Dizzy’s Business

Good morning! I’m here with a rather different kind of diversion today. If you’ve read Handywoman, you’ll know what a huge influence my creative dad has been on me. Dad grew up in Prestwich, and after teaching himself to play alto and tenor saxophone as a teenager, worked as a bebop musician in 1960s Manchester, which (as I say in Handywoman) was perhaps the only place in Britain outside London where a modern jazz scene really thrived.

Here’s dad, captured at a gig during that era.

Recently, some interesting recordings of the sounds of 1960s Manchester jazz have come to light, and dad’s been able to listen to gigs from more than 50 years ago, in which he played with his friends Max Bullock, Nidge Cretney, and Frank Toms at the Lower Turks Head pub in Manchester. Tom’s currently doing a lot of work with sound, and has really been enjoying digitally remastering some of these recordings. So we thought you might like to hear my dad, Wal Davies, sounding very fresh, as he plays “Dizzy’s Business” back in 1964.

Recorded by Chris Herbert, live at the Lower Turk’s Head (1964) and remastered by Tom Barr (2020). Piano – Frank Toms; Drums – Nigel Cretney;Trumpet – Max Bullock; Bass – Paul Bridge or Mike Quellin; Alto Sax – Wally Davies; Tenor Sax – Ray Hardcastle.

Dad’s still playing in his ’80s, most recently serenading his neighbours to strains of “New York, New York” on Thursday evening, when, like many people at 8pm, he called to mind the medicine and health care workers who are looking after those in need all over the world.

Like many of us, I’m not able to see my dad right now, but hearing him come in on that first solo, recorded 9 years before I was born, is just like hearing his voice. I feel very thankful that both my mum and dad are safe together, on the other side of Loch Lomond, and that we are able to stay in touch each day. Keep your spirits up and look after each other, mum and dad!