Monday, February 15, 2010

Sir John Dankworth Concert

On 6th February I played
a concert to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine's theatre, The Stables at Wavendon, England.

We knew that Sir John wouldn't be able to attend as he was in hospital. None of us however were fully aware just how ill John was, and just before I was about to rehearse a duet with Cleo in the afternoon, an urgent message reached Cleo asking her to get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Sadly, John had passed away before Cleo and the family arrived at the hospital.

Cleo came back to the theatre and broke the news to us backstage. Cleo said she wanted the concert to go ahead and it was also agreed that Cleo wouldn't tell the audience about John until the end of the show.

Cleo was amazing that night, and managed to turn a very sad day into a wonderful tribute to John. At one point Cleo told us all "Well, John's gone and stolen the show from me again!"

The evening was recorded for BBC Radio 3, Laurie Holloway led the orchestra and Paul O'Grady did a fantastic job as master of ceremonies. The guest artists were, Victoria Wood, Maureen Lipman, Prunella Scales, Timothy West, Jacqui Dankworth, Lorna Dallas, Rod Argent, Dominic Miller and myself.

I used to see Sir John quite often as we were both on the Jazz Committee of the Worshipful Company of Musicians. He was a great musician and a fun guy to be around with a very cheery and positive outlook to life. He helped so many young musicians during their formative years.

We lost one of the most important figures in jazz on that day, but I'm glad I was there to celebrate his life with his family and friends.

1 comment:

  1. martin, we met and played together many years ago in Athens, GA, so sorry to hear about John, I too, was a big fan, your career has been just amazing, I watched in awe for many years, you have changed the landscape of jazz guitar, it's approach and done much to bring guitar into the forefront, I highly commend you and treasure the days when wet met and played togteher, I wish you happiness, you should knoe that Stuart is OK, tim is in deep trouble, but most of us survived the 80's, I'm still playing 3 nights a week.