Saxophonist Sir John Dankworth, hailed as one of BritainвЂ™s first major jazz musicians, has died aged 82.
Sir John, who worked with legends like Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole, died at King Edward VII Hospital in London having been ill for several months. Married to jazz singer Dame Cleo Laine, Sir John and his wife were one of the best known couples in jazz and had been married for over 50 years. Dame Cleo announced her husbandвЂ™s death at a concert marking the 40th anniversary of The Stables theatre in Buckinghamshire which they had set up together. As well as his wife, Sir John leaves a son and a daughter, who are both jazz musicians. He performed as recently as November last year, playing his saxophone from a wheelchair at the London Jazz Festival.
His career spanned more than 50 years, and included touring with his own big band, music recording, film score composition and artist production. Two of his hit records included Experiments with Mice in 1956 and African Waltz in 1960. He wrote the theme tune for The Avengers, Tomorrow's World and Modesty Blaise. Jazzwise magazine hailed Sir John as "one of the totemic figures of British jazz" and the country's "first major jazz musician".
He was born in 1927 and showed early proficiency on the clarinet. After falling in love with the music of legendary US saxophonist Charlie Parker, he took up the same instrument. He won a place at the Royal Academy of Music aged 17, and after a short spell in the Army, was voted British Musician of the Year in 1949. Sir John met his wife in 1950 while auditioning singers for his band, the Dankworth Seven. They married in 1958. That decade also saw him tour the states with his jazz orchestra, sharing the bill with the the Duke Ellington Orchestra. During the next decade he turned his attention to the film world, going on to compose scores for films including Saturday Night And Sunday Morning, The Servant and Accident. The musician worked with directors like Karel Reisz, Peter Hall, John Schlesinger, Joseph Losey and Henry Hathaway. In 1985 Dankworth founded the London Symphony Orchestra's Summer Pops, continuing to work with it as artistic director until 1990. He was knighted in 2006.~ Times Online
My only John Dankworth big band album was shared on this blog back in April of last year. He's also been featured as Cleo Laine's accompanist and arranger on several shares since, the most recent being their two-disc Melbourne Town Hall set shared on Feb 1. As a tribute, here he is again backing his wife on tenor, clarinet and occasional keyboard on their 1983 Carnegie Hall concert commemorating the 10th anniversary of their sensational '73 concert at the same venue.
01) Any Place I Hang My Hat/It's A Grand Night For Singing
02) I'm Shadowing You
03) Crazy Rhythm
04) Primrose Color Blue
05) We Are The Music Makers
06) You Spotted Snakes
08) When I Was One And Twenty
09) Sing Me No Song
10) Triboro' Fair [Dankworth Quintet]
11) You've Got To Do What You've Got To Do
12) He Was Beautiful
13) Turkish Delight
14) Never Let Me Go
15) Hoagy Carmichael Medley
16) I Want To Be Happy