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Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Frank Sparrow - THE MAN - by John Taylor. UPDATED.

Anyone remember Frank Sparrow the saxophone repairer? He overhauled my alto. When I was 40 my Mam was 80. She gave me £40 for my birthday My lifelong friend Terry Fenwick (tenor) arranged for Frank to do some work on my Selmer Console clarinet and Buescher alto sax. Frank wanted £30 for a weeks work - I gave him the £40. Frank had a 3 piece band that played around Bedlington. They always wore dinner jackets and Frank showed me a picture of him in the 1920's - same dinner jacket! He had 14 saxes and a Mk7 he never played . He just took it out of the case and looked at it!! A character.
When Ashington Jazz Club started 26 years ago there were two punters we always looked out for. One was a local councillor called Craig Brown - he got Labour Party funding for the club. He was an Armstrong fanatic and he called his first son Louis Armstrong Brown. The other was Frank Sparrow. It may have been that Frank was a conscientious objector as he was a first aider during the war (not sure which war!) After the war he became a full time first aider at Woodhorn Colliery where our dads worked. As there was a lot of spare time (not many accidents ) he did his saxophone mechanic-ing at work. The ambulance room was in the pit baths and they say that every day you could hear Frank blowing an instrument in. He still found time to run his 3 pc band and work in Max Shares on a Saturday! His first wife left him because of his addiction to the sax. His second wife loved music and he loved her. I used to hear his 3 pc at a local club and he said to me - hand on heart - that when he met her -"It gets you there, not in your trousers". Another famous quote was "I bought a new jazz record by (I think it was Bix) and played it straight away. I said to myself, 'BLOW ME FRANKIE YOU HAVE BEEN PLAYING LIKE THAT FOR YEARS." Frank came to Ashington Jazz club by push bike from Bedlington. Six bottles of brown ale later he set off home - no doubt picking up some repair work from the band (and possibly giving some to the local bike repairer)! When Frank worked in Max Shares music shop I went there to buy sheet music and I thought he was Max Share.
John Taylor

2 comments :

Lance said...

Bix and Frankie Trumbauer were his idols. He wasn't impressed when I mentioned Charlie Parker to him.

John Sparrow said...

What a surprise to come across this short story about my Grandad !!

My Dad, Maurice, was wondering if Ashington Jazz Club still exists ?

He has been clearing the loft and has come across some Dixieland Jazz Lp's....Would they be of interest to anyone ?

Yet another coincidence in this story is that I grew up with Louis son Mark Brown and still see Louis regularly at Ashington Football Club...small world.

If anyone is interested in the Lp's you can contact me at
spug1@live.co.uk

John

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