Goodbye Johnny Dankworth

When I was around 15 I felt the urge to play a clarinet. So I did a paper round – no,  two paper rounds – and saved up enough to buy my first second-hand clarinet. It cost me £12, as I recall. I loved it, learned to play by ear, and thought that was enough.

A couple of years later, still a spotty schoolboy, my interest in jazz developed to the point where I used to go to concerts – MJQ, Sonny Stitt, Ronnie Ross etc. And then one night I went to a Johnny Dankworth Orchestra concert, I think in Edinburgh’s Usher Hall. Seeing Johnny play alto sax with such power, fluidity and grace made me want to play it too, so I saved up again and bought a second-hand alto, which I still have. So thank you Johnny.

My other memories of that night are: that his piano player was Dudley Moore – a wonderful pianist; and that the audience was so thin on the ground that Johnny asked those of us in the Upper Circle – the cheap seats – to come down to the stalls. Thanks again Johnny.


About sunnydunny

Poet, publisher, gardener
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One Response to Goodbye Johnny Dankworth

  1. Davide Trame says:

    Dear Colin, I have been suffering from Irritable Bowel Syndrome since I was born so I feel close to you. Homeopathic granules put together by a good German doctor I visit regularly help me a bit, but the problem is too old and rooted in me to be resolved completely.
    At least it gave me this poem:


    It is travelling with me on the train,
    flash after flash of landscape,
    it’s like that, tummy protesting
    for some excess, too much breakfast maybe
    and the unavoidable stress.
    In contrast with the great
    neat, first sunlight of the day, entering
    with a fiery stripe on my seat
    like an immediate present from the sky;
    and out of the window the blooming countryside,
    the pure setting for a yogi
    quiet and alert in his mind and body,
    a bellyache the farthest thing
    from his spotless breathing.

    Or why not the opposite,
    he would breathe equanimously
    all that might come to pass,
    my pain at sunrise and the running grass.

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