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Bebop Spoken There

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13,530 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 13 years ago. 948 of them this year alone and, so far, 112 this month (July 31).

Monday, September 25, 2017

Maurice Summerfield remembers Mike Carr

(Tribute by Maurice Summerfield).
I  was very sad to hear that Mike Carr had died.  My friendship and musical association with Mike go back almost 60 years. 
I believe we first met through our mutual friend bassist Alan Collins. Alan and I were playing in various small jazz groups in the Newcastle area.  In 1958 Mike was offered a regular Monday night jazz spot at the High Point Hotel in Whitley Bay.  He put together the Mike Carr Quintet to play there with himself on vibraphone, the late Bernie Thorp on piano, Alan Collins on bass, Ian Forbes on drums and myself on guitar.  This became a regular jazz night for the quintet for around two years.  During that time Bernie, Alan and I also played Tuesday and Thursday evenings as the ‘Bernie Thorp Trio’ in the Marimba Coffee Bar on High Bridge .  (The 1959 photo shows Mike Carr (vibes) , Alan Collins (bass) , Maurice Summerfield (guitar)  and Len Gatoff (drums).  Bernie Thorp (piano) not on photo.)
Mike’s High Point quintet also played a few times at the Downbeat Club in Newcastle.  Like the Marimba this venue was owned by Mike Jeffery who gained fame as Jimi Hendrix’s manager.  These were memorable gigs.  I remember the then unknown Eric Burdon and Alan Price once sat in and played during our interval.

By early 1960 Mike was playing piano and vibes regularly in the Newcastle area  with tenor player Gary Cox, Mike’s brother Ian on trumpet, Malcom Cecil on bass and Ronnie Stephenson on drums.  This was a formidable group indeed eventually gaining international fame as the ‘Em Cee Five’.  I was lucky enough to play with this group a couple of times at the Union Club on the West Road, Newcastle upon Tyne.

Mike Carr was truly a great swinging jazz musician,  and in my estimation not fully recognised for his great talents.  He went on to play his Hammond B3 organ with many jazz greats over the next 40 years.  In 1960 I gave up playing in public in order to devote my energies to my business.  However Mike and I  continued to stay in touch right up until quite recently. In 2012 he was my guest at a Musicians Company jazz evening in London.  He told me then he had not played for two years and this surprised me as he looked so well.  I now realise he was in the early stages of dementia.  In 2015 his son Robert emailed me to say Mike had dementia and it would be nice if he could arrange a Skype meeting between Mike and I to have a chat.  I agreed and we did this.  However, sadly,  it was obvious Mike did not really recognise me.

Despite his busy life I was always impressed that Mike was also a devoted father.  After the early death of his wife Mike was exemplary in bringing up his son and handicapped daughter alone over very many years.
On this YouTube clip Mike is with Dave Cliff (guitar) and Harold Smith (drums).
Maurice S.

1 comment :

Paul Thompson (on F/b). said...

Several years ago Mike (on Hammond B3) and his combo were appearing at the Darlington Arts Centre. During the interval I chatted to him and told him that his brother Ian (the trumpeter) had taught me at the John Marley School in Newcastle and one day had given me a hundred lines 0 "I must try not to behave like a barbarian" to which Mike replied "He's a prick!"

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