THE jazz legend, Kenny Ball, died in the Basildon Hospital, Essex on 7 March 2013 from pneumonia. He was 82 years old having been born on 22 May 1930.
His band – Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen – (formed in 1958) was at the forefront of the early 1960s UK jazz revival. Its popularity was enormous with early hits “Samantha” and “Midnight in Moscow”, the latter reaching Number 2 on both the US and UK charts and selling over one million copies.
In the 1970s Kenny Ball and His Jazzmen were regulars on The Morecambe and Wise Show. Here’s a selection of jazz standards played by the band on this show, with Andy Cooper on clarinet and vocals and John Bennett on trombone.
Some jazz critics have marked Kenny Ball down as “being too showbiz” but noone who has listened carefully to Ball’s playing can doubt his jazz credentials. His range, bright tone and vigorous attack showed him as a powerhouse trumpet player. And if longevity is a measure of quality, Kenny Ball and his Jazzmen must get top marks. The band was still playing after 55 years. Son Keith Ball has been fronting the band while his father was ill, so we may see another Diamond Jubilee.
Several generations of fans have been delighted by his exuberant and swinging style, both on recording and in live performance. With Barber and Bilk he epitomised the “clean” British style of jazz. We mourn his passing.
For further information read Kenny Ball’s obituary in The Guardian