Sixty years ago (just before The Beatles burst on to the scene), Britain was ‘Trad Jazz’ mad with Acker Bilk’s Stranger on the Shore topping the charts in both the UK and the USA and Kenny Ball’s Midnight in Moscow reaching number 2 in both countries. The 1962 movie “It’s Trad Dad” capitalised on this popularity and we’ve borrowed its title for our concert of jazz with a very British flavour.
Trad coincided with a time when American jazz musicians were not allowed to perform in England. To satisfy demand the British musicians did a DIY job on the music and came up with their own unique approach. That unique approach was largely down to the weather. Jazz musicians in New Orleans played with a lazy and laconic lilt because it was so hot and humid over here the bands played with a frantic energy, largely to keep warm in freezing dance halls, pubs and bandstands.
Besides Ball and Bilk there was Chris Barber, Terry Lightfoot, Alex Welsh, Monty Sunshine, Humphrey Lyttleton and, the most eccentrically British of the lot, The Temperance Seven. Their hits included I Love You Samantha, March of the Siamese Children (a UK number 1 for Kenny Ball), Bad Penny Blues, In a Persian Market, Tavern in the Town and Petite Fleur. These and many more are performed by our eight-piece band led by trombonist Ian Bateman – all the musicians have worked as sidemen with the greatest Trad bands – Ian has been a member of the bands of Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Terry Lightfoot and Humphrey Lyttelton and trumpeter Ben Cummings is a dead ringer for the young Kenny Ball (in whose band Ben played).
By 1963 the Trad boom was over and replaced by Beatlemania and the Beat Merchants. The banjo was chucked in the dustbin and the electric guitar got plugged in and turned up and up. The teens had moved on and mum and dad were welcome to their Trad. But as the cycles of fashion and fluctuating tastes move through time, a resurgence in appreciation for these styles and sounds has emerged in recent years, with a new crop of young musicians coming through who are performing for young audiences who, like their grandparents sixty years ago, are attracted to a music which is exciting, fun and great to dance to.
This is jazz that conjures up Morris Minors, rain-soaked holiday camps and duffel coats rather than Cadillacs, skyscrapers and Brooks Brothers. It’s a black and white snap of a different Britain on the brink of the 60s revolution and after all these years it’s a music worth another listen: it charms and delights and is worthy of rediscovery at:
3pm, Saturday 16th July 2022
Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace,
London, SW1X 9DQ
Personnel: Ian Bateman – trombone (Terry Lightfoot, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball, Humphrey Lyttelton); Ben Cummings – trumpet/vocals (Kenny Ball); Trevor Whiting – clarinet/saxes (Chris Barber); Craig Milverton – piano (Terry Lightfoot, George Melly); Tom Clarke Hill – bass (Kenny Ball); Nick Millward – drums (Kenny Ball, Terry Lightfoot); Sean Moyses – banjo/guitar (Rod Mason, Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Bob Kerr’s Whoopee Band).