Paul Munnery

RIP 27th Dec 2019

Photo courtesy of Cafe Jazz Cardiff

The following are reproduced from Facebook

27/12/19 -

It with great sadness that I announce the death of trombonist/bandleader Paul Munnery.

He was a great player, and a good friend. We both tried to emulate the same players, particularly J C Higginbotham and Tricky Sam Nanton... Paul always beat me on the Higgy stuff!

His band HARLEM based in the Midlands was a fine vintage bigband that rivalled Sweden's Kustbandet and Vince Giordano's Nighthawks from New York.

Although we didn't meet that often in recent years, when we did we always had a ball! I remember booking him to play 2nd trombone in my bigband at Swanage Jazz Festival about 20 years ago, and he was very nervous about the reading... I said you sit next to me, and you'll be fine! The bugger didn't play a note out of place, and nailed it!

Rest in Peace old pal - see ya somewhere soon....

27/12/19 -

Paul's first great love was the black semi-big band sound of McKinney's Cotten Pickers, Fletcher Henderson, early Ellington, Benny Carter, etc: when we first met, I was a confirmed Condonite: we were both on the trad/New Orleans scene, and both agreed we wanted to do a bit more. Eventually, we played together in bands that could be roughly described as "Mainstream": and Paul was always a joy to work with.

Jim Denham

27/12/19 -

Sorry to hear about Paul. Great guy and bandleader. I played alongside him in Spats Langham's Rhythm Boys for a good few years.

John Hallam

28/12/19 -

Very sad news. I always enjoyed his company and we were near neighbours for a while when he lived near Brecon. A well read man, to boot.

Martin Litton

28/12/19 -

So sorry to hear of Paul's passing. Only played with him a few times, but he kindly have me his "Do You Believe In Love at Sight" McKinney's transcript. I'll now have to torture my Highland Nighthawks guys to get those tricky sax bits right (to say nothing of the Rex Stewart strangulated, screaming, high-register, tight-muted solo!) and play this as a tribute to him. You'll be long remembered dear friend.

Carl Spencer

Messages received via email

29/12/19 -

Another great player and a super chap gone.  What a shock and a loss. So sorry .

Jon Critchley

29/12/19 -

Very sad news to hear of the loss of Paul Munnery.  Great guy, great creative player.  Played with him, perhaps a dozen times around the country.  Always had a good gig!

My sincere condolences to his family and friends.

Howard Murray


Very sad to read that Paul Munnery has passed away . It was always such a pleasure to be in his company and to sing with his band - Harlem A great musician and a lovely character .

My best wishes to his family

Sheila Collier

29/12/19 -

The death of Paul Munnery was a great shock, particularly as we had a text message from him only a week before, confirming that he would see us at the Oxfam Stomp in Birmingham next Friday. He was a big man in every sense, and a dear friend. His finest achievement, of course, was his Harlem Jazz Orchestra - the dedication of the musicians, rehearsing twice a month even when there were no gigs on the horizon, was a tribute to Paul's inspiring leadership. He was loved and respected, and will be greatly missed.

Tony Davis and Judy Eames

29/12/19 -

I met Paul in the early 1990s at the Keswick Jazz Festival when we played for the Lake Records Jazz Band. His spontaneous trombone playing and knowledge of repertoire were amazing. Every year for the next twenty years at Keswick any chance meeting began with his very warm-hearted greeting.

After I moved from Cumbria to Gloucestershire in 2014 it was a joy to meet again, play Jazz together again, and live in the same Severnside Town ! Sharing the journeys to and from gigs presented every opportunity for conversation about Jazz, our Jazz heroes, and revelling in a similar sense of humour. "Bah.. humbug" was his message on my 'phone recently when his call was answered robotically by my 'call minder'. I could only return his call with "Jacob Marley here, did you knock? "

Paul was a masterful trombonist who excelled at playing Jazz , regardless of deteriorating health in recent months. It was always a privilege to be in his company , and I will miss him greatly. I am fortunate to have some kept some excellent recordings, which I often listen to, and will always treasure.

Roy Cansdale

02/01/19 -

Very sorry to hear about Paul Munnery. Paul was very good company as well as being a super trombonist. Over the years we spent a lot of time together on and off stage here and there. Whenever he joined in with The Old Green River Band's northern gigs he would stay with us - something to look forward to as he was always great fun. Thankfully, memories linger on.............

Martin Bennett

03/01/20 -

It has been so lovely to read the wonderful tributes people have written about my dad.

Please could you add the following information about his funeral details to the page:

Friday 17th January at 2.15pm at Cannon Hill Chapel, Canley Crem, Cannon Hill Road, Coventry CV4 7DF. The Wake will be held at the Standard Triumph Club, Herald Avenue, Coventry, CV5 6UB.

I would like to ask that any donations be made to ‘Music for All’, a charity which helps to make learning to play an instrument accessible more accessible to all.

My kindest regards

Sarah Munnery

05/01/20 -

I knew Paul Munnery when he moved to Montgomery, Mid Wales with his then wife Rita. He used to play in the local hotel. He was a really excellent musician and always positive and encouraging. We formed a quartet for a time which eventually ‘melted’ away, as these things often do. 

Jeff Matthews

07/01/20 -

From Upton upon Severn Fest (courtesy Jazz Guide news)

We were deeply sorry to hear of the recent death of the highly acclaimed trombonist, Paul Munnery. Paul has ranked with the greatest of British trombonists playing 1920/30s jazz, for the past 50 years. He played with a huge range of bands, but will be remembered especially for his 11 piece jazz orchestra, Harlem, which he formed in 1981, performing throughout Britain and Europe for 25 years. His great love was the small band sound of 1930s Harlem, in particular the Teddy Wilson small bands. Latterly, his 6 piece band, playing the swing numbers of that era, was his greatest joy.

Paul was a brilliant sidesman, always leaving gaps, but such a hot player he could lift the band to fever pitch with just a few phrases, played in the style of the Harlem trombonist he admired most, J C Higginbotham.

Paul was also a great writer: many CDs bear testimony to this, as well as the numerous shows he turned out both for Harlem, with singers such as Marilyn Middleton, Maxine Daniels, and for his smaller ensembles.

Very few Upton Jazz Festivals passed without his presence; many will remember Harlem playing in their white DJs and wellies! He will be most sorely missed.

09/01/20 -

Another sad loss to the trombone section of Jazz in Britain.

Dave Donohoe.

09/01/20 -

So sorry to hear about Paul. My first meeting was in Bude 1n 1993 when I depped for Duncan Swift in his Harlem Hot 5 an early foot for me into the wider realms of non traditional jazz. His trombone playing was inspirational and J C Higginbotham was always close to his heart. I fortunately had a couple of opportunities to play with "Harlem" whose success was entirely due to his dedication and leadership.

I remember asking him at Upton Festival when playing with Harlem what his policy was with regards to alcohol on stage to which he replied "It's compulsory"

Jon Penn

This is a video sent to me by Ian Royle, and taken when Paul was playing with  'Steve Mellor's Chicago Hoods'.  Unfortunately the taped copy is of very poor video quality, but the sound quality is good enough to appreciate how good a musician Paul was. Here he is with Steve Mellor on reeds, Keith Steven on guitar, Bruce Rollo on bass, "Sir" Alan Buckley on drums and Ian Royle on trumpet. The vocalist, although not featured on this video, was Marilyn Middleton Pollock as she was then known. - Fred Burnett


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