Last Updated - Tuesday January 11, 2022 at 23:12:25
Howard Murray 3rd Dec 1939 - Dec 2021
Photo Barrie Marshall 02/05/2010
Bad news I'm afraid about Howard Murray. He died peacefully in his sleep last night He had been suffering from several complaints, including serious heart problems. You will know as much about his widespread music as I do, so you will appreciate what a loss this is to so many people all over the UK, as well as several parts of Europe. I shall be contacting them through FB and asking them all to share it to make sure it goes far and wide. He was a full time member of our Old Green River Band and travelled with us everywhere. -
Terribly sad to hear about Howard. I knew that his health wasn't good but it's still a shock. He'll be greatly missed -
Oh dear! Over the last two years Meryl and I have learned of the deaths of so many friends - jazz and non-jazz - that Howard Murray's demise feels like the last straw. I can't remember how long ago Howard and I first met, but we've played a wide assortment of gigs together, some with 6 or 7 piece groups and some with trios and quartets - always most enjoyable. Howard was talented, knowledgeable, versatile and great fun to play with, even if some of his jokes scored highly on the groan factor. I think our last encounter was just before the first coronavirus lockdown when we both depped with New Orleans Wiggle at New Mill in West Yorkshire. Howard played often in our trio at the Thatch and Thistle in Blackrod, and I particularly remember our performances with Martin's Old Green River Band in Kirkcudbright and Abersoch in one weekend. Condolences to Carole and Howard's family.
Harmoniously, - John Muskett
Very sad news about Howard Murray. What a great character and what a great jazz musician. I have particularly fond memories of a weekend in Whitehaven with the Payday Loons. Howard kept us all entertained with numerous anecdotes over dinner and breakfast. I always enjoyed playing with Howard. Thanks for so many happy memories. RIP Howard -
Thanks for the music and the jokes.
Very sorry to hear about Howard Murray. Last played with him two or three years ago on a couple of mainstream gigs for Clive Edwards on the Wirral when he was blowing some fine stuff. RIP Howard
This very sad news has come to me as a complete surprise. I was talking to Howard, on the ‘phone, not that long ago. He was a good friend of mine. We met, playing in Germany, a great many years ago and have remained in touch ever since. His excellent wit and general knowledge always made for good entertaining conversation: his sense of humour immense, often bringing tears of laughter to my eyes. This showed through in his playing which was first rate, thoroughly imaginative and delightful to listen to. He played with the Parade Jazzband for a good few sessions, about two years ago, just before we moved from the Old Quay in Parkgate to the Black horse in Lower Heswall were we now play. He was no longer playing clarinet by then but his sax playing was still superb. This is indeed a great loss to the musical community and all who knew him.
Roy Gregory (the Parade Jazzband)
Such sad news about Howard. A fine musician and a great character. He'll be badly missed. R.I.P.
Us promoters always seem to remember fondly certain special musicians who have left a mark on us, and Howard was certainly one of those. St Peter will surely be impressed when he arrives at the gates and displays that array of reed instruments. Even more so, when the angels join his spirited playing. RIP you nice man Howard. -
What a very sad loss to a wonderful musician . R.I.P. Howard. -
A truly unique gentleman, also of Jazz. -
This is how we'll remember Howard...
and Steve Marquis sent me this youtube link of Howard at the Blue Bell about 6 years ago. -
I have known Howard Murray for almost 65yrs and throughout that time, like many other musicians, I have had the pleasure of playing alongside him in countless ensembles. As John Muskett has already said, Howard always had a quip or joke to suit the occasion. If my memory serves me correctly, Howard's first gig was New Year 1958 on clarinet in a trio comprising accordionist Jim Thomas and my brother Mike on piano, aka Colonel Boogie. In the early Sixties, a lot of we young musicians, Frank Baxter tpt, Howard Burrows trb, Pete Smith bs, Mike Ogden drs, Joe Silmon rds, used to gravitate to Gus and Rhona's Cona Coffee Bar, next to The Town Hall Tavern on Tib Lane off Albert Square, Mcr, after our evening gigs. Over the years, Howard never ceased to remind me that, on one occasion, he ordered a plate of egg and chips. My late wife Brenda, was helping out behind the bar and as she passed his meal over the high counter, it somehow ended in Howard's lap!
There will be a big gap in the jazz scene which is going to be hard if not impossible to fill.
Attached is a photo, taken at The Old Brown Jug in Newcastle under Lyme on Sep 3rd 2017. Reading from l to r: Howard Murray sax, Lily Lynch bass, Glyn Bennett trumpet, Brian Woods drums, Stuart Renn banjo, Paul Medina bass trombone. -
Such sad news
about Howard Murray. I first met him when he attended an audition for
the Harlem Hot Stompers in 1970. At the time the band was building a
repertoire of classic Duke Ellington and Fletcher Henderson arrangements
and a second reed player was deemed essential. Howard fitted the bill
perfectly, as he was a good reader and an excellent musician. I played
with him intermittently over the following years and it was always a
pleasure to be in his jovial company.
So sorry to hear of the loss of Howard. A great musician and a superb story teller and a true gent. RIP.
Very sad to
read the news on the passing of Howard Murray. I first came to know
Howard when I was at a young age of 14 at Chorlton Conservative Club on
High Lane. When I met up with him on several occasions through the
years, he always reminded me about my dad having to drive me to gigs
before I could learn to drive, and later having to pick me up again.
Howard always amused me with his wonderful wit, and always coming out
with several Jokes. Howard was a fine musician, and will be missed by
all that knew him.
I first came
across Howard in I believe 1965, when we both did a summer season at
Pontins Middleton Towers in Morecambe. Strangely I didn't play with him
then as we were with different bands - he was with one of Paul Gold's
offshoots and I was with the Nobodys. However we both had the same muso
sense of humour and used to meet up whenever we could on the Camp. Paul
Gold was acknowledged as a great musician and did a lot of arrangements
and provided bands for film scores in the 50's and 60's so to be in one
of his bands was a great endorsement to Howard's musical ability.
My brother, Paul Medina, has asked me to let you have my memories of Howard Murray. Not much, but we spent some time together in our youth, and I believe we first met at the RAFA club, in Sale, Manchester, around 1959/60. This would have been a scratch band which included Alan Yates, guitar, myself, piano, and Mike Bennett (or, possibly, Ridgeway?} on bass, with Howard playing clarinet.
Howard and I
did various gigs from time to time, and he augmented the Evan Harrop
quartet at the Belgrade Hotel, Stockport, where I was the resident
bass-guitarist. We also played some gigs at the Carousel Irish Club in
Plymouth Grove, Manchester.
Sad news about Howard. I enjoyed playing with him on many occasions . A fine musician and a character.
Howard was an
enthusiast who, in my experience, never did anything by halves. There’s
already ample evidence on this tribute page of his fluency and
inventiveness on clarinet and all the saxophones, but when he was booked
to join Roy Potts’s Five and a Penny on our first trip to Bavaria in
1984, his preparation also included buying Teach Yourself German and
working so hard at it that, by the time we arrived, he really could get
by. When, upon arrival, I was handed a cracked glass of beer that
disintegrated in my hand, necessitating three stitches in the webbing
between my right thumb and forefinger, it was Howard who drove me to the
hospital and used his newly-acquired German to explain to the casualty
staff that, as a bass-player beginning a ten-day tour, I would need to
have the wound dressed in such a way as would preserve my ability to use
my hand. Try doing that in beginners’ German!
Many of us are saddened by the loss of Howard; we will all feel this deeply whether we enjoyed the life and company of Howard as a friend, musician, raconteur, wit, Dad, Brother or, in my case, Uncle.
I want, if I may, to share a few of my memories of Howard, knowing him as I did from the formative years of my childhood until his sad passing just before New Year.
For me, as a kid, Howard had a certain mad professor quality about him. As a beloved uncle he brought a vigour and energy to all our meetings and encounters. From my vantage point as a young boy he was a wildly enthusiastic polymath engaged intellectually in such varied and multiple pursuits as languages, electronics, computing and radio. He was a keen Teutonophile and of course he was at his most passionate about Jazz music. It was his gift to me of a lifelong love, appreciation and desire to understand jazz music for which I will be forever grateful.
When I was three Howard gave me an EP of the Benny Goodman Orchestra playing Stompin’, Shine and A Smooth One. Krupa was on drums, Christian on guitar, Hampton on Vibes. Boom! I was hooked. The reverberations of hearing that record are, for me, still enormous and, from that day, I found that I hung on every note I heard Howard play.
As I grew up Howard would take me to gigs and rehearsals whenever he could. I used to ride shotgun squeezed in between dusty, oversized amplifiers, mike stands, instrument cases and, from his other world, strange aerials and radio contraptions precariously lashed together with rolls of insulation tape. On those trips I was lucky to be able to hear great local players of the ‘finest musical art form’ and was mesmerised by the skill, musicianship, childlike enthusiasm and profound artistry on display. But for me Howard was primus inter partes. There was something ineffable about the way he could express beauty through his horn which just had me captivated. His Tenor sound was so warm and woody like a 25 year old Talisker; he embodied the soul and spirit of the music. I could listen the greats; ‘his’ greats like Hawk, Getz or Pres but Howard’s playing had something that was quintessentially his own; and I treasured that because he was my uncle.
Man, he was full of good music! Those musical skills; his innate ability to convey to an audience the truth of the music were contagious. Audiences were entranced by his playing; you could hear a pin drop on Sunday evenings in the Blakeley Conservative Club when he showcased his exquisite interpretations of ‘Body and Soul’ or divinely conveyed the majesty of ‘Misty’.
I recall many delightful evenings in the company of his bandmembers whom he held in palpably high esteem and musical regard. On evidence was copious conviviality, fellowship, and a whiff of good natured Goonish puerility which all combined to create a true ‘band of brothers’.
Howard easily made friends wherever he went. I had the immense pleasure of his company and witnessing his effortless cordiality on trips to Koblenz, Munich and most memorably in the USA. We enjoyed a musical trip which took us both, my father and the late and dreadfully missed Bert Allen from Chicago through Memphis (where Howard politely declined a visit to Graceland) and down to New Orleans.
We located a number of ‘sit-in’ gigs for Howard along the way and among them he took up residence for three nights in the Crescent City Brewhouse on Decatur St, in New Orleans. He was cheered to the echo at the end of each set. His fellow band members, knowledgeable locals and tourists lauded this Limey and enthused lyrically about this fine horn player from ‘across the Pond’.
We went to Storyville, got misty-eyed and sentimental over Louis, drank too many whisky sours. And all because the music is so important to us all. Yes, we argued and debated. Howard and I tangled mainly over Miles and Coltrane. Different generations, I guess. We did finally agree on Bird after much cajoling and sharing of recordings. The discussions went on into the night and lasted years
Fundamentally, I believe music, for Howard, was a way of expressing his deep down need to communicate. He found joy in encountering, engaging with, learning about and befriending people. He saw and deeply appreciated their innate value and potential. Music was the lingua franca of that exchange in which he was so fluent and eloquent.
Howard loved the experience of knowing people; what their joys and passions were, what he could learn from them. Whether that was through his amateur radio friends he met over the airwaves around the world (who would become lifelong friends), or with the children he taught how to make their first sounds on the clarinet. His mantra was perhaps; “Speak, yes but mainly listen.”
Howard was my uncle. He gave me the most important thing in my life; Jazz music. I now, thanks to his influence, play the sax to a middling standard. And in my playing I long to find a moment of cool bliss or transcendent joy that Howard experienced so many times in his long musical journey. Through his ability to connect with beauty whether that was in the form of music, fellowship or affable bonhomie I believe his life was immensely rich and I am honoured to have been some part of it.
Howard and I played together for many years with a number of bands. He was a very fine mainstream style tenor sax player. When I played down at the 'Horseshoe' in Alsager with Howard I usually took my cassette recorder because with Jake Reeve, Nigel Cartwright, the great Pete Cotterill and Howard some very special jazz music was in prospect. A fine musician and a good friend.
RIP Howard from Ian and Pauline Royle.
Best to Carole. Will be in touch.