Tributes to Alan Hare

 

From the News Page 04/08/07

Joe Silmon writes, "I'm sorry to report that local Jazz pianist, ex-trombonist, composer and big-bandleader, Alan Hare, who was admitted to Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, on July 22nd, was transferred to Trafford General Hospital due to a shortage of intensive care beds. He subsequently died there, two weeks later (3rd August 2007). Alan covered the entire range of Jazz styles in existence, starting out on trombone (whilst already a pianist), with Derek Atkins Dixielanders in 1948 at the Edinburgh Hall, Moss Side. Even up to the 2000s, though, he was more famous locally for leading his Big Band at Hyde. His arrangements and compositions have always been remarkable".  (Such is the influence of Alan Hare on the North West jazz scene, that a quick scan of this web site revealed his name appears no less than thirty five times - FB)

 


04/08/07

Alan covered the entire range of Jazz styles in existence, starting out on trombone (whilst already a pianist), with Derek Atkins Dixielanders in 1948 at the Edinburgh Hall, Moss Side. Even up to the 2000s, though, he was more famous locally for leading his Big Band at Hyde. His arrangements and compositions have always been remarkable. 

For many months, Alan and I had been corresponding (by snail-mail, as he wasn't on the computer) and he gave me an unbelievable amount of detail for my book, about the early days of the Manchester Jazz Revival scene, early-mid 40s. I'm going to miss his friendly chats and his limitless wisdom regarding Jazz. I have photographs and handbills, etc., that I was supposed to give him back and several tapes that I was allowed to keep, from his Blue Note Jazzmen days. His input for the book has been priceless. 

Joe Silmon 


04/08/07

Sometime in the late '50's The Jazz Aces had a job at a jazz club in Bury. As we entered the club the Bluenote Jazzmen were playing. This was the first time that I had seen Alan and his band and I'll always remember that they were wearing white tuxedo jackets. This has been an enduring memory for me. Daft isn't it ? Since then I have known Alan over the years and he has always impressed me with his fierce interest in and knowledge of jazz. I last saw Alan at Joe Palin's benefit sitting in his usual corner by the bar. I had a good chat with him and later when I was leaving I said ' goodnight' to him but he was busy talking to someone and didn't hear me. So I will say it again ' Goodnight Alan' 

Moe Green.


04/08/07

Dear Fred, When I was at college in Middleton in the Fifties I was a regular attender - albeit without the Christian Brothers' knowledge! - at The Sportsman's Bar in Market Street where Alan's band held sway. There, Eric Lister and I had the dream of forming a two clarinet group on the lines of Mezzrow/Bechet, but after we played a few sessions in the intervals, this didn't take on a permanent existence.... Alan was very encouraging, and often cut his own interval short to help us - and others - out. Alan was always open to what would now be called "mainstream" Jazz - quite a rare quality in those days, when following was polarised between "traditional" or "be bop", (which more or less labeled anything post Muggsy Spanier!) He was a grand chap and we could do with more like him today!

Tony Davis - Merseyside


15/08/07

Dear Fred, After attending, sadly, Alan Hare's funeral yesterday I looked him up on the internet to revive some memories. I played with his band briefly in the early seventies; and played his wonderful arrangements, in his presence, until a short time ago. We will all miss him. 

Allan Bentham. 


16/08/07

In tribute to Alan Hare, I thought I should contribute my own personal memories of the guy who probably had as much influence on my musical career as my Dad who set me on the road in the first place. I was eighteen years old at the time which would have been 1961. I'd just joined the 'Jack Kirkland Big Broadcasting Band' on second trumpet. My music reading was rubbish but I could knock out a fair though naive jazz chorus thanks to the Grammar School jazz band I'd just left and Pete Hartigans Band where I'd met up with Gordon Robinson, the very fine trombone player who was to lead 'The Gordon Robinson Septet' with of course arrangements by this legendary (even then) mystic being called Alan Hare. To improve my playing, I went down to Stock and Chapman's Music Shop on Oxford Road for a lesson with session trumpeter Dave Browning. "How high can you go", asked Dave. I bashed out a double 'F' with a struggle. "Fine", said Dave, "I'm playing with the Alan Hare Big Band at the Manchester Sports Guild at the moment but because of pressure of work I just can't do it anymore - be there at 8.30pm on their next gig". So off I went to the MSG full of trepidation to play alongside tremendous jazz player Doug Whalley and that great lead player Billy Holt in the trumpet section, Julius Hasford and Jimmy Barnes plus Brian Crowther in the saxes, Gordon Robinson, Keith Rollings and Stan Howarth in the 'bones and Pete Taylor on bass. There were many more fine players in the band, too many to mention indeed. I was a boy trying to do a man's work and I was overwhelmed. To my right was was the finest mainstream/modern trumpet player in the North west of England if not everywhere else (North of Watford of course!) and to my left, a heck of a lead trumpet screaming out notes with a precision I'd never experienced before. 

Bill Holt was my mentor and Alan Hare my rock when I despaired after a succession of reading 'clams'. Their encouragement and my determination to master Alan's 'pad' paid great dividends for me. After ten years with that great bunch of musos I was ready to turn 'pro'. 

I think it was me who put John Milner, another Duke Ellington fanatic, in touch with Alan. John had an extraordinary Big Band playing at his tiny pub in Wards End near Hartington. Milner and Hare were kindred spirits - total nutters about jazz big bands and of course Duke Ellington. Heaven knows what their 'phone bills must have been when they discussed Ellington's 'sound'. Was this a 'Strayhorn' or was it a 'Duke'? Was that a minor flattened ninth in some bar within something in The Far East Suite- I believe they both had pianos by the phone during these conversations. British Telecom's accounts department must have drooled when Hare and Milner were in contact! 

And on a day when a pile of cretins are commemorating the death of a billionaire druggie who copied black blues players, I recall sessions with Jimmy Witherspoon and the great Earl 'Fatha' Hines playing with the unforgettable Alan Hare and his groups I fear for the future of this eccentric music we call 'Jazz'.

Ian Royle


21/08/07

Like so many of us, the last time I saw Alan was at the Joe Palin Benefit. I have known Alan for over 50 years and along, with Joe and the late Eric Ferguson, he was very influential in my musical development. I played lead alto in Alan’s first Basie –type big band and I treasure the memory. Indeed it was Alan who convinced me that I could play lead. We have been in touch sporadically over the years but whenever we met it was as though we had seen each other just the previous week. He was a kind and thoughtful friend. One of his last kindnesses to me was to send a cd of the big band ‘s first concert at the Free Trade Hall on 5th April 1958. A wonderful memento .

So much has been said about Alan’s musical talent that I need not dwell on it.

He was a lovely person with an attractive self-deprecating wit and he will be sorely missed by all who treasure good men

Wally Houser


21/08/07

As a teenager early in 1950 I replied to an advert in the Stockport Advertiser which said "Jazz musicians wanted instruments and abilities immaterial" Who should it be but Alan Hare and Alan Jackson (leader of the Apex Jazz Band - Thatched House Saturdays). I took my brothers old guitar and Alan Hare was inspirational to we teenagers. I was given a simple system clarinet for my birthday in March 1950 and continued to make the meetings and to learn. My friendship with Alan flourished and I always thought of him as my mentor and I shall miss him.

Alan was a very handsome man and never failed to attract the ladies. He sent Frank Booth and we Cheadle Hulme lads a cassette tape recorded at a party when he was in Hong Kong. He was introducing various people and eventually introduced his current girlfriend - an Australian who was voted "Miss Lovely Legs of Hong Kong" and he asked her what she thought of English Men. In a broad Aussie accent she said "I think they're a load of sh**"

The Blue Note Jazzmen under Alan's leadership was an outstanding band and I have some happy memories of listening to them at The Sportsman on Market Street.

Mart Rodger


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 


Click on the play button below for a recording that Barry Aldous made of the Alan Hare Big Band in 1974 at the Midland Hotel in West Didsbury, playing "Take the 'A' Train". Barry writes, "By this time Alan had little to do with the band, although he was often in the audience and played on occasions. Many, if not all of the band arrangements were Alan's and I suspect that 'Take The 'A' Train' is one of them. I enjoyed several visits to the Midland and recorded the band on two occasions. I have sixteen tracks in total and the tributes made to him that I have seen on your website has prompted me to dig out the tracks and transfer them to a digital format. I can make these available for downloading via my website to anyone that might be interested".  - Barry Aldous


See also http://www.alanhare.com/ 

 

 

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