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2011 Convention - Manchester, England

Saturday night live jazz with Digby Fairweather and His Half Dozen
Saturday night live jazz with Digby Fairweather & His Half Dozen


Report by Horace Meunier Harris

The 48th IAJRC Convention was held at Manchester, England, for the first time since London in 1994.  It was a masterpiece of Anglo-American co-operation.  The warmest praise from all those present goes to those responsible  -  Ian Tiele, Perry Huntoon and Lee Goode and their helpers on the American side, and Arnie Chadwick, Peter Caswell and the members of the Manchester Jazz Society in Britain.  A number of members from the United States and Canada made the effort to attend, plus several from Germany, Austria and Denmark.  On arrival, well loaded "goody bags" were presented to all.

The choice of venue was a sound one  -  the Radisson Park Inn, Central Manchester, a new hotel with 262 rooms and only opened in June, 2009.  The conference facilities were first class. The vending room did a busy trade, while the main lecture room was adorned with umpteen posters and photos relating to previous jazz occasions in the city organized by the Manchester Jazz Society, with many famous names illustrated.  For the first time a lunch was provided each day, included in the registration fee.

The Convention schedule was varied and absorbingly interesting.  After welcoming remarks by President Geoff Wheeler and Ian Tiele of the host committee, Bill Birch kicked off  the proceedings with a talk entitled “Keeper of the Flame (Modern Jazz in Manchester, 1946-72)”, which was also the title of a well illustrated book he has written and produced.

He was followed by Rainer Lotz from Bonn, Germany, with “Black Europe  -  Early Acoustic Recordings”, a very professional presentation incorporating early film and sound.  It was a fascinating glimpse of jazz pre-history in Europe.

Then came Trevor Tolley from Canada, with “Jazz Collecting in ‘Ancient’  Britain”, describing his involvement and early days in detail, with which I happily identified, as it brought back many shellac-hunting memories for me.

Michael Arie from Vienna, Austria,  graphically told the history of Austrian Jazz, playing many examples, dating back to 1943 and including illegal wartime sessions and recordings.

Being a Thursday, which is the normal weekly meeting evening of the Manchester Jazz Society, their members joined us, with a presentation including rare recordings made locally.  Afterwards they even provided a buffet dinner for everyone, comprising the local speciality called Lancashire Hot Pot, followed by Manchester Tart.  Needless to say, this latter name caused some merriment!  In addition, Holt's Brewery provided two welcome barrels of their excellent beer.  We visitors were all enrolled as Life Members of the Manchester Jazz Society and given badges to wear to prove it.

The evening ended with two hours of jazz films presented by Mark Cantor, too many to describe.  Enough to say that they were all worthwhile and up to his exceptionally professional standards.

Friday opened with our editor, Andy Simons, describing his involvement in the National Sound Archive in London, with a talk called “A Jazz Curator’s Greatest Gigs”  -  informative and entertaining, as one would expect from the indefatigable Andy.

Then came our blonde bombshell  -  the lovely Sabine Nagel-Heyer, from Hamburg, who played a delightful program of jazz from the Nagel-Heyer label.  This included a favorite of mine by the Alex Welsh Legacy Band, recorded at the Hamburg Convention in 1999.

From America, musician Don Manning enlarged at length in his wide ranging anecdotal dissertation called “Reminisces of Diz, Bird and the Bop Movement”.  It was illuminating to hear so much from the horse’s mouth, as it were, as he was a part of this revolutionary time in our jazz history and apparently knew all the players.

Arnie Chadwick took time off from his manifold duties as sound engineer, program co-coordinator and general dogsbody, to present his own talk, on “Armed Forces Radio”, producing for our inspection many examples of 16 inch wartime transcriptions, explaining the significance of the various series, such as “One Night Stand” and the black show, “Jubilee”.  (It is worth mentioning that Arnie joined the IAJRC in 1967, which almost certainly makes him the European member of longest standing, although to see him rushing about one would think him the newest and youngest!)

Derek Coller spoke about “Dave Cary, Strictly a Musician”, telling us that, besides being a pianist, he was equally proficient on alto horn and trumpet and an arranger.  Derek played varied musical examples of Cary's work and told us he is in the late stages of compiling a biographical book about Cary.

The evening ended with a delightful performance by Mike Durham’s Classic Jazz Band, complete with Sousaphone.  Mike is a knowledgeable IAJRC member and it shows in his profound acquaintance with early jazz, not least his ability to search out and resurrect forgotten dance numbers from the twenties.

Saturday morning was occupied by a lively Members’ Meeting, which lasted nearly three hours.  It proved that the organization is very much alive and well! Then came “Discographical Forum”, chaired by Malcolm Walker, covering a wide range of subjects.  Yours truly was asked to give a short presentation about his acquaintanceship with the late Brian Rust.  I played an excerpt from one of his 1987 broadcasts, on the subject of early British jazz, so that those present could hear the mellifluous voice of this important figure in jazz history.

Due to the unfortunate indisposition of film collector Alf Keiles, we were treated to a second presentation of jazz films by the resourceful Mark Cantor, all different to his early showing and much appreciated by all.

At seven we reassembled for the Banquet, which was very enjoyable.  It was graced by the presence of the Deputy Lord Mayor and Mayoress of Manchester, two very charming ladies.  This was followed by the presentation of awards.

The President made a special award to Andy Simons in recognition of his impressively successful five years as the editor of our IAJRC Journal.  In turn, Andy awarded an editor’s green eyeshield to Ian Tiele as incoming editor.  Chuck Sweningsen then presented three Best Article Awards to Michael Zirpolo, Roger Craik and  Derek Coller.

The evening wound up with two hours of jazz from Digby Fairweather and his Half Dozen, featuring Digby on trumpet and Julian Marc Stringle on clarinet and alto saxophone.   Then it was time for farewells and general agreement that it had been a most enjoyable and worthwhile Convention.

Click to download the 2011 Program Booklet (PDF 1.91MB)

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