|Interview date||1st January 0001|
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Interviewer: OK, so, if we start some very basic information please, could you state your name and spell your name please.
Dave: David John Bennett - D.A.V.I.D J.O.H.N B.E.N.N.E.T.T
Interviewer: Thank you, and could just let me know your date of birth and where you were born please.
Dave: 12th May 1942 and I was born in Liphook, Hampshire.
Interviewer: Thank you very much, and could you just explain to me your background - early background in music and what your parents did as well.
Dave: My parents had no interest in music whatsoever so we can dismiss them to begin with. My early interest in music was aroused by the fact my Grandmother had a pile of 78’s and a gramophone. I think the 78’s belonged to my Uncle who no longer lived at home – he was about 20 at the time I suppose – maybe some of the records are his, I don’t know. All I know is my Grandmother had this pile of records and the ones that fascinated me turned out to be, well I’ll name them: there was Chip Bullock who was a singer from the 30’s and the title of the song was ‘In a little second-hand store’ and it wasn’t his singing that fascinated me, it was the accompaniment, and I found out later it was Jimmy Dorsey – Clarinet player and Bunny Berigan the Trumpet player. I can’t remember the rest of the band, it was a good little backing band. Another one was Glen Miller’s ‘Peg o’ my heart’ and ‘Moonlight Bay’ which was an early Glen Miller recording from prior to his famous band.
Benny Goodman’s ‘Jersey Bounce’ and ‘Loch Lomond’ and that’s about it that I can remember from that collection. There the one’s that I played constantly – I was about 9 years old, at this time. Well I was obviously fascinated by Jazz, but records were very expensive in those days so I didn’t have any money to go and spend on records but fortunately there was quite a lot of Jazz on the radio, and we started a Jazz Society at school and one of the teachers who was not particularly interested in Jazz but he had a few records and he came and gave us a talk and he didn’t understand the music at all. I remember him telling me that the musicians just started to play and as one felt like taking a solo, he stood up and played – that sort of thing so he had no conception of what it was about but he had these Louis Armstrong ‘Hot Five’ and ‘Hot Seven’ 78’s, he also had ‘Now you has Jazz’ which was Bing Crosby and Louis. I’d never heard of Louis Armstrong but I couldn’t understand that Bing sang ‘ You know who’ and this incredible playing came out and I didn’t know who the hell it was until he told me that was Louis Armstrong and that caught my interest to put it mildly and he let me borrow these 78’s and take them home so I was able to play them on my Grandmother’s gramophone, and wear them out a bit more for him, and so my interest in Jazz continued, and I became particular interested in Glen Miller and the swing bands and then soon went on to people like Jelly Roll Morton, Louis Armstrong had been a constant favourite, and I don’t remember a great deal more about my interest in music at that time apart from the fact I just collected records as and when I could. Fortunately there was a second hand record shop where my Grandmother lived. I took some of the 78’s that I wasn’t interested in, there, and part-exchanged for the ones I was interested in – he gave me a good price for them so there must have been some good stuff amongst them but I don’t think it was Jazz.
Where do we go from there? Well I carried on at school – forming another Jazz society which went on for quite some time and I remember buying some tickets. I bought a bunch of tickets for Kid Ory who was appearing at the Guild Hall in Portsmouth and eventually I sold my ticket because I had the chance to buy an LP that I wasn’t going to get the chance to buy again so I sacrificed my Kid Ory ticket and I regret that enormously because I would have loved to have seen that but I didn’t know what I was missing, well I did know what I was missing but the LP was of more interest to me, so I never saw Kid Ory but my wife Anne did see Kid Ory but she knew nothing about music at the time but she said she enjoyed the concert. So I then went on to Art College continuing my interest in music. There were Jazz clubs in Portsmouth one was at the Star Inn in Lake Rd, and there was a band there playing every Wednesday evening – The Vieux Carre’ Jazz band and the Trumpet player in that band was Cuff Billet who I knew from school but he was two years older than me so I never actually spoke to him at school, I mean two years was an enormous age difference in those days when you were a child but I became very friendly with Cuff, he was very interested in New Orleans music so I became much more interested in New Orleans music, because of that.
In fact there were two second hand record shop in the road – Lake Road, near where my Grandmother lived, one was Hasklen Green, the other was the House of Wax and the House of Wax - the record side of it was run by a man called Frank Hurlock who became a very good friend and a big influence on me. He was more influenced by white Jazz of the 1920’s. So that time became very active from a point of view of me getting to know more about Jazz, and as I say went on to Art College after leaving school and there were quite a few people there interested in Jazz but not as many as I would have liked to have seen, and I started up a Jazz Club in Arundel St, a club in a pub called the Cobden Arms and this was the height of the Trad boom so there was a great deal of interest in Trad Jazz. Chris Barber says Trad is OK as a name for a soap powder but not really for music. Anyway it’s true, obviously you realise that Trad is an abbreviation of Traditional Jazz so anybody who knew anything about music at the time or who was seriously interested in music did not like to refer to it as Trad, it was Traditional.
That club went on for quite some time, well it seemed quite some time, I think it lasted for about a year or so. And I used to alternate The Vieux Carre’ band which was Cuff Billet’s band but Cuff had just left to join the Kid Martin band which was band out of London so his place was taken by someone who was at teacher training at the time, John Keen and John is nowadays a firm fixture of the London Jazz scene and works a lot with Wally Fawkes and I didn’t realise at the time but John was considerably older than the rest of us, he is 80, whereas I am only 75. I’ve seen John around a lot in London in fact I recorded him some years ago with Wally Fawkes and Ian Christie and Stan Greg. So we alternated London bands with the Vieux Carre’ Jazz band and I got in to a lot of trouble with the Vieux Carre’ band because they liked to do it every Friday, but I insisted on alternating them with a London band and I think that’s what managed to keep the club going longer.
I used to collect magazines, and Frank Hurlock and I decided to start a magazine of our own up which was called Jazz Reprint, because we were both interested in the fact these Jazz magazines had been going for some time, it seemed like years and years, of course, seemed like decades to me, and there were some magazines, where there were interesting articles and they weren’t circulated that much. Jazz music for example wasn’t. I found out later it was started by Max Jones and a couple of other people but had been passed onto Steve Lane at this time, and Steve said we could republish any of the articles we found particularly interesting, and we started a magazine of our own up which was called Jazz Reprint, which was partially old articles from other magazines and new articles but it only lasted three issues. [10’31”]
Yeah when I left Art College in Portsmouth I didn’t manage to get into a teacher training college of my choice so I taught for a year at a local school - unqualified, and you were only allowed to teach for nine tenths of the week if you were unqualified and that gave me a lot of experience. I stayed in Portsmouth at that time still helping to run various clubs. I remember one thing that happened at the Star Inn, which attracted me enormously, was a Folk singer by the name of Rambling Jack Elliot, he came and played. I was fascinated by him and I was keen to hear as much as of him possible. There was a ten inch LP called ’Jack Takes The Stage’ and Jack is now 85 years old but at that time he was, well he’s ten years older than me. Anyway he was from America and he was a great influence on Bob Dillon, I’ve seen Jack over the years since then, the last time I saw him was ten years ago in Glasgow, he’s not the singer and guitar player he was but he’s still a fascinating performer. So I should mention while I was still running the Cobden Arms, Barry Martin whose band came and played for us, which Cuff had joined. He was the first person to bring over a New Orleans musician and his name was George ‘Kid Sheik’ Cola, and he played for us at the Cobden Arms and at another club that Frank Hurlock was running at the Station Hotel near Fratton Bridge. So Kid Sheik was the only American musician who worked for us at that time but after teaching for a year at South Sea Modern Boys in Portsmouth, or Southsea, I went to art teacher training college in Cardiff and became friends with a local band there. I can’t think of the name of the leader of that band - Mike Harry, yeah the Mike Harry Jazz band, and Mike had Kid Sheik play there in 1966/67, yeah 66-67 that’s right, and Kid Sheik was in partnership then as a touring partner with John Handy, Captain John Handy - I did all the publicity for them for that but that was just after Christmas that they were playing there but I came home to Portsmouth so I never saw that concert unfortunately.
Anyway after Cardiff I got a teaching job in Midhurst just north of Chichester, in fact I married Anne that year, and we lived in Petersfield. Anne travelled to Portsmouth although she failed her National Diploma in Design – I can’t understand why because she got an offer to go and study at the Slade School but she was unable to go there because she failed her NDD, she was a dress designer but she went in to a teacher training course, a mature teacher training course, so she only had to do it for two years, at the teacher training college in Portsmouth, she travelled from Midhurst to Portsmouth, I travelled from Midhurst to Petersfield to teach at Petersfield. One of the first classes I had there was a girl 11 years old – Sally Mulligan, and I knew that Mick Mulligan had moved to that area so I asked her if Mick Mulligan was her dad which he was, so I got to know Mick very well, and Mick and I started up a Jazz Club in Midhurst at the Egremont Hotel but prior to that, just prior to opening that club, I held a concert at the school and I asked Barry Martin to bring a band down for that and Mick played at that. Mick was not particularly interested in New Orleans Jazz as such but his band had been a big part of the London Traditional Jazz scene since the late 1940’s, and the singer in his band was of course George Melly. Mick had stopped touring with his band and abandoned the band, and decided to open up a little grocery store and off licence in Midhurst, just along the road from the school I taught at, Midhurst Grammar School. Mick played that concert for me and along to that concert came Max Jones and Betty Jones and Dennis Preston. Dennis was responsible for recording a lot of bands in the 50’s and he had a record label called Lansdowne and a lot of the Lansdowne recordings were issued on EMI’s Columbia label so he was responsible for recording bands like Chris Barber, Terry Lightfoot but I never got to know Dennis very well but Dennis died I suppose in the late 70’s or early 80’s, and later on I got to know him because he came along to Pizza Express which I was responsible for organising, which we will come to later, and he came in to see Ram Ramirez, of course Ram was playing with the Harlem Blues and Jazz band and he’d recorded Ram - Ram is best known for the fact he composed a song called ‘Lover Man’. He composed the tune. Somebody else wrote the words. So anyway Max became a good friend - Max and Betty Jones, and that’s about it as far as Midhurst and Petersfield is concerned. Running that club there.
I then moved to a school in Basingstoke where we live now of course: Cranbourne school, and I used to ask Barry Martin and Sammy Rimington - people I’d got to know very well to come and play at school for the children, and I used to run dances for the children, and some of the children became interested in the music, they were more interested in being there to enjoy themselves, of course a lot of them didn’t understand what music was about but some of them got to know about it, and at that time also I got in touch again with a guy called Dennis Jones who was a Trumpet player and had a band called Preacher Hood and his Jazz Missionaries, and he played at the Cobden Arms and Dennis told me he started to collect Jazz films. So I went to see him. He still lived in London and he had this fascinating collection of films, and what he had caused me to become interested in Jazz on film, and I had already started a film society at school, and one of these film libraries which we used to hire films from had some films with jazz in, and one of them was called ‘Hooray for Love’ and it had Fats Waller and this wonderful 6 minute or so excerpt fascinated me, and it was a beautiful print of this film, and Dennis told me he knew someone who, illegally, copied films so I hired this film again and got this guy – Tony Scott his name was, and he made two or three copies. One for Dennis and one for somebody else, and I had a copy for myself, and that was the first 16 millimetre film that I managed to get a copy of. And Dennis let me borrow some of his films so we had duplicated copies of those.
I then started to offer my services to local Jazz societies to go along and show my films to the members. I also managed to get films imported from the States and that was through Tony Scott who had the film-processing laboratory, and he imported some films for me. Duke Ellington, and he knew Bob Monkhouse very well who collected films but Bob wasn’t interested in Jazz at all, in fact it was Bob who imported them and we went to collect them from Bob and had a lovely afternoon talking to Bob Monkhouse, have you ever heard of Bob Monkhouse – lovely man? So as I said I offered my services to go and show my films to various Jazz societies and one of the societies was the London Jazz Society and at that event I showed the Fats Waller piece I was referring to just now, and a guy called Lenny Felix, who was an idol of mine, a wonderful piano player, he was there and was fascinated by this film and asked if I could have a copy made for him. With him at this time, was Ralph Sutton who was a wonderful American pianist who I got to know very well later. So Lenny told me he had an 8-millimetre projector. I said ‘Is it sound Lenny?’ ‘Oh yes’ so I had this 8 millimetre film. Tony couldn’t do that; I had it done at another lab, a copy of the ‘Hooray for Love’ sequence. ‘Living in a great big way’, I told you that was the title of the tune excerpt from ‘Hooray for Love’ and I took the 8 millimetre film to Lenny who lived in Maida Vaile and he brought his projector out, and it was a cheap little projector which he’d bought to show his ‘blue’ films on and it didn’t have sound at all, so that was a wasted exercise. [Laughs]. But through Lenny, I got to know Peter Boizot and that came about cause Lenny called me and said he was working this little restaurant in Soho, and he was gonna be playing with Bud Freeman who was an American tenor player who lived over here at the time, and he knew that they didn’t have a PA system at Pizza Express which is the restaurant which is where it was, and could I take one along for him, so I did that. That was on 27th May 1976, I remember that simply because there’s a poster which I have somewhere and I recorded it as well, and I have that date noted on the cassette I used to record it on, and that evening I met Peter Boizot who was the founder of Pizza Express. You’ve heard of Pizza Express presumably? So that evening was very, very well attended, it was packed in fact, and Peter Boizot told me he’d booked a couple of other musicians to work there.
This was the first time he’d presented Jazz of this stature at Pizza Express. I think Lenny had played there as a solo pianist but just as background music but it was the first major event where he charged people to come in – I remember it was £3 and that included a pizza, in fact I think it was £3 including a pizza and one drink. So I know that Peter invited me along to see Ruby Braff and to bring my PA system, they also had Ralph Sutton appearing there and when he had American musicians he always managed to get a reasonable audience but not as big as at that first one where Bud Freeman appeared but it was a bit of a tragedy because he wasn’t covering the cost of the evening, although he could afford to lose money if he needed to but I suggested to him we do it on a regular basis so we started doing it just on Friday and Saturday so everybody knew there was going to be Jazz at Pizza Express on a Friday or Saturday. So we did that and it just built from there, and he decided - he’d heard that Fred Hunt who was the piano player from the Alex Welsh band, he had gone to live in South Africa, and he was wanting to come back and live in England again so Peter decided he’d get Fred Hunt to come over and be the house pianist so we then started up on Wednesday through to Saturday - four days a week and he continued having guest artists, for example someone was bringing over some musicians from New York – Snub Mosley Trombone player; Dickie Wells, Earl Warren and Claude Hopkins Dick Wells was a Trombone player who used to work with the Count Basie orchestra, Earl Warren who also worked with the Count Basie Orchestra and Claude Hopkins in the 30’s had a band of his own Claude was not in a good way health wise, he played the first few nights, then was too unwell. I organised some other nights around the country, they played in Leicester. I drove them to Leicester, I can’t remember where else they played maybe Leicester was the only one. Dickie Wells had toured with the Alex Welsh band back in the 60’s and was renowned for being an alcoholic, and he had promised Earl Warren he wouldn’t drink and he played very well except he did start to drink, and one occasion Earl got so upset with him drinking that he punched him [laughs] and then he immediately regretted it because Dickey was such a lovely man but it was so tragic he started to drink. [29’15”]
In 1976, shortly after I became involved with Pizza Express, Bing Crosby appeared at the London Palladium - of course I bought tickets to see Bing. The quartet that accompanied Bing was the Joe Bushkin quartet with Joe Bushkin on piano, Lenny Bush was playing bass because Joe’s American Bass player couldn’t do the concerts in London so he hired Lenny Bush so it was Jake Hannah on drums and Johnny Smith on Guitar. So we saw Bing at the Palladium, and while Bing was still at the Palladium, one night, driving home from Pizza Express, I used to give Lenny Felix a lift home and we were driving past the Westbury Hotel which was just the other side of Regent St near the Palladium and Lenny said ‘oh there’s Joe Bushkin ’ and so we stopped the car, parked it, and Joe was talking to Rosemary Clooney and Jake Hannah, and Rosemary Clooney’s boyfriend, and Rosemary and Joe were having a row and Joe just said hello to Lenny and Lenny introduced me to Joe, and they were standing in the Street there with us for a good half hour or so having this argument and Joe said ‘let’s go up to my room’, so we all went into the hotel and stood in the corridor outside Joe’s room, and Joe and Rosemary were still arguing like mad, and the door opposite Joe’s opened and this poor guy said ‘will you be quiet please’ and Rosemary said ‘oh very sorry’. I can’t remember what they were arguing about but Joe had this piano there, he’d hired a piano, a little upright piano bought up to his hotel room, and for a while Rosemary and Joe managed to stop arguing, and Lenny played some piano, and then Joe played some piano, and then Rosemary decided that was it as far as she was concerned, and she left with her boyfriend, then Jake got tired and left, and Lenny, Joe and myself stayed there talking, and Joe playing piano and Lenny playing piano, tile about 9 o’clock in the morning so I got to know Joe very well. [32’43”]
I remember in 1976 Joe hired Pizza Express for one evening and had a party and Rosemary Clooney was there, and Joe had a quartet that had been working with Bing that night, and I had a 8 millimetre sound camera by this time, and a took a little piece of film of that quartet, and 8 millimetre sound was expensive. I wish I could have afforded more. I wish I had a video at that time. Joe had a Trumpet, he played Trumpet with Bing as well as Piano, and he had a Trumpet that had the bell pointed upwards and Dizzy Gillespie had one, in fact this trumpet that Joe had was Dizzy Gillespie’s first trumpet which was designed so that the bell pointed up, and it came apart so the pointing up part of the bell came away from the rest of the horn, and after this I think Dizzy had the trumpet made in one part but Dizzy had given this to Joe, and the following year when Bing came he did 1976 and 1977 at the Palladium, we were due to be moving to this house we are in now, and we didn’t know the date we would be moving so having got to know Joe as well as I had, I decided we wouldn’t buy tickets and I waited till Joe got here and he phoned a soon as he got here, and I asked him if he would get tickets for Anne and myself, which he said he would, and if possible a couple of friends of Anne’s would like to come. Anne was teaching she was the deputy head of the school here and her friend was the head teacher so I said could he get four tickets he said ‘yes, of course they’ll be waiting for you at the desk so all four of us trooped up and I went to the desk and asked if there was an envelope there for me, and there was but there was only one ticket in it – I said to the girl that there was meant to be four tickets but she said that’s for the Royal box, so it was a box that held four people so it was an embarrassing situation because when Joe was working with Bing, he kept waving at us. Anyway that gives you an idea of my friendship with Joe Bushkin which was very strong, and that year Joe decided to buy a flugelhorn and he stopped using the trumpet and he thought a flugelhorn suited him better, and he left that trumpet with me to look after for him, and a lent it to Cuff Billet and he couldn’t get much out of it, he said it was blown out. I lent it to another friend - Freddy Randall and he thought it was wonderful. I’ve got a photograph of Freddy playing it. I’ve also got a photograph of Joe playing it with Bing. Anyway Joe left his Dizzy Gillespie trumpet with me, he came back about three or four years later and collected it. Unfortunately I would have loved to have kept it myself. He didn’t seem to be too worried about it, but it would be quite a collector’s item now. I suppose it’s still with the Bushkin family. I saw Howard Orton who is connected with the Joe Bushkin family still, and suggested to him that he should arrange for that to go to the Smithsonian institute – there is a museum in New York that has - Dan Morganstone, is responsible for it, and Dan told me that he had various instruments from various well known musicians, in fact he told me he had Ruby Braff’s Cornet after Ruby had died. He got Ruby’s cornet and maybe other Cornets of Ruby’s. And that’s where it should go. [37’58”]
I think the Dan Morganstone situation is the Institute Of Jazz Studies, so where did we get to - 1977. I think it was in 1977 that the Harlem Blues and Jazz band from New York were coming over. Dr Albert Vollmer – he still is responsible for the Harlem Blues and Jazz band, I think there is a version of it still going but at that time it was the Clyde Bernhardt band, Clyde Bernhardt - the Trombone player was the leader of the band and they were touring Europe and Al Vollmer’s parents lived in London and he’d arranged for a few days when they weren’t appearing in Europe for them to come to stay in London, they had no work permits of course but I organised an evening at Pizza Express, a private evening that wasn’t advertised, and I invited a lot of people to come along and they all made a contribution so we could pay the band something so that’s the first time we had a full American band play at Pizza Express, I think it’s possibly the only time. Bob Wilber had a band there, which was mainly American but it wasn’t a full line up of Americans. It wasn’t a full American band because Dill Jones was the piano player, you could call him an American musician at that time, he was a Welsh man who went to live in New York in the 60’s who was a musician who was regularly working in New York but I think I’m justified in calling it an all American band, and the Alto player in the band was George James who worked with the Louis Armstrong band in the early 30’s - worked with Teddy Wilson and various other bands. Frank Williams, that’s Francis Williams he called himself used to play with Duke Ellington. The bass player was Johnny Williams and Johnny used to work with the Louis Armstrong band I think, he certainly recorded with Louis when he was part of the Ed Hall] band in 1947 I think that was, and he’s probably best known for being on Sidney Bechet’s ‘Summertime’. And the drummer was Tommy Benford, a drummer from the 20’s who worked with Jerry Roll Morton. So it was full all-star line-up, although it wasn’t a great band, it was a bit of a messy band – it was like six great guys got together for a blow, and didn’t amount to a band as such in my estimation. Never the less, it was a great evening. [41’34”]
I mentioned earlier that Ruby Braff worked at Pizzas Express in 76. And Peter Boizot decided to bring him back on a regular basis so I can’t remember whether that mounted to once a year but fairly often Ruby would come over and do a season for us - six weeks maybe and Ruby always did fantastic business. And I got to know Ruby very well indeed. Other musicians who worked at that time for us – Wild Bill Davison, in fact Wild Bill was another one who did the early one nighters after Bud Freeman. Wild Bill was a great character – he wasn’t an alcoholic but he liked drinking, to a degree that was his downfall in many respects, because he did himself no good through drinking. Towards the end of his life he was told he to stop drinking. He told me he wished he’d stopped drinking a whole lot earlier because he remembered things better [laughs]. [43’09”]
Now I wish I still had all of the programmes, I used to do all the artwork for the programmes for Pizza Express and the photographer who used to come to Pizza Express and take lots of photographs, ‘…’ yeah Max Garr he took a lot of excellent photographs at Pizza Express, and he told me in the last six or seven years he’d like to pinpoint when some of these photographs were taken and could he borrow my collection of programmes, so I lent them to him and he managed to lose them for me, so I wish I had those so I could give you a more accurate representation of musicians we had appearing for us. It was on a regular basis that we had Americans there. [44’09”]
Interviewer: and was that something in terms of letting people know you had stuff on was it mainly leaflets or did you –
Dave: Oh, no, no, it was advertised in the local press by this time, it had become well known as a Jazz venue but it was at a time when there was, effectively, especially during the 80’s business wasn’t great because there was a kind of a depression going on but fortunately Pizza Express was going well, even though there was a depression going on, people still have to eat. Pizza Express was doing pretty well, so Peter Boizot was able to - it didn’t matter if we lost money but for the most part it was not losing significant amounts. But all this time I was still teaching, and it came too much for me eventually. In 1980 I decided to bring a musician over from New York who was a great favourite of mine – Albert Casey, Albert Aloysius Casey and he was better known Al and he was Fats Waller’s guitar player, he worked with Fats from 1933 – to when Fats died 1943, except for one year when he went to work with the Teddy Wilson Orchestra, and Fats let him go. Al just wanted to have other experience and he said ‘you come back whenever you want to’ and not many band leaders would say that, and a guy called John Smith played for Al in the Fats Waller Rhythm that year, and then Fats had Al re-join. Al was a very nervous player, he was a very nervous man, once he was playing the guitar there was no problem at all he was. He was a very nervous as a musician and as a person.
He was nervous from the point of view that – even at the age of 66 I think he was when I brought him over; he told me before he went on every night he had butterflies in his stomach and he gave me an example of one of the most nervous nights in his life when he was playing with the Fats Waller Rhythm, and the hotel they were staying at was right opposite the stage door, and he was having a sleep, and he thought he was going to be OK getting over to that stage door in time but he was a little bit late, he timed it wrong – he rushed across, guitar in his hand, and as he went through the stage door he heard the band start, so he’d missed the beginning so he was standing in the wings, shaking, incredibly unhappy that this had happened. And Fats saw him there. At the end of the first number he announced that he was going to bring on his guitar player now. And Al didn’t know what was going on but Fats said ‘and now Al is going to play a number for you’ and Al was incredibly nervous he had to go and stand up at the microphone with his guitar, and all he could think of doing was playing the Blues, and this turned out to be a number which, I mean Al could just go into the Blues and play something you’ve never heard before, he’d never heard it before, and this turned out to be a number that Fats called ‘Buck Jumping’ and they recorded that as a single and it’s one of the greatest Blues guitar solos that you can ever imagine to hear. [48.41]
The trouble with Al, was that unfortunately he had not played for two years when I brought him over, he had fallen down the stairs and said he wasn’t drunk, he just fell backwards walking to his apartment and broke his leg, and the first night he played for me which was a night in Shoreham Airport. You know where they had that incredibly unfortunate accident a couple of years ago. So it was at Shoreham Airport at the club there and his fingers were bleeding – blood all over his guitar and he played wonderfully and he said he hadn’t practised the guitar in all those two years that he hadn’t played, simply because he didn’t like the idea of paying without anybody else, so he didn’t play for eighteen months or two years, and he played that first night, and he had this thing about the fact he didn’t like to hear his fingers roll along the strings as he was going from one chord to another. Occasionally he did hear his fingers roll along the strings, as you would expect with guitar players but he didn’t like that and so he turned the turn control down on the guitar to cut that problem back but it meant you couldn’t hear what he was doing properly, and I used to have arguments with him about that. In fact the very first night at Pizza Express, which was after that date at Shoreham, the place was packed, and by the end of the second set a lot of people had gone because they couldn’t hear what he was doing properly. I was nervous about asking him to play more clearly, and he explained to me that that was his problem. Eventually I managed to get him to do it so you could hear him OK. I did a recording session over at John RT Davis’s place, with Benny Walters, Benny Walters was over at the same time as Al and Mike Carr and John Cox, and I recorded it with just one single microphone - a dummy head microphone but you couldn’t hear the guitar cut thought on it so that was never issued. And at that time I was still too nervous to ask Al to do anything but play the way he was playing. [51’30]
I had a guitar that I’d borrowed from…We were talking about Al Casey, but prior to Al Casey, somebody who I was responsible for bringing over here was Benny Walters, and Benny had worked at Pizza Express and I think the first time he had worked at Pizza Express would have been 1977 either 77’ or 78’ and he was living in Paris at the time. He lived and worked in New York. He first recorded with the Charlie Johnson Orchestra in 1926/27 and he carried on to work though the 30’s with Fletcher Henderson; Hot Lips Page, in to the 40’s even, I think he had his own bands from what he told me but just gigged around, and in about 1948, 49’ maybe, Bob Wilber had a band in New York and he had to join the army – National Service I suppose it was, and Benny took Bob Wilber’s place in Bob’s own band and it became the trombone players band – Jimmy Archey and Jimmy Archey brought that band over to Europe – Paris in 1952, and Benny decided to stay over when the rest of the band went back, he set up life there and stayed there till the late 80’s and Robert Masters – he was a trumpet player in the Trad years, he played with various Trad bands during the Trad boom – Dick Charlesworth - was the band he was best known for playing with, because he made an LP with that band. He was an agent he was responsible for Bud Freeman playing at Pizza Express. He was responsible for Wild Bill Davis and Ralph Sutton. So Benny didn’t get on very well with Robert Masters unfortunately, and I saw Benny at the Concorde Club in ’78, and Benny was looking a bit miserable and I had my 8 millimetre sound camera with me and I said to Benny would he mind if I took some film of him, and he was a bit dubious about this and was more concerned with the fact he wasn’t going to be coming over to England again; and Benny was going to be working at Pizza Express just a few days later, and I said ‘If Robert Masters doesn’t wasn’t to bring you over anymore, I’d be very happy to bring you over’ and he cheered up and he said: ‘In that case you can take some film of me‘ [laughs].
And I’ve got that piece of film so I brought Benny over on a regular basis, he was someone who was a wonderful player, as all these Americans who I got to know were but Benny was a wonderful character as well, and he wasn’t in the top league of Americans, he wasn’t a big legendary name as far as most people were concerned, but he was to me and of course in the great scheme of things he really is an important name in my estimation, and he was a great performer – very serious about doing the best he could at all times, very serious about the fact that he knew what he wanted to do and he didn’t like the idea of having other musicians up there in the front line working with him as he couldn’t give his best in those circumstances – if he has somebody there, and I suppose this applies to every musician, who he felt comfortable with, it was fine but as soon as it was not enabling him to perform as he wished, he couldn’t cope and he was very open about this and very determined not to find himself in this situation.
And for that reason I think some people didn’t exactly appreciate him, anyway there was a trombone player – Jim Shepard, he’s not around any longer unfortunately, Benny used to love having Jim sit in on trombone with him but the idea of having to work with a trumpet player or another saxophone player for the whole session didn’t appeal to him at all but he realised that if there was another musician that could come and join him that might help the situation and give a more varied performance from him and entertain the crowd better. But there are certain musicians who don’t appeal to everybody, and Benny was one of those so it became a struggle getting as much work for him as I would have liked to have got but nevertheless he was always happy to come over.
I never had anything in writing with any of these people, they just knew I’d pay them fairly and that was that, even Ruby Braff but Ruby insisted on quite a high fee but it was worth it, he knew he could do the business and he insisted on being paid. In fact, the first time I bought Ruby over, he told me what he wanted and we never discussed it any further, and as the years went on I paid him more and more as I could afford it But that’s later, we haven’t even spoken much about ruby yet have we. Benny Walters was the first one I brought over as an American to tour both other clubs as well as work at Pizza Express, Al Casey – in the early 80’s we still weren’t operating seven days a week. I don’t know when that came into being it was probably in the… if I had these programmes that Max Garr lost for me I could tell you. It was probably about 80-83’ when Peter Boizot decided that we could operate seven nights a week but for a long time we didn’t operate on Sunday or Monday – we used to have every Tuesday with The Pizza Express All Stars or The Pizza Express All Stars Jazz Band as Peter insisted on calling it. They became resident every Tuesday, so we still weren’t opening on Sundays or Mondays, then he decided that we would have another resident band on a Monday, which would be a more modern band. So he asked Alan Barnes to put a band together and it was going to be a sextet in a modern style, and nobody could decide what that band would be called, so I suggested ‘The Pizza Express Modern Jazz Sextet’ which Peter Boizot didn’t like at all but nobody could come up with anything better so that’s what it was called, and we had Dave O’Higgins on tenor; piano player over from Australia and I cannot think of his name; Alex Dankworth on bass and Mark Taylor on drums.
So it was Gerard Presencer on Trumpet, the guy who was over from Australia, he went back to Australia, and he was replaced by Robin Asplind on piano - we did one session, a recording session with the Australian guy which they weren’t happy with, I recorded that at ‘Pizza on the Park’, and they wanted to go into a studio to record it. Alan Barnes liked what I recorded for some reason or another but the others didn’t. So they went in to the studio and recorded this [taps a CD] and Peter Boizot decided to advertise Kettners instead of Pizza Express which is another one of his restaurants, and he called it the Kettners Modern Jazz Sextet which it never was, ever – they never appeared as the Kettners Modern Jazz Sextet to my knowledge, they were always at the Pizza Express and called the Pizza Express Modern Jazz Sextet. So we had two resident bands for some years. I think prior to having them on Mondays, he had started the Sundays, so for a while it had been six days a week. And then it became seven days a week with the Pizza Express Modern Jazz Sextet. [101’45”]
Interviewer: And did you work for all of that, were you responsible?
Dave: No, he had another guy came for some time to do the booking, cause I was teaching he didn’t think I was capable of doing all the bookings, so he brought this guy over from the States who was a friend of a friend…so I didn’t do the bookings for a couple of years – Casey Sulcan his name was and he was an arsehole, nobody liked him, particularly me. He really was a very unpleasant person, and I don’t mind who knows that, but Casey Sulcan – when a lovely guy called Joe Bryan – he started up another club in Covent Garden called the Canteen and he hired, I’m glad to say, Casey Sulcan, to go and work for him, so I was then back in the position of having to do the booking. I think that The Canteen ran for three or four years and when it packed up, Casey Sulcan went back to the States so that was the end of my experience of him. Casey Sulcan was a nightmare as far as most people were concerned, particularly me. In 1986 it would have been, in late ‘85 or early‘86. I had Al Casey over, and I was driving Al to a gig in Dorchester, which is north of Bournemouth, north and a bit further west. So it was a Friday evening gig, I’d been teaching in the day, and we were driving north of Bournemouth, and I had a little minivan at this time, and there was a roundabout - the A27, about fifty yards away, and all of a sudden, it was ten yards away, and I’d nodded off, and I went round that roundabout like that [gestures] and AL said ‘That was neat’ – going round a roundabout at about fifty miles an hour. And it really shook me, and I had to pull in and apologise to Al that I’d nodded off, it really was awful I was very, very lucky.
And I decided then and there that I would either have to pack up teaching or pack up working for Pizza Express doing I was doing. I put it to Peter Boizot and he said ‘tell me what you want and we can see what we can do’ I said I’d like to work for him effectively to be paid for three days a week, and two days a week, I’d start up my own business, recording, and so he went along with that, and I resigned from my teaching post, and Peter wanted to have me there for every one of those three days a week from 2 O’clock in the afternoon through to the end of the session at Pizza Express that day but I could never manage to do that. He provided me with a car, and I just scraped by financially because Anne was teaching as well, and I did start up doing mainly live recordings. In fact I couldn’t do anything other than live recordings except when I could hire, as I often did, the Bulls Head at Barnes as a recording studio in an afternoon or a whole day, and I used to record for a record label called Stomp Off in the States. I don’t know how many recording sessions we did for them but they were all issued on an LP at the time, became CD’s a little bit later. Keith Nicholls didn’t have a regular band but he put together a band for a recording session every so often for Stomp Off records, and I sometimes used Pizza Express in Soho, but more often Pizza Express in Maidstone because Keith had rather large line ups and it was a better place to record a larger recording session there, so that together with doing live recordings and producing cassettes that musicians used to sell on gigs. So that kept me in a little bit of money. [107’25”]
The other thing I did was to bring over artists both to work at Pizza Express and to organise tours for – Dill Jones was one, Snub Mosley, I brought him over a couple of other times after the Danish guy had brought him over, both appearing in Denmark and around Europe. There was Benny Walters, Al Casey, Hal Singer who also lived in Paris, and he contacted Peter Boizot with a view to working at Pizza Express, he came over with a package that appeared at the Palladium, I think it was a kind of Blues package, but Hal was a very good tenor player who played with Duke Ellington, and had made some fine recordings in the States. He was living in Paris and was a friend with Benny Walters and I brought him over on a few occasions. Wild Bill Davison, he was brought over by Robert Masters, Robert dropped him for some reason so I carried on bringing him. Jimmy McPartland who was a legendary name and still is a legendary name as far as American music is concerned, he is best known for the fact that he replaced Bix Beiderbecke, well Bix was one of the great Trumpet players or Cornet players, played trumpet with the Paul Whiteman orchestra. He played in a band called the Wolverines, when he left the Wolverines, Jimmy replaced him. The Wolverines recorded within the region of twenty sides, and Jimmy just recorded just two sides, and Jimmy I got to know through Bill Skeet who was the brother of Len Skeet, who was the bass player in the Pizza Express All Star Jazz band, and Bill was in New York and Bob Wilber was due to appear with Jimmy McPartland at a festival and he asked Bill to take his place as Bob was getting a divorce and he was concerned that someone was gonna come along and present him with his subpoena, and Bill played that gig at this festival in New York with Jimmy and Bill asked me if I’d like to bring Jimmy over which I did. And Jimmy used to be married to Marion McPartland. Obviously Marion wasn’t Marion McPartland until she married Jimmy McPartland. Marion was an English lady who went to live in America in the late 40’s or early 50’s; and I cannot think what her maiden name was.
So Marion and Jimmy were over here at the same time on the occasion I brought Jimmy here, and they did a couple of gigs together. They were very friendly still and in fact they remarried not long before Jimmy died. I think I only brought Jimmy over for that one tour. Don Ewell I brought over for one tour. I got to know Don when he played with Barry Martins’ band, in fact he did a gig in Basingstoke with Barry at a little club I used to run for a short time called The Granary and Don Ewell was a piano player whose influences were Fats Waller and Jerry Roll Morton, he could play both of those styles and he had a style that amounted to Don Ewell’s own style. The only time I brought Don over myself, I did this at the request of a trumpet player who was with Chris Barber’s band for many years – Pat Halcox and he was very good friend of Don’s and they used to play chess together by mail. Pat died about five or six years ago, and I was very friendly with his widow, and we were going through some of Pat’s things – he had a big suitcase full of memorabilia, and there was a letter from Don Ewell and Shirley Halcox couldn’t understand what it was all about, and it was the moves he was suggesting for this game they were playing by post.
So Don was over with The Kid Thomas Band maybe a few months before he was over with this tour I was organising, and I saw him with the Kid Thomas band and he wasn't drinking at all and he was in fine form, and when he came over - I was still teaching so this was before’ 86, it must have been ‘82/‘83 – a friend of mine John RT Davis which we’ll talk about in a minute – he lived near London airport and he picked Don up for me and Don was very nervous and very shaken up for some reason or another. When I got there to pick Don up, early in the evening, John RT had brought out a bottle of whiskey for him and that got him drinking again, and when Don was here, he had a mild heart attack and had to go into Basingstoke hospital for a few days, and so that interfered with the tour. Now I knew Don was ill by this time, and I asked Fred Hunt who was the piano player, resident at Pizza Express for dome years, to come around with Don and myself so we effectively had a double bill. Fred would play the first half of the concert and Don would play the second, and on some occasions, particularly in Swindon, Don just looked at the keyboard and just couldn’t do anything. He had to come off straight away so Fred did the whole concert for him. So Don stayed here, and I had Benny Walters staying here at the same time. We were due to have Benny Walters and Don together for a concert I’d organised for the school in Basingstoke and Don couldn’t do that in the end, he was in hospital, and that was a tragedy from that point of view.
I once had the Harlem Blues and Jazz band playing in Basingstoke here, and by that time Clyde Bernhart had died…and by that time it was Eddie Durham on trombone, I think the whole band came here for the afternoon and Eddie was sitting where I’m sitting now, and Eddie used to work with the Count Basie band and he was responsible for arrangements for the Count Basie band and he composed several things that the band played – ‘Topsy’ was one of his numbers but he was reminiscing, and he suddenly became very sad about the fact that Count Basie had claimed ‘ 1 O’clock Jump’ a big number of Basie’s and Basie had claimed that as his own and Eddie said that he and Edgar Battle wrote ‘1 O’clock Jump’ the story is told that really it’s something that the band made up out of various bits and pieces that they’d played during the course of jamming and that may well be the case but Eddie said that he and Edgar Battle put it together in the way it was recorded, and he was very sad that Basie had claimed it as his own as Basie would’ve made quite a lot of money from it. [117’52]
Interviewer: Did that kind of thing happen quite a lot did you find?
Dave: Oh yes, I’m sure it did. I mean Ellington was well known for it, I mean Ellington was very creative in the way that he did it. He would hear one of his musicians play something during the course of a concert and he would remember a phrase that they would play or a solo they would play, and compose something based on that, and that would be really down to him, if he hadn’t remembered what they played and written that piece down, it really would’ve been forgotten forever. But a lot of composers heard things, in fact – Acker Bilk – ‘Stranger on the Shore’ he got the idea for that melody from ‘Trouble in Mind’ from Humphrey Lyttelton’s recoding of ‘Trouble in Mind’. Ian Christie played a solo on that, that Acker got the idea for ‘Stranger on the Shore’ from, and Louis Armstrong would play things on recordings, and Ruby Braff said to me once and I’m sure he’s right, that composers have made fortunes though hearing what Louis had played and based a melody on what they heard Louis play, and that’s the way it happens. Barney Bigard in his biography, it was an auto biography written with Barry Martin, he really thought Duke was wrong in stealing things from people but maybe Duke did steal something and add his name to it but there were some musicians who wouldn’t like - ‘Caravan’ for example which Juan Tizol wrote, Juan Tizol’s name is on that but sometimes you’ll see Ellington’s name on it with another musician, where he agreed to become co-composer but sometimes he’d just put his name to it, and that was that.
Interviewer: And did you find there were barriers to you recording anything because people were worried about things like copyright of their words or stuff back in the past or?
Dave: No, once something’s been composed and published then they’re happy for anyone to record cause they're gonna make money out of it but if somebody has not had something published and somebody steals it then that’s where the problem arises, in fact Snub Mosley told me that he composed a tune called ‘Pretty Eyed Baby’ and Mary Lou Williams stole that from him, in fact he gave me a piece of sheet music where his name was on it together with Mary Lou – I’d have to find the sheet music to confirm this but I know there was an argument between Mary Lou Williams and Snub over the composer credits for ‘Pretty Eyed Baby’ and that was a pretty well-known tune but it was also recorded as ‘Satchel Mouth Baby’ by Fletcher Henderson. ‘Satchel Mouth’ was one of Louis’ early nick names,’ Satchel Mouth’ in fact. And so that was recorded as a tribute to Louis I believe, but for whatever reason the Fletcher Henderson band recorded ‘Satchel Mouth baby’ but it was ‘Pretty Eyed Baby’. I think there were some musicians in Ellington’s band that resented the fact he stole things from them and gave them no credit. But it’s to our advantage for that to have happened or a lot of great music would have just disappeared. [122’12]
‘... ‘Eddie Durham told me then that he was unhappy that Count Basie had stolen, effectively, ‘1 O’ clock Jump’ from Eddie Durham and himself, I’ll rephrase that, it was stolen from Edgar Battle and himself. He also told me – well Eddie Durham was hired by Glen Miller to arrange things for him – he arranged ‘In the Mood’ by Glen Miller but he never received any credit for that, as far as I know but he definitely did arrange ‘In the Mood’ he also wrote a few numbers especially for the band. One was called ‘Slip Horn Jive’ I found out recently simply because the cassette was issued by Al Vaughan of the Harlem Blues and Jazz band which I came across, I inherited a few bits and pieces from an old friend of mine – Peter Carr, and this cassette was there and in the sleeve notes in that cassette, I’ll have to check with Al Vaughan that I’m right, it gave me the impression that on ‘Slip Horn Jive’ everybody thinks it’s Glen Miller playing Trombone, in fact it’s Eddie Durham but I must ask Al Vaughan about that as that’s an important part of history that should go down in writing somewhere, if that’s true.
Eddie told me that Glen Miller was very generous to him in what he paid him for the work he did. Eddie was one of the first to play electric guitar – he played both guitar and trombone and his - the number that Count Basie recorded - 'Topsy' that was a hit in the 50’s by Cozy Cole had a hit record with it. I think that was composed with Edgar Battle as well. Anyway dear old Eddie was sat there in this chair, I was just standing there listening intently, and told me all these things, and Eddie shortly after that died because he just slipped in the bath and banged his head.
Al Casey was in that band by then. Ruby - I didn’t start to organise dates for him until the early 90’s I think, but Ruby used to come over regularly to work at Pizza Express for seasons, and then he asked me if I’d arrange bookings for him because it started to work out that the six week residency wouldn’t do the business to sustain that and he asked me to do some work on his behalf, which I did; and I brought over his trio who worked at Pizza on the Park for a number of weeks in the late 80’s and that trio was with Howard Alden on guitar and Frank Tate on bass. They played the festival in Brecon and the BBC filmed them for that and instead of receiving a fee for it, they offered me the chance to own the world rights, except the UK, of that recording so that’s now been issued as a DVD. It was originally issued as a VHS Cassette and it’s now available by Storyville Records on a DVD. Because there’s not much of Ruby recorded, his discography must run to 100’s of tracks but there’s very little of Ruby on video. [127.13]
Interviewer: I was just wondering whether when you sort of branched out in to this recording and stuff whether you had any, like if you had any funding like or structures that supported anything.
Dave: No, I wish I had but I used to do quite a bit of live recording just for my own purposes. Trummy Young used to work at Pizza Express in 1981. He was a Trombone player with the Louis Armstrong All stars for about ten years, and I asked Trummy if I could record him, and he was very happy for me to record that and I paid him a little bit– not a fortune, and that’s never been issued but I intend to issue that one day, if I live long enough. He worked with Brian Dee, Jack Parnell and Len Skeet but on the recording I made, Jack couldn’t do every night - it was Ronnie Verell. I think I’ve got another recording. I recorded them over three nights – at least two, and I recorded them using Ampex tape and this Ampex tape, if you don’t transfer from it to a master soon after you’ve recorded it, the tape starts to go strange and it squeaks, and I didn’t do anything with it for a couple of years, and when I went to play it, it squeaked, and when it squeaks you have to bake it, and that baking takes the squeaking away so you can copy it but it only lasts for a month or so, and if you forget to transfer the whole lot, then you are back to a situation with the squeaking so I had all of the tapes baked, and transferred one to a DAT tape, then I was so busy I didn’t do the others, and they were back to the squeaking again. So I thought I had lost the other tapes but I tried playing them again and they squeaked a little bit but nowhere near as bad so I might get them playing again. I have got a whole evening of Trummy singing and playing with the Brain Dee Trio and that’s something I’d like to issue and because he agreed to me recording it, I took a four track recorder along and recorded it professionally on fifteen inch per second tape – great quality recording, because I could set the microphones up where I wanted them, but very often I’d just record with a couple of microphones I’d throw up there, and nobody minded me recording.
Interviewer: And did you do all that like the recording, was it one person, you did it all yourself or did you have any?
Dave: I did it by myself, yeah. And sometimes on cassette and sometimes on tape. I’ve got quite a few tapes from those years but wished I had more. Anyway in 1995 or thereabouts Peter Boizot had– was forced to sell Pizza Express but he owned himself 51% and his other 49% shareholders decided they wanted him to pay back the money that he owed them because he’d borrowed so much money from Pizza Express to invest in Kettners and Pizza on the Park, and so he was forced to sell so I suddenly found myself in a situation where I was still working for Pizza Express but they decided they didn’t want the Jazz anymore because it wasn’t making money. I convinced them that the place could make money, it had been losing money as Peter Boizot was happy for it to lose money because he overspent and he was over-generous in the way he paid musicians perhaps but on paper it didn’t look very good, so they allowed me to carry on running it but I had to run it a profit which I did,. Then they decided they’d bring a manager in who’d be responsible for the music as well, and I had to work with them, and that became an intolerable situation, and I had to leave so by that time I hadn’t been doing the booking for Pizza On The Park but Peter Boizot hired me to do the booking for Pizza On The Park so I carried on working for Peter, and one of the musicians I hired to work at Pizza on the Park was Mose Allison who died recently, and for some reason Peter Boizot wasn’t keen on Mose.
In fact I was doing the booking at Pizza on the park before I packed up Pizza Express, he had someone else - one of the managers that worked for him was doing the booking at Pizza On The Park, and he asked me to take over from him so I suppose it would have been the early 90’s that I started doing the booking for at Pizza on the park and I brought Mose Allison over for that and Mose did very good business, but Peter didn’t like him that much so I transferred him from working at Pizza On The Park to Pizza Express, and then arranged other dates around the country for him, because Mose didn’t do great business at Pizza Express or at Pizza On The Park by the second or third time he came, and Peter Boizot didn’t want to lose money on it. He was always happy to lose money on people he enjoyed listening to but he didn’t enjoy listening to Mose for some reason, so I had to make it pay. So I took him along to Pizza Express where I could have him for some nights and not others, and farm him out to other venues and Mose went along with it but he want very happy doing theses outside dates, and Mose suddenly got annoyed with me that he was doing all these extra dates and wasn’t getting any more money for it. He didn’t realise - I hadn’t discussed it with him that I did was going to be paying him more money. I wish I’d told him that and then he wouldn’t have had the chance to get annoyed with me. As soon as he got annoyed I said “Mose I am going to pay you more it’s just that I hadn’t told you” and I had all the money with me at that time from the external dates, I said “All they money is yours” . All of a sudden he realised he had a good few hundred pounds more than he was expecting, so that shut him up! [135’00”]
Interviewer: And did you in terms of when you’re finding dates outside of Pizza Express and the like did you have good connections throughout the country?
Dave: Yes because I’d built up a network of clubs I’d been booking other artists into and there were quite a few other clubs around the country capable of withstanding booking people at reasonable fees.
Interviewer: So did you have like ‘go to’ clubs that you preferred or did you just kind of?
Dave: Oh no, I knew the clubs that - would like to book these - I mean one club that didn't book Mose simply because, Col Matheson the owner of the club, didn’t like Mose was the Concord club at Southampton, so Mose never worked there unfortunately. No I am sure he didn’t … h that’s another story – when this new manager came in, his name was Peter Wallis, to Pizza Express this would have been mid 90’s Peter Wallis really wanted to take over the bookings. They had another manager who booked or hired along the same lines but she suddenly realised it was an impossible situation, and she didn’t want to tread on my toes and I am glad to say she left and I was there doing it by myself as the booker, and we had a very good manager, a young lady who did a terrific job but she suddenly decided she wanted to move on and they hired someone else; this Peter Wallis who was taken on in the category of manager of the downstairs restaurant and assisting me with doing the booking; which became an impossible situation and I used to book various artists through a manager from up North – Ernie Garside and one of the artists that he brought over regularly was Art Farmer, an American Trumpet player and both Art Farmer and Mose when they worked at Pizza Express, I booked them in on a Monday night because we weren’t opening on a Monday at this time at Pizza Express. So, on the Mondays I’d put them in to the Bulls Head at Barnes. Then we did start opening on Mondays at Pizza Express but it didn’t matter if we weren’t doing great business because it was the residency of the Modern Jazz Sextet and Boizot was happy to sponsor them and not cover the cost. They [Art Farmer and Mose Alison] didn’t sustain enough business to have them there all week so I farmed them out to external clubs and to the Bulls Head at Barnes so I wasn’t responsible for bringing Art Farmer over but I said to Ernie Garside ‘it’s perfectly OK for Art Farmer to work at the Bulls Head’ I mean it’s in Barnes about ten miles away from Pizza Express it didn’t affect our business at all but Peter Wallis said ‘No if Art Farmer is going to work at Pizza Express, he mustn’t work at the Bulls Head at Barnes. There was a big ‘hoo ha’ about that, and the mere fact that the Bulls Head was happy to book Moses Allison when he was free, he was helping us out, and in fact Peter Wallis and the people in authority at Pizza Express did not realise that in order to keep music alive, we had to have as many venues as possible and we had to support each other, and that what I was doing in working closely with all these other clubs throughout the country and particularly in London at the Bulls Head.
Interviewer: Did you find that over the years that Jazz became more challenging to get venues to put it on?
Dave: Oh yes because the people that were organising these events throughout the country were dying off or business was dying off but more importantly they were dying off themselves.
Interviewer: And was Rock ‘n Roll and things like that, did they have an impact would you say?
Dave: What happened back in the 60’s as a tragedy to Jazz was The Beatles, once The Beatles came in, Jazz was out of the window as far as the media was concerned. It didn’t get a look in, there was only a short period when the Trad scene was very popular. Throughout the 50’s Traditional Jazz was very popular – Chris Barber in particular but Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball and the minor bands but it was the onset of The Beatles and that kind of music. I mean the likes of Cliff Richard were not as successful as The Beatles and they didn’t take music over in the way that The Beatles did, and The Rolling Stones obviously, and bands like that started to attract much more interest and good luck to them for doing it but at the same time I remember Danny Moss who was the tenor player with the Pizza Express All Star Jazz band and Johnny Dankworth Orchestra and business with the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra after the onslaught of The Beatles became less and less.
Interviewer: And did you always stick with booking Jazz particularly?
Dave: Oh yes, well Blues, we used to book as well but mainly Jazz but there weren’t that many Blues artists. We had two or three Blues bands at Pizza Express – Cousin Joe from New Orleans and Champion Jack Dupree, I would have loved to have booked him – he used to work at the 100 club in Oxford St. On one occasion, after he’d finished there he came over and sat in with Bud Freeman. I remember Bud announcing him as one of the greatest musicians in the world- jokingly which of course Champion Jack wasn’t a great musician but he was a wonderful Blues player. [142’46”]
Another thing I should mention is that back in the early 90’s as I mentioned earlier I was starting to build up a bit of business by doing recordings for people and arranging to issue their work on cassette that they could sell on gigs, and I was approached by somebody who wanted me to do some re-mastering from 78’s. I had been transferring from 78’s, and trying to get the best sound I could out of them for a while, and somebody approached me to produce a CD from 78’s and he wasn’t someone who had a record company but he was getting people like myself to do work for him, and he was selling it to a record company, and the record company that he was working with, they got in touch with me direct – Avid records and Richard Lynn who owned Avid records came here to discuss with me working direct with him which I did so I worked for Avid records from that period from 1995 until couple of years ago… and I started out working from 78’s because in 1995, there were not that many recordings that were originally issued on LP that were out of copyright- there was a fifty year copyright at that time so 1995, you had to go back to 1945. So it was still the 78 era of course, so I was working from 78’s and they did very good business with Glen Miller recordings at that time, and I got to know a few people who were Glen Miller collectors, and some of them had some scarce material that were from broadcasts and particularly of the army air force band that came over here in 1944/45, The Glen Miller army air force band, so I produced about 10 or 11 of the army air force orchestra together with a lot of other 78 era recordings. I did a ten CD set of Hoagy Carmichael material and then as the years went on more material came out of copyright, and eventually we were working from the LP era. About two years ago, I fell out with them because, it was a complicated story, they disagreed with me over someone I recommended who could work for them, I couldn’t do all the work that they wanted – they wanted four double CD’s a month, and it was a ridiculous amount of work to have to get done by myself so I suggested someone else to replace somebody who’d been working for them who they fell out with. So they decided they didn’t like the attitude of this person I’d suggested, and the situation was such that I couldn’t work with them any more as they were so unpleasant to this guy, I thought, in fact I know he is a very capable engineer, and they were asking him to work for a lot less money than I’d been getting previously, they were asking me to drop my fee because business wasn’t so good, so I was quite happy to drop my fee; and I’d previously asked this guy Martin Haskell if he’d be interested working . I quoted him a fee which he had been happy with but then I had to tell him well, no, they are not prepared to pay that much now. So he agreed to work for this much lower fee but he said he didn’t want his name attached to the work for the kind of fee he was going to be paid, he couldn’t afford to spend that much time on it, he’d do a good job but not necessarily a job he’d be proud of, to put his name to and they didn’t like that. That together with other aspects of the way they were treating him and they said they didn’t want to work with him, so I said I wouldn’t work for them anymore anyway. Since then I’ve been working for myself but haven’t produced anything to sell yet but I’m getting to a stage where I will be. I’ve just been researching how to get the very best sound out of 78’s. I’ve invested a lot of money in the right sort of equipment and I’m convinced I’ve got a result now that is considerably better than others so I’m about to, in a very small way, sell things I duplicate, I’m not gonna have them pressed cause they won’t necessarily sell in the quantities that would warrant that. If I did have lots pressed, I don’t have the storage space so I’m going to duplicate them and sell them mail order to whoever is interested.
Interviewer: And do you have other means of communicating about what you are doing in terms of like do you have a website or?
Dave: Eventually I should have a website – you were talking about Paul Adams, he has his own record label, he’s prepared to tell his customers what I’m doing.
Interviewer: So it’s word of mouth as well?
Dave: It’s word of mouth, together with he’s got his website and he’s got his mailing list, he’s going to let all this customers know I’m doing this, it’s a big favour [phone rings] I’m glad to say because Anne was a school teacher for all these years she’s got a very good pension, and I’ve got a few little pensions so we can cope with the money we have got coming in without having to sell anything so I can do it as a hobby. It would be nice to sell a few if I can, I’d rather give them away if necessary just so that people can hear them, because when I hear recordings from 78’s that have been issued over the years, now I know how good they can sound, I find it very difficult to listen to the other recordings – I’ve heard people say and I’ve seen it on the internet that old recordings 78’s, they can’t sit and listen to a whole CD right the way though – I suppose it’s some kind of listening fatigue but I can sit and listen conformably to what I’ve done – right the way through and hear more detail.
Interviewer: And how did you pick up those skills? In terms of like did you just..?
Dave: By making lots of mistakes and realising I made mistakes and correcting them, and by investigating what kind of equipment gives the best sort of sound. I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve asked people who have led me in the right directions, one very important direction was about twenty years ago, I was thinking to use an old Garrard 301 turntable would be [sic] the best way to go, because everybody said that got the best sound from a 78. I didn’t know what I was doing - I found I could buy a Garrard 301 for a reasonable price and get the best sound out of it - it needed to be mounted on a really good plinth because this help to eliminate resonance – it’s the resonance that you get from not having good equipment is what spoils the sound. For example that Louis Armstrong I was playing you downstairs was done by my friend John RT Davis who [sic] I’d known John since the mid 60’s up until he died about twelve or thirteen years ago, and he was reckoned as being the best and I always thought he was until I realised things could be a lot better; and one thing that caused me a lot of concern is that he had his turntable bolted down to a bench and on this bench he had his turntables and tape recorders and cutting machine and all manner of things. So if he had the tape recorder running alongside that turntable that bolted along to the bench, all the noise that’s coming from the motors of the tape recorder is being transmitted along the bench to that turntable, so it was all manner of things against getting a good sound, so you have to have a sound that’s produced from equipment that is isolated.
So having a 301 I thought in a good plinth that isolates it from other surroundings, in fact I found out since then you’ve got to have a lot of other means of isolation. You’ve got to have well interconnects so the sound that’s transmitted from that cartridge along the interconnect through to the amplifier etc. – you’re not losing quality of sound, and you can’t do this on the cheap. I found somebody who was making plinths for Garrard 301s and he said ‘well you don’t really want me, you go to Tom Fletcher, and he’ll sell you a turntable that’s designed to produce the sort of sound you are after’. So I phoned this guy Tom Fletcher up and he had a company called Nottingham Analogue and I told him what I wanted, and I couldn’t afford a great deal at that time, he said he had a second hand – one of his own turntables that he could let me have for a good price. So I bought that from him. In fact in conversation I found out he was very interested in Jazz, so one thing lead to another in the conversation and I told him of the record collection I had and the spare records I had and he said ‘Oh, what have you got?’ and I was able to find a whole lot of LPs that he was interested in to exchange for this turntable so it didn’t cost me much in the end. I got to know Tom very well. When I went to collect this turntable I saw his latest model and he called it an’ Anna’… and it was made of wood, 400 year old wood was the base of it, and he made it so it looked like a log – so Anna – log you see. [Laughs] and I said ‘How much would it cost for one of those?’ I think it was two and a half thousand pounds and I said ‘Look if I come up with the money, can I have one of those instead of buying this from you?’ and he said ‘I’ve got a waiting list of three years ‘I said ‘Maybe you could put me on the waiting list’ so I bought this other one from him and I kept on to him – ‘could I have one of these Anna’s? ‘and I wore him down and he said ‘ OK, you’re next on the list’ So he took the old turntable I’d brought from him back and he gave me a good price on the Anna it was nowhere near two and a half thousand pounds and he also sold me one of his arms.
Then he made up a design for another turntable which was going to be significantly better than the Anna, and he let me have one of those – I gave him the Anna back and two thousand pounds – a heck of a lot of work went in to this new turntable, it’s the one I have got downstairs now – Tom died about five years ago, and the people that now are operating Nottingham Analogue they just sell that turntable – they don’t sell many of them - £19,000. So I got it from Tom for a bargain price and it really is incredible. So that together with… I’m always buying Hifi magazines, and reading up on what the latest situation is with cartridges and interconnectors, and about five or six years ago I read about this cartridge that was made as a one-off by somebody in New York and it’s called a Strain Gauge cartridge. It’s not – the two cartridges that are the main ones on the market are either a moving coil or a moving magnet, and this is neither of those it’s called a Strain Gauge. A moving magnet cartridge is the best but unfortunately they are designed in such a way that you can’t have an interchangeable stylus assembly so you’ve got to make do with the size stylus tip that’s built in to it and they are for LPs. Now you could buy –for 78’s you’ve got to have different size stylus tips and I’ve got about – twenty different size stylus tips. So in order to use a moving coil cartridge, I’d have to have about twenty different moving coil cartridges, which cost about £3000 each. Now this Strain Gauge cartridge is in my mind better than any moving cartridge, on the market.
Prior to having bought this in fact I bought a moving coil cartridge just to play LP’s with for mono LP’s, not for stereo LP’s. It’s a mono LP cartridge and that cost me £2,000 and I got that through Tom who got that for a trade price for me. So this Strain Gauge cartridge comes together with a piece of electronics, which is affectively the amplifier for it, like a moving coil or a moving magnet cartridge has a phono stage that you plug it into to amplify up to line level; the same sort of level that you would get out of a tape recorder. This one comes with its own electronics and you can have as many different size stylus tips because you can have a different stylus assembly. So it goes in very easily. It is held in with a magnet, so you can put them in very easily….and that is the first time that anybody has been capable of using a cartridge, the best sort of quality cartridge for playing 78’s. Up until now you have only been able to use a moving magnet cartridge, which as I say is not as good as the moving coil. [200’34”]
Interviewer: So in that case, it’s a lot of equipment to do what you do now?
Dave: Oh yes. I imagine over the years I’ve probably spent about £150,000 on equipment.
Interviewer: So what’s motivated you to keep going not just with Jazz but to go in this direction with your activities?
Dave: Well, because I’m keen on getting the best sound out of 78’s, and you can’t achieve so much better than is put on an LP or on a CD – you can re-equalize it to make it sound better and that re-equalization that sounds better for you, but that might not sound better as far somebody else is concerned. All the work I was doing for Avid, I would say it was the best sound. I can’t remember what we said on the CDs but I’d word it such that it gave the impression that this was better than anything that had gone before which in my estimation it was. I’d get some people saying that they disagreed with me, and they’re within their rights to tell me that. That’s why downstairs I have several different pairs of speakers and I have different speakers here, you’ve got to get it such that, it does sound good on whatever you play it on and I will admit that some things I’ve done sounded good on the speakers I was using at the time, and the original sound might be better on these speakers than what I’d re-mastered to. I have never come across much I’ve done that I am disappointed in such that I’d be ashamed of it but I’m always happy that what I’ve done is a reasonable effort.
Another thing I found is that with a stereo recording, there are devices on the market that enable you to bring one side of the stereo more in line with the other side, it brings it more in phase. They’re mainly for when you are recording multi-track so if you are recording a double bass from the amplifier with one microphone and direct from the bass itself with another microphone, you’ve got that time lag between that microphone on the amplifier and that microphone on the bass so you can adjust with this piece of equipment such that it compensates for the time lag; and I found that by using that equipment on any kind of stereo recording, most times you can improve the sound of the stereo and that’s not a matter of ‘it won’t sound good on that sort of speaker in comparison to that sort of speaker’. It works on every type of speaker but not everyone can hear it unfortunately. But the people who do tune in can hear it and have bothered to listen to the original recording, they can hear it has got a much broader sound and much better tone and quality. [203’51”]
Interviewer: And would you say then, the future of what you’re doing now then is, you’ve kind of said a little bit that you want to get it out here and have other people listen to it as well?
Dave: Oh yeah of course yeah, but I can’t do everything unfortunately so I think the years that I’ve got left, I’m gonna concentrate on getting the best sound out of 78’s, I might like to go back to improve some sounds of stereo recordings, I’ve got all the gear to do that with but that’s ever so time consuming. It is the sort of thing where you have got to battle on until you definitely achieve something. That is the best you can get out of it. I’ve come across a couple of stereo recordings where I can't possibly improve on what’s there – they generally speaking, are bad recordings in the first place that sound a bit dead and there’s no way that by adjusting the phase you can improve on it. You can change the sound around but it doesn’t necessarily improve on it.
Another thing I found out is that you can’t keep working at it eight hours constantly… I should point this out, even with acoustic recordings, you’ve got to consider the recordings that were done on the same day. The next day the musicians might go in to that same studio and stand in different positions, blowing in to those horns and they’ve got a different sound, even within the same session sometimes that happens. So with these Louis Armstrong’s - the first three tracks were done on one day, and they all happened to coincide with whatever I do with the first one it sounds good for the others. Then the next track is just one title, just a couple of days later, and that’s got an entirely different sound so I’ve got to treat each one separately. Sometimes there are six tracks that are recorded on one day, and they’ve got much the same sound character, so that’s easy once you’ve sorted out the first one, they might vary slightly but then it’s just a bit of tweaking but then I’ll come to another batch when they sound ever so thin and weedy, and all four have got the same thin and weedy sound but you’ve got to work really hard on that thin, weedy sound to get a something worthwhile out of it and then when I do get a good sound out of that thin and weedy sound, it’s a vast difference to the CD I was comparing with – John RT’s [John RT Davis] because he was working with inferior equipment, he just had one parametric equalizer and used to tweak it a little bit and that was it, so he didn't take much time over it, whereas I might take three or four days over just three tracks. I do it and think that’s great, that’s probably the best I can get out of it. Then I go away and come back the next day and hear all the things that are wrong with it that I couldn’t hear the previous day.
Interviewer: And do you get other people in often to get other opinions as well?
Dave: I do, I send it to friends and ask them to listen to it; and this Louis Armstrong material started I working on in earnest about two years ago, and what I did two years ago even though I had this good equipment, I was messing things up because I was going in the wrong direction, and by sending those recordings out to people for them to hear in their own environment, told me that I wasn’t doing things right. Some people said ‘Yeah, great’ and others said ‘No, I can hear too much hum on it’ but they were all constructive in what they said about it and it taught me a lot.
Interviewer: So in terms of what you’re doing now and throughout your career then would you say that you’ve got anything you’re particularly proud of that you’ve done within Jazz whether it’s what you’re doing now or previously?
Dave: Well I can say that the Trummy Young stuff I recorded, I'm not proud of it from the point of view of it being a great recording but I’m very proud of it being that’s the only material I know of where Tummy is playing just with a rhythm section behind him. There were some at Louis’s 70th birthday concert that they had in Los Angeles [shows the interviewer something] and that’s been issued on GHP records but I have never heard it. I must get hold of a copy but that is just a recording in concert. My recording of Trummy is the only one of him doing his regular nightclub act, so that’s a document that I’m very proud of. Other things that I’m very proud of that not many people would know about – I told you I had this 8mm sound camera, and that night we went to see Bing at the Palladium where we had the Royal box, I had my 8mm sound camera then, and we went back stage and in the dressing room there – Milt Hilton was the bass player and Milt was one of the all-time great bass players and he had his bass standing there in the dressing room playing a few notes and Joe Bushkin said to him ‘play a solo for Dave’ and so he played the bass for me, and the film lasted for 3 ¼ minutes, so I’ve got 3 ¼ minutes of Milt just playing bass and the acoustics in the room were terrific so that’s a nice document. On YouTube recently, I found - if you enter in: Papa Joe, I can’t remember how it came up… I often enter in on YouTube, Louis Armstrong, and certain things came up - but this never came up before and it’s a television show, and it must have been the last appearance on television that Louis made and it’s Joe Jones on drums – it’s a pick up band effectively but he had his regular piano player, his regular clarinet player, his regular drummer – he didn’t have his regular drummer, he’s got Joe Jones on drums and Milt Hinton on bass so the rest of the band, he had his regular piano player - Marty Marsala, he had Tyree Glen on trombone and Joe Maraney on clarinet, so four of them in the regular band but Milt on Bass and Joe Jones on drums who weren’t in his band. You’ve got Milt playing a bass solo but that’s the only bass solo I’ve seen with visual. [212’01”]
Interviewer: So it’s quite a unique – yeah
Dave: Well he’s just playing by himself so it is quite a unique – yeah, it’s nothing sensational but to me it is. I’ve got other little bits of film I’ve taken obviously are one offs (sic) and I did a nice recording session at Pizza Express with Humphrey Lyttelton and Wally Fawkes they didn’t record much in the latter years. Have you heard of Wally Fawkes? Wally Fawkes was the clarinet player that worked with Humph in the early years. Wally was better known as….have you ever heard of a cartoonist called Trog? [213’05”]
Interviewer: So in terms of Jazz itself what has that meant to your life as well?
Dave: I’m very proud of the fact I brought Al Casey over. He went to France in the 70’s and worked over there, but he hadn’t done a great deal since then. There were people who were very enthusiastic about me bringing him over and one of them was Ian Stewart. He was the piano player with the Rolling Stones but he was booted out in the early days cause the guy who took over management said he didn't fit the image but he still worked with the Stones and occasionally recorded with them but he said to me that he would lend me one of the Rolling Stones guitars for Al but I borrowed the guitars I told you about from, Maurice Summerfield and this was a Gibson guitar which should have been great but it just hadn’t been looked after and Al couldn’t play it, it was in such a bad state. So it gives you an idea of how the Rolling stones looked after their instruments… but Ian was a nice guy.
Interviewer: Would you say you’ve kind of had that interaction quite a lot with other genres a swell even though you were mainly focussed on Jazz and Blues did you know a lot of people in different?
Dave: I only knew Ian because he used to come in to Pizza Express and he had a band called Rocket 88, which Charlie Watts used to play drums with sometimes. And he was just a genuine enthusiast, and he saw Al in New York. And he became a fan of Al’s in the same way I was. He was also a film collector. In fact I’ve got a – he lent me a piece of film of Billie Holliday because after he lent it to me, he died but I didn’t know who to give it back to. So I’m ashamed to say [laughs] it still belongs to him. I think I’m pleased I’ve managed to achieve what I have achieved. I’m not doing much in the way of Jazz presentations but I do do occasional things, there’s a place here in Basingstoke – the Irish Centre and that came about because somebody I used to teach back in the 60’s, he used to come to the school, and he had a stroke about 15 years ago, and he managed to bring himself back so that he was capable of living a reasonable existence but he was not fully recovered. But he decided that he’d put concerts on to raise money for the local stroke association and he found this venue - the Irish Centre where he could use the room for nothing, all they’d do is run the bar and make money from that so we’ve been putting things on two or three times a year there, and my old friend Chris Barber he has done two or three occasions. So apart from his own big band, the only time he worked for a small band in recent years was for me there and other little jobs I fixed for him.
Interviewer: So you’re still quite active then in a lot of areas?
Dave: No, that’s all really.
Interviewer: Would you say that your activities over the years have had any particular impact as you would see it on Jazz or?
Dave: It’s not had any impact but obviously the Pizza Express Jazz club is still going so that’s had that lasting effect. Had it not been for my input there, maybe that wouldn’t have happened in the way it did.
Interviewer: And just finally then would you say that Jazz has had any impact on British culture as you see it?
Dave: I don’t think it has really. Only in so far as it’s a very minority interest and it’s had an effect on that minority. There was a far greater effect in the 50’s before I even thought about becoming involved. Who are the people who have had the most influence over here? I suppose the record companies. Because without them, the influence wouldn’t have been here in the first place would it? It would’ve just been a localised thing and someone like Dennis Preston had an enormous effect… Paul Adams has had an enormous effect as he almost re-invented the Trad era. So there are people around like Paul who keep the interest going and record companies like Avid who take advantage of material that’s fallen out of copyright and make it to the public at a low price that they can afford. Everybody now has a chance to hear everything but of course the media don’t point people in the right direction or give people the chance to be pointed in the direction that they could become interested in. So Jazz is overlooked by the Media now. And on the radio, there used to be regular live sessions by bands – that no longer exists. You’ve got people like Alan Shipton who worked …you might like to go and interview him some time, he lives in Oxford. DO you want his telephone number? [220’22”]
(Interviewer restates the question about impact)
Well the important thing to have a real impact, are recordings, so anybody who’s persevered with making recordings available to the public they are the ones who produced the most interest because the way that musicians have become known is through the media; and now that the BBC is ignoring them all, and I don’t know what purpose this is going to serve in the end but it might serve some small purpose but, to me it’s sad that some of the greatest musicians in the world are being overlooked and people who are amateurs by comparison are praised to the Gods. I mean most pop musicians are little children by comparison, they don’t know what it’s all about but that’s my point of view [laughs]. A musician who is capable of really playing his instrument and expressing himself on it in the way that someone like Louis Armstrong did – they’re absolutely priceless and there are people who are not fit to lick the boots of someone like Chris Barber even. Chris has made a good name for himself and deservedly so but there are other musicians who have never had a chance to have a look in. Chris has been very fortunate. Anyway, what can you do? You can’t do anything, you’ve just got to
Interviewer: Do what you’re doing.
Dave: Most of the people who are involved in Jazz are not too worried about making lots of money, they are just important from the point of view of they do the best they can, and have a good time doing it.
Interviewer: Thank you very much.