Reg Kenworthy

29/01/13 - 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, Mart Rodger



I 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 b
ecame 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 its
elf. 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].


01/02/13 -

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 - piano

01/02/13 -

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. -

Jenkyn Jones (Jenks)

06/02/13 -

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.

Mike Carnie.

The following 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,
David Hatch
(on behalf of Winnie and the family)"

I also say thank you to those who played Reg down to the Crematorium - Mart

16/03/13 -

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.

Obviously, all 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!

Happy memories.

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