[Dixielandjazz] Cliff "Kid" Bastien

briantowers briantowers at msn.com
Sun Feb 9 11:07:16 PST 2003


I sent this message to the list yestrerday but it has not appeared, probably
because it was sent mistakenly in HTML.
Cliff was born in England but has been playing jazz in Toronto, Canada for
around 40 years.   He was the trumpet leader of Toronto's jazz band "The
Happy Pals".  I repeat my posting below and apologise if it comes through to
you twice.

Very bad news, I am afraid.  Cliff Bastien died today, or possibly last
night, at his home.   He did not show up for the regular Saturday matinee
gig at Grossman's in Toronto with his "Happy Pals".  Some of the guys
finally went to look for him at his apartment.  His TV was on but there was
no answer to the doorbell.  Finally Jack King broke a window and they found
Cliff dead in his armchair chair, he had been watching the TV.  Evidentally
a heart attack.

I cannot imagine the Toronto traditional jazz scene without Cliff Bastien
and his raw, emotional New Orleans style jazz.  He was probably the most
popular and influential figure on the Toronto traditional  jazz scene.  He
taught many others to play their instruments in the style and introduced
countless thousands of people to the joys of New Orleans traditional jazz.
He had been playing at Grossman's Tavern since 1968, sometime on drums or
banjo but mostly on trumpet - that is some 35 years!   Cliff stayed rigidly
with his brand of jazz, which loosely followed the style of the "Kid Thomas
jazzband" from New Orleans.   He was always hugely entertaining - he lived
for his music.

Last November he had returned from a triumphant Scandinavian tour with the
Danish/Swedish band "New Orleans Delight".  His old friend from Canada and
England,  George Berry, also guested on tenor sax.  When I was with him last
Wednesday he told me he had a whale of a time and showed me the photos and
press cuttings.   He was surprised that some folk even travelled from
England to Denmark, just to hear him.

I was one of the last of the local jazz musicians to see Cliff.  I had been
to his workplace on Wednesday.  We had put a band together for New Orleans
and we discussed the tunes we were going to play during the French Quarter
Festival, in April. He was really looking forward to it.  He was fine,
enthusiastic and seemingly well, as usual.
He played the recording which New Orleans Delight" had sent to him from
Denmark, for his approval.  They wanted to release it on a CD.  He was
pleased with it and asked my opinion. To me it sounded first rate.

Janet and I are desolate.  We went along to Grossman's, after our own gig
and Jan and I played some hymns with the "Happy Pals"   A sadder and more
emotional scene I have rarely seen.


Brian Towers

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