[Dixielandjazz] Geo. Webb - The Father of British Jazz in Harlow Last Night

john petters jpettjazz at btinternet.com
Sat Feb 28 00:09:22 PST 2004

Despite freezing temperatures & Keith Smith's Broadway to Basin St show on
at the Harlow Playhouse Theatre just across town, we had an almost capacity
crowd in to see George Webb, the 86 year old father of British Jazz at St
John's Arts Centre, Old Harlow, last night.
If I am still drawing breath at the age of 86 I will be happy, but George is
dynamite. The band featured Ken Sims, cornet, Dave Bailey, clarinet, Mike
Pointon, trombone, Tim Phillips, Banjo and Keith Donald, bass. George had a
Yamaha grand piano to play and was delighted with it. He admits he is no
genius on the keyboard. He is self taught, but plays with a wonderful
economy. We played a series of standards, starting with Gatemouth, Bugle
Boy, Butter & Egg Man then George told how he was introduced to Spencer
Williams, who lived over here during WW2. He said that Spencer told him
Tishomingo Blues should always be played in the key of G. So we played it -
in F.
Geo. told the crowd how a group of amateur musicians started playing real
old time jazz in the Red Barn pub in Barnhurst Kent in 1942. Records were
made by enthusiasts and later by Decca. Humphrey Lyttelton joined the band
and an illegal recording with Bechet took place. A court case followed.
George said Bechet was not interested in hearing the records played back.
The more he could record, the more money he got..
Lots of other stories delighted the audience. It's not often that you get a
chance to play with part of jazz history and last night was rather special.

Not content with sitting back and retiring, George runs a club in Kent on
Sunday lunchtime and I'm looking forward to guesting with his band on
Sunday. The secret of George's success? Enthusiasm. Long may he continue to
John Petters
Amateur Radio Station G3YPZ

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