JJ 02/59: Jazzman’s Diary by Jack Higgins

First published Jazz Journal, February 1959


Jazz a la King – The three main centres for modern jazz fans these days are the Marquee, Dankworth and Flamingo clubs. I must admit that I don’t spend much time in any of them, but recently I spent a happy Sunday evening flitting between the first two. The Marquee dispenses Cha-Cha on Sundays, the band being that of Andre Rico and the Cha-Chaleros. This group I am well acquainted with. The sound they create is big and fat, with slabs of Kenton and Basie interwoven with the Latin-American rhythms. Rico also features a small jazz group within the band, featuring Peter Pitterson on trumpet and Keith Barr on tenor. Having spent at least an hour at the Marquee, I wandered further along Oxford Street to Johnny’s Club. Here, I heard one of the finest British jazz sessions I have heard for years. Kenny Baker, Dill Jones, Johnny Hawksworth, Allan Ganley, Ronnie Ross, Johnny Dankworth, George Chisholm and Marian McPartland combined to present some outstanding music. At the end of the set the musicians were hugging themselves with delight – and they deserved to be pleased. So many critics decry jam sessions, and I am prepared to admit that they seldom come off, but when they do, such as on this occasion, they more than make up for the multitude of abortive attempts.