Birthday Greetings

80th Birthday Wishes for Dave Green

We asked musicians, friends and fans to wish bassist Dave Green a happy 80th birthday. These expressions of respect, admiration, gratitude and love for one of the best and kindest figures of our scene speak for themselves. The list is long. LJN readers in a hurry might want to head straight for a surname beginning with “R”.

Dave Green. Photo by Clark Tracey

Guy Barker: Happy Birthday Dave. I first got to work with you many many years ago when I was in my very early 20s. I was on a visit to New York just to breathe it all in and when I called my parents they told me that Stan Tracey had called offering me a gig at the Bulls Head with him, you and Peter King. I changed my flight home straight away so I could do that gig, and when I arrived at the Bull I felt excited but  also nervous… and then I was  introduced to you. You greeted me like an old friend with a big smile and words of great encouragement… which kept me going through the whole gig. From then on every time I got to work with you it was a total joy and we did have a lot of laughs too. You are a master bass player, a fantastic musician and the nicest guy in the world of jazz. Congratulations…Hope to see you soon. All best wishes. Guy. 

Alan Barnes: Happy birthday to one of the true greats of jazz bass playing. You always put the music first when you play, have the most wonderful feel, time and sound and are a joy to go for a pint with. The list of musicians who have benefited from your presence is enormous and includes Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Roland Kirk and everybody who has played jazz here in the last 60 years. You remain the only person I have met who can talk with equal enthusiasm about Arthur Askey and Eric Dolphy. “Daft I call it!” Have a lovely day Dave, Lots of love  Alan Barnes.

Gary Crosby: Happy Eirtday Mr Green. I thank you on behalf of the whole UK Jazz scene for your artistic contributions and generous giving spirit. I remember the first get together with the other Lords of the Lower Frequencies, Peter Ind and Coleridge Goode, and  yourself – wow! – and how you made me, the relative beginner in the room, feel welcome and deserving. After listening in awe to the wonderful (crazy) stories and helpful information, what me and a couple students got from that unforgettable afternoon, is still the highlight of my bass life. I know your 80th birthday celebrations  will help some other young musicians, by following your example, realise you can be a good Jazz musician and a nice person as well. And Master Dave, we all love you madly. Peace and Love, Gary. 

Dave Green (second from left) with Elaine Delmar (centre)

Elaine Delmar: Dave Green and I have been friends and musical companions for over 40 years now. A beautiful man, a fabulous musician and a kindred spirit. I am proud to be able call him my friend. May I send Very Happy Birthday Wishes to my dear friend ‘Long-Note Dave Green.’ With fondest love, Elaine xx.

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Tim Dickeson: Happy birthday Dave! – always such a pleasure to meet you and to photograph you on stage or in the studio! 

Iain Dixon: When I think of Dave, I think about the terrible reviews he got for his first trio album with me and Gene. “What’s he doing?” they asked . . . “This is not the Dave Green we know – he’s lost his mind!” they said… Dave was overjoyed. “That’s just what I wanted!” he beamed… Happy birthday, and lots of love to one of the nicest people I have ever met.

Sara Dowling: Dearest Dave, I can honestly say I feel the luckiest person alive to have had many chances singing with you. I’m fortunate to have spent time around someone who provided so much love and support musically on and off the stage. You put us all to shame with your vitality. Your humour and beautiful spirit is a huge part of your incredible musicianship. I remember watching you talk Gabriel through ‘As Long As I live’ and then we played it, super cool dude! Thank you for being Dave Green, the real deal.  Loads of love, Sara x. P.S. I saw a young picture of you at Ronnies, you were really really fit. Just saying…

Digby Fairweather: I don’t know a greater bass player – or a nicer man.

John Fordham: Dave Green’s signature sound on a double bass has always seemed like a perfect fit with his demeanour and his character – amiable, unhurried, warm, witty, gratified to be having a nice time in good company, and to be helping others to do the same. My tastes in bassists probably veered between the emotional clout of Mingus and the nimbleness of Scott LaFaro when I first heard ‘Mr Dependable’ Green at Ronnie’s, and in Stan Tracey’s bands, in the 1960s. But over time (in both senses), it became obvious that the calm assurance of his pulse, and the laid-back ingenuity he brings to the implications of chords, are enduring marvels. It’s not by chance that Dave’s wonderful long-running trio with reeds-player Iain Dixon and drummer Gene Calderazzo omits a harmony instrument – with him around, it would be superfluous. Nor is it by chance that he picked a unique radio recording of that trio with free-sax maestro Evan Parker to be his 80th birthday release. A master of standard forms Dave Green will always be, but his generous receptiveness and musicianship have long embraced plenty more improv possibilities than that. Very happy birthday indeed, Dave, and many thanks. 

Dave Green at the 2012 London Jazz Festival. Photo credit Tim Dickeson

Alex Garnett: The “Grosser Green” is an evergreen indeed! Such devotion to duty and still swinging at the very top! Happy birthday, Dave, with lots of love on behalf of your dear departed chum Willie and myself, Alex … the (semi-precious) Garnetts! x

Barry Green: When you make music with Dave, it’s a direct line to all the musicians he’s worked with. He enriches every note with wisdom and experience. I’m always learning every time we play. From Scott Hamilton to Evan Parker, from Zoot Sims to Roland Kirk, from Lee Konitz to Chris Barber. He plays the right notes for every eventuality! Happy birthday Unc, to continued music and friendship.

Scott Hamilton: I’d like to wish Happy Birthday to my favorite bass player. There’s no one else that can do what you do. I ought to know. Love you, Dave. See you soon, Scott.

Jacqui Hicks: What can I say about Dave Green that hasn’t already been said? The greatest double bass sound in the world and the loveliest of humans. He also gives the best bear hugs and, according to his wife Carol, ‘doesn’t suit hats!’ Sending you lots of love and a big kiss on your birthday, Dave, and hope to see you again soon on the bandstand, Jacqui Hicks X.

Wally Houser: I have known Dave for many years. I even acted as his lawyer once (although for what I don’t recall. Probably a minor Road Traffic act infraction). I also played with him on one occasion. That he is an outstanding bass player is a given. World class. He is a thoughtful, quiet man. But if I were to sum him up in one word, it would be “gentleman” or more likely the less pompous “gent” because one thing Dave is not is pompous. Happy 80th, Dave. Wally Houser.

Nikki Iles: 80 today!!!! Who’d have believed it, Dave (Bootsie!), with the way you play and the energy and positivity you bring to the music… You are the swinging heartbeat of so much great British Jazz over six-plus decades… you’re the best!! I count my lucky stars every time we play and value our friendship enormously. Happy Birthday Dave and have a wonderful weekend of celebrations and we’ll be with you all the way! (I’ll help carry you out on Saturday!) Love as always, Nikki , Pete and Immy xxxx.

Stacey Kent & Jim Tomlinson: Dear Dave, HAPPY BIRTHDAY! It only seems 5 minutes ago that we were hanging out, doing all those gigs together, dashing around the UK. Of all our gigs, our favourite memories are the lunchtimes at RFH Foyer. We had such fun! You were so supportive of us, kind and always ready to make music. It was you who encouraged us to send our demo to Humph and that led to so many things. We live in Virginia now and though our paths no longer cross, we want you to know that we still talk of you, you’re such a big part of our story and we’ll always be grateful for those wonderful days, filled with your swinging bass lines and infectious laugh! With much love, Stacey and Jim. 

Stephen Keogh: Happy Birthday Dave, Wishing you a great day and many more to come full of great music and good feeling. I’ll always treasure the memories of wonderful music during those weeks at Ronnies playing with you, Perico and Brad, and the subsequent search for crispy food.

Peter King Quintet at the Bass Clef in 1985. L-R: Peter King, John Horler, Spike Wells, Henry Lowther, Dave Green. Photo credit Brian O’Connor / Images of Jazz

Henry Lowther: I know I’m a lucky person to be able to count Dave Green as a close friend. Dave and I have been friends and musical collaborators now for over 50 years. His qualities as a musician are well known and, for as long as I’ve known him, he has been first-choice bass player by numerous musicians. I think Dave’s uncanny ability to invariably play the right thing at the right time is a reflection of his modest, friendly and generous personality. Everybody loves Dave and Alan Barnes’s description of him as “the Rolls-Royce of bass players” is entirely apt. Once again I know I’m a lucky person to be able to count Dave Green as a close friend. Happy Birthday, old friend, and welcome to the elite over-80s club, you’ll enjoy it!

Claire Martin: “Happy Birthday Dave Green! I’ll never forget how supportive you were of me when I started out.  You’re a legend in all our eyes and I hope your birthday is as brilliant as you are! Claire Martin xxxx.

Dan Morgenstern: Dear Dave, It’s been a long long time but can’t forget YOUR  great time, which I wish you for your 80th!  Take it from a 92-year-old: You’re playing with hoops!! Dan Morgenstern.

In the studio: L-R: Peter Bernstein, Allison Neale, Steve Brown, Dave Green

Allison Neale: Dear Dave, Wishing you a truly wonderful 80th Birthday celebration. You are and have been a true inspiration to me over the past years and it has been the greatest honour and pleasure to play alongside you and record with you on a very special record date. Your beautiful playing is effortlessly seamless and sets the standard for us all, accompanied by your gentle humility as a human being. To me, that’s pure music, and that’s how I think of you. Wishing you a truly wonderful 80th birthday celebration from me. With all my love and best wishes, Allison Neale.

Paul Pace: Ever since the early ’60s, a bewildering variety of musical settings have benefited immeasurably from his steady hand at the bass fiddle, his innate sense of swing, his forever child-like passion for the music he loves and his gentle humour. Dave’s reliability on the bandstand has been in danger of being taken for granted, but should never be. To call him national treasure in our world of music, would be an understatement. Surely, his countless collaborators from Sonny Rollins, Ben Webster and Roland Kirk through to Charlie Watts, Ian Carr, Don Rendell, Evan Parker, Lol Coxhill, Michael Garrick, Barry Green, Daryl Sherman, Didier Lockwood and Scott Hamilton would agree – irreplaceable!

With Humphrey Lyttelton at the 1998 BT Jazz Awards. Photo credit: Brian O’Connor

Evan Parker: Dave Green is not only a great bass player he is also a great human being. His dedication to all the ways of making music that get called “jazz” is extraordinary. His playing at the heart of bands led by Humphrey Lyttleton, Stan Tracey, Charlie Watts… just outlines his wonderful playing life. I cadged a lift and sat behind Dave and his friend Charlie after an awards ceremony and eavesdropped their conversation. They had been listening to records that Dave Tough played on – the passion and sheer love of the music was matched by their scholarship. What a great lifelong friendship! Dave is loved by the whole scene.

(NOTE: Andy Cleyndert’s Trio label has just released Raise Four by Evan Parker and the Dave Green Trio)

James Pearson: Dave is a wonderful musician whose playing reflects a lifetime of experience… on and off the stand… this is common knowledge to us all… However, what I particularly love is the joy musicians feel when playing with Dave… like a reassuring smile, you know when ‘Dave is on the gig’ it’s going to be great and everybody is in safe hands! He commands respect from all generations of musicians on a truly international scale and is a true gentleman to boot… What more can one say, except I’m looking forward to playing with you soon Dave. Happy birthday!

Gerard Presencer: Dear Dave, Of all the musicians I know, I think there’ll be no shortage of people offering you congratulations on your latest milestone of becoming seriously old! Happy Birthday. You have without question been the most fun person I have ever worked with. That really matters to me. I think about you and all of the music we’ve played and I smile. Thank you for the music making we’ve shared and I’m hoping we’ll figure out a way to play again soon (we are, after all, the last two standing in the quintet!). Gerard.

Nigel Price: Happy 80th birthday, Dave. It’s always an absolute privilege to play with you. Not only are you literally a living legend but you’re also everything every musician should wish to be – great to be around, professional, considerate and with a time feel beyond compare. Did I forget something? Oh yeah – and utterly swinging! Many happy returns. Nigel Price.

Sonny Rollins: Dave is a special guy. I recently talked to him about those halcyon days in the ’60s when we played together at Ronnie’s club. He came in after Rick Laird and did a great job. God made you a wonderful guy, man. Happy 80, my brother –Sonny Rollins.

Perico Sambeat: Dear Dave, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! Send you big hugs.

Raising a glass: L-R: John Pearce. Karen Sharp, Steve Brown, Katie Brown, Carol Green, Dave Green

Karen Sharp: To the most wonderful musician, friend and good all-round egg. Massive congratulations on your 80th birthday – are you sure you were born in ’42? Have a wonderful weekend of music making and here’s to a new decade, cheers!! With love and best wishes, Karen and Richard XXX.

Ian Shaw: ‘My proper ‘in’ to the world of Brit Jazz, was, without doubt, a New Year gig in the ’80s. Lol Coxhill was on soprano and the mighty Dave Green on bass. I’d only ever heard him on many of my records before then. His spirit rocked the room, and his humour and positive brilliance made that early foray (for me) from comedy and theatre, to improvised music, totally inspiring. Have a fantastic 80th, Dave. Here’s to many more years of making music.’ Ian Shaw.

Daryl Sherman: Talk about starting at the top! I first played with Dave Green (plus Dave Cliff) at a jazz event in Florida, late ’90s…Soon after, we got booked for UK dates from Woking to Cleethorpes. Then, annual nooks and crannies. This masterful string section was also THE funniest to travel with. Only Dave could figure out how to fit us all into his car with gear perfectly aligned. Cliff in front, me in back, guitar neck on my lap and bass neck on top. Thanks to dearest Dave, jazz history lives on through his superb playing (and sleuthing)!

Nick Smart: A VERY happy birthday and congratulations. Thanks for all the amazing music you’ve contributed over such an incredible career. And here’s to much more to come!

Martin Speake: I first heard Dave when I was teenager and loved Stan Tracey’s album Captain Adventure that he is on.  I never dreamed years later I would play with him. His enthusiasm for all areas of the music is wonderful and his beat and sound are so lovely to make music with. Not metronomic and is so flexible and giving, yet very anchored too. He comes from a very important era where musicians learnt without colleges and only had recordings (and they were limited, unlike now) and older musicians to learn from. I have been very lucky to have had a quartet with him and recorded two albums with Barry Green and Jeff Williams. I cherish the two long interviews I did with him about his life. Special person. Let’s do a duo album soon! Happy Birthday Dave! Love Martin Speake.

Simon Spillett: Wishing you a Very Happy Birthday, Dave. Thank you for giving us your time in our time. Simon Spillett.

Stan Sulzmann: Happy Birthday Dave, thank you for such  a wonderful life in music making. Always a pleasure to play with you and so enjoy your knowledge of the history and anecdotes. You’ve been associated with and supported so many great artists over the years, long may it continue. X Stan.

Dave Green at Fleet Jazz Club in 2018. Photo credit: Micheal Carrington

Martin Taylor: Happy Birthday Dave!… you’ll always be the best! Oh really?… Is that right? Lots of love big fella! Martin Taylor.

Art Themen: We’ve known each other almost since the days when Dave played  tea chest bass and I was on mouldy fig clarinet. (Sorry to put this in the public domain, Dave). On record sleeves he was often described as ‘Solid and Dependable’, but he was more than that. He was simply’ The Time Lord’. Art Themen. 

Clark Tracey: Applying glowing adjectives to Dave still doesn’t quite sum up this great musician and true legend of British jazz. As a drummer, over the last 40 years, I have learnt so much from playing in his company, especially what not to say, or understatement. He is dedicated, loyal and plays from the heart. I usually announce him as “old father time” and it’s meant with the deepest respect. God bless Dave Green!

Warren Vaché: A very wonderful Happy Birthday to a wonderful man! Dave Green has been the best and brightest. Long may he continue .

Dave Green and the Vortex’s new house bass. Courtesy of VJC.

Oliver Weindling: It is always great, and a privilege, when Dave comes to the Vortex. He felt very close to David Mossman, the club’s founder (and just a few months his junior). The special way that he can encourage musicians and audiences alike has always been amazing. Most recently, the encouragement that he has given us at the Vortex now that we have a new house bass (picture above) is priceless. May you live to 120.

Richard Williams: At the Melody Maker many years ago we used to joke that you weren’t allowed to type Dave Green’s name without preceding it with the adjective “dependable”. He did the job without showing off, which made his playing hard for journalists to describe in words. It’s true that in six decades as a professional musician, and in so many different contexts, he’s probably never played an unhelpful note. But it’s his creativity that still makes him a joy to hear and his presence a guarantee of quality. Many happy returns, Dave.

Roy Williams: Happy 80th, Grosser – the first choice bass player of many world class musicians. Looking back on many happy ‘gigs’ together’. Roy Williams.

Norma Winstone: Dearest Dave, so many memories, so much laughter. You didn’t just stand there, you always did something to help me! Keep playing as fantastically as you always have. Happy birthday and much love from Norm xx

With huge thanks to all contributors, photographers; to Ann, Digby, Paul, Stephen and Terri for behind-the-scenes help; and especially to Charlie Rees.

LINKS: Dave Green biography at Trio Records

Dave Green remembers Charlie Watts (The Observer, Dec.2021)

Categories: Birthday Greetings

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7 replies »

  1. I had the privilege of being at Dave Green At 80 first set last night at the #pizzaespresslive jazz club, what a real legend Dave Green is. The early show with Dave’s long time partner Scott Hamilton showed off Mr Green talents wonderfully, surely that should ‘Sir’? Dave, I would suggest for services to music?, 80, no way??

  2. Dear Dave! Happy birthday my dear friend! I cannot tell you how grateful I am to the beautiful sounds you shared as we spent a few days recording my album together in London. Never had I heard such a full bass sound before. Inspiring in so many ways. I hope we get to play together again soon. Serge

  3. Thank you to everyone for your generous comments. I feel truly humbled reading them. I’m blessed to have spent a lifetime playing the music I love with wonderful musicians.

  4. Always a great pleasure to have Dave play at Scarborough Jazz Festival (which he has done a few times) and at Scarborough Jazz Club. He’s always warm and supportive, self-effacing and superbly versatile musically. Looking forward to having a drink with you Dave at our festival in September .
    Mike & Marian xx

  5. Happy 80th Dave. We’ve known each other for over 40 years. You are not just a superb jazz musician, but a superb human being. Alan loved you and I love you.
    Many happy returns.
    Harri xx

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