JAZZ MEM­O­RIES

Irish Examiner - Supplement - - GUINNES CORK JAZZ FESTIVAL - – In con­ver­sa­tion with Richard Fitz­patrick

Ste­vie G, DJ, on Jimmy Smith and Clyde Stub­ble­field, 2004

“Jimmy Smith was the elder states­man of the Ham­mond or­gan, ab­so­lute leg­end. He was very old when he played the fes­ti­val. He did a night in the Every­man, and the Every­man would be a very re­spect­ful, Jazz-play­ing crowd, mu­sic con­nois­seurs.

It was in 2004, be­fore ev­ery­one was us­ing their phones ev­ery two sec­onds, but peo­ple still had the tech­nol­ogy.

The of­fi­cial peo­ple take a few pic­tures at the start and then put away the cam­eras.

There was some­one tak­ing a pic­ture a bit too long though — and there was a flash in the cam­era — while he was play­ing.

He was tiny, very frail; he died soon af­ter [ Fe­bru­ary 2005], but he got up from the key­board and he said: ‘ Do you wanna take a pic­ture of this?’ and he was giv­ing the fist sign.

He was tiny and he was in his late- 70s. Ev­ery­one just stood still.

There were no more pic­tures af­ter that.

There was another guy Jimmy Smith played with that night, ar­guably one of the most im­por­tant mu­si­cians of all time.

He’s the late, great Clyde Stub­ble­field. He was James Brown’s go-to drum­mer along­side Bernard Pur­die. Pur­die was meant to play that gig, but he got sick so Clyde came in­stead. A bunch of us – we were all young fel­las — brought along our records to get signed. They signed the records and got a great kick out of it: ‘All you young kids have our records. This is great.’ Af­ter an ini­tial frosty re­la­tion­ship with hip-hop, some of the jazz guys have seen in the last 20 years that it’s given them a new lease of life.

Some of the money is rolling in for them from pub­lish­ing be­cause it’s hard to sam­ple now with­out pay­ing your dues.” Pat Hor­gan, for­mer jazz fes­ti­val chair­man, on John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, 1981 “John Dankworth and his wife Cleo Laine had a top room at the Metropole Ho­tel. They had played at the Opera House. Af­ter their con­cert, they went to change in their rooms at the ho­tel when they saw three faces out­side the win­dow on what­ever floor they were on — the fourth or fifth.

Th­ese guys were tap­ping on the win­dow. Cleo Laine opened the win­dow. They said: ‘ We’re stu­dents from the lo­cal univer­sity. We can’t get in. Would you mind let­ting us in? There’s only a few of us.’ Ap­par­ently, there was about 15 of them marched through even­tu­ally. As they were pass­ing through, the last one of the stu­dents asked: ‘Are ye here for the jazz fes­ti­val?’

Cleo Laine and Johnny Dankworth were two worl­drenowned jazz fig­ures.

It was af­ter that it was de­cided to put axel grease — which the ho­tel main­te­nance man got from the garage next- door — on the down­pipes on the Har­ley Street side of the Metropole. That put a stop to it.”

On Bar­ney Kes­sel and Blar­ney Cas­tle, 1982

“There were three red- hot gui­tar play­ers who were tour­ing the world — Bar­ney Kes­sel, Char­lie Byrd and Herb El­lis. They were called The Great Gui­tars.

Bar­ney Kes­sel liked to play and was here for prac­ti­cally the en­tire week­end. He had met some lo­cal guys and he was drink­ing in the ho­tel bar un­til maybe two o’clock in the morn­ing.

He asked the night porter: ‘Hi, I need the keys, Bar­ney Kes­sel.’ The night porter didn’t know who Bar­ney Kes­sel was. He said: ‘Look, sir, Blar­ney Cas­tle won’t be open un­til to­mor­row morn­ing.’

He mis­took ‘Bar­ney Kes­sel’ for Blar­ney Cas­tle!

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