Music didn’t have much of an impact during my early years, although my parents maintained that I had a musical interest, as when the FA Cup Final was on TV I sat up in my pram when the band of the Royal Marines struck up at the 1963 FA Cup Final. Apparently, I wasn’t interested in the football, just the music. My lack of interest in the ‘beautiful game’ has continued to this day.
At school I was conscious that my school-mates were interested in the ‘pop’ songs of the day. This music left me cold. I do, however, remember the first song which had an impact on my youthful ears: ‘Lily the Pink’ by The Scaffold, a UK comedy group, one member of which was the poet Roger McGough. Interestingly, to me at any rate, Elton John and Tim Rice were backing vocalists on the song and Jack Bruce played bass guitar. The song reached No 1 in the UK Singles Chart over Christmas 1968. I must have developed a liking for this type of comedy song as I also enjoyed Bernard Cribbin’s “Right Said Fred” and “The Hole in the Ground”.
My father was a big jazz fan and had a small but select record collection. He used to listen to Humphry Lyttleton’s ‘Best of Jazz’ on Monday nights and on Saturdays it was ‘Jazz Record Requests’ presented by Peter Clayton. This used to irritate me immensely as it clashed with Dr Who on the TV, which was a particular favourite of mine, and the jazz music penetrating through the kitchen wall into the lounge spoilt my enjoyment of the science-fiction treat.
I guess the current Dr Who series ended, but the jazz from the kitchen continued and at some point I must have decided that further resistance was useless and so listened in to the jazz. I heard something that I liked – I can’t remember what it was, now – and it sparked my interest. Very soon thereafter I was listening to the same jazz radio shows as my father and seeking out others and recording them onto cassette tape. The next step was to start a record collection of my own. I hadn’t a clue where to start. My father took me to The Diskery in Birmingham, where I spent an initially enjoyable, but later frustrating afternoon trying to pick an LP. I eventually picked an album called ‘Salt Peanuts’ by Supersax which consisted of Charlie Parker’s music scored for a five-piece saxophone section and accompanists. I like to think that I picked the album because of my love of the saxophone, but those of you who are familiar with the album and the cover art may conclude that I had other things on my mind. Either way, I enjoyed the music greatly and still do.
Perhaps inevitably thereafter I became a frequent customer of The Record Centre, carrying out regular “stocktaking” as owner Ray Purslow would often say, visiting regularly from around the time that the shop opened up until it closed almost ten years ago. Thereafter reluctantly making my purchases ‘on-line’.
Saxophone lessons followed and I sent several teachers running for the hills before finally admitting that I had very little musical talent.
Here, I’m reminded of a quote from George Bernard Shaw “He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” In my case, he who cannot, presents jazz shows on the radio.
That is exactly what I’m doing currently – presenting a weekly jazz show on Black Country Radio on Monday nights – www.blackcountryradio.co.uk
Other than that, I’ve recently completed an M.A. in Radio and Audio Production at Birmingham City University and currently write CD and gig reviews for SLAP Magazine and Jazz Rag. From time to time I’m also asked to contribute to CD sleeve notes, which is a particular joy for me.
Alan Musson’s Best Of 2016:
1. Rantala Danielsson Erskine – How Long Is Now? (ACT)
2. Chris Allard – Invisible Landscape (Perdido)
3. Edana Minghella – All Or Nothing (Private Press)
4. The Simon Lasky Group – Story Inside (33)
5. Dave Stryker – Eight Track II (Strikezone) Review here
6. Carla Bley/Andy Sheppard/Steve Swallow – Andando El Tiempo (ECM) Review here
7. Sebastiano Dessanay – Duets Of A Fool (Slam Productions)
8. The Boaters Project – The Boaters Project (Frith & Dean)
9. Andreas Loven – District Six (Losen)
10. Eyolf Dale – Wolf Valley (Edition) Review here
11. Steve Kuhn Trio – At This Time (Sunnyside)
12. Pierluigi Balducci – Cinema Vol. 1 (Dodicilune)
13. Henrik Jensen – Blackwater (Jellymould)
14. John Martin – The Hidden Notes Spirit Of Adventure (Fire)
15. Steps Ahead and WDR Big Band Cologne – Steppin’ Out (Jazzline) Review here
16. Tierney Sutton Band – The Sting Variations (BFM Jazz)
17. Frank Woeste – Pocket Rhapsody (ACT)
18. Maynard Ferguson – The Lost Tapes Vol. 3 (Sleepy Night)
19. Morning Glory (John Surman) – Morning Glory (Fledg’ling)
20. Tubby Hayes / Paul Gonsalves – Change Of Setting (Harkit)