John Petters has placed this obituary of George Webb on the BBC message boards, which may be of interest to LondonJazz readers.
91 year old George Webb – known affectionately as the Father of British Traditional Jazz – died on Thursday.A tribute on Paul Barnes’ BBC Radio Suffolk show is available on iPlayer HERE
George – a self taught pianist, fell in love with the classic jazz of Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton and King Oliver and put together the first traditional jazz revival band in the UK during the War.
The George Webb Dixielanders studied then 20 year old rare 78 rpm recordings and soon had a large following at the Red Barn at Barnehurst.
Humphrey Lyttelton and Wally Fawkes joined the band and eventually Lyttelton took over the leadership.
Defying the law – which prevented American Musicians appearing in Britain, the band recorded with New Orleans saxophonist, Sidney Bechet, which resulted in a court case. George was a key player in the proceedings.
The Lyttelton band recorded countless sides for Parlophone with Webb at the piano.
George left in 1951 to become an agent and promoted most of the top Trad bands during the boom. He moved into pop music and blues in the ’60s, came close to bringing Elvis Presley to the UK and just missed bagging the first London concert by the Beatles, due to the cheque from the agency for who George worked, written to Brian Epstein bouncing.
He organised a massive jazz festival in the Isle of Man, losing all his money when the venue burnt down.
He took a pub in Stansted, Essex, promoting jazz on a smaller scale.
More info plus mp3 tracks of George at http://www.traditional-jazz.com.