RIP Eddie Harvey (1925-2012)

Eddie Harvey, 2000. Photo credit: Russ Escritt

A major and universally liked figure in British jazz, and the founding father of British jazz education, trombonist, pianist, arranger, composer, educator Eddie Harvey, passed away peacefully yesterday, Tuesday October 9th, just a few weeks before his 87th birthday.

In the words of Scott Stroman writing in 2010: “What is remarkable about Eddie is that having produced music at the highest level nationally and internationally, he has chosen to go into the classroom. And he can teach at any level. He is happy to make his material fit the needs of anyone, from beginners to postgraduate conservatoire students.” 

A biography of Eddie is here. He played, wrote and arranged for John Dankworth’s bands, played in the bands of Woody Herman and Maynard Ferguson, and wrote music for the Benny Goodman Orchestra.

He was the first ever recipient of a Parliamentary Award for Jazz Education. He continued to teach well into his 80’s at Richmond Jazz School, and at London College of Music / Thames Valley University (now University of West London) where he was given a Lifetime Award in March 2010. He would have been awarded an Honorary Professorship there –  if he hadn’t still been teaching. Deepest sympathies to Peggy, Abigail and Chloe. RIP.

UPDATE: The funeral is at Mortlake Crematorium at 1.20pm on Friday 26th October. Family flowers only. Donations either to Musicians Benevolent Fund OR Princess Alice Hospice.  Cheques for donations can be sent to the funeral directors:  Andrew Holmes and Son, 378 Richmond Road, East Twickenham TW1 2DX 

The Daily Telegraph has an obituary (Dave Gelly). And the Guardian (Peter Vacher) . And the Times (Alyn Shipton) – and the Independent (Steve Voce)



These three podcasts are a shortened/ edited version of “Head to Head” an interview which Eddie Harvy did with jazz musician and award-winning writer Dave Gelly on 19th May 2011 at Richmond Adult Community College. With assistance from Geoff Varrall and Janet Croney of RACC.

Geoff Varrall Writes:
On 19th May 2011, the 84 year old Eddie Harvy had done a day’s teaching, cycled back for a sound check, gone home, driven back in his slightly battered Saab, driven into another car (no one hurt including the Saab), had several pints of beer with Dave Gelly. But as expected, he was able to make everyone in the audience laugh all evening.

Part 1: Early Life. The beginnings of Eddie Harveys interest in jazz. This first part features music from Jack Teagarden, (one of Eddie’s earliest influences) Louis Armstrong, Count Basie and more.

Head to Head Part One by Eddie Harvey and Dave Gelly

Part 2: Post-War. India / the first time he heard Dizzy Gillespie (“I thought the world had come to an end”) / Carlisle/ The Dankworth Seven /Charlie Parker and Miles Davis as influences.

Head to Head Part 2 by Eddie Harvey and Dave Gelly

Part 3: Composer/Arranger/Educator. The ban on American musicians in the UK/ individuality in jazz education.

Head to Head Part 3 by Eddie Harvey and Dave Gelly

Categories: miscellaneous

11 replies »

  1. What a wonderful, kind man Eddie was. When I was a student at the RCM and first sang with the big band, he gave up his free time to give me free coachings and lessons in Jazz Harmony. He was an inspiring and generous man and a true gentleman. Thank you Eddie for inspiring me to love the music. You will always be remembered with great fondness.

  2. Rest in peace, Eddie…I remember a great time with you at Haileybury College between 1984 and 1985, learning so much from you that helped me make my dream come true and become a filmcomposer. Thank you so much for everything.

    Love to you from good old Germany – Paul Stark

  3. Such a gentle and kind man who coached us in the chior at Haileybury in the early '70's.
    Rest in peace Ed.

  4. I'll not forget returning to Haileybury one term around 1973 with my arm in a sling from a broken elbow. Ed like others stopped to ask how I did it. “I fell down a cliff.” (True – long story.) What was always different was the deadpan reaction. “That all?”

    Or the music class I attended voluntarily in the sixth form taken by Ed. One of the students entered full of the joys of spring, loudly imitating a jazz band of his own. Ed looked up and said laconically “Cheer up.”

    But it was the pair of drinkers and jokers Ed Harvey and Jack Hindmarsh (the brilliant head of music who brought Ed to the school) that I most remember. Passionate about their music and about puncturing the pomposity that could prevent the masses from enjoying it.

    God bless Eddie's family and friends at this time.

  5. John, Julian and James Joseph have written:

    Eddie Harvey a true inspiration and a wonderful man! He helped and supported all of the Joseph brothers with such knowledge,giving, example and dignity! We love you Eddie (back home to glory!!!) John, Julian and James Joseph

  6. I have too many great memories of Eddie to even begin to list them. What I must say is that he was a man who really understood what was at the heart of jazz and could communicate it brilliantly to anyone who would listen: whether on stage, in the pub, or in the classroom. He could get the message across to young children in an instant–a miracle. He had a chronic twinkle in his eye that disarmed everyone around him.

    I've stolen most of his ideas and hope that he'll forgive me over a pint in heaven.

    Scott Stroman

  7. Ed taught me how to pay 'Naima' explaining the chords and need for some knowledge of scales. And I've never forgotten him with great fondness for rekindling an interest in playing piano. My memory of Haileybury is the music that he and Jack Hindmarsh engendered. Ed was a great teacher.

  8. We were privileged to meet Eddie and also to attend his fabulous 80th. What an amazing guy – truly inspirational and totally switched on in conversation even at that ripe young age, living life to the full – a tremendous composer, player, communicator and teacher. Eddie was an exceptional personality. Those who knew him will remember him with great affection.


  9. Mary Greig writes:

    I would like to share one of my fondest memories of Ed, from the earliest days of our 35-year friendship.

    In the early 80’s, I was working in a community centre in Hammersmith, and I asked Ed if he would come and play piano for a singalong at the old folks’ Christmas party. Ed, the consummate musician, took on this lowly task with great relish (and no money!) His renditions of “Maybe It’s Because I’m a Londoner”, “My Old Man Said Follow The Band” and the whole cockney songbook, interspersed with jokes, stories and shared wartime memories, were a joy to behold. Everyone left with a smile on their faces and a warm heart.

    Yes, he was indeed an inspirational teacher and a wonderful musician, but it is for his immense humanity that I shall remember him.

    Mary Greig

  10. I learned so much from working with Eddie on Scott Stroman's Guildhall jazz Course and on the panel for the ABRSM Jazz Piano Syllabus.
    What made him different was the fact that he produced “real” music for beginners to play. He used all the skills he had developed as a professional jazz musician to open up jazz to teachers and pupils.
    Every so often he would say to me “Time to bring out the plaque”! And, when eyes would glaze over, he would take out this plaque on which was inscribed “And then again you can play what the Hell you want”.
    ABRSM adopted this quote which sums up what our music is all about. Eddie used it when teaching “refugees from Aebersold”.
    To my mind, he set the standards of humanity, integrity and passion for learning to which we should all aspire.
    Eddie lives on in all our work.

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