United Kingdom

John Dankworth

John Dankworth

(1927 – 2010)

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United Kingdom

John Dankworth

John Dankworth
(1927 – 2010)

In memory of

John Dankworth

(1927 – 2010)
About John
This is a tribute dedicated to John Dankworth. Sir John Phillip William Dankworth, CBE was known in his early career as Johnny Dankworth, and was an English jazz composer, saxophonist and clarinetist.
Born in Woodford, Essex he grew up, within a family of musicians, in Walthamstow in its suburb of Highams Park and attended Sir George Monoux Grammar School in Walthamstow. He had violin and piano lessons before settling eventually on the clarinet at the age of 16, after hearing a record of the Benny Goodman Quartet. Soon afterwards, inspired by Johnny Hodges, he learned to play the alto saxophone.
After studying at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where his jazz interests were frowned on, and national
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About John
service in the army, he began a career on the British jazz scene. During 1949 he attended the Paris Jazz Festival and played with Charlie Parker. Parker's comments about John Dankworth led to the engagement of the young British jazzman for a short tour of Sweden with the soprano-saxophonist Sidney Bechet. John Dankworth was voted Musician of the Year in 1949.
In 1950, John Dankworth formed a small group, the Dankworth Seven, as a vehicle for his writing activities as well as a showcase for several young jazz players, including himself (alto sax), Jimmy Deuchar (trumpet), Eddie Harvey (trombone), Don Rendell (tenor sax), Bill Le Sage (piano), Eric Dawson (bass) and Tony Kinsey (drums). After three successful
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About John
years, the group was wound up, although it re-formed for several reunions over the years. John Dankworth formed his big band in 1953. The band was soon earning plaudits from the critics and was invited to the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival. The New York Times critic said of this appearance "... Mr. Dankworth’s group ... showed the underlying merit that made big bands successful many years ago - the swinging drive, the harmonic colour and the support in depth for soloists that is possible when a disciplined, imaginatively directed band has worked together for a long time. This English group has a flowing, unforced, rhythmic drive that has virtually disappeared from American bands." The band performed at the Birdland
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About John
jazz club in New York and shortly afterwards shared the stage with the Duke Ellington Orchestra for a number of concerts. John Dankworth’s band also performed at a jazz event at New York’s Lewisohn stadium where Louis Armstrong joined them for a set. By now, Cleo Laine's singing was a regular feature of John Dankworth's recordings and public appearances and they married in 1958.
Beginning that year, John Dankworth started a second career as a popular composer of film and television scores (often credited as "Johnny Dankworth"). Among his best-known credits are the original themes for The Avengers (used from 1961 to 1964) and Tomorrow's World, plus the scores for the 1966 films Modesty Blaise
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About John
and Morgan: A Suitable Case for Treatment.
In 1961, John Dankworth’s recording of Galt MacDermot’s African Waltz reached the British charts and remained there for several months. American altoist Cannonball Adderley sought and received John Dankworth’s permission to record the arrangement and had a minor hit in the US as a result. The piece was also covered by many other groups.
John Dankworth’s friendship with trumpeter Clark Terry led to Terry being a featured soloist on John Dankworth’s 1964 album The Zodiac Variations, together with Bob Brookmeyer, Zoot Sims, Phil Woods, Lucky Thompson and other guests. Other recordings during this period featured many other respected
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About John
jazz names. Some were full-time members of the John Dankworth band at one time or another, like Tony Coe, Mike Gibbs, Peter King, Dudley Moore, John Taylor and Kenny Wheeler, while others such as Dave Holland, John McLaughlin, Tubby Hayes and Dick Morrissey were occasional participants.
John Dankworth’s friendship with Duke Ellington continued until the latter’s death in 1974. He recorded an album of symphonic arrangements of many Ellington tunes featuring another Ellingtonian trumpet soloist Barry Lee Hall. John Dankworth also retained his Ellington links by performing with the Ellington Orchestra under the direction of Duke’s son, Mercer Ellington. Other symphonic albums were recorded
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with Dizzy Gillespie and the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra and others. Other jazz musicians with whom John Dankworth performed include George Shearing, Toots Thielemans, Benny Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Hank Jones, Tadd Dameron, Slam Stewart, Oscar Peterson.
John Dankworth was made a Knight Bachelor in the 2006 New Year's Honours List, the first British jazz musician to receive such an honour.
Sir John remained an active composer into later life, and he wrote a jazz violin concerto for soloist Christian Garrick to play. This work had its world premier in Nottingham on 1 March 2008 in partnership with the Nottingham Youth Orchestra.
John passed away on the 6th February 2010, aged 82. This is a memorial
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About John
dedicated to John Dankworth, his life and his music.
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John Dankworth - tribute extract

John Dankworth

This is a tribute dedicated to John Dankworth. Sir John Phillip William Dankworth, CBE was known in his early career as Johnny Dankworth, and was an English jazz composer, saxophonist and clarinetist.
Born in Woodford, Essex he grew up, within a family of musicians, in Walthamstow in its suburb of Highams Park and attended Sir George Monoux Grammar School in Walthamstow. He had violin and piano lessons before settling eventually on the clarinet at the age of 16, after hearing a record of the Benny Goodman Quartet. Soon afterwards, inspired by Johnny Hodges, he learned to play the alto saxophone.
After studying at London’s Royal Academy of Music, where his jazz interests were frowned on, and national...

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Rest in peace John
I first met John at ****
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