Olly Dow, founder member Dig’s Half Dozen, has reformed his Sidney Bechet tribute band after a move to the south coast.
Blue Horizon Revival play at The Steam Packet in Littlehampton on Friday, 0ctober 9 with a view to playing lots of future dates at jazz venues and jazz festivals on the south coast.
“The previous Blue Horizon was about six years ago when I was living in the Midlands. It ran for about four years. It folded when I just went on to play with other bands. I moved to Barnham in January, and I have been playing with existing bands as a guest. I just wanted to start my own band again, particularly as it had been so successful in the past. I met all the new members at various jazz haunts in the local area, Chichester, Littlehampton, Petworth and Arundel.”
Joining Olly are soprano sax player and band leader Derek Little, bass player Trevor Britton and guitarist Steve Evitts. Vocals are added by Julie Clarke and Clive P Willoughby - all in celebration of Bechet.
Born in New Orleans in 1923, Bechet is accepted by most critics as second only to the genius of Louis Armstrong. He played with all the jazz greats including Oliver and Morton but later took up small group work with two reeds (Mezz Mezzrow/Albert Nicholas).
“He spent much of his later years in Paris and penned a ballet score for La Nuit est une Sorciere. He died in 1959 leaving a legacy of brilliant improvisations and compositions including Petite Fleur and others.
He had to compete with very strong and loud trumpet-players in an era where there was no amplification. He began to play the soprano sax instead of the clarinet, and he soon became a master of the instrument. Many have copied him, but nobody has emulated him. Really, it was his creativity and his phrasing and also his energy. It was the sound he created - a sound that could not be ignored.
“I have been a jazz enthusiast since I was at school way back. I met Bechet on record in a dingy dark study room on scratchy 78 records. He was accepted as one of the doyens of traditional jazz with Louis Armstrong, but really his music was so distinctive. He often takes on a specifically French flavour. He was born in New Orleans, but his parentage was French.
“For jazz aficionados he has retained his place in the history of jazz. Styles have changed, but that place is assured. We are talking about an international jazz giant.”
Olly himself became a jazz player almost by accident: “When I was at school, there was a school jazz band, and my friends and I went to watch. The band leader said ‘We need a clarinet player’ and he pointed at me and said ‘Do you play the clarinet?’ I said I didn’t. He said ‘Well, go and get one!’ I went home and told my mum I needed a clarinet, and the rest is history. I have never been a professional musician, but I have always played.”
“In 1971 Digby Fairweather formed a band in Essex and invited me to join him. He took the band to London and the 100 Club in Oxford Street where we met many famous people such as Acker Bilk and others. Digby was soon invited to play with the best bands in the land, leaving us to reform without him. I still stay in touch with Digby, but he has gone on to greater things!”
Entrance is free, but book early for dinner as there are limited places.
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