“After John Coltrane came noise.” – This quote is attributed to Philip Larkin.
Yes, that is Philip Larkin as in the Poet Philip Larkin who wrote “they f**k you up, your mum and dad.”
Larkin was a big Jazz fan since the age of 12 and his first record was the Tiger Rag by the Ray Noble Orchestra and the track pretty much tells you exactly what end of the Jazz spectrum Larkin was looking at. It is no secret that Larkin was no fan of modern Jazz and had no time for Miles, Monk (describing him as a funny hat man), Mingus or Trane so his alcohol fuelled jazz record nights would be filled with the Jazz of the 1920s to late 1940s. Eddie Condon, Billy Banks, Bix, Satchmo and the like would be on the record player. In 2010 Proper Records released a 4 cd box called Larkin’s Jazz which featured the tracks he would frequently listen to. Tellingly the most recent track in the collection is a 1959 recording by Jimmy Witherspoon and the most modern-style artist in the set is Dave Brubeck, a man whose music never really challenged the status quo in the same way his contemporaries did. Not that I am dissing Dave Brubeck his music is very good and he was in the fight for civil rights, but it cannot be said they are aurally challenging in the way Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman and the late 60s/early 70s out put of Miles Davis.
What we have is some fine Jazz of his preferred sub-genre although I must confess that Billy Banks doesn’t really do it for me despite having Fats Waller on the old Joanna.
Now what would the Sandman’s Jazz set comprise of? Well considering I like a wide spectrum of Jazz I imagine it would be a less consistent set and tone then Larkin’s. But here we go anyway. I would probably set it up into three sub genre discs and a disc which I would call “my introduction”.
So no doubt disc 1 track one would be The Ray Ellington Quartet with Pink Champagne. This may sound like an odd choice but the Ray Ellington Quartet was pretty much the first Jazz Band I really got familiar with thanks to a coach tour of Italy. While on the coach I was listening to episodes of the Goon Show on my Walkman and each show there would be a musical interlude with the Quartet. I selected Pink Champagne because it always makes me smile and featured not only in a show but was chosen as the track to represent the band in the retrospective documentary “At Last the Go On Show.” My next choice would be Blue Train by John Coltrane, the track really blew me away when my 17 year old ears heard it for the first time. After that I think I would go for my first tracks of various artists such as Duke Ellington, Fats Waller, Count Basie, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, George Melly, Miles, Monk and Tubby Hayes.