|Pete Chilver discography...|
Born in Windsor, Berkshire 1924 Pete Chilver initially played piano before taking up the guitar at the age of thirteen and becoming, by 1947, a legendary figure, widely regarded by his contempories as one of the best of the British bebop pioneer musicians. John Lewis, then pianist in the Dizzy Gillespie big band at the time picked him out for special praise. He had started with his own band the Silver Sovereigns in Slough in 1940 and in 1942 worked with pianist Ralph Sharon, also in Slough, in the Embassy Aces.
He was released from war work, as a draughtsman, to broadcast with the bands of Johnny Claes, Teddy Foster, Jimmy Mesene and others. In the summer of 1946 he joined Ray Ellington's band at the Bag O'Nails Club until joining Tito Burns in the winter of 1946. During 1947 he worked with Jack Jackson, George Shearing, Stephane Grappelli and others.
In 1947, together with drummer Laurie Morgan, he had planned to became the first of the British musicians to make the trip to New York to hear the new bebop at first hand. According to his son this did not happen mail...
The flat he shared with fellow guitarist Dave Goldberg in central London was where many young musicians gathered, in 1949, to hear and discuss the bebop records beginning to come from the USA. From 1947 to 1949 he had several spells with Ted Heath and Ambrose and guested with the Skyrockets to accompany Benny Goodman. He then freelanced until he joined the Ralph Sharon Sextet in late 1949. In 1950 he went into hotel management in Scotland and never played professionally again! Much of his recorded work has been re-issued on CD. Of all the players of the time his solos on these CD's show him as fluent and at ease with the bebop medium. He died in Edinburgh on March 16th, 2008.
Melody Maker's Jazz Rally - June 29th, 1947 (All issued on Columbia)
Dave Wilkins (tp), Woolf Phillips (tb), Harry Parry (cl), Reggie Dare (ts), Ralph Sharon (p), Pete Chilver (g), Jack Fallon (b), Norman Burns (d).
Who's Sorry Now (part 1)/Who's Sorry Now (part 2).
Reg Arnold (tp), Woolf Phillips (tb), Frank Weir (cl), Ronnie Scott (ts), George Shearing (p), Pete Chilver (g), Jack Fallon (b), Norman Burns (d).
Blue Moon (part 1)*/Blue Moon (part 2)*.
(*Proper Records 4CD Box set - Jazz in Britain 1919 - 1950)
Ted Heath and his Music - October 24th/25th/27th, 1947 (Decca) details
Ted Heath and his Music - November 22nd, 1947 (Decca) details
Ted Heath and his Music - December 2nd, 1947 (Decca) details
Ted Heath and his Music - December 23rd, 1947 (Decca) details
Ted Heath and his Music - Late, 1947 (Broadcast) details
The Esquire Five - January 13th, 1948 (Esquire)
Ronnie Scott (ts), Pete Chilver (g), Ralph Sharon (p), Jack Fallon (b), Carlo Krahmer (d).
Lady Be Good*^/Boppin' At Esquire*^/Idabop^/What Is This Thing Called Love^.
(^Indigo CD - Boppin' At Esquire)
(*Giant Steps Records CD - Great Scott)
(^Charly/Esquire 4 CD box set - bebop IN BRITAIN - issued in 1991 currently only available second hand...)
(^Proper Records 4CD Box set - Ronnie Scott "Boppin' With Scott")
Ted Heath and his Music - April 7th, 1948 (Decca) details
Jack Parnell and his Quartet - April 9th, 1948 (Decca)
Tommy Whittle (ts), Norman Stenfalt (p), Pete Chilver (g), Charlie Short (b), Jack Parnell (d,vcl).
Hide Parker (unissued)/You've Got What It Takes (unissued).
Ted Heath and his Music - April 19th, 1948? (London) details
Ted Heath and his Music - April 21st, 1948 (London/Decca) details
Ted Heath and his Music - April 22nd, 1948 (London/Decca) details
Erik Frank - June 3rd, 1948 (Decca)
Erik Frank (acc) Norman Stenfalt (p), Pete Chilver (g), Charlie Short (b), Jack Parnell (d,vcl).
Running A Temperature/Star Dust/Windy/Limehouse Blues/Lady Be Good/Diggin' For Diz.
Alan Dean's Beboppers - April 29th, 1949 (Decca)
Ronnie Scott (ts), Johnny Dankworth (as), Reg Arnold (tp), Bernie Fenton (p), Pete Chilver (g), Joe Muddel (b), Laurie Morgan (d), Alan Dean (vocal).
Gone With The Windmill (take 1)*#/Gone With The Windmill (take 2)*/Barbados*/Elevenses*/Ool-Ya-Koo*.
(*Jasmine CD - Bop-in' Britain Vol 1)
(#Proper Records 4CD Box set - Jazz in Britain 1919 - 1950)
Ted Heath and his Music - May 4th, 1949 (Decca) details
Steve Race Bop Group - August 31st, 1949 (Paxton)
Johnny Dankworth (as), Leon Calvert (tp), Steve Race (p), Pete Chilver (g), Jack Fallon (b), Norman Burns (d).
Vertigo*/Marzipan*/Bugle Call Bop*/Microcosmo*.
(*Jasmine CD - Bop-in' Britain Vol 1)
Alan Dean's Beboppers - September 17th, 1949 (Esquire)
Ronnie Scott (ts), Johnny Dankworth (as), Hank Shaw (tp), Tommy Pollard (p), Pete Chilver (g), Joe Muddel (b), Laurie Morgan (d), Alan Dean (vocal).
Gone With The Windmill*^/Barbados*^/Elevenses*/Ool Ya Koo*^/Galaxy*#.
(#Giant Steps Records CD - Great Scott)
(*Charly/Esquire 4 CD box set - bebop IN BRITAIN - issued in 1991 currently only available second hand...)
(^Indigo CD - Boppin' At Esquire)
(*Proper Records 4CD Box set - Ronnie Scott "Boppin' With Scott")
Ralph Sharon Sextet - March 27th, 1950 (Melodisc)
Jimmy Skidmore (ts), Ralph Sharon (p), Victor Feldman (vib), Pete Chilver (g), Jack Fallon (b), Martin Ashton (d).
Burman's Bauble*/Boptical Illusion*/I've Got You Under My Skin/There's A Small Hotel.
(*Jasmine CD - Bop-In' Britain - Vol 1)
Extracted from an obituary in The Guardian by Val Wilmer:
When, in 1941, the Trinidadian guitarist Lauderic Caton began broadcasting on the BBC with swing clarinetist Harry Parry's Benny Goodman-like group, it was the first time that the British public had heard an electric guitar played at a UK gig. The impact is hard to imagine now, with the instrument one of the most familiar sounds in music. But back then, amplification had only just begun to give the guitar a powerful solo voice, loud enough to break out of the massed ranks of a jazz band's brass and reeds.
The brilliant improvising of Charlie Christian was on Caton's mind when he arrived in London from Paris in 1940. He bought an amplifier that May, and was soon a focus of attention in West End nightclubs. And it was there, while playing at the Caribbean Club in 1944, that he met and transformed the career of Pete Chilver, who became one of the first British-born musicians to establish the electric guitar in this country.
The relative shortness of Chilver's career has obscured the importance of what he achieved. But he was honing his skills at a time when many of the best young British musicians - among them Ronnie Scott, John Dankworth and George Shearing - were attempting to master the harmonic language of bebop.
Chilver and his guitarist friend Dave Goldberg used to frequent the Caribbean Club, where Caton encouraged them, built them amplifiers, and let them sit in with the house trio. But before this, at Feldman's club, at 100 Oxford Street, Chilver had witnessed jam sessions uniting locals with the American members of the Glenn Miller and Sam Donahue bands, and as a result replaced an ailing Carmen Mastren with Miller's band on a number of dates elsewhere. By the late 1940s, he was mastering the idiom's melodic intricacy and speed, and - like Scott and Dankworth - he became one of only a handful of London-based players who could keep up with the American innovators. His work drew praise from such luminaries as Benny Goodman and the Modern Jazz Quartet's John Lewis.
After leaving school at 16 in 1940, he formed his own Silver Sovereigns to play weekends at Skindles, the riverside hotel at Maidenhead known as "Soho on Thames".
That same year, he met the Cardiff-born black guitarist Joe Deniz at Feldman's, and through this friendship encountered musicians of African descent. George Formby and Django Reinhardt had inspired him initially, but he celebrated jazz as a black creation and could not believe his luck when Deniz asked him to deputise at rehearsals of Ken "Snake Hips" Johnson's West Indians.
Pianist Ralph Sharon was a near-neighbour and in 1942, while doing war work in adjacent factories - Chilver was a draughtsman - they played together in the Embassy Aces band in Slough, Berkshire. They were spotted by trumpeter Johnny Claes, who engineered their release to tour American military bases. After meeting Chilver in Bristol, the young John Lewis, stationed with the US army prior to the D-day landings, played with the band on several occasions, and 50 years later still remembered "that wonderful guitarist".
In 1946, Chilver joined singer Ray Ellington and was playing with him at the Bag O'Nails in the West End when Django Reinhardt and Stephane Grappelli sat in. He then worked with accordionist Tito Burns who, together with Ellington, would help to popularise modern jazz in Britain.
The following year, Chilver heard his first Charlie Parker disc and was entranced by bebop's excitement and daring. But while Ronnie Scott and others visited the US for first-hand experience, Chilver worked on in London with George Shearing, Jack Jackson and Bert Ambrose and toured with Grappelli. Whenever he could, he played bebop with Sharon and other progressives.
At the Charing Cross Road flat he shared with Goldberg and the South African percussionist Jack Meyer, the visitors were legendary; composer Tadd Dameron, Ella Fitzgerald with new husband Ray Brown, and dancers from Harlem's Apollo theatre all came for sessions. In 1948, with Britain's leading bandleader, Ted Heath, Chilver reached a teenage audience, but his most prestigious job came the following year, accompanying Goodman at the London Palladium.