- Dear Fred, I’ve just heard
from Mike the close friend of Reg Kenworthy.
It is about 8.15pm, Monday 28th January and Reg passed away 2 hours ago.
We have all lost a wonderful friend and an excellent bass player. Reg
has made plans for his funeral at Stockport Crematorium and the date
will be confirmed soon. I have said that we musicians will be there to
take part in any way to give Reg the good send off which he is entitled
to. I will let you know when I hear the full details. Best Wishes,
"REG" KENWORTHY, BASSIST WITH
"THE SAINTS JAZZ BAND" FOR DECADES, HAS LEFT US.
was very sorry to hear the sad news about my old ex-Saints’
colleague Reg Kenworthy. Of course, we were all expecting this at
some time around now, given the nature of his illness. It is always,
nevertheless a shock when it actually happens. Please thank Mart
Rodger on our behalves for passing on the news; otherwise, we might
not have heard anything.
Since this was first published on Fred’s site, I have attended the
funeral, and have inserted further details into the original
article, including names of Reg.’s family members.
The Rowan Chapel was overflowing, with some 90 to 100 mourners, in
attendance, including the following musicians who led the parade
from the Cemetery gates, to the Rowan Chapel, and
played for the mourners as they entered and exited the Chapel.
Leading the band on clarinet, was Mart Rodger, flanked by, fellow
members of Manchester Jazz, Eric Brierley and Colin Smith and
another excellent but unidentified musician (tubas); a snare-drummer whose name I likewise
don’t know, along with Sam Woods and Tony Dunleavy (trombones); Ged
Hone (trumpet); Howard Murray (alto sax.) and myself (tenor sax.).
That completes the line-up of the band. Among the tunes we played,
were “I want a girl, like the girl who married dear old Dad”, very
appropriately “The Saints” and “Back home again in Indiana.
Apart from Reg.’s family and the band, other mourners included: John
and Kathy Gordon-Sinton; Derek and Trish Galloway, Geoff Wilde, Tony
Smith, Bert Allen, Nigel Cretney, Mr. & Mrs. Ken Marley, Mrs.
Dunleavy, Pete & Margaret Ward, Mrs. Janet Rodger, Bill Smith (Reg.
played for several years in the Smoky City Six), Dave Berry, Dave
Lunt, Dave Copperwaite, Stuart Wren, Mike and Sue Carnie and John
Muskett. Mike frequently visited Reg., in the final stages of his
illness. Reg. had played until a year or so ago in Mike’s band,
until he became too ill. If there is anyone I have overlooked,
please accept my sincerest apology (senior moments).
Our thoughts and prayers are with Winnie, who Reg. worshipped, and
their children Glenn and Gillian, granddaughters Laura, Daniel and
Carly, his brother Geoffrey, and great-grandchildren Mayela, Leon,
Ana and Reuben. May I add my own personal condolences here along
with ALL on the Manchester Jazz scene, who heard and enjoyed Reg.'s
excellent bass-playing over the decades.
Poor Mike, his loyal friend, was a martyr to the cause, ferrying
Reg. about on gigs in a big van until only some months ago. Since
then, he was attending to Reg. day and night, through all the
traumatic phases of his cancer. He must be gutted. Reg. passed away
at approximately 6 a.m. on the 28th of January 2013. Sadly, Mike
became extremely exhausted after many months of attending to Reg.,
lifting him bodily when necessary. At the funeral, he was visibly
ill and on crutches. Such was his dedication, that it recently
provoked a mild stroke. But, knowing that Reg. was so ill and
needing his help all the time, Mike discharged himself – not once
but twice - from hospital , so that he could continue seeing to
Reg’s needs. What a friend!
Reg., contrary to popular belief, wasn't a founder-member of The
Saints Jazz Band. They had all started as The Storyville Jazz Band
in Ashton-under-Lyne in 1948. By 1949, becoming more popular by the
minute, they adopted their 'Saints' label, and went from strength to
strength very quickly, at first with a weekly residency at the
Thatched House until 1953, when after their Festival Hall Concert
before H.M. The Princess Elizabeth, they secured a prestigious
residency at the Grosvenor Hotel, Deansgate. According to Tony
Smith, who frequently stood in for Mike McNama (trumpet) the Saints
also played at Darwen Jazz Club, as Tony was living there at the
time. In 1954 when the Grosvenor decided to replace the Jazz Room
with a Palm Court-styled ambience and a Classical ensemble, the band
moved to the Lancashire Society of Jazz Music's
new venue on Cross Street, the
Bodega Restaurant, on the corner of Cross Street and Back Pool Fold
(remember where everyone who drove parked their cars?).
Reg. joined the band about seven years after they had gained their
permanent foothold in the City's Jazz venues. He wasn't a bassist
then, but a dance-band pianist. Once again Tony Smith has come to
the rescue to tell me how Reg. actually decided to join the band as
a bassist. Reg., who was the son of the owner of a tobacconist shop
in Ashton-under-Lyne, was a “roadie” (road manager for the band),
found out that the regular bassist, was leaving this now very famous
British recording Jazz band, and was obviously determined enough to
learn to play the instrument from scratch, in order to join the
band. It was a remarkable feat in itself. This is what Rod Hopton
wrote in his lengthy article about the band (available, courtesy of
Just Jazz Magazine and Fred's excellent website, on which it is
copied in its entirety:
"... Ron Simpson was the first to leave the original group in 1952,
and Fred Fydler took over on trombone, vocals and chatting up the
girls. Fred was a great humorist and an asset to the band, with a
good singing voice and a Jack Teagarden-style trombone. Reg
Kenworthy joined the band after bass player Tom Gregory left in 1956
to follow his career as a designer. Reg had heard from someone that
a bass player was needed, and although he had only played piano
until then, he asked Tom to stay on a while longer to give him time
to purchase and learn to play double bass, which he managed to do
well enough to join after about 12 weeks ...".
Reg's second feat was the minimal length of time in which he picked
up the very basic rudiments of being a bassist and of the cumbersome
instrument itself. It has
to be some kind of record. Then, Reg. was always a brainy
individual; otherwise, he wouldn't have made it as a psychiatrist.
We must leave that aspect of his long career in the care of better
equipped experts in that field.
Tony Smith also jogged my memory about something that I later
recalled. Probably up to the late 1960s/early 70s, the band used to
drive around in a converted Rolls Royce hearse. It had been fitted
with seats similar to bus seats. I much later remembered that, in
the 60s, I had travelled as a ‘dep.’ for Alan Radcliffe (clt), for a
Sunday evening gig at the Leofric Hotel, Coventry. Anyway, Tony
pointed out that when he was gigging with The Saints, on long
journeys, Mike McNama would insist on singing Irish rebel songs. The
late Fred Fydler couldn’t stand it; Mike insisted on keeping the
singing going, and Fred would invariably start a fight.
Reg. went on to play with The Saints as its only bassist, until the
band with only the late John ("Ed.") Fish as the last remaining
founder-member, at the Saints' last session in 1984 at the Valley
Lodge Hotel, Wilmslow, where just months before Denis Gilmore, Ian
Royle (trumpets), Rod Hopton (trombone). Denis Grundy and Mike
Carnie (drums), the lovely Julie Flynn (vocalist extraordinaire) and
yours truly on reeds, played some of the band's final sessions. Reg.
and Ed. had held the band together with many deps., over the
decades. The two ex-Saints went on to form trios and quartets for a
number of years, and playing individually as deps. in other bands.
When Ed. Fish decided to quit the trade, Reg. was later recruited by
the Smoky City Six, Manchester Jazz, fellow ex-Saints Mike Carnie's
All-Stars, and other local Jazz groups until some time in 2012, when
diagnosed with Cancer. It has been yet another sad end to another
long and brilliant career in Jazz. As an ex-Saint myself I was proud
to be at his funeral. Thanks to Mart Rodger and Fred Burnett, we
received all the relevant details in a timely fashion.
As we saw above, almost one-hundred people were present to pay our
last respects to Reg. May The Lord have mercy on his soul.
Joe A A Silmon-Monerri ("Joe Silmon")
Manchester, UK, 30th January 2013 [updated 7th February, 2013].
I am saddened to
learn of the loss of Bass player Reg Kenworthy. I met him quite late
in his career - mainly through working with the Mike Carnie Jazz All
Stars during 'the noughties'. We played a variety of gigs and
venues, and he was known to me as 'Rocking Reg'. I liked his
enduring habit of arriving at each gig with a small measure of
whisky - which he had 'blended' himself, and I'm glad I have his
bass playing on Mike Carnie's 'On The Road' CD to remember him by. I
note that in the photograph of Reg on Fred's Jazz site, he is
wearing a 'musical' tie which I gave to him as part of the required
band 'uniform'. Rocking Reg was a true character - a 'jazzman'
through and through. We all miss him.
Derek Harrison -
I was very
sorry to read of Reg's death this morning. I had been friendly with
him for several years, & we continued our friendship by email when
he became ill. I had failed to get any replies recently, and feared
the worst, but Mike Carney assured me that he would pass on any
messages I had for him. Reg was a true gentleman, & a great
musician. He will be sorely missed. My condolences to his family, &
also to his great buddy & loyal friend, Michael. -
I was so sorry to
hear the sad news about Reg Kenworthy. Reg played with my band for
about 7 years, and I enjoyed being along side him as part of the
rhythm section in the band. He enjoyed his jazz so much and his
accurate playing and incredible sense of timing was second to none.
He did like his little tipple on stage which was his own mix of
Bourbon, Black Bush and something else ( can't remember) which I
must say was the best whisky I have ever tasted.
Reg left the band
about 12 months ago which I think was the beginning of his illness,
but I made a point of keeping in touch with him on a regular basis.
Each time we chatted, he was so positive, and never complained about
anything, always asking about the lads in the band and where we were
playing next. Reg to me was not only a gentleman, but a great bass
player who will be missed by all his family and many of his musical
friends. Sue and I will always remember Reg with extreme fondness.
email was sent to Mart from Reg's son-in-law David, who gave me
permission to publish it.
"It was a very appropriate way to give a valued fellow musician an
emotional send-off, and jazz seems such an appropriately informal
style of music for a secular funeral. Winnie was very moved.
It was a shame that she was so overcome by the occasion that she
simply couldn't face the mass of mourners afterwards. Back home
afterwards she was pretty much in a state of shock, probably as she
came to terms with the fact that Reg was finally gone.
The funeral was what we'd hoped for - a celebration of Reg's life
amongst family and fellow musicians. For me, it should have dwelt
less on his final illness, since this had been so untypical of the
rest of his life, and for Winnie the past year was a miserable time,
as you'll imagine.
So, can you pass on the family's profound thanks to the band
members? An unforgettable musical bracketing of a superb
Celebration. You did Reg proud.
With kind regards,
(on behalf of Winnie and the family)"
say thank you to those who played Reg down to the Crematorium -
Its a few weeks
since Reg's funeral, but I thought you might be interested in an
account of how I met Reg.
I first met Reg at a Sunday night session at the Jodrell Arms in
Whaley Bridge. This is the pub on the station, often confused with
the Railway Hotel at the bottom of the station approach which I
believe was run by Syd Lawrence at one time. "Jazz at the Jodrell"
was started by Cornet and Flugel Horn player Phil Taylor. The
session ran from about the middle of 1994 through to Christmas 1995,
when there was a change of management - a familiar story!
Phil had assembled a fine band: Reg on Bass, Ed Fish on Piano and
Nigel Cretney on Drums. Alongside Phil on the front line was Pete
Haslam on Trombone and Sammy Reynolds on Reeds. At some stage Sammy
left, but I can't remember who replaced him. Reg sometimes did an
interval number on piano, usually to accompany a guest singer. Reg
didn't miss many nights, but I remember Mike Dexter doing the
occasional dep. I already knew Mike from the Wednesday night
sessions at the Cheshire Cheese in Buxton. I met Bill Oldham for the
first time at the Jodrell, Bill was the regular replacement for
Pete. There isn't room here to describe my subsequent experiences
with Bill! Paul Medina was another dep on trombone.
From the start the band welcomed any sitters-in during the second
set, so I took the opportunity to introduce myself and was invited
to join in. At this time I hadn't been playing jazz for very long
and with hindsight I was rather "green". However, I remember a lot
of friendly encouragement from everybody. When I started to sit-in I
asked to play tunes that I knew, then I chose tunes off Phil's play
list for the evening. Eventually I just got up and played whatever
tune was called, so I look back on that period as my "formative
years" for that style of music.
the regulars got to know Reg's friend Mike who did the driving and
supplied drinks from the bar as and when required. I'm sure Reg's
usual drink was Guinness, accompanied by sips from the famous hip
flask. I was once allowed to sample Reg's special blend and it was
lovely! Reg did tell me the recipe but I had forgotten. I'm pleased
the secret was revealed at the funeral, I've made a note and I'll
try it myself one day.
I would usually drive to the Jodrell with my partner. Sometimes she
was doing something else in the early evening so I would get the
train from Buxton and we would meet up at the pub later. One night
there was a delay for some reason, and I was sitting for ages with a
pint and an orange juice in front of me. It looked as if I'd been
stood-up, and I remember Reg making some comments along those lines!