Sunday, 7 February 2010
In the name of Johnny...
...keep up the inspiring work, you other Dankworth-Laines. Rather mitigating my sadness at the news of the great jazzman's death at the age of 82 - read John Fordham's Guardian obit* for more chapter and verse - was the startling intelligence that widow Cleo, who must be around the same age, was caught singing a couple of months ago. And as it's the sort of voice which never seems to have substantially altered over 60 years of song, I can well imagine the results.
This is all quite a coincidence, because only a couple of weeks ago I was hunting down a CD version of an old MGM album we wore out in the Dundas Street flat during our second year at Edinburgh University. And there it was, on an Avid Jazz two-CD set with two 1950s albums by Johnny Dankworth, Journey into Jazz and 5 Steps to Dankworth.
He does some curious things in homage to his many inspirations, as a rather flat-voiced narrator but a brilliant pasticheur of various jazz styles. Buy your copy here; it's less than £4.
Anyway, I sent another copy to below-mentioned Mary, now in Washington DC. She'd bought the LP for a quid or so back in 1981 but had thrown it out when it buckled on a windowsill in her Rome flat. The sound ain't great, but Cleo is Ella's free and easy, long-breathed equal in 'Happiness is just a thing called Joe', and how I laughed to recall how we all did the same at the blues line 'I love my man like a schoolboy loves his pie'. We also wore out Edna, aka Edith Piaf, but that LP has always been more easily replaceable.
*which I now see has one of the most pertinent analogies between symphonic music and jazz I've read. JD, the extent of whose educational work I'd never realised, described symphonies as the great novels of an era, jazz as its buzzy, snapshot journalism.