Thursday, 3 November 2016
Week 44: Bebop Musician
Everyone loves some form of music, whether your taste leans toward opera, jazz, pop or rap. Something we all can agree on, is music has been around for ever and our ancestors have loved some form of music. I love it when I can find that some in our tree had learned an instrument in their younger years, or when I find that it was their career or sideline career.
Joseph Alan Palin was born in Manchester in 1934 to Joseph Palin and Margaret Orson. At the young age of 7 he started taking piano lessons and at 15 he discovered his father’s Fats Waller records. He also had discovered boogie-woogie and dixieland music. He then formed a New Orleans style band with high school friends. At 18 he joined the army and while stationed in Germany he began to listen to bebop music.
After his service he came home to England and embraced his love of music. He played a fair bit but because of the family business and commitments, he never ventured far from home. In his later years Joe also taught jazz opiano at Leeds College of Music. He died September 18, 2007.
I will let his obituary tell the rest of the story.
Joe Palin, who has died aged 73, was the best bebop pianist to come out of Manchester, though adept in every style, and a backbone of the the city's jazz scene. Two records in a modest discography illustrate contrasting sides of his playing. Don Rendell with the Joe Palin Trio Live at the AvGarde Gallery Manchester (Spotlite), documents a 1973 concert. Palin's forceful intensity overcomes a battered piano and the imperfect sound: playing McCoy Tyner to Rendell's Coltrane, Palin holds nothing back. Whereas Give Us a Stomper Kid, recorded in 1988 by Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz, finds Palin in urbane mood, decorating Rodger's Dixieland jazz with poised Harlem stride.
Born in Manchester to a non-musical family - his father was managing director of a timber company - Palin attended Chorlton grammar school, where he developed a passion for boogie woogie exponents Meade Lux Lewis and Albert Ammons, and the rather more subtle Teddy Wilson. In 1950 he helped found the Zenith Six, one of Manchester's all-time great trad bands: John Barnes, Humphrey Lyttelton's faithful lieutenant, was a fellow member. National service called in 1953, and Palin joined the band of the 16th Lancers, where he was given a French horn, a suitable marching instrument, to learn in double quick time.
Demobbed in 1956, he became the house pianist of Club 43, playing with variLondon artists, among them Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott and Don Rendell, during the club's tenure at the Clarendon hotel. Demolished during construction of the Mancunian Way, the Clarendon's site is now occupied by a flyover on Oxford Road. Club 43 moved to Amber Street, Shude Hill, where Palin played with a veritable Who's Who of American stars, including Sonny Stitt, Johnny Griffin, Art Farmer, Al Cohn and Zoot Sims.
Palin's duties as (a sometimes absent) director of the family business, and his own disinclination to travel, meant that his reputation was mainly confined to the north-west. He had no regrets about turning down an invite to join the Johnny Dankworth Orchestra in 1959. When Canadian trumpeter Maynard Ferguson settled in Manchester in 1967, and agent/entrepreneur Ernie Garside was tasked to form a big band for him, Palin was first choice for the piano. He stayed less than a year.
However, he lasted with the well-travelled Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz from its inception in 1984 until 1992, when the band's globetrotting ways began to clash with his day job as a teacher at Leeds College of Music. The band played the Cottbus Music Festival in 1986. Rodger cherishes the memory of Palin playing Prelude to a Kiss at the hotel during a break. The bandleader was reduced to tears by the beauty of Joe's piano. He is survived by his former wife, Sue, and children Anthony, Ruth and Miriam.
While searching the internet about Joe, I found something of interest. In 1995 Joe was interviewed by Andrew Simons about the History of Jazz in Britain and it was recorded, all 69 minutes. However the link is open to only those that have access. If any has access or a transcript of this interview please let me know! You can find that interview here