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!