Kenny Ball, one of the big names in the trad jazz revival of the late 1950s and early 1960s, died this week.
As his Daily Telegraph obituary explained:
The Trad Boom ended suddenly, with the triumph of the Beatles and Merseybeat, in 1963, but Kenny Ball’s Jazzmen were scarcely affected. The band had by then become firmly established in the world of popular entertainment.
They appeared in every episode of the first six series of the Morecambe and Wise Show, beginning in 1968, and were the resident band on Saturday Night at the Mill (BBC One) from 1975 to 1983. They toured in the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In Russia they gave 28 shows in 31 days, finishing by playing Midnight in Moscow in Red Square. They played at the wedding celebration of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer, at the Prince’s request.
The jazz world, never entirely comfortable with this kind of popular success, tended either to ignore or to patronise Ball; but no one could deny that he was a highly accomplished musician, an engaging singer and a meticulous bandleader.Here they are on Morecambe and Wise in 1970. It's as though the sixties never happened but still enjoyable.
When I was four I used to play with a little girl down the road who had an impressive collection of Kenny Ball EPs. (We were more of an Acker Bilk family.) His music reminds me of those days and our innocent and not so innocent games.