Pictured - Digby Fairweather (left) and
Alan Skidmore (right),
THE JIMMY AND ALAN SKIDMORE COLLECTION
AT THE JAZZ CENTRE UK
“It’s absolutely fantastic, we thought Dad’s stuff was going in a skip!”
Alan Skidmore, a world-class musician experienced in a myriad of musical environments. The list of international artists with whom he has performed and recorded reads like a “Who’s Who” of contemporary music; Georgie Fame, Elvin Jones, Eric Clapton, Clark Terry, Stan Tracey, Van Morrison, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Weather Report and Dexter Gordon!
A long-time supporter of TJCUK, Alan has played here on several occasions and contributed to our heritage display with instruments, music equipment and memorabilia from the careers of Jimmy Skidmore (his father) and Ronnie Scott. In October 2017 we presented Alan an inscribed plate in honour of that support.
THE STORY BEHIND OUR COLLECTION
RECOUNTED BY DIGBY FAIRWEATHER
It was in November 2016 that the great Tenor Saxophonist Alan Skidmore first visited us with wife Kay and brought us a treasure trove of memorabilia about his late father Jimmy Skidmore (1916-1998) - whom HUMPHREY LYTTELTON described (in 1958) as ‘the finest in the country’! Alan brought us a beautifully framed portrait of Jimmy, boxes of unique photography of his father’s great career and his beautiful Conn Tenor saxophone which is displayed within our Heritage Centre.
October 20th 2018; the day of our Grand Relaunch Event Alan Skidmore waited patiently for the celebrations to slow up; talking to fans, meeting with Georgie Fame who had, at his instigation, dropped in to see what we were doing, and occasionally finding an open space for a much-needed cigarette. But finally, we had time to sit down together and Alan looked at me seriously. “I wanted to talk to you, Dig” he said “because I have something enormously precious to give to the Centre”.
He reached behind him and produced a weathered Samsonite tote bag. “This”, said Skid “belonged to Ronnie. See? These are the things he carried with him to every gig; boxes of Rico reeds, ligatures, spare mouthpieces and caps, a cleaning brush and even tuning-forks, a Korg chromatic tuner and a reed-cutter, all his working tools which went everywhere with him; right down to his last gig. Even some lead-sheets and copies of changes of the tunes he liked to play. The most private and professionally intimate of his personal possessions. After Ronnie died Pete King gave them to me!”.
Alan looked thoughtful for a moment. “The fact is,” he said, “that The Jazz Centre hasn’t yet done anything specific to honour Ronnie. And —whether he believed it or not— he was one of Britain’s greatest ever musicians and a huge influence on me!”. He reached behind him again and produced a spotless vinyl 12” LP. “This is one of my proudest achievements,” he said. “ An album with Ronnie and me. Recorded for a BBC Jazz Club broadcast at the Paris Theatre, Lower Regent Street back in 1966, shortly before my twenty-fourth birthday. Gearbox Records discovered the tapes five years ago at the British Library and put it out with a fine liner-note by Simon Spillett. See that rhythm section: Gordon Beck, piano, Jeff Clyne, bass and Johnny Butts drums. What a line-up! I was twenty-three at the time and Ronnie was one of my absolute heroes. We did quite a few gigs around the UK including the Royal Festival Hall opposite the Thelonious Monk Quartet. The quintet only lasted a few months but this album —and this music— means the world to me. So might we make an exhibit of the two things at The Jazz Centre UK?”. “Of course, we would, I said”. We have done and next time you come to The Jazz Centre UK you can see it too.
ALAN AND JIMMY