FOLLOWING the death of musician Sir Johnny Dankworth, my mind travels back to a Sunday afternoon/evening in 1950.
I was at the Elephant and Castle cinema to listen to a concert performed by Geraldo Orchestra and guest. Geraldo Orchestra were the most popular musicians in Britain in those days.
The concert started with Johnny Dankworth Seven, the first time I had ever seen them or heard them playing. As they finished their session they received a standing ovation.
The following year I was at Earls Court Empire Hall on a Sunday in April to listen to the melody makers' national award concert. The Johnny Dankworth Seven was voted Britain's top small band, Johnny Dankworth was voted Britain's finest alto saxophonist and musician of the year, 1950/51).
Two of the Johnny Dankworth musicians, pianist Bill Lee Sage and drummer Tony Kinsey, have made many appearances at the Ealing Jazz Festival.
Sadly, Bill Lee Sage passed on a few years ago, but Tony Kinsey still performs. Sir Johnny Dankworth received a well-deserved knighthood a few years ago in acknowledgment of his musicianship and compositional skill.
Sir John ranked in my mind with any of the top US big swing bands of the 30s, 40s and 50s.
It was a joy to hear him play on radio TV or watch him lead a swing band and play the saxophone live.
GORDON KEMP Ealing