|Romiley Jazz Archive #6 | HISTORY Page | Obituary Page ||
When I started working at the Guardian (the time of my first retirement from fandom) I attended my first Brubeck concert at the Free Trade Hall. And thereafter became a regular attendee at the Manchester Sports Guild, an organisation that started organising jazz sessions to raise money for the sports activities and then finished up becoming the biggest northwest jazz promoters for many years.
The Manchester Jazz Club used to meet in the jazz cellar there every week, and it was a great time when 'Jenks', who ran the place, started bringing over American players and organising tours. Folk like Red Allen, Peanuts Hucko, Earl Hines, Teddy Wilson, Peewee Russell, Ruby Braff, Bud Freeman, Joe Turner... and he'd book in any touring players such as Buck Clayton (who appeared with the Humphrey Lyttelton band on several memorable occasions).
Oh it was a great time to be around. Club 43 went in for more modern stuff, Don Byas, Cecil Payne and the like, and often attracted folk from the FTH after the concerts were over, so you'd have Basie or Ellington people jamming with the resident band.
And there was a steady stream of musicians at the Free Trade Hall concertsDizzy, Miles, Mulligan, MJQ, Monk, Art Blakey & several versions of the Messengers, Garner, Hawkins, Benny Carter, Ellington, Basie, and a string of mainstream playersthey became regular visitors once or even twice in a year.
And there were a few surprises occasionally at the Hole in the Wall, such as the time Tony Williams dragged Joe Albany from oblivion in New York and started him out on a new career, right here. It's hard to believe how much live music there was around Manchester in the 60s and early 70s. It just seemed as if it would go on for ever, and the problem was fitting it all in.
You've really started the memories welling up now... And it's intriguing to have so many recordings of these occasions and know that I'm there somewhere. locked in the applause and general ambience... Wow, let me regain my composure. ■
Letter to the Varleys
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