RIP Sir John Dankworth 1927-2010

Deepest condolences to the Dankworth family on the death earlier today of one of the greatest figures in British jazz, Sir John Dankworth, at the King Edward VII hospital in London.

Tonight a 40th anniversary concert for the Stables will go ahead. The occasion will inevitably be overshadowed by today’s very sad news.

Categories: miscellaneous

14 replies »

  1. So sorry to hear this news, his contribution to Jazz and jazz education is so immense. I send all my love to the family…..I am grateful to have met him and worked with him RIP

  2. Very sad to hear of the passing of a great man. It was always a joy to be around him – talking chords and sharing jokes. A fine man, what a legacy he leaves.

  3. John Dankworth was one of the first high-profile people to say that you could (and should) bring together music and musicans from jazz, pop, avant-garde, classical and (what we now call) World music without prejudice or snobbery.

    He and Cleo put these ideas into practice with the Wavendon Allmusic Plan – for ‘every conceivable sort of music’ – at the Stables.

    I attended one of his Easter Allmusic courses as a teenager, and it was a life-changing experience.

    Thank you JD.

  4. I am so saddened to hear of Sir Johnny's passing. He graced Tucson's Invisible Theatre stage with artistry. His friendship was a gift to be cherished. My heart goes out to dear Cleo and family. Love, Suz and Bella

  5. Wishing all the family long life. Do people realise the extent he was also an advocate for jazz, such as through Jazzdev? An ambassador for all jazz, and UK in particular, where he put his actions as much as his words. Or as the man to get Kenny Wheeler going as a composer by “lending” the band for Windmill Tilter, and the person who helped get Hugh Masekela out of South Africa. So much achieved and fulfilled. Or….

  6. Frank Griffith writes:

    It is with a sense of very great sadness that I wrie about the death of Sir John Dankworth, the legendary British saxophonist and composer. He died on Saturday at King Edwards Hospital in London. He was 82.

    Colleagues might be aware that Sir John and Dame Cleo Lane were awarded Honorary Doctorates in Music by Brunel in 2007 and attended one of the graduation ceremonies to accept them, and to deliver short speeches.

    John had also contributed greatly to education via the Wavendon AllMusic Plan as well as donating several of his big band pieces to the Brunel Jazzbridge which we will continue to perform in our upcoming concerts. There has also been talk of Brunel serving as a possible archive of his music library at some stage.

    I had the distinct pleasure of performing and recording with John and Cleo and the big band on many occasions.

    Long may his memory and music thrive.

  7. Nigel Tully has written:

    John Dankworth was the most creative person I have ever worked with.

    He became a Liveryman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians in 1991, and quickly threw himself into the work of its Jazz Committee (which I have the great pleasure of chairing).

    He guided us towards a strategy of generating gigs for young jazz musicians – which is of course what they want above all – and of making two annual awards, one for Lifetime Achievement and one for a young jazz musician chosen by audience vote at an annual competition gig. The quality of the musicians who have won this competition, such as Andy Panayi, Mark Nightingale, Tim Garland, and Tom Cawley, is a tribute to John's foresight and creativity in thinking up a workable format for an Award which is still unique in British Jazz.

    If John was in the UK he would make a point of attending our committee meetings. He invariably made telling contributions on behalf of young jazz musicians starting in the profession. He gave equal attention and equally sound advice on broad strategy as he did to the detailed planning of a concert. He would regale the committee (Tina May, Martin Taylor, Andy Panayi and others) with wonderful stories of his life in music, and then come back to focus on the items that we needed for the silent auction at the next fund-raiser gig. He offered his own services free at our annual open-air concerts in Finsbury Circus Gardens for the City of London Festival – provided his musicians were properly paid, of course.

    In recent years John was concerned to create a legacy which would sustain and support youth jazz in Britain – a vibrant and flourishing community, not least because of his efforts. He was a great supporter of NYJO – the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, of which he famously said “Forget the word Youth, this is one of the best bands you will ever hear.” He personally asked them to play for him at a lunchtime reception at Pizza on the Park immediately after receiving his knighthood at Buckingham Palace. Of course he sat in with them, soloing on Indiana on alto.

    Last year he ensured that the Wavendon Foundation would sponsor the Lady Vocalist Chair in NYJO, and help fund the annual Dankworth Prize for Original Jazz Composition, which will be presented this year at Ronnie Scott's Club on 24 March.

    I asked him to allow us to call it “The John Dankworth Prize” – his reply was “Drop the John, that way you get four of us for the price of one!”

  8. His loss is a seismic shock to the world of jazz. Amazingly intelligent, a listener, a teller of wonderful tales from his lifetime's experience. Wonderful, dry (but never cruel)sense of humour. A giver, not a taker. One of Walthamstow's finest!

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