of the Nottingham Rhythm Club. At the height of the Trad boom Ken was putting on 3 concerts a week to audiences of 3000, and knew most Bandleaders and Agents well. This as well as being Head of Commercial Vehicle Tyre Sales for Pirelli!

Godbolt seemed to have that wickedly sardonic view of things, I’d like to read the book if it turns up in the library?

My pal Eric Woodward in Oldbury (see him in the IAJRC Directory) did me a tape of the CD “Black British Swing”. Some really rare records, some privately made by such as the late Ken “Snakehips” Johnson, and many more. In that context I have 2 78’s made “live” at the ‘The Jigs Club’, London, by Cyril Blakes Band, all West Indians, with an intro on first side by Harry Parry, the discs on Regal Zorophone (1/3 d in 1941) full of great wartime atmostphere, shuffling feet and hubbub of conversation competing with the music. Of course the wartime troops were more interested in the girls on offer than studying the intricacies of the music.

Then yesterday arrived your copy for me of your correspondence: with Don Rendell.
What a nice letter he wrote, very friendly, gently correcting us on Jehovahs Witnesses. I remember my late friend Ralph Ponting (Professor in Russian & Social Studies at Uni) who had got deeply into researching family history. He said Jehovah’s had files on all of us at HQ with a theory that they could reclaim our souls even after death!!! Best not take that up with Don or we’ll never hear the end of it!

One small correction to your notes – Ken and I never were able to supply the gramophone for the club session, The REME and RC Signals did the honours, plus being bailed out by the YMCA manager at a push. I did buy one and bring back from Cal, but the spring broke. I was able to join the bits together with rivets but it needed the handle turning 2 or 3 times per side so not really suitable for a recital. After moving in to Burma we never had another chance to play our records again, Ken and I would lay them out lovingly just to look at them sometimes!!

I enclose another clip of my memoirs that I sometimes contribute to the magazine of the Military Police, Exeter Branch, through a friend of my daughters, who welcomes odd bits to fill the mag.

What a shock for Wolves last night! 0-3 after a great start, and 2 men crocked. Perhaps the news of Jimmy Murray’s death on the news put the knockers on!

George, in your search for G.Shearing, which I hope is successful, I thought you may like this LP of him in a jazz setting, with the coloured bass player ISRAEL CROSBY – who was on Gene Kripa’s “Blues of Israel” with a group from Benny Goodman’s band, including Benny and Jess Stacy piano, also on the famous Teddy Wilson band record of “Blues In L Sharp Minor” with Roy Eldridge (tpt) and Chris Berry (tenorsax), (Great!)

This Shearing is quite relaxed “After Hours”. I have more discs than I can ever play so I hope you enjoy it, - possibly as close as you’ll get to G.Shearing now!

All the best and thanks for the blogs etc.

Keep on swingin’

Harry

Leave a Reply