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Back to Crescendo 1962 July



Pages 14-15 of Crescendo, July 1962, Vol.1, No.1. Page 14 features a discussion on the role of the accordion in jazz with Jack Emblow, with a photograph of Essex accordionist Buddy Kaye and his band. Page 15 is devoted to a column offering the random thoughts of musician Tommy Watt.

Image Details

Catalogue Reference Number
Creator Tony Brown [ed], Albert Harris, Tommy Watt
Date Made 1962
Item Format Journal
Title or Caption They reall wanted a pianist! Watt's On.

This text has been generated by computer from the image and may contain typographical and/or grammatical errors.

They really wanted a
' \Y/E really wanted a pianist.” That
'' was the discouraging reaction that greeted Jack Emblow’s efforts to introduce jazz accordion into the dance hall in the autumn of 1945. After a protracted tour as one of Carrol Levis’s vouthful discoveries he was, not surprisingly, good and ready to carry the gospel to the unconverted. Jack’s determination to make a professional living on his chosen instrument eventually brought him into the dance hall, playing with George Melfi.
From there, it was only a matter of time before Jack found his way into the session world. He admits that he recently adopted a Continental identity and an £18 musette-tuned accordion for a series. He is willing and able to turn his hand to anything that is offered, though he can pick and choose to some degree.
A week in which he has performed with both Jimmy Shand and Ted Heath gives a fair indication of his range. Since he also plays jazz, one would imagine that playing it exclusively would be his idea of a professional Shangri La. Not so. Experience has taught him that versatility pays.
“At least, so far as England is concerned. As you know, at least one American
radio corporation has disbanded its staff orchestra. Joe Mooney and Matt Matthews have been in eclipse for some time, and I don’t think they have the outlets we have in light music broadcasts. It’s worth mentioning that the old tremolo box is bringing me as much work as my £200 custom-built instrument.”
There may be a glimmering of light on the American scene. Buddy de Franco, says Emblow, is recording with an accordion player.
discusses the accordion with
It would be nice to anticipate a visit of this de Franco group here—but Jack Emblow isn’t hopeful. “Shows need promoters, whether modern, trad, or pop or anything.
“I suppose Mooney and Matthews would come if given the opportunity. There’s an English chap, too—Tony Dakis. He plays wonderful jazz. Trouble is he can’t read. I’d rate him the Erroll Garner of the accordion.”
Jack considers that the modern
pianist I
accordion is technically as far advanced as it need be.
“I know some chaps would use instruments with as many as five voices, but I reckon two is ample for most work outside the real solo field. Otherwise they can be altogether too heavy. That’s why the button accordion hasn’t found much favour in England. True, it gives enormous facility, but I don’t think it affords the best articulation for jazz work.
“For most sessions I think not only that the two-voice instrument is adequate, but also that an eighty-bass one is quite sufficient. Very few players, myself included, make much use of the left hand for the general run of work, especially jazz. The accordion is just another front-line sound.
“As for the amplifier, I’m afraid it’s a necessity, though I can’t honestly say that I entirely approve of it. But it doesn’t alter the tone colour, as it does with the guitar. If you propose to do a lot of dance work, you certainly can’t dispense with an amplifier. That’s probably why you don’t see the accordion much around the jazz clubs, and why it hasn’t claimed much public attention as a jazz instrument.
“A clarinet or sax is compact and portable enough, but nobody wants to cart an accordion and an amplifier around more than necessary, especially after a day’s work has already been done.
“Style? Nobody seems to have set a trend really, as with wind instruments. I would certainly cite Matt Matthews, but there’s little indication that anybody has gone out of his way to ‘arrange’ the accordion into the group as it were.
“There was that thing I did with Heath—a number by Johnny Keating, but it was more on ‘rock’ lines than true jazz.”
Yet Jack isn’t at all pessimistic about the future of the jazz accordion. The popularity of the guitar, he thinks, is possibly on the wane. He sees no reason why the accordion shouldn’t come into prominence once again. But as he remarks, the impetus is not likely to come from the players themselves, unless they get a bit more pushing.
Accordionist Buddv Kaye leads his own group in the Essex area and successfully mixes jazz with commercial music. But generally, the instrument has been cold-shouldered by the jazz world.
page fourteen
the random reflections
of a musician at targe
\V/HAT happens to our best British ” brass players when they get inside a British recording studio. If we are to believe what we hear on record, they all play in straight mutes. Thin, strangled, poverty-stricken. Maybe they are all nervous ?
No. It isn’t the musicians, it’s the recording technique. Whereas most musicians are keen enough to buy records of the world’s best, Basie etc., the engineers appear to buy and hear nothing — and they get a discount.
Basically I think they just don’t know what kind of noise to expect from the speaker. This is, of course, even more prevalent in the BBC, where the clotheared brigade runs riot. Still, this is receiving attention at the Corporation. Any band containing instruments other than electric guitars is now off the air.
T’VE always admired Kenny Baker, so * when I was invited to hear him demonstrate a range of trumpets at a get-together sponsored by the makers, I jumped at the chance. As each instrument was replaced panting on its rack to be inspected and tried out by the young hopefuls gathered there, I couldn’t help feeling doubtful about the benefits of such a demonstration.
After hearing Kenny soaring cloudless and free, any beginner is quite entitled to go home, tear up the brochure and resume lessons on the mouth organ. Still, as an elderly lady in the front row was heard to say, "He doesn’t half stomp.”
A COUPLE of weeks ago I decided to visit a riverside pub which offers, apart from its idyllic setting and the ever popular promise of a good drink-up, the best in British jazz. This particular evening it was the turn of our top quintet.
Unfortunately, in my excitement, I arrived early and felt obliged to cough up six shillings to get in. The obvious drill is to hang about in the lounge and wait for the thirsty band to arrive, attach yourself in a friendly sort of way and trot into the club premises en-
grossed in conversation with the drummer.
One hour and half a dozen scotches later, an ‘original’ by the trumpet player was announced and duly started. Good theme and interesting (if involved) chord sequence, I thought, as the group swung through the first chorus. It was somewhere around the fourth chorus that I realised that I was no longer really following what was happening.
It’s a horrid feeling when an experienced musician like myself lets the profession down in front of all the ordinary people who stand around in a knocked out sort of way, obviously well with it. All I could do was to keep beating my foot on the off-beat and simpering at the drummer from time to time.
It was only when I got outside that I regained my normal composure and started to (and rightly so) blame the band. After all, if they want to play an original theme, it should be based on an aboriginal sequence. Smug but simple, that’s me.
'\J0THING smug about the Theatrical ^ Managers and their spokesman though. They were fully aware of their national
duty towards Selwyn and the pay pause. “The union’s (musicians’) action is communistic,” thundered the Prince.
Ugly phrase that. Communistic. It’s like putting "wise” on the end of words. Musicwise, soundwise . . .
Anywise the point is that, as generally agreed, most of London’s theatre musicians are getting well above the minimum rate of £ 14. So the extra fiver a week will only apply to a small minority. This isn’t going to ruin any management’s pocket.
No, the issue as I see it is, as the minimum rates come up, so too does the amount asked by star players when their services are imperative.
What Mr. Littler was beefing about was not communism but free enterprise. This supply and demand game has been with us for years. If you are the best and only the best will do, you charge them, boy. There is nothing uncommon about this market.
EVEN if young men in any numbers decide to take up brass instruments, where can they join a band and get the necessary experience to make not only good soloists but solid section players ? Ten years ago there were numerous bands touring the country in which young musicians could serve their time and learn. Now there is only one left and Johnny has a full complement. Which leaves, apart from Palais bands, only the call of the Armed Forces.
Fortunately there is wide scope here, if we are to judge from the countless appeals which appear weekly in the musical press. Any young lads desirous of the outdoor life might do worse than answer the following advertisement.
The Royal Dragoons have a vacancy for a keen young drummer. Enlist now for a sound musical training. Apply Bandmaster, G.P.O. Box No. 3, Kuala Lumpur.
But how on earth can you be expected to swing like Max Roach on the back of a horse ?
Especially in that climate.
Jammy Watt
page fifteen