Sunday, February 07, 2010

Jazzobit: Johnny Dankworth

John Dankworth, one of the leading figures of British jazz, has died. His wife, Cleo Laine, announced his death at The Stables, the live music site the pair established in Milton Keynes, at a party celebrating 40 years of the venue.

Born in 1927, Dankworth took inspiration from both the UK and the US, with Benny Goodman and Charlie Parker shaping his sound. Dankworth was Britain's Musician Of The Year in 1949, signaling the start of a glorious two-decade period which would see him hailed as a composer, arranger and band leader. Constantly in demand, he worked with Duke Ellington, the Royal Shakespeare Company, the Houston Ballet, the National Theatre, Karel Reisz and Ella Fitzgerald.

He picked up an Ivor Novello award for his theme for The Avengers; he invented the Summer Pops for the London Symphony Orchestra back in 1985 and in the nineties added a big band, the Dankworth Generation Band, to the quintet he was already leading.

His work making music would have been enough to fill a career, but working with Cleo Laine, Dankworth also spent much of his time on musical education and charities supporting the development of other artists. In 1969, the couple created The Wavendon Allmusic Plan, designed to help people expand their musical boundaries; this was followed by the development of The Stables as a performance and educational venue; and, in 1999, The Wavendon Foundation. This most recent charity supports musicians in need of financial aid and organisations providing musical education.

John Dankworth was knighted in 2006. He was 82.


Anonymous said...

I thank you John Dankworth, from the depths of my musical heart. You're brilliance and natural talent, shared in so many ways, unselfishly, will be treasured by those who really love music, jazz in particular, and there is no-one who can replace you.
Heartfelt condolences to Cleo - "his soulmate, wife and best fried"


The Digital Gramophone Company said...

To show our appreciation to Sir Johnny. We have written and released our own retrospective dedicated to him. See this link for more.

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