21/10/15 - Derek Skepper has passed on the news from his family, that Maurice Gavan died peacefully in hospital at 10.20 pm on Monday night, 19th Oct 2015
22/10/15 - The following is from the top of my head; no time to consult my records!
What very sad news! I can imagine how devastated Maureen and their Family must be. Maurice was a great clarinettist and pianist; extremely versatile, with a good line of patter and showmanship. He was also a gentleman among gentlemen. What a void he leaves! I always like to recall when I last played with someone on the scene. It was at Don Long's funeral at the Midland Hotel, West Didsbury. So that was in November 2007, as Don died on October 29th.Maurice Gavan was a regular 'dep' with most of the army of bands that once graced the Manchester Jazz scene. I remember him mostly from bands in which I was also playing at the time. These include: the Sunset Seven in the 1950s and 60s, the Art Taylor All Stars, and Art Taylor Jump Band (I was only in one of the last two bands briefly). Maurice was sometimes on clarinet and others on piano. When Chris Berry joined one of Art's bands on clarinet, Maurice dextrously gravitated, just as easily, to piano, making no fuss, just as when Chris Holmes took over on piano. He was with one of the later versions of the Jazz Aces, when they were still at the Thatched House, about 1961. He play played on a clarinet that was quite some weight. I remember Ken Parkinson calling him "The Man With The Solid Oak Clarinet". Ken once led a version of the Jazz Aces (1960-62).
Maurice teamed up with bassist Derek Pearce in the mid-70s-early 80s. Later it was "Kangaroo Dave" (Dave Gregory -- adopted Australian) on bass and vocals; "George" (who was in the rag trade, and I think he became the "George" of ASDA fame) on drums, was later replaced by my old mate Mike Carnie. The quartet was called the Derek Maurice Four, unless they had a guest front-line player, in which case, Quintet. Harold Salisbury was their favourite guest. I was never jealous! I guested or depped quite a few times, because I was only about four miles up the A6 in Levenshulme. The regular gig they had secured, was at that lovely old hotel on Aytoun Street, "The Grand Hotel". Some of it was already a bit dilapidated, yet that old nostalgia still permeated its halls and corridors with a dark pink appearance, that could be rather warming to the visitor.
Before I became a little too involved in linguistic work for the British Government at Cheltenham, when gigs came up in the Bolton, Blackburn or Darwin areas, I travelled to Maurice's place by bus or train, and joined Maureen, Maurice and their little family for tea a few times. At Christmas, we used to exchange cards. I had forgotten about this, but when I was a cartoonist (very unsuccessfully, I might add) , Maurice's children told him that I used to draw cartoons for them while they were only small. They never forgot, but I did!
Maurice later played with Don Long at Ganders Go South, at the back and in a basement below, Barton Arcade, on piano mostly. Twelve years later, after I came back from Gloucestershire, so many things had changed. Maurice, his family and I had lost touch, Maurice and I only meeting at funerals. However, I was pleased to know that Maurice was still playing both instruments, with Keith Allcock (d/bs), Derek Skepper (tpt), the late and much missed Dick Nancarrow (dms) in the appropriately named The Jazz Gentlemen, first at Rainford, and later at a new venue that I never got to visit. I got to play with them, when Don Long was still alive. You were there that night, Fred. Within a year or so, poor old Don was dead, his lovely wife Mary, not long after. Don's permanent replacement was my other old mate from the Manchester Old Fashioned Love Band, the Dallas J/B and Zenith Six -- Terry Brunt. I'm sure that Maurice must have played with many other bands, including those that he formed between decades. Sorry that I didn't know them all. Wherever these bands and venues were, he will be missed with great sadness by those who knew him as a favourite entertainer and friend.
22nd October 2015
I am so sorry to hear about the death of Maurice Gavan. I knew from Derek Skepper and Keith Alcock that he had been unwell for quite a while. He was a fine musician as a pianist with the Jazz Gentlemen and the Smokey City on clarinet prior to that, as well as being a great chap too. I am sure that I speak for the chaps in the Merseys when I ask that our sincere sympathy be sent to his family and that he will be much missed by lots of musicians in the jazz fraternity.
Peter Fryer (Merseysippi Jazz Band)
Heard the sad news about Maurice Gavan from Keith Allcock at Mondays session.
Maurice was a fine musician with great taste and I used to love his music. He had a fantastic sense of humour, always had a funny story to tell. God bless you Maurice , it was a pleasure to have known you.
Peter Darwin (Merseysippi Jazz Band)
I was sad to hear the bad news of the loss of Maurice Gavan, an early mentor of mine. He introduced me to the then, very active jazz scene in the rural Lancashire scene of the 70/80s and I acquired a lot of work and inevitably, lots of experience. The Golden Cross in Oswaldtwistle.. Norman Entwistle country, Norman Fisk (Fiskie) not to be forgotten. I still play the Golden Cross Blues. At this time I was introduced to another jazz, life-long friend, Eric Ainsworth from whom further stylistic/ harmonic techniques & influences were absorbed.
In those days jazz was often sneaked into 'dance' gigs and I did several consecutive New Years' Eve gigs at a golf club in Walkden with Maurice and one of his sons on drums, poss Derek Brown on bass.
Later, when I was with the Smoky City band,
I had the opportunity to introduce Maurice
to the band. We played alongside for some
Favourite oft-told anecdote (by both of us) was of Maurice's University days and a college jazz band. News had arrived that their piano player was about to leave. Maurice offered to shift to piano if required. They declined. They'd still need to find a clarinet player and anyway somebody had another possible pianist in mind. This new guy accepted and a first rehearsal was arranged. All was set up.. An opening number was selected and counted in...
Maurice said "I just stopped dead at this new-comer's playing, way out of our league! At the end of the number, he asked somebody "Who the Hell is this? Where'd you find this guy?"
It was the as yet unknown Uni. student of classical organ....Dudley Moore!!! Can't compete with that, can you?
of an era for me...
I was so sorry to hear the sad news about Maurice. As well as being a fellow musician I will always remember him as a dear friend and wonderful musician. I was with him for about 5 years, playing drums along with Mike Reddin (guitar & banjo ) and Derek Pierce on Double Bass ( Later with Dave Gregory on Bass & vocals ) Maurice was a true gentleman, and his wit was second to none. He will be very sadly missed and remembered for all the happy times.
My wife & I send our deepest sympathy to Maurine, Peter and Ian and thinking of them all at this very sad time