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Bebop Spoken There

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Nigel Stanger Update by Germaine

Dear Lance, We are so grateful that you remembered Nigel on the tenth anniversary of his death. His daughters, son in law, grandchildren and I, spent the 15th of March in Beadnell where his ashes are buried. It was the place he spent his teenage summers. I doubt Nigel played alto behind the WI hut, although I remember him talking of doing other things there and of singing "For those in peril on the sea', whenever his father tempted him out in his sailing dingy.
Nigel said they were only ever fifteen feet from shore and people, attracted by the volume of his singing, would wade in to rescue him. Nigel got his own back when he and his father played, (with undisguised rivalry,) 'The Entrance of the Queen of Sheba' on a couple of grand pianos. They fitted together like jig saw pieces.
I met Nigel's father when I was singing with the Johnny Taws trio, at the Gosforth Park Hotel. He told me of his pianos and that his son played jazz. I was, and indeed am, generally unimpressed by the number of pianos people own, or indeed, offspring claiming to be jazz musicians, however I became interested when, shortly afterwards, I heard Nigel play. He was with his quartet at a Newcastle Big Band gig in Eldon Square, at which I too was performing. I thought Nigel was showing off. Later I knew that it wasn't 'showing off,' merely brilliant musicianship. There was no distance between player and instrument, they were one. Later I understood the extent of Nigel's creativity, which encompassed playing, in addition to alto and tenor saxophones, piano and Hammond organ. He also had great skill as a writer and an architect. He had degrees in both English and architecture.
To his family and friends however, it is possibly his humour that is remembered on an everyday basis, he was a very witty man. His command of English, coupled with physical expressions, generated so much laughter we were helpless for much of the time. This humour was what drew Nigel and Chas Chandler together, years after they played in the 'Animals’. The outcome of that friendship (and copious giggling,) was the Newcastle Arena. Sitting in the Collingwood Arms, Jesmond, designing the future on the back of an envelope, during a game of chess.
Alex, Jessica, Ben and I were still laughing when Nigel was very ill in hospital, saying things like the WC Field's classic, "On the whole I'd rather be in Philadelphia," or as Madeline Chandler reminded me this morning, "I married a torch singer who turned into a fell walker,when I wasn't looking.'
His humour helped to hide the hideous brutality of a cancer that killed him at the early age of 56. So, when we all gathered around his grave, in the sunshine, last Sunday, it was with great sadness, with love and with laughter. We apologized to him for being unable to bury a vast quantity of booze in his grave, for going for a slap up lunch without him, and for playing in the sand with the granddaughters he never met. They call him Grandpa Nigel. I can almost hear him say "I can't be called Grandpa. I'm a mere boy and my name, to them and everyone else, is N I G E L, or on second thoughts, WJN Stanger sounds OK. I used to play the saxophone you know. Unfortunately, there's very little call for it here. It would help if John Pearce, Alfie Parker, Ronnie Pearson, Pat Crumly, Alexis Korner, Lyndolph D'Oliveira and Malcolm Saul could drop in." Is this Ok Lance? I was so very glad you remembered. We think the photograph of Nigel clapping is terrific and we haven't got a copy???
All best. Germaine.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

Wot no bass player? Or is he keeping the gig open for Sting?

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