|Snapshot -2 from the Melody Maker (1950)...|
|The "Melody Maker" was the leading weekly music paper and the clips below from April and May give an essence of the jazz scene of the day. Bebop, (new, or modern music as some called it), was the main musical talking point... more from the Melody Maker...... Records of 1950...|
Melody Maker April 22, 1950|
"I climb down, bop and jive are here to stay"
He is reverting immediately to a modern music policy, with special sessions of bop by the professions leading exponents.
The sensational new Kenny Graham Afro-Cubists, whose debut last Monday is reviewed in this issue, (right) has already been snapped up by Mr. Shenburn, and starts at Wimbledon Palais next Monday (24th).
In addition, plans are afoot to sign up (engagements permitting) the Johnny Dankworth Seven - at first for special sessions only. These include Sunday afternoons entirely devoted to bop and starting on April 30th. Also, Tuesday night at the Palais will be "Bop City Night".
"Only a few months ago I decided, for various reasons, on a policy of having fewer patrons and no bop or modern music. The emphasis here is on the word fewer. I did not realsise when I took that decision that it was going to cost me at least 3,000 customers per week."
"Frankly, I cannot afford it. Not being a philanthropist or millionaire, I cannot indulge my musical whims in such an expensive manner."
"A CHANCE FOR ALL"
Leon will appear this Sunday (30th) and the following Tuesday (May 2nd). Announcements are also made of various other plans in a vigorous policy which puts the accent very much on modern music... An oufit which puts in an appearence on sunday May 7th is the Russ Shepherd group from the Bop House, Blackfen.
Asked about his intention to engage one or two of the nationally famous modern music groups, in addition to Kenny Graham, Mr Shenburn stated:
"I have conscientously tried to do this - but it seems that I did an unwise thing when I announced my intention of booking the top bop outfits. Tentative approaches have resulted in the demanding of what seem to me like astronomical fees for making short occasional appearances at the Palais."
"I was under the impression that this kind of music, as yet unpopular among the masses in this country, was played by it's exponents in a spirit of idealism, and that they found it hard to find somewhere in which to put it over successfully."
"And yet when they are offered the chance to play their own music and get paid a reasonable rate - certainly more than the average dance band - for doing so, they immediately hold a pistol to my head and make extortionate Demands. It is all very puzzling."
Melody Maker April 22, 1950|
Trumpeter Jo Hunter was apparently very nervous at the outset, and his playing consequently suffered. By the fourth number he had gained more confidence and the ensembles (between him and Kenny) ran more smoothly.
Apart from Kenny, who has a pleasant and winning stage manner, in addition to playing tenor sax, I thought pianist Jack Honeyborne and bongo player Billy Olu Shalanke to be particularly worthy of mention.
The five other members of the rhythm section playing drums, congo drum, bass, maraccas, cowbell etc, played their part in providing an exciting backing to the ensembles and solos.
Arrangements, all written by Kenny, were very good; especially those on "Boom", "Take the A Train" and "Snuggle Bug", a Graham original. A bop flavour was evident throughout, but was in no way predominant. A unique finale was provided by de Falla's "Ritual Fire Dance" complete with fire-eating by Billy Shalanke.
What is the jazz business coming to? From the National Press and your own excellent journal I have learned with considerable disgust that a tenor player of the admittedly high calibre of Kenny Graham has stooped to the level of circus tricks by introducing a fire eater into his band.
This makes my traditionalist's heart grow cold with disgust. Let this new kind of music that he is purveying stand or fall by itself. Maybe there is a reason for a fire eater, but for the life of me I cannot think what it is.
Asks Leslie Douglas
When we do feature the modern stuff, it is not just a matter of trumpet, tenor and alto "taking over", while the rest of the band get in a couple of hands of Gin Rummy; we try to present in a palatable fashion, even resorting to funny hats in an effort to give everyone their moneysworth, but the fun is in strict tempo and even the local dancing pro has been seen to smile, er - in tempo of course....
Editor: Pat Brand
Melody Maker May 20, 1950
"Uncontrolled" means that each bandleader will be able to play exactly what he likes, in his own style, with no restrictions whatever and no necessity for drawing inspiration from the current "Hit Parade".
A regular feature in the MM was the WHO'S WHERE listing that gave advance notice of upcomong band gigs. Invariably the majority of these were for one night dance hall bookings and regulars on the listing with a jazz slant included the Tito Burns Sextet, Johnny Dankworth 7, Vic Lewis Orchestra, Leon Roy Orchestra and Kathy Stobart. It was not unusual for these bands to play seven nights a week in different locations.