Jack Palmer
RIP April 2020

Jack studied Pharmacy and subsequently became an assistant in a Pharmacy in Swinton Precinct – Mathiesons – before he owned his own Pharmacy in Ramsbottom where he worked until he retired. He was a founder member of the Southside Stompers playing banjo along with Alan Brown (clt), Roy Williams (tbn), Roy Bower (tpt),  and Don Bridgewood (dms).

This email from Kate Abendstern just twelve months earlier

I found your website and e mail address and am wondering if you can help me with a rather odd and personal request.

My dad (aged 85) is a Jazz musician – sadly, he’s been unable to play for years due to crippling arthritis, but it’s still his huge passion (his greatest achievement was playing with “Humph” way back and playing the Cavern Club before the Beatles – possibly even the same event!).  He’s in a care home in Blackpool and is struggling with moderate vascular dementia.  His only passion is music – New Orleans Jazz in particular.  But he has no-one to talk to about this and his condition makes it hard for him to see any point in engaging with people who don’t share his enthusiasm or knowledge.  His memory and cognitive functioning aren’t great, but he absolutely remembers his Jazz and uses his iPad to play all kinds of music on YouTube. He loves the fact that he can access any amount of music, both known and new to him, but the carers aren’t able to give him the conversation he craves.

I’m desperate to help him and would really like to find anyone local who would be prepared to befriend him so he can enjoy conversations with a kindred spirit. I live in Warrington, so don’t know where to go for help in Blackpool - I can try various carers’ / voluntary organisations, but when I found your website, I thought you might be able to signpost me to possible local groups.  I see you have a Facebook page and thought of posting something on there (I’d let Dad know about that, but his ability to use FB is somewhat erratic)-  but thought it might be more prudent to contact you via e mail".

Jack on Banjo  -   and  -   Ramsbottom Steam Jazz Band
Photos supplied by Jack's daughter Kate
Can you name the musicians?

These are the responses I got -

"How nice:  I hope there's a good local response.  Amazing how music gets through to troubled minds". - Jon Critchley

"I too live in Warrington and would be happy to chat to Kate if she called me. As a one-finger typist I prefer the telephone"! - Peter Caswell Chair, Manchester Jazz Society

As you know, I do not live in the Blackpool area, and would have difficulty making a regular commitment, but I have a very full diary of illustrated talks about Jazz and Musical Theatre, that I deliver to U3As, Probus Clubs and Women's Institutes all over The North, The Midlands and North Wales.  I am performing for St Annes U3A in July and Wyre U3A in August. I would love to make the short journey, from my gigs, to Blackpool on both occasions to chat to Kate's dad and, as I will have my electric piano with me, even with the permission of the care home, play a few numbers for him.   I am a great advocate of using music as a therapeutic instrument for people with dementia, particularly if the music relates to the sufferer's own experiences.  This music has given me so much pleasure throughout my lifetime, it is good to pay some of that back to help someone else.  By all means pass my contact details to Kate, I will keep the time after my local talks free to visit Jack". - Roger Browne

"Manchester Jazz, without Mart obviously but with Eric Newton deputising on clarinet, played an afternoon gig at the Sunrise care home in Bramhall yesterday afternoon. It had been booked by Mart, of course, and we were simply fulfilling it, but it was well-attended and enthusiastically received by the residents, many of whom spoke fondly of visits to the Bodega (and other venues) back in the day - and how they sometimes had too much to drink! We thoroughly enjoyed the afternoon and will be going back there later in the year. It sounds to me as though a little negotiation between a local band and the care home where Jack Palmer is staying might enable him and other residents to hear some actual live jazz. There will undoubtedly be other residents who will have been jazz enthusiasts in the past, and Jack would almost certainly find that he's not alone after all".  - Allan Wilcox.

"If you have any contact info I would be very pleased to send Jack Palmer, via his daughter, a CD or two to help him along or set him up with a CD player and earphones etc if necessary". - Martin Bennett.

"I'd be happy to get involved in spending some time with the lady's father chatting jazz. He is on my patch and it kind of ties in with a project I run ' Music Reminiscence Therapy ' which is endorsed by our local Health & Wellbeing Initiative.  We have a number of musical genres within which we operate including, of course, jazz in its many forms. Given the gentleman's location there might be an opportunity for him to enjoy a Sunday afternoon with his daughter at one of the Wyre Levee's sessions at the North Euston Hotel.  If you would like to let me have Katee Abendstern's details I will happily get in touch or you might want to let her have my contact details - Bill Barrow

Jack Palmer and his wife Barbara lived in Ramsbottom and ran a Chemist shop in the centre of town, a few doors away from the Grant Arms Hotel.

I must say that I only played with Jack's band on one occasion, that being in the early 1960's at a venue in Whitefield. At the time, he was playing Banjo but always had the desire to play Cornet.

Jack and I became re acquainted much later when we, Isobel and I moved to Ramsbottom. Jack and I along with Jacks' close friend, pianist John Featherstone, often visited the Eagle Hotel in Rochdale where John Taylor and the Wolverine Jazz Band held weekly sessions. Jack was occasionally asked to sit-in on Cornet which pleased him very much.

My tribute to Jack Palmer takes the form of gratitude for the support and encouragement he provided during the time my wife and I presented the 'Jazz at the Grants' sessions in Ramsbottom; Jack and John attended these sessions regularly.

Thank you for your endeavours,

Barry Aldous.

Hello All

I hope you remember that I contacted you last year regarding ways to help my dad, Jack Palmer, to regain some of his zest for life through Jazz. It's with very great sadness that I'm writing now to let you know that he passed away on 17 April. He had been suffering for some time from vascular dementia, which had deteriorated over the course of last year, and I was unable to interest him in anything except from a couple of pieces of music that he had found on the iPad. He did remember you, Barry, and was pleased that you remembered him. Sadly, he struggled to be able to work any of the technology that would have allowed him to listen to the music that Martin very kindly brought for him, except when we were there.

Fortunately, he didn't have to endure the ravages of Covid-19, and passed away peacefully due to frailty and dementia. His funeral is tomorrow in Lytham St Annes. It is our regret that we can't give him the funeral that he would have wanted, due to the Coronavirus restrictions. He always wanted a procession led by a traditional band. We will play one of the pieces that gave him joy - Exactly Like You. He found a version on You Tube and played it frequently, as he loved to see the dancers on the video as much as to hear the music. Martin, this is also on one of your CDs - if you don't object, I thought I might use your version as the sound may be better.

I'm sorry to bring sad news and I'm so grateful to all of the people who responded so positively to my initial message. I hope that you will say a prayer for him and remember the Jack Palmer Jazz Band.

With love and best wishes and hope that you and your families are staying safe and well.

Kate Abendstern

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