REMEMBERING NAT GONELLA
Time & Location
About the Event
Digby Fairweather and special guest Geoff Hiscott remember NAT GONELLA, jazz’s first UK trumpet star with unseen movies, records and reminiscences. Digby Fairweather first met Nat Gonella in 1979. “He’d always been a hero of mine” he says “ – but the records were hard to find and the only way I got familiar with his work was on cassettes of 78s made up for me by an old friend and fan Nobby Brand. The way I finally met my old hero was via a friend Chris Walker (who brings his ‘Salute to Trad’ to The Jazz Centre UK later this year) who told me that Nat turned up to sing with whatever band was visiting a jazz club in Alverstoke nearby to Gosport where he lived. When we met we immediately became close friends and in 1983 I set up a national tour for Jazz Services saluting his music called ‘We Remember Nat’. After his third wife Dorothy passed away Nat came back on the road with me too; we played the South Bank concert halls and he played his last West End week with me in 1998 a few weeks before his ninetieth birthday!
Nat died very soon after – in tragic circumstances as it happens – but that’s another story. He still has fans all over the jazz world and in 2005 I updated his biography with Ron Brown in a new edition called ‘Nat Gonella; A Life in Jazz’ for Northway Books. Then earlier this year I compiled a 4CD set of all his greatest recordings for Acrobat Records complete with a 15,000 word booklet which I’m happy to say has had good reviews. This afternoon I’ll be joined by another fan and friend of Nat’s, Geoff Hiscott, who has unseen footage of Nat talking informally at home. This will be another Premier for The Jazz Centre UK and I hope as many people will come along as possible. They can also see our ‘Nat Gonella Special trumpet’ which is on display in our Centre!