A tribute to Jackie Flavelle
Musician, passed away aged 78
Help Musicians is saddened to note the passing of Jackie Flavelle.
Jackie was a mainstay of the musical community, not only as a long standing member of the Chris Barber band but a DJ, a musical instrument sales rep and session musician with a career spanning over 45 years. His musical passion knew no bounds, as a 77-year old he continued to play and tour with the Chris Barber band and had ambition to teach in Ireland.
When the Help Musicians team met him in his local pub, he was greeted by many locals giving their well wishes following the passing of his dear wife. Jackie adored his daughters and spoke very fondly about them to our team. His main health issue was impaired hearing – he found his existing hearing aid not up to the standard required to allow him to play freely on stage and often stated that he had to remove it on stage due to impedance issues. We were happy to be able to fund some bespoke hearing aids for Jackie from Harley Street Hearing, who specialise in helping musicians.
Joe Hastings from our UK team recently visited him from London and it was with great sadness we were informed of Jackie's passing, following his battle with bladder cancer.
Our deepest condolences to Jackie's family on the passing of a much loved and respected member of our music community.
A tribute to Al Baum
Musician, passed away June 2017
Al Baum’s long career started in the early 1930’s. Following grammar school and matric, his parents had originally wanted him to join the family’s fashion business…but after his first attempts at ‘cutting’ it was decided his talents might be put to better use elsewhere! Any suggestion that this was contrived by him is complete ‘fabrication’! (no pun)
His earliest instrument of (parental) choice was the violin…but Al soon found his musical passion lay with the woodwind instruments – teaching himself clarinet, saxophone, flute and piccolo…all of which he subsequently played to a professional standard.
One of his earliest jobs was with a Hungarian dance band, but Al soon started making a name for himself in the music community, and he played for Tommy Kinsman at Fischer's Restaurant between March 1935 and February 1937. From April 1939 until late 1939 he played in Jack Harris's band…then came the war.
Al spent his war years in the RAF as an instrument maker, with a squadron of other Jewish musicians…whose roll call sounded more like a Luftwaffe appell, given their antecedence! He was to his dying day very proud of his work on the Avro Lancaster bomb-sites…and would happily regale anyone who would listen (or could understand) as to the intricacies of how one worked. His kindle was filled to capacity with books about war planes…he had even considered staying on in the RAF after the war! What a loss that would have been to the music world, instead it was RAF who had to do without his ‘particular set of skills’.
Al then joined Geraldo's Navy. After the war the bandleader Geraldo had been made musical director for Cunard's luxury liners sailing between Britain and the States. Positions in the bands were much sought after by young jazz musicians eager to hear the newly emerging modern jazz known as Bebop in its place of origin…New York. Al, and his friends John Dankworth and Ronnie Scott were in the ‘first wave’, and joined Geraldo to play on the Queen Mary in 1947. To be paid to travel to New York once a fortnight and to get to hear idols like Charlie’Bird’ Parker on 52nd Street play on a regular basis was ‘not bad work if you could get it!’
In the end the fortnightly trips to America became routine due mainly to the fact that the music they were contracted to play 'on ship' was mainly 'dance tunes'...never really his thing!
Rumour has it that along with 'Ronnie and Johnny', he was fired from the shipboard band for playing practical jokes on their fellow musicians. Every cloud though...they then went joined Bert Ambrose's band in 1948...
With Ambrose they broadcast and 'gigged'. There was a brief period when the band played at the Nightingale Club appropriately situated in London’s Berkeley Square.
Some of the other musicians who were to be found within the ranks of the Ambrose band around 1949 were trumpeters Kenny Baker, Moe Miller, Freddy Clayton and Tony Osborne, trombonists Harry Roche, Joe Cordell and Eric Breeze, saxophonists Bob Burns, Harry Conn, Harry Hayes, and Albert Torrance, pianist Norman Stenfalt, drummer Norman Burns, guitarist Peter Chilver and bassist Joe Mudele...many of these jazzmen were still in the forefront of the profession over a quarter of a century later.
The ensuing decades found Al playing a variety of roles. He was a regular at the BBC, where he met his wife of almost 60 years, herself a household name, 'Dixon of Dock Green' actress Jeanette Hutchinson...in the BBC canteen! There he played in shows such as 'The Black and White Minstrels', which regularly attracted 21 million viewers in its day! He also had runs in most of the top West End shows of the era...'A Chorus Line' (Donna McKechnie), 'Gypsy' (Angela Lansbury), 'A Little Night Music', 'Company'(Elaine Stritch) 'Deja Revue' (Sheila Hancock and George Cole) and 'Billy' (Michael Crawford and Elaine Paige), to name but a few.
In his words he was a 'never out of work', peripatetic session musician who also played in bands supporting Danny Kaye, Marlene Dietrich, Tony Martin, Shirley Bassey and so many more, along with stints for the Halle Orchestra...
Al also worked with Dick Sudhalter's New Paul Whiteman Orchestra where he performed Frankie Trumbauer's reading parts, as well as lead for the 'Midnite Follies Orchestra'. He also did a turn with 'Vile Bodies' at the Ritz.
His last professional gig was in 1989, a Bix concert with Guy Barker. To quote jazz multi-instrumentalist and arranger, Keith Nichols, 'Al was a faultless player and reader and he wasn't going to wait around for his powers to fail. He had the perfect temperament for session work.'
That he did...he will be very much missed by everyone who knew him...
A JustGiving page has been set up in memory of Al. You can contribute here.
A tribute to Martin Wilkinson
Musician, passed away 4 September 2015, aged 53
With short intermissions studying music in London (working for Young's brewery) and kidnapping a concrete cow in Milton Keynes, Martin lived his life around Sunderland, playing viola (with occasional forays into percussion and random roadie-ing) in projects ranging from playing solo in Berlioz' Harold in Italy to helping assemble the massive triple orchestra needed for the Vaughan Williams concerto grosso. He was a fabulous encouragement to anyone struggling musically, passionate in striving for excellence, an endless source of truly awful jokes, a great lover of 20th-century English music such as that of Lennox Berkeley, much-missed father of 4, and invigorator of numerous orchestral rehearsals across the north east of England with his enormous laugh.
Despite a long struggle with cancer (tackled with strategies including takeaway curry in hospital), he somehow found time to amass a huge amount of chamber and orchestral sheet music, and wanted it all to find a good home with fellow musicians. (He was also a prolific war-gamer, and disbursing his model collection involved heated discussion over a missing set of elephants...) Members of Martin's various orchestras have therefore donated for each piece taken, with the final crate going to Kampala Music School in Uganda on the first anniversary of his death. Martin's family nominated Help Musicians as their chosen charity for the money raised, and hope that the memory of this wonderful man who loved music so much will inspire others to enjoy it too.
(Note to viola players - remember, it's only in tune if all the pegs are lined up...)
You can donate in memory of Martin here. All proceeds will go towards supporting musicians in need of our help.
In celebration of Malcolm and Kate
We are so grateful to Malcolm and Kate who donated to Help Musicians to celebrate their wedding. Kate sings soprano, plays early recorders of all sorts, and is just getting back into church organ; Malcolm plays cello and sings baritone when it's safe to do so. Their first wedding hymn was "Let all the world in every corner sing".
They are also celebrating the life of their good friend and best man Martin Wilkinson, who they laid to rest last week after over 20 years of stomach cancer. He died listening to the Brandenburgs with Kate, and was laid to rest to the Mozart Sinfonia Concertante and Vaughan Wiliams' Flos Campi.
You can donate in celebration of Kate and Malcolm’s wedding. Every penny of your donation will go towards helping musicians across the country.