Sunday, February 07, 2010
Sir John Dankworth (1927-2010)
When I heard the news of Sir John Dankworth's death on the radio this morning, I thought I was hallucinating. I hoped I was hallucinating. After attending the 3 Bonzos and a Piano concert at the Bloomsbury Theatre last night, I and a few friends had stayed up all night talking (mostly moaning about the non-existence of this 24-hour drinking culture that's supposedly breaking Britain even further - try getting a glass of milk in Soho after 3am and the options are limited to Balan's Cafe and Bar Italia, each not much bigger than my front room and thus rammed to bursting), so my brain wasn't exactly in peak condition at 7.30am. Unfortunately, what I'd heard was real, and so my sleep-deprived brain had to process the fact that one of my lifelong heroes was no more. Fortunately, he leaves an amazing legacy of music, including a TV theme tune that did a lot to get the infant me into this thing called jazz. Condolences to Dame Cleo, and to Alec and Jacqui. A few years ago, I was covering a jazz festival in Guernsey for Crescendo, at which the JD5 - Sir John, Mark Nightingale, John Horler, Dave Olney (depping for son Alec) and Allan Ganley - were performing. They opened the second set with the Tomorrow's World theme, and very little can match the feeling of glee that overtook me. That was the only time I met Sir John, but I'm happy to report that as well as being a first-class musician and composer, he was also a genuinely nice chap. RIP, Sir John.