Derek Pool RIP

16/01/09 - Derek Pool well known Trombonist/bassist and vibraphone player died yesterday morning in Wythenshawe hospital. I am sure there are still some musicians out there who remember Derek as a humorist and first class all round musician. I knew and worked with Derek over the past 30 years, and although he had retired from playing owing to bad health, we still enjoyed the odd pint together. The funeral is to be held at Manchester Crematorium Friday next 23rd Jan. at 1.30pm. and his wife Doris will welcome any musician willing to have a blow. -  John Stavordale.

Derek Poole, who sadly died in Wythenshawe Hospital on the 15th of January 2009, was a true British Jazz legend, already an outstanding exponent of the trombone by the very early years of the 1940s Revival. However, possibly his first serious encounter with Jazz involved that great early-recording pioneer Manchester band, the Smoky City Stompers, which is seen in several settings and with slightly differing personnel in your Reminiscing web page. I agree with my friend and colleague, drummer John Stavordale; Derek was an outstanding musician, even far back in those very early days. He was playing with the above band by 
1948, along with other early revivalist stalwarts, such as Derek Atkins (cornet), Eric Lister (clarinet/vocals), the late Harry Giltrap (banjo/guitar) and the late local musician Alan Stevens (sousaphone), ex-Manchester Evening News Jazz columnist and veteran broadcaster. The double bass and vibraphone came a little later in Derek's life. He played in many Jazz and dance band groups throughout his distinguished career, but always with great taste and feeling.

I am honoured to have played with Derek at least once, when he was on double bass in a band that backed George Melly. Derek's expert playing astonished me at the time (1970s). While I prepare some more fitting tribute to this great revival pioneer, may I use your web page to convey my deepest condolences to Doris and the Poole family. I will go to Derek's funeral and shall take along an instrument. May he rest in the peace of the Lord and with Jazz wafting away all around him but not necessarily only New Orleans - as his tastes in the Jazz genre were many and varied. 

Joe Silmon-Monerri [19th January 2009]


Attendance on Friday, the 23rd of January, at the Manchester Crematorium in Chorlton-cum-Hardy, for the cremation ceremony and a celebration of the life of local 86-year-old Jazz veteran, Derek Poole, was shamefully minimal, by comparison with recent funerals of local Jazz musicians. He was a local musician since around 1947.

Derek, who was born in 1923, died of pneumonia in Wythenshawe Hospital on the 15th of January 2009, following a protracted illness. Fortunately, Derek's wife Doris, nephews and nieces and close friends of Derek, Doris and the family, made up for the lack of the usual throng that normally represents Manchester's Jazz Community. Only four local musicians were present: John Stavordale, Mike Billington, Gordon Robinson - who admirably and fittingly played solo trombone just before the ceremony began - and myself. As the mourners left the Chapel, the resident organist played two very pleasant renditions of "It's a wonderful world" and "When the saints go marching in"; both in a very acceptable Jazz style, I might add. The Priest in attendance provided us with a tasteful insight into Derek's life in the world of Jazz and Dance Band music, over the decades. 

Nevertheless, when we consider the importance of Derek's initial contribution to the local Jazz scene, his being almost at the vanguard of the 1940s wartime Jazz Revival in Manchester - as an outstanding early trombonist with the pioneer band, the Smoky City Stompers - and his replacing Geoff Sowden both in that band and its band- within-a-band offshoot, the Tasle Alley Washboard Creepers, some time in 1948 when Geoff left to join Freddy Randall and later Joe Daniels in London, it would seem that we could have all supported Derek's family and friends a lot better than we did on this occasion. However, all is not lost. We shall all have a second chance to make up for this at the "Galleon Hotel", Manchester Road, East Didsbury, Manchester M20, where a small informal reception was held on Friday after the cremation. The tribute night is scheduled for, approximately, three weeks from now, as John Stavordale is currently making arrangements with the Galleon management for a tribute night for Derek there. It is hoped that many Jazz musicians will be prepared to bring along instruments and take part. No doubt John Stavordale will be contacting Webmaster Fred Burnett about his progress on this event shortly. 

In the Smoky City Stompers, Derek made quite a respectable name for himself on trombone. The late Alan Hare told me that, after the great Ken Wray, "... Derek was the most outstanding trombonist on the local Jazz scene ...". Ken, who was a 1946 pioneer trombonist with Manchester's own Delta Rhythm Kings, later went on to play with the bands of Woody Hermann, Stan Kenton, John Dankworth, Vic Lewis, Ted Heath, etc. Therefore, Derek's trombone playing must have been of a very high calibre indeed in the late 1940s, if he commanded such a comparison. Alan Hare appears to have replaced Derek on trombone in the Smoky City Stompers between 1948 and 1949. There are some excellent photographs of the band's line-up in the late 1940s, on some of which Derek was in the band. These are on Fred Burnett's excellent and highly informative website, www. jazznorthwest. co. uk, under 'JAZZ EXTRAS'. They were originally sent by ex-S. C. S. guitarist/banjoist, Eric Abrams to Alan Hare, who then sent them to me, to allow me to copy them for my eventual book THE MANCHESTER JAZZ SCENE (1919-1990s).

After that vibrant Revival band, the Smoky City Stompers - which for some eight years was so popular locally - faded quietly from the local scene in approximately 1952, Derek Poole drifted in and out of a number of other local Jazz outfits; then, over the decades choosing to work in hotel and night club settings, he seemed to settle more into Jazz-based dance-music. John Stavordale spent many years in bands with Derek, and the two musicians and their wives became life-long friends. 

Over the decades, Derek also mastered the double bass and the vibraphone. He later used these instruments in preference to the trombone, apparently because he had developed serious spinal problems (Spondylitis) and this eventually forced him to give up his beloved trombone. On both the vibraphone and double-bass, he was possibly more prominent in "Etch and his Quads", a quartet run by multi-reedman, engineer and instrument repairer, the late Frank Etchells, largely up to approximately the mid-1970s. In that quartet, the four musicians involved - although the line-up occasionally varied - won a number of coveted Jazz band awards between the 1950s and 70s, some of which were awarded during their residency at the Tower Ballroom, Blackpool, when that venue still featured name big bands and Jazz groups. 

I last played with Derek, with him on double-bass, in a band that backed the late George Melly, at the Deanwater Jazz Club, in Woodford, Cheshire, in the mid-1970s. The pick-up band included Derek (double-bass), Eric Stafford (piano), John Stavordale 
(drums), the late Randy Colville (clarinet, alto and soprano saxes), the late Ken Wray (then back on slide-trombone), a trumpet player (???), myself (alto/tenor saxes, clarinet, flute and bass clarinet) and of course the excellent and eccentric George Melly himself. 

Unfortunately, I can't claim to have been a close friend of Derek's over the decades. My involvement on the local Jazz scene only started some twelve years after Derek's pioneering days; therefore, we failed to coincide on gigs, as we moved in totally different circles. I believe that he had an excellent sense of humour, though; I would have welcomed that attribute, as well as his outstanding musicianship and obvious professionalism. 

It is also sad to reflect on the fact that many of Derek's former close friends and fellow musicians have already passed away too. It now only remains for me to repeat my sincerest condolences to Doris and the Poole family, on behalf of all of us on the Manchester Jazz scene, and to say that Derek will be missed by a great many friends and colleagues. 

Joe Silmon-Monerri [Manchester, 25th January 2009]

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