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Thursday, November 21, 2013
Soho after the Second World War. My talk on Sunday
Next Sunday, I'll have the privilege of sharing a stage with one of the most significant movers and shakers of jazz over the past 50 years. John Jack's fame for musicians dates back to his first days at Dobell's legendary jazz shop in Charing Cross Road. He has lived round there since 1960. Subsequently he has been involved in supporting the music as promoter, manager of the legendary Ronnie Scott's Old Place in Gerrard Street, as a record label and distributor with Cadillac.
It was therefore a no-brainer for me to ask him to help out with a talk that we'll give together on jazz in Soho in the post war era. A period when jazz was at the centre of a revival of hope. It set examples in terms of its willingness to have multiethnic bands on stage,.The musicians were at the forefront of all types of the music: ranging from Ken Colyer through to John(ny) Dankworth and Ronnie Scott to the embryonic improv scene led by John Stevens and the members of the Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Gerrard Street was like 42nd Street. Ronnie Scott's at one end, and the Flamingo at the other.
And all this was in an area where you also had journalists (such as Jeffrey Bernard and subsequently Private Eye), artists (Lucian Freud and Francis Bacon), photographers (David Bailey and Terence Donovan), night clubs where Lord Mountbatten would mix with Frank Sinatra. And the underworld.
Over the past couple of years I have been investigating as a "hobby" the lost jazz venues of London. I have put them up on a Google map as I find them and learn stories about them. The more I have done this, the more I have become fascinated by Soho as a creative hub. But one that wasn't the result of planners, bureaucrats of politicians. It evolved naturally out of the creative spirit of the people.
It follows the latest instalment of Dan Messore's View From The Tower, where he works with a talented group trawling through new arrangements of music by Iain Ballamy and many of their peers. But not least playing their own stuff.
Vortex Downstairs, Sunday 6 p.m. FREE!!
Photo and quiz: The photo is taken at Feldman's Club in 1943. Name the address and the saxophonists. The winner will receive a copy of the latest album Lacuna by Dan Messore.