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Alan E. Hare

Born: Warrington, Lancashire, 22 July 1928
Died: 3rd August 2007

Alan Hare Alan spent childhood in Chingford, Essex, then moved to Cheadle Hulme (near Manchester) at fifteen. Played tombone with the Smoky City Stompers and with the Saints Jazz Band (1951). Led own Bluenote Jazzmen from 1952 until 1958. Own band in Manchester (1958-9). Was a civil servant by day and in this capacity worked in Hong Kong from 1959. Continued to play gigs there and worked alongside American clarinettist Tony Scott. Returned to Manchester in 1962, played piano in Southside Band (1962), was pianist and arranger in Gordon Robinson's Septet (1963-4), which won two European contests in Zurich. Formed own big band in 1964 (which accompanied Earl Hines in 1965), also briefly played in Art Taylor's Group (1965). Own big band played eight year residency in Didsbury (1968-76) and played concerts at Free Trade Hall, Manchester. Alan gave up leading the big band in 1977, but reformed an octet in the 1980s. Continues to arrange for various line-ups including the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and occasionally guests with bands in and around Manchester.
 
from 'Who's Who of British Jazz'
 © John Chilton  1997


News From NYJO Spring 2006 - Composers' Edition


Thirty years ago Bill Ashton was mightily impressed by a rehearsal band in Manchester and asked the leader to submit an arrangement or two for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. It was the start of a 25-year collaboration that produced almost a score of scores, most of which are still in the book. The Mancunian (by adoption) was Alan Hare. His story takes us round the world and back again...

He's played alongside Earl Hines, Jimmy Rushing and Tony Scott, shared concert platforms with Jay McShann and Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and taken his own big band into second place in the BBC's national rehearsal band competition, picking up the prize for the best composition.

The wonder is how he managed to fit it all in. It's not as if he's a professional musician. Most of his musical accomplishments came out of hours, as it were: his day job was a chartered surveyor. But like many of his contemporaries, Alan got hooked on jazz in his teens, and the rest just followed naturally.

As a teenager in wartime London Alan took piano lessons and was quite happy with Chopin and Mozart until by chance he heard a BBC radio programme called 'The Story of Jazz'. It changed his life.

He recalls: "I used to rush home from school to listen to this programme and discussed it endlessly with friends who were also learning musical instruments. We all wanted to play this wonderful music but we had absolutely no idea how to go about it.

"Then we heard about a young clarinet player who could help us, but before I had the chance to meet him my dad was posted to Manchester - so I never did study with a 16-year-old lad called John Dankworth..."

Although he was already starting a record collection that today has grown to formidable proportions, Alan was also busy training as a chartered surveyor so music took a back seat for some years. But it came back through one of those 'right-place-right-time' quirks of fate. He went to listen to a brass band, and when the leader discovered he could read music, he lent him a trombone to see if he could play it. And to his delight Alan found he could.

He wasn't brilliant - Alan was no budding Teagarden - but he was good enough for the best of the traditional jazz bands that abounded in Manchester in the 1950s. Soon he was in the front line of the Smoky City Stompers, close rivals to Manchester's quintessential trad group The Saints; and once or twice he even played with the Saints themselves, including a concert shared with Humphrey Lyttelton's band. It was Alan's first brush with a famous jazzman. It was by no means the last.

Jazz Parade, Wythenshawe, Manchester 1950









Smoky City Stompers - Bootle St, Manchester 1951









Smoky City Stompers - Bootle St, Manchester 1951
 
Bluenote Jazz Band, Queen's Cafe, Queen St, Manchester 1950










Bluenote Jazzmen  frome Manchester Hippodrome Programme 21st October, 1956










Derek Atkins Dixielanders - G.P.O. Jazz Club, Manchester - 1956

In 1953 he formed his own band, the Blue Notes, a trad-into-mainstream group that won several competitions and recording contracts over the next few years. But something was still missing, and he found it one night at St George's Hall in Liverpool. On stage was the powerhouse led by Count Basie. It was a defining moment and Alan knew exactly what he had to do.

Within a few weeks he had persuaded the cream of Manchester's trad and modern musicians to forget their differences and form a big band. And he dug out his Basie records and had them transcribed note-for-note for the new band to play.

They had an auspicious start. With bookings alarmingly low, a promoter asked Alan to pad out the programme in a concert at Manchester's Free Trade Hall and the big band made its debut on 5 April 1958 alongside Alex Welsh and famed gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Alan played third trombone, and on alto sax was a young chap called Wally Houser who today is a director of the Ronnie Scott Club.

A few months later came another of those 'right-place-right-time' moments. In October 1958 who should appear in Manchester but Jimmy Rushing for a club date backed by the cream of Manchester's jazzmen including Alan on trombone. Mr Rushing pronounced himself duly impressed.

But then that annoying need to earn a living asserted itself and Alan sailed off to Hong Kong to be a chartered surveyor for the Colonial Office. His fame preceded him. Hong Kong's Jericho Jazz Band greeted Alan on the quayside and promptly recruited him. "I arrived on a Sunday and three days later I was rehearsing with the band," he recalled. "Hong Kong in those days had a lot of ex-pat Britons and Americans, and jazz was very popular."

Nor was that all. Alan had taken his Basie transcriptions with him and with an army captain who happened to be a first class trumpet lead he formed a big band, largely made up of players from regimental dance bands. Here, too, he took another step in his big band career: for the first time he created an original arrangement - of 'Moonlight in Vermont' for a girl singer.

And that 'right-place-right-time' kicked in again. Alan's stint in Hong Kong coincided with the arrival of star American clarinettist Tony Scott, one of the first to master bebop on a clarinet, but who had left America disillusioned by racism in the music business and spent six years travelling in Europe and particularly in the Far East, where he picked up elements of ethnic music that stood him in good stead in later years. In Hong Kong Scott was happy to sit in with a pick-up group including Alan on trombone.

 

After three years Alan returned to Manchester as a fully-fledged big band arranger, and couldn't wait to get cracking. First he helped to set up a pioneering septet led by trombonist Gordon Robinson, playing piano and penning most of the group's arrangements. The trombone was put away for good.

And in 1964 the new Alan Hare big band roared onto the Manchester scene, playing regularly at a club run by the old Manchester Sports Guild. And that led to yet another 'right-place-right-time' moment.

Formed to promote amateur sport, the MSG started running jazz clubs almost by accident, and finished up organising UK tours by some of the greatest names in American jazz, among them Henry 'Red' Allen, Pee Wee Russell, Ruby Braff, George Lewis, Buck Clayton...and Earl 'Fatha' Hines.

For his tour Hines appeared mostly with a trio, but the MSG also suggested a concert built round Alan's band. Mr Hines readily agreed and sent over half-a-dozen arrangements that the band rehearsed; and on Tuesday 6 April, before some of Britain's leading jazz critics, they took to the stage.

Alan still has a ticket for the show. Fans paid 12/6d (that's 62½p in new money, scarcely enough to buy a newspaper these days) to hear the legendary Earl Hines and the Alan Hare Big Band.

At the rehearsal Hines decided they were a piece short and asked Alan for a 12 bar blues in G. And with just 24 hours to go Alan arranged Clark Terry's 'Ground Hog' with riffs behind the piano solo and slots for a couple of tenor saxes; and Mr Hines thought it was terrific.



Jimmy Witherspoon & The Gordon Robinson Septet - The Bamboo Club, Hazel Grove, Stockport, 1964




Manchester Evening News stock photo 1970

 

Alan Hare Big Band, Midland Hotel, Didsbury - Nov 1969









National Rehearsal Band Contest 1978









Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz

After 10 years Alan's band had reached the end of its natural life, as the leader put it, and they disbanded. Or so they thought. For in 1977 the BBC launched its rehearsal band competition through local radio stations, and Radio Manchester asked Alan to reform as their entry. They broadcast on Boxing Day of 1977, and the following April they were in the final at the Golders Green Empire in London.

And while the Peter Coe band took top honours, the Hare band came second - and trumpeter Doug Whaley won the award for the most outstanding soloist, Gordon Robinson won the Don Lusher prize for the best trombonist, and Alan collected the award for the best original composition.

In fact the band played three of Alan's originals in that competition, two of them ('Ballad for Brigitte' and 'Tenor Each Way') later recorded by NYJO.

'Ballad for Brigitte', written in 1974, was Alan's first original composition, and over the next decade he produced a string of memorable pieces.

In due course Bill Ashton heard the band and asked Alan to submit a chart or two for NYJO. His first piece was an arrangement of Miles Davis's 'Doxy', which he later recast with a new melody and a new title - 'Lift Off'. NYJO recorded it in 1976 and again in 1977 and still plays it to this day.

It was the start of a 25-year relationship between Alan and NYJO that has produced a series of well known titles, all of them recorded, from 'Bones for Basie', 'Going for a Burton' and 'Nothing like a Thane' in the '70s.to 'Miss Pankhurst Protests', recorded at Ronnie Scott's in 1998.

The day job was still keeping him busy, of course, but he still found time to play jazz. In the early '80s (and again in 1999) he led an octet that played all round the country - with a highspot an appearance at Birch Hall in Oldham alongside another American jazz legend, pianist and singer Jay McShann.

After that he played piano with Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz - one of the city's leading dixieland bands - contributing as much to the front line as the rhythm section.

Alan Hare retired from the music business in 2002 with a host of memories.

     
 

Published in News From NYJO Spring 2006 - Composers' Edition

 
  THE DEATH OF MANCHESTER JAZZ VETERAN,
ALAN HARE (1928-2007)

By Joe Silmon-Monerri ("Joe Silmon") - August 2007

 
 

 

It was my very sad duty recently to announce the death of a good friend of countless members of the Manchester Jazz fraternity and a musical colleague of many decades' standing - Alan Hare, F. R. I. C. S. He was admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, on July 22nd, but was transferred to Trafford General Hospital due to a shortage of intensive care beds. He subsequently died there two weeks later, at about 11:45 a. m. on August 3rd, 2007. He was 79. Alan had been suffering from mouth cancer for some time, which caused him difficulties when swallowing; yet those of us who saw and spoke to him at the recent Joe Palin Get Well/Tribute in mid-July never suspected how soon he would be leaving us. His immaculate dress sense, his elegant bearing and obvious sense of personal dignity during that whole evening deceived us all into thinking that all was well. How fortunate those of us there were to have been able to see and speak to this great man for …"one more time", as he would often shout out to his "Sixteen Men Swinging", paraphrasing one of his greatest idols - Count Basie. We never saw him again.

Originally from Warrington, Lancashire (now in Cheshire) where he was born on 22nd July 1928 - an ominous date - by several quirks of fate and his father Percy Hare's professional travels as a Revenue Officer, after living in Chingford, Essex, several years, Alan Hare found a new home and, eventually, two totally separate careers here in the North West, becoming an integral part of the Manchester Jazz scene in the process. It is not certain what year the family moved from Warrington, but Alan's son Miles recently checked school attendance records with Chingford High School (now Chingford Foundation School). Alan was there between 1939 and 1943. Therefore, it would seem that he became 16, in 1944, at Cheadle Hulme and not in Chingford. While still at Chingford High School, and despite the ravages of war, Alan was aware of the recent George Webb-led New Jazz Revival. He tried to form a band with some friends who were also learning instruments who, like himself, were clueless about a working methodology to do so.

Back then, Alan was an aspiring pianist studying Mozart, Chopin and J. S. Bach. For the Jazz band, the boys needed a clarinetist to complete the lineup. Who should enrol but a young man of the same age, called Johnny Dankworth. "J. D." was a pupil at Sir George Monoux's Sixth Form College, but the College had been '… commandeered by the Military in 1939 …', according to Ray Marsh, an Old Monovian evacuee. While Alan was at Chingford High School, some of the Monovian boys were studying at Chingford High School. This must have been how A. H. and J. D. 'almost' came into contact. Just as something terrific was about to happen to the embryo band's sound with the arrival of the already highly talented J. D., Alan's father was posted to Manchester, thus bringing a golden opportunity to an abrupt end. Undaunted, Alan did his best to adjust to his new surroundings, never for a moment forgetting his new burning musical ambition - to form a "hot" Jazz band. Little did he know, he had come to 'the right place at the right time' - something that would become his by-word eventually.

While amassing a large collection of Jazz records at home in Cheadle Hulme, Alan had to put Jazz on hold for some time while he trained as a Chartered Surveyor, a move which would in time offer unprecedented Jazz opportunities and foreign travel. Itching to be involved in Jazz, he borrowed time from his studies to learn trombone with a local brass band - an accidental move. He was offered a trombone to play, because he could read music. Meanwhile, in 1947, a self-confessed '… poor dance-band pianist …', when he met Derek Atkins (trumpet) and Derek Mosedale (clarinet), Alan was persuaded to join the then forerunner of the Derek Atkins Dixielanders, who had a weekly residency at the Edinburgh Hall, Princess Road, Moss Side. The gig was so difficult to get to and from, that, although he thoroughly enjoyed the Jazz, he was relieved when his piano replacement, Snowy Hanson, came along.

In probably late 1948, he stepped into the vacant trombone chair in the 2-year old Smoky City Stompers. Lineup in 1948-49: (some musicians alternating) Frank Wilson/Dave Browning/Derek Atkins (trumpet); Derek Poole/Geoff Sowden/Alan Hare (trombone); Eric Lister (clarinet/vocals); Eric Abrams/Harry Giltrap (banjo/guitar); Trevor Brooks (piano), Alec Smith (drums); Alan Stevens (sousaphone - a local and later national Jazz critic and broadcaster). Alan Hare had probably replaced the great Derek Poole, who later became equally good on double bass. In a letter that Alan wrote to me in 2006, he said: '… In the late 40s, after Ken Wray, I think he was about the best trombonist in town …'. The band recorded on 30 April 1949. The lineup by 1951 was: Tony Bagot (trumpet), Alan Hare (trombone), Eric Lister (clarinet/vocals), Barry Schumm (clarinet/alto sax.), Geoff Wildash (banjo/guitar), Trevor Brooks (piano), Alec Smith (drums), Brian Adams (d/bass). At about this time Alan also played trombone occasionally with the then recently formed Saints Jazz Band (formerly Storyville Jazzmen), a band which was to have a lengthy and successful lifespan, while deviating from the predominant pre-Classic Jazz style of the day. Joining Don Simmonds' Jazzmen, Alan found that he was inadvertently becoming a dedicated bandleader himself. Don left to improve his chances in London in 1953; Alan immediately took over as bandleader. The band's name was changed to The Bluenote Jazzmen. One lineup at the Sportsman Restaurant in 1953 was: Tony Bagot (trumpet), Alan Hare (trombone), Derek "Mo" Mosedale (clarinet/vocals), Ron Baker (banjo/guitar - founder member of Manchester Grammar School's, The Heat Spots, in 1936), Bryan Houghton (piano), Doug Martin (drums), Pete Shorthouse (d/bass). The year 1956 was a memorable one for the band. During June the Bluenote Jazzmen came first at the Bury Carnival, in which five bands from the region competed in the Jazz Contest. In keeping with the carnival and the New Orleans street parade atmosphere, the band played on the back of a wagon. The Bluenote J/M won with 1,228 points out of a possible 1,350. Following numerous weekly residencies at the Manchester Sports Guild (Sportsman) and the Piccadilly Jazz Club (Wheatsheaf Hotel, High Street), the band appeared at that much-coveted venue, the Manchester Hippodrome, in Ardwick, on 10 October 1956, resplendent and professional-looking in their cream tuxedo jackets. By now Alan was seriously thinking of expanding his horizons as a bandleader, but on a bigger scale, while playing conventional Chicago-style Jazz in the clubs, as a pianist or trombonist, or both.

By April 1st 1958, the Alan Hare Big Band was formed [also known as "Sixteen Men Swinging"]. Its incredibly ambitious but successful debut took place at the Free Trade Hall, Peter Street, five days later. The other band on the concert was the Alex Welsh Jazz Band; so the boys were in good company, especially since the Alex Welsh band was there to back no less a Jazz personage than hot-gospel singer Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Alan's lineup comprised: Bill Holt, Bob Connell, Arthur Tongue, Ken Ratcliffe (trumpets); Reg Payton, Alan Hare, Ted Higgins (trombones); Wally Houser, Barry Schumm (alto saxes/clarinet); Alan Fawkes, Bryan Burns (tenor saxes); Jeff Backhouse (bar. sax.); Eric Ferguson (piano); Brian Adams (d/bass); Ian Buckley (guitar); Ronnie Arnold (drums). Short of just one major number for the Free Trade Hall concert, Alan persuaded the not-yet-too-famous Syd Lawrence, with whom he was quite friendly at the time, from when the Bluenote Jazzmen and the Cameo All Stars shared sessions at the Cameo Club in Ashton-under-Lyne to produce an arrangement at short notice, for £10 (a small fortune then). It was Count Basie's "April in Paris". The Cameo All Stars consisted of Northern Dance Orchestra (NDO) members: Syd Lawrence (trumpet), Roger Fleetwood (alto sax/clt), Frank Dixon (tbn), Bob Turner (drs), Alan Roper (pno), and poss.? Brian Day (bass). In his letter of 15 March 2006, Alan, referring to Syd's arrangements, told me: '… I kept the parts until I went to Hong Kong, at which time printed parts were available, JUST THE SAME AS WRITTEN BY SYD! …' My own friendship with Alan goes back to approximately 1959 in Stockport when and where Alan still led and rehearsed the Bluenote Jazzmen, after playing at the Blue Note Jazz Club (Wheatsheaf, in High Street and later at the Queen's Café, Queen Street, off Albert Square). Securing a permanent one-night-a-week residency at the MSG (Sportsman's Restaurant, Market Street), staying there for six-years, this work ended abruptly in 1959, when the MSG decided that Alan's Sunday sessions were too popular, affecting Friday sessions, which often featured expensive London bands. By the time Alan left for Hong, the Bluenote Jazzmen had already disbanded, according to Rod Hopton (trombonist - a close friend of Alan's and in the Saints Jazz Band up to the early 1980s). Many successes with Alan's big-band, including recordings, followed; but in 1959, Alan, now a fully-fledged Chartered Surveyor, was appointed to his first Colonial Service post in Hong Kong.

Alan thought his playing days were over for the almost 4-year term of the appointment. Lo' and behold, waiting to greet him on the dockside in Hong Kong Harbour was the locally-based Jericho Jazz Band and many from the Hong Kong Jazz community. The American clarinetist, Tony Scott - famous for mastering Bop on the clarinet, was also waiting on the dockside - he was one of the area's leading Jazz exponents and very well-known in the USA, where work was scarce at the time. I recalled Bill Brennan (Jazz Aces Manager) telling me about Alan's meeting with Tony Scott in 1959. The band had heard news of Alan's arrival through the Jazz grapevine; thus, Alan's next three years were going to be a lot happier than he had envisaged. He did a good deal of big-band work there too, backing many big names on piano, and was involved in many broadcasts. It was there that Alan often played with another dear friend, the late Frank Fonseca - part Portuguese, part-Chinese (an incredible guitarist and a great multi-linguist besides being an exceptional pictorial artist working in a modern Impressionist style) who had only one complete arm. Frank sadly died in early 2007, but he graced this Jazz scene, acquitting himself admirably, since the 1970s. He had been a child prodigy on violin and piano in Shanghai and Hong Kong before WW2.

Alan also played in Pete O'Neil's Jazz Band in Hong Kong. Pete was on trumpet. An Army Captain opened Alan's eyes regarding big-bands and was probably highly influential in Alan's new perception of and approach to Modern Jazz. Alan fashioned his new big-band around the Captain [unidentified] and his great skills as a modernist trumpet lead. This was complemented by finding top-flight military bandsmen who played flawlessly as sidemen; he now strove for bigger goals, pushing out the envelope further every time. He was determined to keep this momentum up on his return to the UK. However, although he concentrated on writing big-band arrangements with the occasional transcription, Alan's composing days were yet to come - eventually with a veritable vengeance. The tour of duty over, Alan said his farewells to hundreds of enthusiastic fans and fellow musicians. He was to return to an anticlimax, which must have been a bitter disappointment to him, after the adulation he had felt in Hong Kong.

Back in Manchester in 1962, Alan had a great deal of adjusting to do; however, he soon settled into the new day job with Manchester City Council. The Manchester Jazz scene is not always outwardly demonstrative when its lost sheep return to the fold, as if to punish them for straying away. His upkeep was, however, guaranteed, having almost immediately stepped into another well-paid Civil Service day-job, this time in the Planning Department at Manchester Town Hall. He had plenty of free time in which to indulge in his favourite music, if it was going to happen. Just before I left for the London scene in 1963, Alan and I frequently bumped into each other in and around Albert Square at lunch-times, swapping band tales.

Alan had had no band to rejoin in 1962. However, that would not pose a problem for too long. He joined the Southside Jazz Band, on piano, replacing the late John Featherstone, who was then playing in my Joe Silmon's Dixielanders. The Southside J/B. was an outfit that now had a pronounced mainstream flavour, as distinct from the band originally led and powerfully propelled by founder-leader/drummer Don Bridgewood in the mid-late 50s. It was led from the front by Roy Bower on trumpet. It had been largely New Orleans' pre-Classic-styled. The more recent band, also had a regular prime-time Saturday night spot at the same old venue, the Black Lion Hotel, Blackfriars Street, just inside Salford. The Black Lion was not many yards from the Parsonage, where in the mid-20s the first Station 2ZY (later BBC) Jazz broadcast, by Prestwich-based Julian Niman's Scarlet Syncopators took place. NIman's bands later included star trumpeters Nat Gonella and Eddie Calvert. Alan found this information most interesting when I told him during one of our many recent telephone chats about the book I am writing on the Manchester Jazz scene. Who knows?, Julian Niman's boys, in those far off days, might have raced down to the famous Black Lion (of fond memory) for a quick pint, after broadcasting in the tiny, stifling studio backing onto the sultry, smelly River Irwell - always at its worst during hot summers.

After his Southside days, which seemed to be brief, Alan was asked to join a small band that had been formed only recently at the Bamboo Club, Hazel Grove, Stockport. It was obvious from the start that this locally successful band was meant for Alan. The Gordon Robinson Septet had a style between cool Mainstream and Modern Jazz. The band, while Alan played in it, won several significant Jazz band awards, at home and abroad, some at Montreux, Switzerland. Lineup: Gordon Robinson (trombone), Doug Whaley (trumpet/flugel horn), Brian Smith (tenor sax.), Bernie Brown (bari. sax.), Pete Staples (drums), Chris Daniels/the late Pete Taylor (bass) and Alan Hare (piano, arrangements). Regular sessions kept the band based at the Bealey family's Bamboo Restaurant/Club almost indefinitely. During 1963, Alan had also been playing with the Art Taylor All Stars at the Manchester Sports Guild (in Long Millgate). This was a quasi-Mainstream band, but based largely on the Louis Armstrong All Stars. Personnel: Doug Whaley (trumpet/flugel horn); Art Taylor (trombone); Chris Lucas/Chris Berry (clarinet)/Maurice Gavin (clarinet/piano); Rod Hamer (drums); Lawrence Selcoe (bass). The band soon became a favourite at the MSG. At the time, unfortunately, Alan was prone to overindulging in alcohol; this excess altered his normally benign and gentlemanly behaviour occasionally - but only temporarily. He stoically rode the intermittent brainstorms. Eventually, the band replaced him. Depression was at the back of it all; after some outpatient treatment locally he became determined to recover, quite sensibly through throwing himself more intensely into his work. As an in-patient for a little while, Alan wrote a ballad called "Why am I Hare" (an obvious play on words). He now concentrated on writing, playing and arranging for the Gordon Robinson Septet, the latter considerably contributing to the band's sound, repertoire and eventual success at home and abroad. A thorough soul-searching reinvigorated and encouraged Alan to recover and to go on to bigger and better things. Interesting moves involving bookings of several big American Jazz stars at the Guild in 1964, largely organised by Jack Swinnerton who had replaced the late Johnny Orr as Jazz Organiser, backed by General Secretary "Jenks", found Alan back at the MSG, but now once again back at the helm, leading his own big-band. This time, there was no turning back. By 1965, the Alan Hare Big-Band consisted of: Alan Hare (piano/leader/arranger), Bill Brown (bass), Pete Staples (drums); Doug Whaley, Dave Browning (fellow veteran of the Smoky City Stompers, 1948), Ken Rawding, Frank McDonald (trumpets); Ted Higgins, the late Fred Fydler, Paul Latham (trombones); Johnny Smith, Brian Crowther, Barry Schumm, Jimmy Barnes, Jeff Logue (saxes). Ian Royle (tpt) and Julius Hasford (tnr sax) were in some of the lineups too, around this period. Almost all of them were present at Didsbury Cricket Club at the reception following Alan’s funeral.

With this big-band, at the Manchester Sports Guild, Alan and the boys were picked to back some of the visiting American greats; as stated booked mainly by Jack Swinnerton, one being Earl Hines, but for a concert at Manchester's Houldsworth Hall, agencied partly by the MSG. For this concert, held on 6 April 1965, Alan was asked by Earl Hines to rearrange Clark Terry's "Groundhog". This apparently was very well received by Mr Hines, who thought it was "… terrific …". Alan, as late as March 2006, wrote to me to say that he intended to record this number on a CD with his Octet:

'… all the musicians are keen and we won't need a lot of rehearsal, as the tunes have been played many times. Such as "Black Butterfly" … Duke …, "All God's Children got …", "Groundhog", a composition by Clark Terry …'.

It would be interesting to hear if that recording ever took place. After some more time with the Gordon Robinson Septet (as pianist, arranger, MD), Alan simultaneously continued running his own big-bands intermittently between 1965 and the 1970s, also accepting small-scale gigs as trio or quartet work in hotels, clubs, etc., as available. One of these in 1965-66 at the Sunnyside Country Club in Denton, near Hyde, Cheshire, on Wednesday evenings, consisted of Alan (piano), Mike Medina (bass guitar) and Graham Smith (drums). It was a club that got quite full, but its owner, Hussain Saidi, was always a difficult man to deal with when it came to money matters. Wages became "negotiable" after every performance. The man would sit eating "spaghetti" while haggling over what should be paid to the bandleader for the musicians. The bandleader, like a serf, remained standing. It was the same story when I took the group over from Mike Medina, who left in 1967-68. Alan, Graham and myself (on reeds) were the basic trio, but it became less definable, as we were allowed to book guest musicians and - sometimes - vocalists. So we decided, because of this uncertainty, to rename the group the "Joe Silmon ?-tet". One of the vocalists was the lovely, highly talented Jo Lester, daughter of the big-bandleader Art Lester. No artistes booked at the club ever had any problem with Alan's superb piano accompaniment. Saidi - who was supposed to be a millionaire - persisted in his old barter remuneration method, a problem exacerbated even further, when guests such as Jo and extra front-line musicians were allowed to perform. We felt relieved from this stressful uncertainty when a non-Jazz trio succeeded in "muscling in" and barefacedly took over our gig - to which they were well and truly welcome!

Still leading the SIXTEEN MEN SWINGING at the MSG, by the end of the 1960s, Alan accepted other work with Dixieland/Mainstream bands, such as those of Randy Colville and Gordon Robinson, and trio work. He replaced the great Joe Palin on piano in Randy's Manchester-based Old Fashioned Love Band, headquartered at the Victoria Hotel, Hardman Street, in 1971. I rejoined the band shortly afterwards. By September 1972, Alan Stevens (Producer) and John Featherstone (Presenter), had arranged a radio broadcast on BBC Radio Manchester at the Victoria Hotel, on "Jazz Parade". Personnel: Randy Colville (leader/arranger/clarinet, alto, soprano saxes), Alan Hare (piano/arrangements), local ace Doug Whaley (trumpet/flugel horn), the great Ken Wray (trombone), myself (mainly on tenor/alto saxes, flute and bass clarinet), Frank Gibson (drums/Frank Sinatra-style vocals) and the superb Ian Taylor (d/bass) played a fine mix of tunes arranged by Randy Colville, the band sounding double its size, thanks to the clever 'voicing' used by Randy. However, Alan's skills as a band-leader/arranger were also indispensable at the time, especially during rehearsals.

By about mid-1974 the Alan Hare Big-Band had moved to the Midland Hotel, West Didsbury, where it played to packed houses during each of its performances there. By now, Alan was composing a lot more as well as arranging and leading the band. He was to strike up a relationship some months later with Bill Ashton, leader of the National Jazz Youth Orchestra, and did many arrangements for that outfit of such fine, young musicians, that were played over the decades. His arrangements and compositions are still in regular use with the orchestra. Alan's compositions began to flow at a fairly steady rate in 1975. While working with local groups, including bands led by Julie Flynn (vocalist), the Harlem Hot Stompers and the new Smoky City Six, by 1994 Alan's compositions already included the following (taken from the NYJO Magazine, Spring 2006):

1975 Ballad for Brigitte / Lift off / Bones for Basie
1976 Going for a Burton Who Wray for Ken
1979 Nothing like a Thane
1980 Fox Fur
1985 Waltz for Duke
1990 Afterburner
1992 Bethlehem Lift Off
1994 Tara's Tuesday [dedicated to his daughter, no doubt]
1995 Lift off [new treatment of Basie's Doxy, as recorded in 1976-77 by the NYJO] / Tenor Each Way
1996 Blues for Mike
1997 LBG
1998 Miss Pankhurst Protests [recorded at Ronnie Scott's that year]

Quite a respectable legacy to leave to the Jazz-playing world.

The Alan Hare Octet, a manageable sized group preferred by Alan as he gradually became - only very slightly less energetic - played intermittently but always to great effect between the 1980s and into the 2000s, yet the group did a surprising amount of out-of-town touring. The pre-Millennium year was a prominent year for the Octet. Perhaps Birch Hall, Lees, Oldham was the venue that best showed off its popularity. The lineup some fifteen years on, by 2001 was: Alan Hare (leader/composer/arranger), John Robinson (pno), Laurie Cooper (tbn), Mike Burns (tpt, fl. hn), Chris Williams (alto sax/elec. flt), Brian Smith (tnr sax), Sam Reynolds (bar. Sax), Dave Edwards (drums) and Stewart Riley (d/bass). During the same period Alan continued to 'dep' in several bands, or played piano regularly in some. Up to approximately 2001, he was the regular pianist in Julie Flynn's sextet and Mart Rodger's Manchester Jazz at Didsbury Cricket Club and at other venues. Over the next 8 years, deciding to play less frequently, he usually only led his Octet when he revived it for specific airings from time to time, such as at Hyde Cricket Club in recent times.

Although he dressed elegantly, like a country gentleman at times, and behaved and conversed in a generally conservative manner, Alan could act the 'clown' too. When he wrote to me in the last two to three years regarding my queries about the early Manchester Jazz Scene, his zany sense of humour was always in evidence. He had a series of letterheads that were proof of his "goonish" humour, some of which is reflected in the bizarre titles of most of his compositions (listed above). One letterhead reads:

 

 
  AL’S ACADEMY
Head Tutor: Prof. A. E. Hare, FRICS, MusD, NBG, AA, RAC, etc.
Comprehensive Classical Correspondence Courses Commercially Contrived
Residential & B&B (all with sea view) – Day trips arranged.
Time-wasters need not apply (except by prior arrangement)
 
 
Another reads:

 
 

HARE'S ……….. ORCHS
[the text in a circular "coat of arms" between the above two words reads:
'FLINGE, FLANGE, NIL GRATIS]
Orchestrations and Arrangements for all combinations
(Musical, Motor Cycle, Underwear, Locks, Harvesters)

[his normal address followed]


 
 

Up to the very hour of his untimely death, Alan remained one of the most enthusiastic and dedicated supporters of local Jazz and its various events, of both the sad and the happy type. He was always overjoyed to hear that Manchester's Jazz History was not going to forget to mention hundreds of Jazz performers and bands who emerged locally, over the decades, even since well before the 1942 Revival. Alan provided me with many photographs and memorabilia for that very purpose, items that included what was happening locally in the forties, involving priceless photographs, programmes, tickets, club cards and archive cassette recordings of bands dating to the early 50s; It had been his intention, when he still enjoyed good health, to do something similar to my current projects. For the whole of Joe Palin's Get Well Tribute, he stood upright almost to attention, against a wall at the end of the bar at Didsbury C. C., speaking to as many in attendance as possible, interestedly and happily mulling over old times and memorable experiences. His like will never be known among us again.

Personally, I already miss your long, exceedingly interesting, entertaining letters and 'phone chats, Alan, and I say on behalf of all of us on the Manchester Jazz Scene, it was a great honour and privilege to have you as a friend and colleague. Your children Lester, Miles and Tara were immensely proud of you and your countless achievements and they have many visual means to remember you by. Goodbye, old pal!

Joe Silmon-Monerri

 










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