Hi there, pop fans!
Smile, smile, smile
It's all over
I have got the furious needle
For a good many years politicians have been blethering about de–centralisation of industry and commerce. If the present gravitation to the South East continues, this little island of ours will eventually tip up and we’ll all go sliding into the sea.
The same applies to musicians. The legend has it that unless you are a London musician you are nowhere. And so, when a musician is only half good enough he is on a train to London itching to get the fame and fortune supposed to be waiting there. Only a very select few ever get into the inner sanctum of the session world and the rest disperse to I know not where.
This situation is bad, but what can a young musician do? Except for the NDO, all the cream work is in London or, at least, based on London. Most provincial dance halls are part of London Combines.
Let me make it quite clear that I’m not advocating regionalism to such an extent that it stifles movement and exchange of ideas. But I would like to see the day when a musician could leave London to take up a position in some band or orchestra in Scotland or Wales without talking as if he were being sent to the salt mines.
The London music scene would fall flat on its face should all the provincial musicians pack their instruments and go home. I shudder to think what would happen to our brass sections if just the Scots left.
What I would like to see is groups of musicians of the highest calibre being able to earn a good living in cities other than London. This would, I am sure, eventually lead to regional styles taking shape—as happened around Chicago, New Orleans, Kansas City and the West Coast.
I can’t help remembering what impact the Tommy Sampson Band had as it exploded in Scotland and slowly disintegrated as it travelled southward. Also people still remember the healthy shock London bands got when discovering Ken Mackintosh and his Orchestra as relief band at Nottingham Palais. One famous broadcasting personality took a band to Nottingham and was booed off by the locals because they didn’t like the shoddy pick–up band that arrived from the capital city.
The present situation has led to stagnation, apathy and a false sense of security. Whenever you can find out what’s going on by covering the few square miles that is the London scene, it must be unhealthy. Like human bodies, jazz and dance music will wither and die if they don’t get some fresh inspiration and regain the will to live.
So I have a suggestion to make. How would it be if the victim of the criticism could add a codicil to the critic’s work? After all, it would be more democratic to be able to defend oneself in the same article. There is always the possibility that, should you write to the editor and your objections be printed, the same people who read the critic will not see the defence: and the people who read the defence and have not seen the original critic will wonder what the hell you are on about.
Perhaps I’m in Wonderland once again. People being people are unlikely to be completely honest. It would be an honest man, indeed, who added something damaging but truthful to a critic that expressed nothing but adulation.
Copyright © 1968, Kenny Graham. All Rights Reserved