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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Bungalow Jazz Club, South Shields. Recalled by Jim McD.

I wonder how many jazz fans ‘of a certain age’ recall the Bungalow Jazz Club in South Shields? Situated behind the County Hotel and attached to the local cricket/rugby ground it was, during the 1960s, perhaps better known as a dance studio (The Gilbert Daniels’ School of Dancing.) However, on, I think, Sunday (or was it Friday?) evenings it became a modern jazz club. It wasn’t a club in the sense that paying customers sat at tables and listened with intent – no Corner House/Blue Note furrowed brows here. They drank, smoked, socialized and, horror of horrors, even talked - sometimes quite loudly so that they could be heard above the music. They may even have attempted to dance. Those few who were more interested in modern jazz stood closer to the bandstand. Many musicians passed through, some fleetingly others on a more regular basis. Fondly remembered are; Kenny Morrell (piano), Dave Fox (drums), Joe Cooper (piano) - he specialized in Brubeckian renditions such as “When You Wish Upon a Star” from ‘Dave plays Disney’ - pianist Frankie Hedley, tenorman Eric Pollard and, of course, arranger/trombonist Ray Chester (now 80 yrs and despite physical setbacks still playing I believe!) I would guess that Tommy Moran would have also been in there blowing alto. Now comes a bit of a mystery. There was a young man playing piano; the brother of a soon to be world famous drummer, the pianists name - Billy Stephenson, the drummer’s first name Ronnie. Ronnie Stephenson met up with Ian and Mike Carr and became one of the founding members of possibly the greatest jazz group to come out of the north east, I refer to the Emcee Five who, at the time, played a regular gig at the Down Beat Club, Newcastle. I would be delighted to know what became of Billy Stephenson - one of the Bungalow’s finest. I recall, fairly recently, talking to a Bungalow regular. He told the tale of how one of the club’s ‘socialisers’ – he’d go there to chat up the ladies rather than to dig the music - went to a Buddy Rich concert. Asked what he thought of Buddy the fellow replied, “It was amazing - he plays just like Dave Fox.” Although my own experience of Jazz at the Bungalow was limited to a few visits during 1960/61, it was a venue that left a lasting impression on me and furthered my interest in Modern Jazz. Jim McDowell.
Editors note; As Dave's daughter Debbie has added a comment I have brought this post forward in the hope that there are others around who may remember the Bungalow Jazz club and Dave Fox and who may even have photos.

4 comments :

Lance said...

I think Billy Stephenson may have led a band at La Dolcé Vita the premier night club of its day. A second brother, Bob Stephenson, played drums and vibes. I think he did a spell with the NDO (Northrtn Dance Orchestra). I met him when he was a rep for one of the distributers to the music trade.

Deb Hickman was Fox said...

Dave Fox's daughter Debbie here - I am chuffed to know someone else thought my Dad was as good a drummer if not better than his hero Buddy Rich! He was also a big Art Blakey fan. Dave died 8 years ago to the day today which prompted me to google him for the first time - thanks for the memory!!

Deb Hickman was Fox said...

Re your editor's note - That's really kind - thanks!

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is Bob Stephenson's daughter, and Ronnie Stephenson's niece. Dad did have a band at La Dolce Vita for many years. He has lived and worked in Scotland since 1980, until he retired 15 years ago. Still playing!

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