JOHNNY DANKWORTH & HIS ORCHESTRA
Too Cool For The Blues
From the late 1940s, and for over sixty years Johnny Dankworth passionately pursued his musical dream, starting off initially as an alto saxophone player. In this role, he had joined ‘Geraldo’s Navy’ and played with dance bands aboard transatlantic liners. When he disembarked in New York, he went straight to the jazz clubs and soaked up the sounds created by the legendary bop innovators like Charlie Parker, Bud Powell and Dizzy Gillespie.
Together with colleague Ronnie Scott, Johnny spearheaded the bop movement in the UK by founding the Club Eleven. Additionally, he arranged and played alto saxophone with the Ambrose band and joined the Tito Burns Sextet.
From 1949, he became a regular ‘Melody Maker’ popularity poll winner - in more than one category. It was a natural progression for him to want to head his own combo, and this was realised with the formation of The Johnny Dankworth Seven, who made their debut at the London Palladium on 5 March 1950. They broke up in July 1953 but was replaced in little over three months by a seventeen-piece big band. Cleo Laine, who had become a member of the first Dankworth unit in 1951, left the band in 1958 to concentrate on a solo career, marrying Johnny in March of that year.
These forty recordings featured date from the late Fifties, and show a polished big band in a mixture of original Dankworth compositions alongside a handful of offerings by modern jazz musicians and composers. The rest of the programme is made up of ‘standards’ which, like the other numbers, are played in a forward-looking ‘progressive’ style.
The Dankworth Orchestra’s first American concert took place at the Newport Jazz Festival on July 3rd 1959 and proved a great success. Johnny disbanded the orchestra early in 1960 but re-formed a new band in the Summer of that year. During the next decade his activities were mainly centred on writing music for many films,
commercials and television serials.
Sadly, Sir John Dankworth died during the afternoon of 6 February 2010, aged 82
The rich legacies he has left us will, however, live on for many decades to come.
Too Cool For The Blues
Three Little Words
There Will Never Be Another You
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes
I May Be Wrong (But I Think You’re Wonderful)
They All Laughed
The Song Is You
They Can’t Take That Away From Me
The Gypsy In My Soul
Love For Sale
We Are The Lambeth Boys
Willow Weep For Me
Singin’ The Blues
Don’t Be That Way
Duet For Sixteens
When You’re Smiling
Groovin’ For Nat
Seven Leagues Beauty
Skeleton In The Bathroom
A Foggy Day
Love Me Or Leave Me
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