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Bebop Spoken There

Brian Dee: "I feel my generation had one advantage over today's players in that we were not musically educated in colleges, so we all sounded different. I could tell who it was just by the sound." - (Jazz Rag, Summer 2020).

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11,783 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1023 of them this year alone and, so far, 50 this month (Sept. 17).

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SEPTEMBER

IT IS ADVISABLE TO CHECK IN ADVANCE WITH THE VENUE THAT THE GIG IS ON

SATURDAY

Happy Birthday Katy Trigger & Mia Webb.

SUNDAY 20

Vieux Carre Hot 4 - Spanish City, Spanish City Plaza, Whitley Bay NE26 1BG. Tel: 0191 691 7090. 12 noon. Free.

Riviera Quartet - The Globe, 11 Railway St., Newcastle NE4 7AD. 8:00pm. A limited number of seats are available which MUST be bought in advance online. £7:50 or £5:45 live stream only.

THURSDAY 24

Vieux Carre Jazzmen - The Holystone, Whitley Road, North Tyneside NE27 0DA. 0191 266 6173. 1:00pm. Free.

Maine St Jazzmen - Sunniside Social Club, Sunniside Road, Sunniside NE16 5NA. Tel: 0191 488 7347. 8:00pm - 10pm. Free. Note earlier start/finish.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Book Review: Geoff Leonard & Pete Walker - Hit and Miss: The Story of the John Barry Seven

The John Barry 7 could by no means be classified as a jazz group although most of their members, including John Barry Prendergast himself, were certainly jazz orientated. JBP studied 'Composition and Orchestration', via a correspondence course, with Stan Kenton arranger Bill Russo and it may come as a surprise to find that the seven's pianist Les Reed, who later penned Engelbert Humperdink's hit recording of The Last Waltz, was considered a first-rate jazz musician.

The book covers the career of the group from Barry's early days at the Rialto in York, the dropping of his surname, the musical partnership with Adam Faith, the Radio and TV shows such as Saturday Club, Oh Boy and Drumbeat and the endless one-night stands up and down the land.

The seven peaked during the period bookended by the post-Bill Haley/Freddy Bell era and the arrival of The Beatles during which time they were second only to The Shadows as an instrumental group. Later, Barry would achieve individual acclaim as a composer - The James Bond Theme being perhaps his greatest success although there were many others including picking up five Oscars for various film soundtracks before his death in 2011.

Authors Leonard and Walker, building on Leonard's earlier work - John Barry: The Man With The Midas Touch, give an almost day by day account of the ups and downs of the concerts, broadcasts, recording sessions and gigs at venues as contrasting as the Royal Albert Hall in London and the Top Hat Club in Spennymoor.

Of particular interest to readers in the northeast are the references to the late Bobby Carr who played trumpet with the band after Barry decided to concentrate on composing and arranging. Bobby, a legend himself in the northeast (born at 9 Pioneer Tce., Bedlington on March 6, 1930), is recorded as bemoaning the fact he got so few jazz opportunities with the band. Cormac Loane, well-known former Newcastle based saxist, also paid a warm tribute to Bobby who died on March 13, 1979.

Further local interest surfaces in the form of Johnny Worth (a.k.a Les Vandyke) who penned a score of hits for Adam Faith and others. Johnny's son, Cristos Worsley, was active on the Tyneside scene playing bass guitar with a band called HCW (John Hirst/Ed Carr/Cristos Worsley) although I haven't seen him around for a few years.

Barry comes across as someone who knew where he was going and how to get there 
A fascinating, well-written book covering the scene before the beat boom of the sixties decimated everything that had preceded it - at least for a time.

Within the 350 pages are a host of photos, lots of memorabilia in the form of record sleeves, theatre posters, programmes, publicity handouts, musical press extracts along with a discography, bibliography, index and much much more...

There's still time to get if for Christmas if you hurry otherwise you'll have to use up those gift vouchers that mysteriously appear at the foot of the tree on Christmas Day.
Recommended.
Lance.

PS: A couple of minor corrections.
1 - Dizzy Reece was Jamaican, not American (p. 84). 
2 - The Rialto Cinema in York wasn't the only place in the north to present bands such as Count Basie, Duke Ellington etc. The City Hall and the Odeon Cinema in Newcastle also featured concerts by American big bands (p.20).

Hit and Miss: The Story of the John Barry Seven by Geoff Leonard & Pete Walker. Published by Redcliffe Press Ltd., 81G Pembroke Rd., Bristol BS8 3EA. 
ISBN 9781911408 390. (Hardback £30).

3 comments :

Unknown said...

______

I received my copy of HIT AND MISS (in Texas from Bristol England) in less than a week and I'm thrilled with the high standards of excellence on every page.

So many "fanboy" books are not much better than teenybopper scrapbooks.
Not this tome, however!

I didn't want to risk not having it by Christmas so I gifted myself :)

Money well spent--highly recommended by me.

Thank you so much for this review. Now others who appreciate the history of this music will have a heads up.



Liz said...

Re John Barry 7, yes, my era, I knew them all, and lived near Barry, remember walking home with him one night after some dance or other. Barry was his name, Barry Prendergast, we all knew him by that name. His sister June was another one of the family who I knew, also his dad, Xavier. The Rialto was like a second home to me, Sunday night band shows...such great times...

Geoff Leonard said...

Thanks for the review, which in my opinion (co-author) was a very fair one. I would just mention that if anybody is interested in purchasing a copy, there's a discount of £7.50 if you buy direct from me! http://johnbarry.org.uk/johnbarryseven/

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