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Bebop Spoken There

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Sunday, December 25, 2016

Memories of Jazz on a Sunday Afternoon. Part One - The Bluebell, Felling.

The first Sunday lunchtime jazz I encountered was, circa 1960 at the Bluebell pub in Felling. At the time I was playing cornet in a brass band (saxophone was lurking on the horizon..) I'd been playing with the band at the Durham Miners Gala and chilling out (sobering up) in a local CIU club. A guy came up and said, "Can I borrow your cornet?) "Okay" I replied, thinking, odds on Oh Mein Papa.
Was I wrong! He blew At the Jazz Band Ball better than Freddy Randall! Afterward, after I'd complimented him on his playing, he invited me to hear him really play and to come along to the Bluebell, a pub in Felling the following Sunday morning.
Despite a massive hangover (obligatory after a Durham Miners' Gala) I turned up and wasn't disappointed.
This was the late Teddy Langston (on the the left of the picture - I'm the guy on the right). A trumpet player who, like Kenny Baker, could cut it with both jazz group and brass band. These days most guys can but, back then, there was a great divide. Also in the band was Arthur Luke on trombone and double bass. Arthur had been with Henry Hall, I'd went to school with his daughter, and he could play That's a Plenty on trombone manipulating the slide with his feet.
The band had Arthur's nephew Billy Luke on piano, Ray Johnson on guitar and Jimmy Stephenson on drums.
They played great together yet all hated each other! Perhaps that was what made the music so good - competition.
Pro players from the Oxford Galleries would drop by looking for an easy jam and find it was anything but easy to cut these guys!
When the differences between them became too great they split and some younger guys moved in. These included Brian Chester, Jimmy Stewart, Ronnie Young and Gordon Solomon. All of whom would feature in other Sunday lunchtime sessions elsewhere... (To be continued)
Lance.

4 comments :

Brian Bennett said...

Have you still got your tartan jacket, Lance? Collector's piece!

Lance said...

We had two sets. A blue tartan and a red tartan. I've still got the red tartan. That particular photo was taken in 1975 at Feathers caravan park club at Whitley Bay. We were the Lighthouse Show Band - not to be confused with the Lighthouse All Stars in L.A. As if there could be any confusion!

Brian said...

Wow! You must show it off sometime! Knock em' dead at the Jazz Caff!
Coincidently, I also played a Friday night session in 'The Galleon' club at Feathers in the early 70's. 6-piece trad band which included Biff Smith, cornet; Martin Simon, tenor and Brian Sibbald, bass. Lots of 'happy' Scots holiday makers stumbling around the dance floor - their favourite dance was a kind of line dance called 'The Slosh'. Happy days!

Lance said...

Yes it was popular with Scottish holiday lasses many of whom (I'm told) said 'Och aye'. The audience changed every couple of weeks so you didn't have to worry about learning new tunes. I remember 'The Slosh' which was around the time sequence and line dancing started to take hold and the once triumphant quicksteps and foxtrots were dealt the death blow that had begun some years previous with The Twist.
With the advent of 'Strictly Come Dancing' the ballroom has once more become a focal point although I don't recall seeing much dancing like that at Felling Palais or Jarrow Store Hall!
Come in Len Goodman!

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