Portsmouth music scene


In 50 years, music has become a vast communications industry where one performer can now reach hundreds of thousands of listeners. It's been a long journey, accomplished in a relatively short time. When Melody Maker started in 1926, popular music was a small scale entertainment, its emphasis on do-it-yourself, with sheet music sales far out-distancing records.
Radio was a new toy. Amplification, as we know it today, was non-existent. And the first full-length sound film hadn't even hit the cinemas. In the ensuing years, the world has seen shattering social change. Through it all, a universal popular music has evolved, fighting off the appeal of the movies, to reign supreme.
Appropriately projecting the extravagance of today's scene is Elton John. He is pictured on stage at the 75,000-capacity Dodger Stadium, Los Angeles, by Terry O'Neill. In just a few short years Elton has risen to dominate pop music all over the world.
Surrounding him are some of the musicians who have developed popular music over the decades and paved the way for the music of the Seventies.

ELVIS PRESLEY spearheaded the youth revolution of the Fifties, and provided the real identity for the new consciousness reflected by James Dean and Marion Brando. A white boy who broke free of the moral' straightjacket of Middle America, Elvis leaned heavily on the music of black singers like Arthur "Big Boy" Crudup and made the world aware of the sexual explicitness of rock and roll.

DUKE ELLINGTON, who died in May 1974, was jazz's first great composer, and the leader of, arguably, the greatest band of the twentieth century. Impatient with the advocates of nostalgia, Ellington, continually moved forward throughout his 75 years, and was looked upon as a God by the entire jazz fraternity. Ellington's dignity and poise left its mark on hundreds of titles recorded during his long and honourable career.

THE BEACH BOYS represented the summer of American pop with their harmony-dominated surf music in the years from 1962 to 1967, their achievements culminating in the "Pet Sounds" album, which many feel is on a par with the Beatles' "Sgt. Pepper." In more recent years they've lost their creative impetus but retain a sunny, almost joyous stage presence.

JIMI HENDRIX singlehandedly changed the sound of the electric guitar in rock music. At heart a blues player, Hendrix ushered in the age of the Guitar Hero. His memory has been tainted by the release of many sub-standard sessions issued posthumously, but he was, unequivocably, a giant, even if his imagination sporadically ran ahead of his technique.

LOUIS ARMSTRONG was the trumpeter who elevated jazz into the realms, of art. The first great soloist, he was a master of the blues idiom, and his influence was felt throughout American music. The line from Satchmo to Dizzy Gillespie, Clark Terry, Roy Eldridge and Miles Davis can be easily traced.

SLY STONE, alias Sylvester Stewart, rose to prominence with the Family Stone, the soulful side of the San Francisco sound. In the mid-Sixties, Sly's music was characterised by an emphasis on choppy bass guitar lines and pumping brass, but with the Seventies he grew introspective and the resultant albums, particularly 'There`s A Riot Gain' On," were to be profoundly influential. Jazz-rock, soul and the current disco vogue owe a tremendous debt to this renegade Californian deejay.


The Stones and the Who - two British giants of the Sixties THE ROLLING STONES (Mick Jagger pictured right by Robert Ellis) burst on to the rock scene in 1963 with aggressive British R & B based on Black American music. They were the epitome of rebellious youth, with vocalist Dagger's outrageous dancing, the couldn't-care-less attitude of guitarists Brian Jones and Keith Richard and the stone-faced boredom of drummer 'Charlie Watts and bassist Bill Wyman. Since then, the Stones have survived the years to become established rock superstars. Pete Townshend (pictured left by Robert Ellis) was the archetypal London mod in 1965 when his group, The Who, shot to prominence on the crest of his song "My Generation," one of the most evocative youth rock songs of the Sixties. Since that emergent period, Pete has estab- lished himself as one of the most articulate rock musicians, as well as being one of the most creative, notably with " Tommy," a highly-acclaimed rock opera which was later made into a film.



The 'bible' and me, by Max Jones co-author of the book Louis

FOR ME, by chance and for a variety of unlikely reasons, the Melody Maker is not so much a paper more a way of life. How it started is not clear now, but my initial contact with the journal was made at school during the opening years of the Thirties.
And since that day, more than 43 years ago, there have been very few issues of the Melody Maker I haven't seen. [t became, in the lingo of those few then in the know, simply "the bible," the only source of jazz wisdom. It wasn't the magazine - then a fat, eagerly-awaited monthly - which introduced me to hot music, or rhythm known. Gramophone records and then the wireless had already done that.
If readers will pardon a personal reminiscence, I'll explain.
My brother and I, keen on unusual records by the Denza Dance Band and the like, bought pawnshop instruments and started an off-the-cuff bard which developed at school sufficiently to stagger both staff and fellow students at an end-of-term concert By then, radio's Christopher Stone had whetted our appetites for American jazz discs.
Several members of the group, called the Campus Club Dance Band at one time, were recruited at the Poly in Regent Street where I was fortunate enough to be instructed, unofficially During art class or private studies, in the mysterious ways of the dance band world. Our monthly Melody Maker was the only guide we knew to which band played where and who was in it, to what record was most worth getting, to who was in town, what music was published, and how much chance there might be of buying a new sax, clarinet or trumpet.
For semi-pros, there was also the opportunity of entering one of the Melody Maker band contests. Impossible today to convey the atmosphere of those years for boys of 15 or so in search of enlightenment on a new, sacred, semi-secret subject. Let me say, though, that it was a voyage of fascinating and haphazard discovery which took us in and out of music and record shops from Regent Street to Charing Cross Road, up to Selfridge's roof at lunchtime to hear the latest dance records, and down as far as the exteriors of Soho bottle clubs and dance halls to gaze at photographs of such as the 43 Club band, Syd Roy's Lyricals or, no less, Joe Loss and his Harlem Band.
And it drew us by curiosity and necessity to the pages of the Melody Maker, organ of "the profession", which among other wonders announced sudden and usually totally unexpected happenings like the imminent arrival at the London Palladium of Louis Armstrong or, a little later, Duke Ellington's band the Boswell Sisters or Mills Brothers. It wasn't out-and-out jazz with us then, or out-and-out anything. It was listening to and trying to play music which possessed something of the new flavour, the swing spirit.
The Melody Maker reflected this underground enthusiasm and, through the writings of men such as Spike Hughes, John Hammond and Edgar Jackson, fed and encouraged it. Hughes, who was critic "Mike", influenced a generation of jazz jeunesse. Thus, at an early age, I engrossed myself in the feeling and excitement of hot music. Perhaps it was the beginning of a misspent youth which in turn grew into misspent adulthood and middle age: I dare say it was, and if so the monthly "bible" (followed by the weekly journal) deserved a hefty share of the blame. Anyway, I've had very few regrets.
As I've said, we needed the Melody Maker in order to know and get around. More than anyone else, you needed it if you were a player of almost any sort of popular music over here. It was the musicians' paper, their directory and publicity organ. "The Staunchest Pillar of the Profession" was how it was sometimes advertised in the middle Thirties: Every Friday, 3d. That it was, and an excellent three-pennies' worth our band considered it. Then, as now, one copy often went round a whole band.
At no time did it set out to be a jazz paper, though older enthusiasts complaining of disenchantment often suggest otherwise. No dance musician the Melody Maker claimed, could he up-to-date in his views without it. And the faces looking out of its pages were more likely to belong to Lou Preager, Ambrose, Al Bowlly, Henry Hall, Jack Hylton, Harry Roy or Carroll Gibbons than to Bix, Hawkins, the Teagardens or even Louis - though Armstrong always enjoyed a special association with this paper (Which ran the first letter from him ever to burst into print) and was fairly heavily featured in it through the Thirties.
Although it was the mirror of the dance profession, the Melody Maker nonetheless gave hospitality to jazz writers in its features pages and letters columns - I wrote to the latter before the war without success, though my brother got one in - and sponsored the Rhythm Club movement from its inception in June of 1933. No doubt the Melody Maker was the first weekly in the world to run regular jazz record reviews.
The clubs were a vital factor in spreading rhythm around, as you might say, and when the Melody Maker published Hilton Schleman ' s pioneering Rhythm On Record in '36, the author dedicated it to the clubs. R on R, a rare book today, came out for seven-and-sixpence and was a very enterprising Melody Maker venture into the jazz field.
And that field, I should explain for younger readers, was - quite unlike today's jazz scene in Britain. Homegrown jazz, stifled almost in its infancy by an official ban on US jazz and dance players, was far from flourishing. Melody Maker contests uncovered talented individuals: Rhythm Club jam sessions sometimes presented them: and the "bible" reported and supported their activities. But the music suffered badly from feelings of insularity and inferiority, though Benny Carter's arrival in 1936 as resident arranger for the BBC Dance Orchestra gave it a powerful boost. The war changed Britain's music scene abruptly, as it changed everything, and after 1939 the profession was never the same for what we thought of as "the bands". That aspect of West End life, of the luxury trade, was altered for ever. And tastes were changing too.
During the war, the Melody Maker naturally endured a lean period - short of newsprint and staff and cut off still further for a while from musical ideas from abroad - but it survived the vicissitudes and maintained what was in some cases literally an army of loyal readers spread about the world. Sinclair Traill, Ken Brown, Vic Bellerby and Hector Stewart are four, still writing about jazz, who managed to see the Melody Maker in India. Up to this time, if I may return to a personal note, my connection with the paper had been that of a keen reader who followed dance band contests and went to special Melody Maker events - such as the musicians' matinee for Armstrong, the EIlington and Carter concerts and so on - and was involved with the Number One Rhythm Club and others affiliated to the Melody Maker. It's true that through Johnny Claus, in whose first band I played sax until I was rumbled, I had met Edgar Jackson and others who worked for the paper. I started two or three rhythm clubs, even a federation of same, and sometimes visited the Melody Maker to drum up publicity.
By now I had started scribbling down thoughts about jazz and Afro-American music, and very purist and pretentious most of them were, and contributing occasional scripts to Radio Rhythm Club. But the notion of working for the Melody Maker hadn't crossed my mind. It came about by accident when Bill Elliott left the Collectors' Corner feature, and his partner Rex Harris, who I knew well through the rhythm clubs, invited me to take over from Bill. Later, purely on a chance recommendation by Edgar Jackson, I was asked to join full-time.
The decision didn't take long, as I recall, though I was supposed to return from the Civil Defence to my father's business. It was metal versus music, no contest really, and so I jumped with no experience into a world disturbed by reports of Glenn Miller's disappearance, presumed dead, and interested in Ted Heath's decision to start his own orchestra. My own head was filled with Bunk, Louis, Bechet, Yancey and music-makers of that kind. Those were the days when the traditional or New Orleans "revival" was getting off the ground over here: modern jazz groups were catching up with bop happenings: Sunday Swing Concerts and Jazz Jamborees were big attractions, and most of the big bands left were showing the marks left by Glenn Miller's Band of the AEF.
Stimulating times they were for the Melody Maker, which identified editorially with the changing tastes of young musicians, and (to be personal again) for me, who began to realise that the more music you listen to, especially live, the more you realise how little you know. Ah, well, a way of life as I remarked at the start, and what a way to work! Meeting Django Reinhardt, Toots Camarata, Jimmy and Marian McPartland, the Miller musicians and such critics as Hugues Panassie. Charles Delaunay and Robert Goffin within my initial year or two on the strength helped to convince me I was being hired to enjoy myself.
That's how life has continued: another point is that no one on the M M ever tells me what to say in print.

Jazz: the art with nine lives, by Leonard Feather. Melody Maker contributor since 1933,
who has two books due: The Pleasure Of Jazz and The Encyclopedia of Jazz In The 70's.

FIFTY YEARS ago, when the Melody Maker was born, jazz was not even the minority-interest music it would soon become. The word itself was well known: the Melody Maker first flourished during what was known as the jazz era, though nobody knew precisely the meaning of the term. There was even a so-called King of Jazz, but only a tiny minority within the minority knew that Paul Whiteman, who bore that crown with all the pomp of a grand pretender, had precious little right to the throne.
The evolution of jazz from half-ignored, half-despised novelty to respected art form, taught in countless American colleges and heard throughout the world on offical US Government missions, is inextricably interwoven with the story of the black man's rise from a swamp of oppression that almost engulfed him in the early years of this century. That the music matured from its original character as a lusty, primitive folk form could be attributed more to the indomitable spirit and determination of the performers than to any encouragement they received from the American people. There had been just a few milestones in the development of jazz at the time the Melody Maker first appeared. At the turn of the century Scott Joplin's "Maple Leaf Rag'' had just been published and the ragtime craze would overlap with the advent of the freewheeling Dixieland and New Orleans bands. The blues, a seminal form powerful enough to make its presence felt throughout every stage of jazz history, went public in 1912 and 1914 with W. C. Handy's "Memphis Blues" and "St Louis Blues". The 12-bar form found a substantial place in the repertoire of the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, the white quintet that broke the recording barrier in 1917. In 1923 King Oliver made his first classic sides with Louis Armstrong on second cornet.
But just where was jazz in 1926? Most of the developments that seem vitally important from today's retrospective went by virtually unnoticed at the time. I Louis Armstrong was still mainly a sideman, with the Carroll Dicker-son and Erskine Tate bands in Chicago, but it was during '26 that his early Hot Five sessions began to gain currency. Duke Ellington, ensconced in a downtown New York speakeasy, the Kentucky Club, recorded with a ten-piece ensemble such works as "East St Louis Toodle-O", the band's radio theme song for the next 15 years. Bix Beiderbecke spent the first part of the year working in Frank Trumbauer's band before he and Trumbauer both joined the Jean Goldkette orchestra. in October they recorded with the band, alongside Joe Venuti and Eddie Lang.
On a memorable night, October 13, Goldkette's band played opposite the Fletcher Henderson orchestra at Roseland, the dance hall at 51st and Broadway. That may have been the night when the strong friendship began between Bix and Henderson's featured cornettist Rex Stewart, who idolised Bix and a year later copied, note for note off the record, the Beiderbecke solo on " Singin' The Blues " Among the other events of 1926 were the first recordings by Jelly Roll Morton's Red Hot Peppers: the organisation of the orchestra led by Ben Pollack, who (despite Whiteman's claims) had the first genuinely jazz-orientated white band and made extensive use of such soloists as his incredible 16-year-old clarinettist, Benny Goodman. Something happened to John Coltrane, Ray Brown, Gerry Mulligan and Miles Davis in 1926. They were born.
Jazz evolved during the late Twenties and the Thirties on four main levels: rhythmically, there was a gradual improvement in finesse as guitars replaced banjos and string basses took over from tubas, harmonically, men like Ellington, Don Redman. Fletcher Henderson and Benny Carter showed the way, both as composers/arrangers and soloists, towards newer and bolder horizons: melodically, the innovations were a direct offshoot of jazz's harmonic growth: and improvisationally, the music gave jazz possibly its most distinctive quality of all. It has often been said that every change in jazz begins with the soloist, and that the orchestral evolution reflects the innovations of the soloists. This over- simplification does not take into account certain swing era developments that could be attributed mainly to the big bands and their arrangers.
The use of riffs as a sectional or ensemble device was first prominently heard in Glen Cray's Casa Lama Orchestra, an otherwise second-rate white band: in some of Fletcher Henderson's writing for Benny Goodman (though it's true that "King Porter Stomp" started out in life as a head arrangement in Henderson's own band): and of course in the Count Basic orchestra, which before it could afford to pay for arrangements relied very largely on riff constructions. It is also beyond question that the expansion of jazz to a point where it could take valid material out of popular songs of the day was due substantially to the efforts of Henderson and a few of his contemporaries. While this development may not have been essential to the aesthetic advancement of jazz, certainly it was a vital factor in bringing greater public acceptance during the 1930-1945 period when big bands dominated the scene.
In the retrospective light of 1976 the swing era looks very different from the way it appeared three or four decades ago when the media - mainly radio, magazines and newspapers - made an effective propaganda machine for the prevailing heroes - Benny Goodman, Woody Herman, Artie Shaw, to some degree Ellington and Basic - while all but ignoring the other giants of big band jazz, the Jimmie Luncefords and Chick Webbs and Andy Kirks and the Teddy Hills, whose work opportunities were confined largely to black theatres, clubs and ballrooms. Nor must it be forgotten that the swing era produced a tremendous wealth of soloists. A handful, notably Art Tatum, worked mainly on their own (but could not gain access to concert halls - their solo recitals had to be held in smoke-filled bistros). Others worked in small combos or big bands but gained individual prominence by recording as leaders in their own right.
The European market for jazz records played a great role in bringing these giants to prominence. Bessie Smith and the early folk-blues singers such as Blind Lemon Jefferson and Leadbelly had shown that jazz could indeed be a vocal art, but it was during the Thirties and Forties that jazz singing and the pop world overlapped effectively, influencing one another. It was during the Forties that the evolution of jazz took a dramatic turn. For the first time, instead of a vague blending and interrelating of idioms, there was a sharp uprise in factionalism as bebop was brewed by Gillespie, Parker, Monk, Bud Powell and their fellow-radicals. The Forties also were the years of belated acceptance for jazz on the concert level. The jam session, once an all but secret after-hours event, was offered on big stages at home and abroad through the courtesy of Norman Granz.
If any one factor can be singled out as having been the dominant element in the Fifties, it was the quest for respectability. Jazz found its way into the high society world of Newport with the first festival there in 1954: into equally prestigious magazines.
Dave Brubeck took his quartet into colleges for concerts that were actually regarded seriously as musical events: John Lewis dressed his MJQ in swallow tail coats and played music that sometimes reflected his concern for Johann Sebastian Bach.
Bop coalesced into cool jazz as the Influence of the Miles Davis nine-piece band was felt worldwide. The cool sounds of Davis, Gerry Mulligan with his pianoless quartet, the cerebrations of the Lennie Tristana combo (whose "Intuition" in 1949 was the world's first example of free jazz) all contributed in their various ways to a sense of respectability through moderation, dignity and intellectuality. Stan Kenton tried another route, switching from a regular size band to the "Innovations" ensemble, heavy with strings and bombast, which didn't last very long, though it was in fact a harbinger of the jazz-and-classics Third Stream movement that would be brought to fruition by John Lewis, Gunther Schuller & Co a decade later.
The Fifties also saw the belated expansion of jazz as a medium of expression through all instruments. The organ, flute, french horn, oboe and bassoon edged their way in from the sidelines. Afro-Cuban instruments and rhythms became commonplace, thanks to the initiatives of Kenton and Gillespie. The late Fifties and early Sixties were years of agonising reappraisal. No longer was the music limited to 4/4 time: waltzes finally were not regarded as oddities. John Coltrane, Miles and others began to explore the uses of modes rather than tones as a medium for adlibbing, while Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and other prophets of the new, free jazz movement cast aside all taboos, shucked off tonality when so inclined, and rejected the mathematical simplicity that had tied down so much of jazz to multiples of four bars. Along with the gradual breakdown of the old concepts of meter and symmetry came new racial awareness.
By around 1967 the cross-cultural encounters had brought jazz and non-jazz music and musicians into contact, blending this once pure Afro-American form with rhythms, melodies, modes, timbres and concepts from all over the world - India, the Near East, the Middle East, Brazil, Spain, the Dutch East Indies, and the Iron Curtain countries. One result of this internationalisation was a gradual shift of the centre of gravity. More and more, since about 1962, the heralds of the new free jazz, whatever their nationality, have found their most frequent opportunities for expression of their aims at concerts and festivals in Europe. It was, in fact, in West Berlin and in Scandanavia that Eric Dolphy, Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Don Cherry and George Russell found some of their most appreciative audiences. The past decade is viewed by some critics as crucial because of the incorporation of Jazz and rock. and because of the greatly Increased use of electronic instruments in jazz circles.
Certainly the contributions of such rock-influenced groups as those of Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock, Blood Sweat & Tears, Chicago and Return to Forever have made a deep mark in the music of this period: and beyond question the electric piano and synthesizer contributions of Hancock, Chick Corea, George Duke and many others, like the electric bass of Stanley Clarke and Ron Carter, have brought a permanent change in the sound of jazz. Yet I find even more important- ??? another facet of today's sce- ??? complete breakdown of national- ??? as racial lines. It is extremely significant that Miles Davis saw fit to import from Britain such men as John McLaughlin and Dave Holland: that the style of the Adderley Quintet was determined in large measure, for nine years, by Joe Zawinul from Vienna: that three of the most respected bassists in the world are Miroslav Vitous, George Mraz and Niels Pederson.
Crystal ball gazing is a dangerous game, one in which I have indulged cautiously and infrequently during an adult lifetime spent listening to jazz and watching it : grow, Having been around when it all happened, I am thoroughly aware that none of us, in 1942, had the slightest inkling of what bebop would be, nor of the enormous change it would make in the entire face of jazz. Neither was anybody in the late Fifties able to predict accurately the role that would ultimately be played, and the legacy that would be left to posterity, by Coltrane or any of the other messengers of the avant garde. Knowing this, I can only make a few comments concerning any peep into the future.
First, there may be a new development under way that is just as unpredictable as were those other apocalyptic events, and ten years from now it will seem incredible, in hindsight, that all of us failed to see the writing on the manuscript paper, or hear the sound bouncing off the wall. Second, I predict that more than ever the great innovators of jazz will be an international group. It is already obvious that men like Albert Mangelsdorff, Karl Berger, and the others cited above have something influential to offer, and that the background on which the fight for the future will be waged may just as well be a concert hall in Berlin, London or Tokyo as in. New York, Los Angeles or New Orleans.
I don't think any music of the future will render obsolete the achievements of the past and present. The true giants, from Earl Hines and Eddie Lang to Oscar Peterson and Joe Pass, have shown that there is no time limit on the acceptance of such talent. They or their records will be around, and will be a part of our scene, long after many of our contemporary nineday wonders are forgotten. lastly, I predict that the blues will continue to be played, for this is the one ongoing element that has proved to be a common thread since the first notes were played that were identified as jazz.
I don't know what will be the equivalent, In the year 2000, of B. B. King or Muddy Waters or Jimmy Witherspoon, but I hope and believe that something comparable will still be around to acquaint the aficionados of that distant year with the essential roots of an art form that by then will have rounded out its first incredibly eventful century.

Note ??? means there were parts of the magazine where the prints has faded.

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