Sunday, June 13, 2004

JAZZOBIT: The death has been announced of John R. T. Davies. Davies, 77, was a member of 60s Jazz band the Temperance Seven and had latterly become recognised as the foremost expert in restoring old jazz recordings. He'd been approached to provide scores for the 'Temps', but took the role of trombonist and alto-saxophonist under the comedy pseudonym Sheikh Wadi El Yadounia. Inevitably, he wore a fez. The band's You're Driving Me Crazy enjoyed a sixteen week run on the charts in 1961, including a spell at what in those days was still called "the top of the shop." The Village Voice's rock critic claimed that the band proved beyond doubt the existence of God.

His career in jazz restoration was aided by an incredible ear for re-using pristine notes from recordings to replace poorly recorded or rendered notes elsewhere on the tapes. He performed this service for some of the biggest names in jazz - including Bessie Smith and Louis Armstrong - but also for more obscure artists on his own Ristick label - the name came from his childhood nickname.

John R. T. Davies (the intials were for Ross Twiston) died on May 25th; he is survived by his wife Sue a daughter and a step-daughter.

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