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R.I.P. Sir John Dankworth (1927-2010)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ian Mann's thoughts on the loss of one of British jazz's father figures.

I was sad to learn of the recent death of Sir John Dankworth firstly in my capacity of a jazz fan and secondly as a born and bred inhabitant of Leominster. As a schoolboy Sir John was evacuated to Leominster during the Second World War and he still retained connections with the area. Many local inhabitants were saddened to hear of his passing including my father, Peter, who was at school at the same time as Sir John although a couple of years older.

I remember being taken by my parents to see Sir John and Dame Cleo in concert in Birmingham some time back in the 1970’s. I can’t remember the venue now it was so long ago (I suspect it may have been The Hippodrome) but that was one of my first ever jazz experiences.

I can’t claim to be over familiar with Sir John’s music as he was of a rather different jazz generation to myself and besides all the official obituaries have already been written. However I do have a rather good album ?Nebuchadnezzar? featuring the Generation Big Band co-led by Sir John and his bassist son Alec.

In fact I’m more familiar with Alec’s playing than that of any other member of the Dankworth dynasty. I think I first heard him as a member of Guy Barker’s quintet but I’ve seen him many times since in different contexts including leading his brilliant Spanish Accents band.

British jazz has lost one of it’s father figures. My condolences go to Dame Cleo, Alec, Jacqui and the rest of the Dankworth family.