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Saturday, June 27, 2009

The Mighty Joe Young Band - City Hall 1961

Prob line-up: John Walters (tpt/vcl), Barry Robinson (alt), Leo Harwood, (ten), Dick Errington (bar), Bill Harper? (pno), Brian Fisher (bs), John 'Joe' Young (gtr), Ian Forbes (dms). + Eric Burdon.
I've recently obtained a recording of the Mighty Joe Young Band playing live at Newcastle City Hall in 1961 - an event that was advertised as "The City Hall Jazz Festival" - possibly the city's first ever jazz festival?
It is an eyeopener. Much has been made, and rightly so, of the Emcee 5 on the local scene but this band was up there with them and I would be so bold as to say that, at the time, John Walters was probably a better trumpet player than Ian Carr. Ian, of course went on to achieve international status whilst John became a Radio 1 producer; a role he performed until his death in 2001 aged 62. Had John Walters remained a trumpet-player who knows what heights he may have reached musically - if not financially. He also sings on "Just Squeeze Me" but we won't talk about that!
Ian Forbes, who provided me with the recording, drives the band along forcefully dropping bombs at the appropriate target points - "Standing Room Only" a case in point. On alto, Barry Robinson is featured extensively on "Jeep's Blues".
More Ellington with "The Jeep Is Jumping" and punchy solos all round.
"Let The Good Times Roll" has the pre-Animal Eric Burdon shouting the blues whilst the band riff along behind. Even though the recording verges on the primitive it doesn't detract from the music - quality nostalgia.
This begs the question, were you there? April 21, 1961 was the date - you must remember - it's only 48 years ago. If you were there let us have your memories.


Anonymous said...

I would be very interested in obtaining a copy of the recording of the Joe Young session ,Can you help?

Barry Robinson.

Lance said...

Hi Barry, I don't normally copy discs for obvious reasons but seeing as you are actually on the recording if you email me we can arrange something.
Do you have much recollection of the concert - 50 years on?

Leo Harwood / Angela Penwarden said...

Hi Lance
I am sat here with my 87yr old father Leo Harwood, saxophonist with Mighty Joe Young who remembers the night in '61 very well!

He has loads of stories to tell! Many photos and newspaper articles. We moved to Poole in 1975 and dad is still very much part of the Jazz scene in Dorset, even though he hasn't played for many years - he still has his sax. It would be great to hear from anyone that remembers him. He remembers the above concert very well, has a tape recording of it and the programme. He has just been telling me all about it and Mr Scott! Hope to hear from you soon.

Best wishes
Angela and Leo

Lance said...

I remember Leo from the days when I worked in Windows music shop alongside Ronnie McLean and Hughie Aitchison. Hughie, I recall, would have a blow with Leo and others on a Thursday down at the Wheatsheaf in New York (not THE New York but a small hamlet near Whitley Bay.)
Good to know he is still involved in the jazz scene and would love to post some of his stories and photos on Bebop Spoken Here.

Leo Harwood/Angela Penwarden said...

I have some great photos from dad which i can scan and a little resume of his time in the band. Shall i send you an email? My auntie Rose used to work in Windows, do you remember her - Rose Mulligan?

Lance said...

That would be great - look forward to them. Email me at
Yes I reminder Rose. A lovely person. Very genteel.

Leo Harwood/Angela Penwarden said...

That's great, i will do this soon. Dad seems to remember your name!

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