[Dixielandjazz] Fwd: Harry Gold

Barrie Walter Marshall walter.marshall at tiscali.co.uk
Fri Dec 2 08:46:00 PST 2005

What is amazing about Harry Gold and the bass saxophone is he was a 
diminutive 5ft 2in tall and used the instrument slung round his neck on a 

His autobiography is a good read, I read it in two days.

Gold, Doubloons & Pieces Of Eight


----- Original Message ----- 
From: "David W. Littlefield" <dwlit at cpcug.org>
To: <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Friday, December 02, 2005 3:40 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Fwd: Harry Gold

> >From another list.
> --Sheik
>>A prolific bandleader, musician and arranger, he was at the heart of the
>>jazz world for more than 70 years
>>John Fordham
>>Thursday November 17, 2005
>>The Guardian
>>The bass saxophone, an Alice In Wonderland instrument that looks like a
>>hookah for giants, is the kind of musical folly you might expect even
>>normally proportioned musicians to avoid, let alone one who struggled to
>>reach 5ft 2in in his socks. Yet for Harry Gold, the East End saxophonist 
>>heard the Original Dixieland Jazz Band - the first jazz musicians ever to
>>make a record - in person, became one of the most popular figures of the
>>postwar Dixieland revival and was still touring well into his 90s, the 
>>sax was the instrument of choice.
>>Perhaps as a diminutive individual, Gold, who has died aged 98, liked its
>>big, cavernous sound and spectacular presence on a stage - the cartoonist
>>Trog even depicted him standing on a chair to play it. But if Gold had a
>>passion for an instrument that has mostly belonged to jazz's jauntiest, 
>>carefree age - when a brass band feel still clung to much of the music, 
>>the double-bass had not yet come into its own - he was also a musician of
>>considerable sophistication who played several saxophones, and with a 
>>of theory rare for Dixielanders.
>>He was a skilled arranger, a quality that lent distinctiveness to his own
>>bands and those of others, as well as providing him with a fallback income
>>in difficult years. He was also a tenacious campaigner for jazz 
>>inside and outside the music business. In the 1940s, he was one of a small
>>group of jazz musicians to shift the Musicians' Union policy over pay 
>>away from its classical bias. He loved playing all his life, and relished
>>any opportunity at any age.
>>He was born Harry Goldberg, to a Romanian mother, Hetty Schulman, and a
>>German father, Sam Goldberg. The family had first emigrated to England, 
>>lived briefly in Dundrum, County Dublin, which is where Harry was born, 
>>eldest of six children. His father was a tailor who loved music, often
>>sewing while sitting cross-legged on a table to gain better proximity to 
>>gaslight, and singing arias and popular music-hall songs. He also played 
>>piano by ear, and sang with a remarkably wide range, which Gold always 
>>as his first introduction to music.
>>Shortly before the outbreak of the first world war, the family moved to
>>Leystonstone, and then to the East End. The headteacher of the local 
>>Street school was a music-lover whose principal interest in his pupils was
>>whether or not they could sing in tune. Gold was thus fascinated by music 
>>his early teens, and when he was 14 - by then out of school and working 
>>the overtime he could in his father's business - he bought an alto
>>He also persuaded his father to take him to hear the Original Dixieland 
>>Band during their long residency at the Hammersmith Palais in 1919. Gold
>>recalled that he did not understand what they were doing, but that the
>>music's energy had such an effect on him it made up his mind to become a
>>musician there and then.
>>He learned the saxophone, the clarinet and the oboe under Louis Kimmel, a
>>professor at the London College of Music, and the relationship was 
>>for five years until Gold began to experiment with the jazz saxophone 
>>he heard on the radio.
>>He responded to an advertisement in the local paper, placed by a then
>>unknown violinist called Joe Loss. After unsteady beginnings with a 
>>who could only play on the black keys, the group improved to become the
>>Magnetic Dance Band. Gold's relationship with Loss would continue down the
>>years. Gold also formed the Florentine Dance Band with Polish guitarist 
>>Mairants, and gave up his day job at Christmas 1923 - a two-week residency
>>at the Palais de Dance, Rochester, was sufficient incentive - never to 
>>Joining a cooperative band that came to be called the Metronomes, Gold 
>>began to flower as an arranger, using Kimmel's meticulous instruction, and
>>continuing to attend music college. He spent almost three years with the
>>Metronomes (marrying his first wife, Annie, during this period) and, while
>>doing a job in the West End, heard American musician Fred Elizalde's band,
>>featuring the formidable bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini.
>>Gold bought his first bass sax from Rollini, a battered instrument that 
>>fallen out of a car, and which he had to spend a fortune on putting right.
>>With Mairants and trumpeter Les Lambert, Gold also formed a vocal trio, 
>>Cubs - he liked the vocal music of the Boswell Sisters and Bing Crosby's
>>Rhythm Boys - and when the American bandleader Roy Fox heard the three
>>singing at the Princes restaurant, Piccadilly, he invited them to join 
>>Gold would remark that his socialist convictions were reinforced by
>>comparing his own background with the wealth of the clientele at Fox's 
>>at such venues as the Cafe de Paris, where the regulars included the Duke
>>and Duchess of Kent and the Prince of Wales. But he enjoyed touring with
>>Fox's band, and the conviviality of musicians' lives on the road. He would
>>frequently find himself on the same bill as comedians like Max Wall, or 
>>eccentric tapdance trio Wilson, Keppel and Betty.
>>But, in 1936, Gold and Mairants parted company with Fox, in a dispute over
>>contracts and pay - the experience led Gold to become an active trade
>>unionist, devoted to extending Musicians' Union policy (primarily geared 
>>orchestral and theatre players) to include jazz musicians as well. In 
>>touring in the north, he also met his second wife Peggy, a jazz fan and
>>member of the Bradford Rhythm Club.
>>Having been rejected for active service on fitness grounds, Gold did not 
>>combat during the second world war, though he did have periods of 
>>work. In between those breaks, from spring 1939 to 1942, he played with 
>>Latvian-born bandleader Oscar Rabin. The band was good, but needed more
>>variety to broaden its appeal, and so Gold offered Rabin a band within a
>>band - this was the group that came to be known as Harry Gold's Pieces of
>>Eight and that worked in a broadly Dixieland jazz style, with various
>>line-ups, until its leader's last years.
>>During the latter stages of the war, Gold worked for two of the most 
>>British dance bands, Geraldo's and Bert Ambrose's. He also began to find
>>more work for the Pieces of Eight, and also freelanced as an arranger for
>>the BBC, on occasion collaborating with the young Norrie Paramor, later to
>>become a producer of early 1960s pop hits for Cliff Richard, Frank Ifield,
>>Helen Shapiro and Billy Fury. In Paris with the services entertainment
>>troupe, Ensa, on the day the war ended, Gold was one of a group of 
>>asked to broadcast to a home audience from the grounds of the British
>>embassy, with the sound of the celebrations behind them.
>>In December 1945, the Piece of Eight recorded for the first time, and 
>>regularly appearing on the BBC's Music While You Work radio show, an
>>experiment to see if Dixieland jazz could work on a predominantly
>>light-music repertoire. By now, Gold's saxophonist brother Laurie was in 
>>line-up as well.
>>The group also almost became one of the earliest British bands to perform 
>>television when the Alexandra Palace broadcasting station went on air 
>>in 1946. Their number was pulled because the producer refused to allow
>>Gold's black trombonist, Geoff Love, and the band's white singer, Jane 
>>to perform a duet together on television. The group's status and 
>>was, however, unaffected - one of their public admirers was the
>>singer-songwriter Hoagy Carmichael, who warmly commended the Pieces when
>>they accompanied him on tour in 1948.
>>With Love, Paramor, and his brother Laurie, Gold expanded his activities
>>into freelancing, arranging services, and, for a brief period, general
>>theatrical management, before more powerful operators squeezed them out.
>>Gold's determination to negotiate fair deals also ran him into 
>>with a new broom in BBC Variety radio, his regular employers as an 
>>In one particularly heated discussion between the saxophonist and the new
>>producer, Gold found himself being frankly asked: "Are you a red?"
>>In 1955, Gold turned the band over to Laurie, in order to stay at home 
>>often with his family, and concentrate on session jobs and office work for 
>>Soho music publisher. He also began playing in a classical saxophone 
>>and worked at EMI as a staff arranger, with his son David.
>>But when EMI retired an indignant Gold on age grounds in the 1970s, he was
>>ready to start performing all over again. He found much pleasure in
>>cornetist Richard Sudhalter's band, formed to celebrate the music of Bix
>>Beiderbecke and Paul Whiteman - with Gold relishing the bass-sax parts
>>originally played by his old model Adrian Rollini. In 1977, he re-formed 
>>Pieces of Eight with a new line-up, and the band toured again into the
>>1980s, often in eastern Europe.
>>Though he wound it up again after internal arguments, he regularly 
>>to performing - frequently at his London local, the Yorkshire Grey, in
>>Clerkenwell - and recovered an interest in live work to fill the gap left 
>>the death of Peggy, his partner of half a century. In 1998, he played in
>>California, Connecticut, New York and at the Cork festival. "Have sax, 
>>travel," Gold would say. He was as open to doing that in his 90s as he had
>>ever been.
>>His autobiography, Gold, Doubloons and Pieces of Eight (co-written with
>>Roger Cotterrell) appeared in 2000. He is survived by Morton and Leslie, 
>>twin boys from his first marriage, and by Andrew and David, the sons of 
>>second marriage.
>>7 Harry Gold, jazz musician, born February 26 1907; died November 13 2005
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