Brechin 1960

Arial photo of Stracathro Hospital 
Main driveway entrance to Hospital   

1960 found me at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, Brechin, as Organist & Choirmaster.   In the early part of that year I briefly departed the organ loft to direct the Spring Gala Concert at Stracathro Hospital.

St. Andrew's Episcopal Church Brechin
Interior of St. Andrew's

I cannot remember the month but the concert ended with my performance of a swing arrangement by Carl Barriteau and the Artie Shaw Clarinet Concerto.  (Together with keyboard I equally favoured the clarinet and alto saxophone in these early days, as we were in the terminal phase of the Big Band era and my youthful interest in the popular music field lay in playing and not just listening.)  The Barriteau number was one of a collection for solo clarinet & piano that I had been given by Carl back in 1956 when we met during his appearance at Dundee's Palace Theatre.

I had been in contact with the great clarinetist by letter for a number of months as I had been researching his wartime work with the Ken 'Snakehips' Johnson band in London and was anxious to trace a then out of print composition of his, "A Sultan Goes To Harlem".  He wrote reminding me of the date of his appearance in Dundee and arranged to meet me that evening in the circle bar during his time off stage.

I never did get a copy of the piece which was for swing orchestra but he explained with mirth that, as Shaw ended his concerto on a top 'c', he had to go one step better in "The Sultan" which was in the concert key of C minor (D minor for clarinet) and end on a top 'd' - even showing me how to finger the note which was outside the range of the clarinet.

Click on the Carl Barriteau link in the list below to hear this number played by the Carl Barriteau big band.  (recorded on "Carl Barriteau - the Man and his Music".)   Carl retained the spot of top clarinetist in Europe for a good number of years in the Musical Express of that period.

The Late Carl

The ad hoc orchestra for the Brechin concert included David Midgley who maintained the relentless tom-tom ostinato below the solo clarinet in the last movement of the concerto and David Corder, a Canadian pianist of considerable ability both in the classical and swing fields.  These two and Sandy Anderson on guitar were the anchors of the ensemble.

I often wonder where some of these musicians are now, especially an old friend from that era - Sandy Anderson, a keen guitarist who was a devotee of Segovia and Django Reinhardt.  If any of these musicians happen by this page please get in touch through the guest book.

Mel in tuxedo (powder blue actually) in 1960 -
may remind my old friends and musicians of that concert some
of whom are pictured below with a crowd of suitable 'groupies'.

My favourite reed players :- (then and now)

Frank Weir
soprano sax
Freddie Gardner
'Boots' Mussulli
Marshall Royal
Charlie Parker
alto sax
alto sax
alto sax
alto sax
Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis
Vido Musso
Stan Getz
Ben Webster
tenor sax
tenor sax
tenor sax
tenor sax
Artie Shaw
Benny Goodman
Carl Barriteau
Dave Bennet
Buddy de Franco
Henry McKenzie
(Henry's Obituary)