George Webb Tribute @ Sidcup Jazz Club

George Webb

Pianist ~ Bandleader ~ Agent ~ Promoter ~ Jazz Enthusiast
CIRCA 1945: George first got together with several other Jazz enthusiasts to form the famous 'Dixielanders' as far back as 1941!
Their first public performance came in the following year. Since then apart from short breaks, for one reason or another, the 'Dixielanders', with various personnel had appeared at every major jazz club and event in the country at some time or another.
1940 ~ opened his first Jazz Club
1941 ~ formed his 'Dixielanders'
1942 ~ first public performer as bandleader
1944 ~ made his first 78rpm recording
1945 ~ made his first BBC broadcast
1946 ~ signed for Decca Records
1948 ~ joined Humphrey Lyttellton
1951 ~ re-formed his 'Dixielanders'
1954 ~ became an agent for other bands and artistes
1956 ~ organised and ran his first Jazz Festival
Since their formation in 1941, the band palyed entertaining and pleasing Jazz fans over a wide area by playing their style of the music born in New Orleans. This was achieved due to the leadership and enthusiasm of the inimitable Geroge Webb, who, because of his wide experience gained over such a long period, had always been able to interest some of the great names in British jazz to play with the band.
1941: First accredited British Jazz band to play New Orleans style jazz in this country.
1942: Organised and played the first New Orleans style Street Parade - Bexley to Welling.  The band played from the back of a coal cart (hot     jazz) and raised money for the P.O.W. fund.
1944: Made their first recording of New Orleans style jazz in Derby for the Jazz Appreciation label, run by James Asman and Bill Kinnell.
1945: The band recorded four sides for Decca Records.
1945: First band to play for a Riverboat Shuffle, organised by Rex Harris for the West London Rhythm Club.
1945: Band booked for regular Jazz Broadcasts to H.M. Forces.
1945: The Dixielanders play to live audience of about 50,000 in Trafalger Square in a jazz club programme presented by the BBC as part of the Victory Celebrations.
1946: The band played at the first major Jazz Concert to be held at the Birmingham Town Hall to a sell-out 2,000 Jazz fan audience.
1983: The history of the George Webb Dixielanders recorded for posterity by the British LIbrary of music.
1985: George Melly unveilled a plaque on the wall of the 'Red Barn' in Barnehurst, Kent, to commemorate New Orleans Jazz first being played there by British musicians in 1941. Musicians who first made their mark at the Red Barn include Wally Fawkes, Eddie Harvey, Owen Bryce, Humph, Dill Jones, Alan Wickham, Mike Daniels, Charlie Galbraith, Harry Brown, Ian and Keith Christie and Beryl Bryden.

“I was extremely privileged (and happy)  to know George Webb – the father of the British jazz revival and leader of his own legendary ‘Dixielanders’ during and after the war. It was his band that brought the beautiful sound of Dixieland jazz back into public attention after the war and everyone who came later owes him a huge debt. George actually invited me to join his band back in l974 – a very big compliment! –and I played with it briefly. But for most of the time he was surrounded by far more able Revivalist musicians including – over many years – founder members including Owen Bryce, Wally Fawkes and Eddie Harvey and later on  Sammy Rimmington, Geoff Cole and dozens of others. We were all honoured to work with George of course and I was also very pleased indeed to count him as a friend who worked as a Trustee for The National Jazz Archive over many of its earlier years. As a man George always reminded me of exactly what he was; a plucky feisty bantam-weight boxer who took no nonsense and  spoke his mind – clearly where it was necessary.  In short a pint-size helping of nuclear energy! George loved jazz to his soul of course and was also a successful promoter in later years bringing many famous jazz and blues acts to Britain. I loved him dearly – as we all did – and his death in 2010 after a brief retirement came as a great shock to all of us. But his daughter Penny Ham – another great friend of mine – proudly bears the banner for George today, and it’s Penny who supplied this great picture to ‘The Jazz Centre UK’ of George – wearing a hat given to him by Dizzy Gillespie! We shall never forget either of them!”

Digby Fairweather

This entry was posted in General News and posted on August 15, 2017

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