Donald MacLean's Blog 15






Two clarinet students enrol in Music Colleges - it's early wartime, they'll have to join the army soon.  The one in Scotland is of so-so ability, the one in London has stellar potential.


On Saturday 29th November 1952 these two are together in studio 3C at Broadcasting House.  Radio Times shows that the "World of Jazz" broadcast features The Johnny Dankworth 7 produced by Donald Maclean.


I have a diary for each of the 43 years of my 'earning-life'.  29 of them in the BBC.  Most pages are lengthy 'to do' lists, each line now scored-through and thus illegible.


After I became responsible for the BBC's popular music output in 1954 these are the only kind of record.  But in previous years, while I was a producer, the rehearsals and transmissions are visible.  So it hasn't taken long to find references to broadcasts by my friend Sir John Dankworth CBE who died on Saturday.


And during a spell producing TV programmes:

1958 6th Dec: Riverside 1. "6.05 Special": The Dankworth Big Band.

During 1958 there is also this cryptic entry: "John D. spent the evening with us.  New American car.  He and Cleo marry next week." (Not a studied order of priority, I'm afraid!)


Among the now-illegible entries there will be many which would recall earnest discussions - at the Studio Club in Swallow Street (with the sublime sound of Alan Clare's piano as background) and elsewhere - which I would summarise thus:

     JD: "You are not scheduling nearly enough jazz."

    DM: "Not enough for you and I, John, but more than most listeners would choose."


There were famous performers whom I respected but, privately, disliked.  The word 'insincerity' comes to mind.


There were others whom I respected and whose company I welcomed. 


There were a few with whom I felt a bond and whose company I valued. 


And there was John.  An especial friend.  He cared deeply about our world and music, and his integrity would never permit a smidgen of insincerity.


Photos from the Telegraph and the Dankworth's archive, with my thanks.


In 1970 John and Cleo created The Stables, a lovely performance centre in their garden, and they planned a 40th birthday concert for last Saturday evening.  It was, of course, a sell-out.  Jacqui, Alec and Cleo participated just as they'd all planned.  And how typically brave of Cleo to weave her vocal magic as always ... and then herself tell the 400 audience who knew that John was ill, that the absence of that prodigious talent ... was permanent.


If there was a shy, diffident spirit watching in the wings, he was, I know, very very proud.









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