Friday, 26 March 2021

Keith Jennings


Lovely Jazzers,

with heavy heart we must advise the passing of Keith Jennings, one of JATP's original attendees and a regular visitor ever since, albeit with decreasing frequency latterly owing to Keith's advancing years. Keith was a staunch supporter of many aspects of life in Bradford and beyond, politics and the arts being grateful recipients of his efforts which extended to The Priestley Theatre in Little Germany, so when JATP started out there in 2000 on Saturday nights, it might be no surprise to see Keith with his shoulder behind all efforts. I say "might" since I have since learned that "jazz" was not Keith's favourite form of music. Nonetheless, support JATP he did throughout our various venue turmoils over the years, dragging our tables, chairs and piano behind us. Ah! Yes! the piano. JATP members, Patrons, Punters and Musicians produced an unbelievable effort in raising funds for it's purchase, however we would not have that beautiful instrument today, were it not for Keith, who, generous of effort and funds, wrote a cheque for the difference between sums raised and the price of the piano, and this on top of a significant sum paid as deposit to the rapidly collapsing Woods Music Shop, hence the brass plaque on the piano reading "The Keith Jennings Piano". I hope by that, Keith's manifest benevolence and excellent humour throughout, we will ever remember him. Farewell Keith.


We include hereafter the eulogy Steve Arloff read at Keith's funeral

I have spent a long time trying to come up with a narrative to sum up Keith’s life and it’s tricky for how can you sum up such a full and varied one?  I shall try. 

Keith was born in Bradford on the second of July 1927 or as he liked to say it: 2 7 27; nice and neat which is why we selected it as the security code for a safe he once bought. 

Keith made friends easily and had dozens including the Faireys and Wrights who he knew for over 60 years.  Keith had met Ian Fairey through Ian’s book and record shop on Manchester Road or the Left Book Club and went on many holidays with both families down the years.  Music is often an interest that encourages friendships as it’s so nice to be able to share such a passion with others who love it as much.  It is another interest we shared and we have enjoyed going to St George’s Hall for concerts for which Keith always had a season ticket or to Bradford Cathedral for the organ recitals or comparing notes about what music we have heard on Radio3.  

Another passion of his was photography and he spent a couple of years studying it at Hull Art College.  He always bought the best he could afford and in camera terms owned a Rolleiflex which he would use to take people’s photos and Adrian Fairey recalls the many times he and his siblings were obliged to remain motionless until Keith, ever the perfectionist, was satisfied that everything was right to ensure the best result.  This has been very beneficial to the family who have 100s of photos to remind them of happy times. Equally he was fond of showing black & white films which ‘Uncle Keith’ would show at the Fairey’s house each Christmas. 

Before Ian Fairey got a car for himself Keith would cram the whole family into his VW beetle for trips to Filey, one of Keith’s favourite places.

He loved the town of his birth and often as we drove around he’d say “I used to live there” or “Me and me Dad used to buy such and such in a shop that used to stand there”.  Keith loved telling stories about his past and what a phenomenal memory he had; I have never known anyone who was able to pinpoint dates or minutiae more accurately as did Keith.  He could recall with precision specific months if not days he had been to places 70 or more years before.  I remember an example he was fond of recalling about a stay in Cape Wrath in 1946 when he stayed at a tiny B&B and where after being there a week asked how much he owed to which the landlady replied 10/6 and he said what including all the meals? Yes, she said that’ll be fine.

There were many places he enjoyed recalling including Mallaig where he remembered having “the best fish ‘n’ chips I’ve ever had, never mind Harry Ramsden’s!”  He used to go there quite regularly with a good friend Geoff Allonby and others, staying in “a very nice hotel in Fort William where they do everything for us.  It’s expensive mind you but so what” before catching the train to Mallaig.  He would often head off to stay with Adrian in Grange-over- Sands or down to see his only living close relative, cousin Molly down in Somerton.  When he became too old to drive he’d use the train quite happily despite the extortionate cost of the fares about which he bitterly and quite rightly complained.  Locally he would use the bus and would often head off on long, circuitous routes to places like Otley to get his favourite cereal, Force Flakes until the product was axed in 2013.  He’d still go though as he liked the pork pies he could buy at one of Otley’s butcher’s shops.  It didn’t bother him if it took up most of the day as he’d have lunch and a pint while he was there.  When we were together and one of the beers on offer was a Jennings he was fond of quipping “I’d better have one of them as it’s one of my family’s” though as far as he knew that wasn’t true.

When he stopped drinking beer he’d have a gin and tonic and enjoyed calling for “gin and tonic with ice, and don’t forget the lemon” at the pub he and I met in for years even after first John Parkinson then Brian Bicât died.  Initially, we had all met for many years in The Midland Hotel for a coffee before repairing to The Shoulder of Mutton until the brewers decided to take over the meals provision and insisting on higher prices for inferior choices.  We then changed our allegiance to The Fighting Cock.  There as I said he’d enjoy calling for a G&T with ice and lemon despite the fact that he knew full well they didn’t have any lemons and eventually he got the rejoinder from the Sikh barmaid (Bradford really is a special place) “What do you think this is, a cocktail bar?!”  In the end he provided his own lemon just as Brian had provided his own English mustard in a jar because those bloody sachets are so hard to open.  

Keith was a people person who loved being amongst them and went on many holidays with Adrian Fairey and Geoff and another friend to Italy here he’d happily plunge into the pool even in his 80s.  Keith was always the life and soul of the party and loved his food and drink while being able to talk about any subject.  

He was conscripted into the army where he spent time in Egypt where he made another life-long friend Peter. Peter lived in Cornwall and he and his wife loved the Lakes where Keith would meet them for holidays.  He also went to New York with another friend of many decades, Diana Batchelor who sadly passed last October when sod’s law in the shape of a fall and hospitalisation on the very day of the funeral prevented him from being at it. 

He enjoyed telling me about his visit to Czechoslovakia not long after the war when he visited Marianske Lazne and Karlovy Vary and was interested to learn that my wife and I had also been there. As a then member of the CPGB he was fascinated with what the country had achieved by the early 1950s just as he was on a later visit to the GDR where friend Brian Bicât was teaching at the time.  In 2005 I led a group of tourists to Prague and Keith came along during which he and I went swimming where, again, despite his age he dived into the pool.  He also became separated from the group on another day but somehow found his way back to the hotel.

Politics was another of Keith’s, Brian’s and my points of common interest; we all had been members of the CPGB and Keith, like me, had been eager to join the Labour Party as soon as Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader and, like me, left it in disgust the moment Sir Keir Starmer captured the position.  Keith was always a man of unflinching principle and stood by what he believed in right to the end.  Examples of this included his total opposition to war and Britain’s possession of nuclear weapons, his hatred of and opposition to the apartheid system in South Africa, his opposition to the American war on Vietnam, his support of Cuba and his delight in its successes, his support for the miners during their 1984 year-long strike, his support for the Morning Star and Daily Worker before it backed by generous donations of up £1000 on more than one occasion. 

He was also generous closer to home and despite the fact that he was not all that partial to jazz, because Brian & I had formed a jazz club in 2000 and which still runs today Keith came along to our gigs to support us and even ended up being an honorary committee member, having donated £2000 towards buying the club a piano even though he had already lost a £700 deposit on one at Woods Music Shop who were happy to take it even though they knew they were headed for bankruptcy.  Hence our piano bears a small plaque on it that reads: The Keith Jennings Piano.

He was equally generous with his time volunteering as a barman on the bar at the Priestley Theatre in Chapel Street for many years, going down there night after night and donning his apron before serving drinks to the audience members.  Almost as soon as he had retired, he volunteered to hear children read at the Miriam Lord Primary School for several years and I’m sure the kids loved it when it was Uncle Keith’s day for a visit.  In addition, for a number of years he acted as a crossing patrol man or ‘Lollipop man’ as they are affectionately known.

Brian always admired Keith as a true ‘son of the working class’ who had variously worked at a blacksmith’s, for the Forestry Commission and, for many years at the Water Board.  However, he didn’t stay long when he once worked for Prudential Insurance, which he hated. 

Brian wrote a parody of the Red Flag to celebrate Keith’s 80th birthday which time prevents me reading now but if weather permits I will read it at the graveside later, I might even sing it!


Tune: The Red Flag

                1.

A hero of the working class

The monarchy can kiss his arse

The House of Lords and Commons too

He knows what they are all up to

His dad knew all about the score

He wasn’t going to the war

And went to prison rather than

His uncle followed in t’can

                 2.

Great Horton was Keith’s first abode

In Bradford, near the Queensbury Road

To school he went and learned to read

And all the maths he’d ever need

His lessons there he ne’er forgot

Wrote copper plate without a blot

But Keith grew up, knew what was what

He knew the system was a plot

                  3.

VE and J in forty-five

And very glad to be alive

But to the army Keith must go 

For via Suez oil must flow

So o’er to Egypt Keith was sent

To keep the Empire their intent

To heat and dust and sand and flies

King and Country ? pack o’ lies.

                    4.

So underneath their sweaty caps

Photography and making maps

The point of this was never clear

“There’s nowt but sand from here to here”

Then came some leave, he took the train

To Holy Land, the land of Cain

And thence to Haifa, won a bet

Sailed to Cyprus, joined jet set

                     5.

Then out of army, what to do ?

To work for profit he’d eschew

“Planting trees will keep me lissom

And there’s the Forestry Commission”

He went where once dwelt Robin Hood

(But found no Marian in the wood)

“No matter, I’m a bachelor free

And nothing’s lovelier than a tree”

                        6.

But Sherwood glades began to tire

He sought more challenge to inspire

Harwood Dale his wish to grant

A million spruce trees there to plant

At Langdale End though toil was heavy

The Moorcock Inn purveyed some bevy

But all the same, no girls, no flicks

It really was out in the sticks

                         7.

For Keith, a man of culture he

Had learned a lot from programme three

The music world became an itch

Yehudi and Moiseivitch

So back to Bradford and the Halle

(With Barbarolli he’d get pally)

T’Waterworks to earn some brass

Join t’Union, fight for his class

                         8.

The Party too he served right well 

Until he thought they’d gone to hell

So cast his lot with Gerry Healey*

(An aberration, surely, really!)

Then came the day the blacksmith’s striker

Was bid goodbye, “get on your biker!”

The water workers were down-sized

The bloody lot got privatised!

                          9.

Since then he’s cherished friends with ruth

He’s even cherished Jazz, forsooth

The piano fund a new obsession

He’ll tap you if you care to mention 

All hail to him, a friend so dear

To meet again and drink some beer

Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer 

He keeps the red flag flying here.

*I should just mention that the Gerry Healey mentioned in Brian’s tribute refers to the Socialist Labour League which became the Socialist Workers Party.  Keith always tried to do what he thought was correct politically.

He’d go and spend weekends at Diana Batchelor’s where he would help in the garden well into his 80s.

He loved celebrating his birthday with many guests at The Oakwood in Bingley and at many other meals there in between with his great friends the Faireys and Wrights.  It was on such an occasion to celebrate the Fairey’s silver wedding that he, along with most others, chose duck which, unfortunately turned out to be tough leading to Keith bringing the house down by declaring “I think they’ve given me the decoy!”

He would enjoy coming with my wife and her Mum and I to Dick Hudson’s or The White Hart, Pool in Wharfedale, where if it was a nice summer’s day, he would enjoy sitting outside sipping his Pimms (with all the trimmings).  He could certainly put it away and that’s another thing we have in common and would always insist on starter, main course and dessert washed down with a nice bottle of red wine.

Another friend he made many years ago is Diane Bentley who runs a shop called The Souk at the top of Haworth close to The Parsonage.  He was a lucky man to have Diane as a friend for no one has been more solicitous while he has been bedridden these last many months.  She has been a rock spending many, many hours seeing to his needs be it provisions or support and was with him right at the very end holding his hand and speaking words of comfort.

So, you see that it takes a lot to give even a sense of the broad sweep of such a full life and this has only scratched the surface.  It is often said about people who have passed that after them ‘they broke the mould’; it was never truer in his case for we shall never see his like again.

Farewell Keith, it was a joy and a privilege to have known you.







Monday, 22 February 2021

JAZZ NORTH’S JAZZ CAMP FOR GIRLS

PRESS RELEASE
JAZZ NORTH’S JAZZ CAMP FOR GIRLS MAKES AN ONLINE RETURN WITH A BROADER OFFER FOR GIRLS AGED 10-15 YEARS Jazz North has teamed up with a range of partners to deliver a broader programme for this year’s Jazz Camp for Girls. The ‘Online Musical Adventures Day’ will give girls aged 10-15 years old the chance to discover computer coding to make music, graphic scores, improvising using nature, interpreting jazz standards, and can enjoy an introduction to music journalism, photography, and podcasting in the jazz world. Jazz Camp for Girls will take place on Saturday 6th March from 10am until 4.30pm and costs just £10. There will be morning and afternoon sessions giving the girls the chance to have a better and deeper experience of the topics delivered by Women in Jazz Media, Conductive Music, J Frisco, Creative Heights, and BlueJam Arts. All sessions are open to girls of mixed abilities. Moving the camp online was first tried out in 2020 when the first lockdown was enforced. “After the success of Jazz Camp for Girls 2019, we made the camp bigger for 2020 by taking it to more places across the north of England. Then Covid hit and the last session was delivered on Zoom with Lara Jones and Megan Roe from J Frisco,” explains Project Manager Helena Summerfield. “This year we wanted to keep the momentum going and were inspired by what Lara and Megan had achieved. Delivering the camp online has enabled the project to grow and will give the girls a different way of looking at music through coding, nature, photography, journalism, and graphic scores. I am delighted that we have a new partnership with Women in Jazz Media as this has allowed us to introduce workshops in areas we haven’t covered before. The day aims to give girls a positive experience of being creative and the opportunity to find out about different careers in the music industry.” Musician and journalist Fiona Ross founded Women in Jazz Media to promote and celebrate women who work in jazz media, and she has gathered photographers, filmmakers, podcasters, musicians, and journalists to deliver workshops at Jazz Camp for Girls. “We are very excited to partner with Jazz Camp for Girls for the first time!” says Fiona. “Our work at Women in Jazz Media is all about encouraging and supporting a more diverse jazz community and addressing the gender imbalance and this works beautifully with the incredible work of Jazz Camp for Girls. The jazz industry needs to see more female journalists, writers, photographers etc., as well as musicians and composers to address the historic gender imbalance, so it is a perfect match for us to work together on this project... please see attached press release for full story. Those interested in Jazz Camp for Girls can book via the Jazz North website: https://www.jazznorth.org/jazz-camp-for-girls/



Monday, 21 December 2020

SEASON’S GREETING FROM JATPjazz

 Dearest Jazz Nuts,

 

it's been a while since our last herald. Despite all the turmoil and confusion of tiers and case rate statistics, it seems to us like things haven't changed much, especially where prospect of safe, live jazz is concerned. If we have learned one thing from the shifting tiers and the unnecessary confusion, it is that Covid-19 is NOT something to be trifled with, as evidenced by the new variant apparently ripping through our Countryfolk in the South East. Whilst being uncomfortably restrictive, we believe the measures applied to us, and additional ones which we choose to follow ourselves, are vital in minimising transmission so that mortality rates are minimised and the NHS, which itself has barely recovered from the first "wave", is not further overloaded.

Of course we, as we are sure do you, yearn for a return to normality - freedom even - when JATPjazz will return. We are certain that widespread uptake of vaccines will hasten that day when once again we can see and hear great live jazz play.

And so, with less than the usual Yuletide "sparkle" but with sincere hope in our hearts, we of the JATPjazz Committee would like to wish you a Merry Christmas and a much Happier 2021.

Do stay safe and keep well and we look forward to rejoining as soon as possible in 2021.

 

Compliments of the Season to All

 

JATPjazz Committee

Sunday, 4 October 2020

An Update . .

Dear supporters

 

We hope you are all well in these very trying times. It’s been a while since we gave you an update on how the JATP committee read the current situation and what are thoughts are regarding putting on gigs once again. Our last gig was on the 6 March, the Sam Leak Trio. Little did we know then...

 

In August, after the country had come out of lock-down, we asked those on our mailing list what their thoughts were about JATP putting on jazz again, how comfortable would they feel about coming down and attending a gig. For perfectly understandable reasons, the overall impression was one of reservation, with 42% thinking it was definitely too early, 22% undecided and just 36% confident they would come along. Part of the exercise was to gauge whether gigs would be economically viable, and on these figures we thought that would be very challenging. There is also clearly the question of the safety of our audience to consider, and we listened to the concerns which were raised and considered what steps we could take to make our gigs as safe as possible. We finally came to the view that the wisest course of action was not to rush back but wait a bit longer to see how things developed in the interests of everyone’s safety. 

 

Depressingly, just as it appeared that we might have emerged from the worst of the pandemic, all the statistics have started to accelerate in the wrong direction, as we know. Although ever more national and local restrictions are being imposed, which can create their own practical difficulties, there appears to be a consensus that we could be heading for a second peak of the disease. Above and beyond any commercial considerations, we would be mortified if anybody fell ill because they came to one of our gigs. Under all the circumstances therefore, we still feel it’s too early to go back to putting on live jazz.

 

This is a frustrating situation for us, our members, patrons and supporters. We will of course continue to monitor the situation and really appreciate your continued support.


Take Care and Stay Safe


JATP Committee

Sunday, 26 July 2020

Appeal for views on post-lockdown JATPjazz live gigs

Dear JATPjazzgoers,

Hope this missive finds you well and in good spirits (the emotional sort – I imagine the alcoholic variant is long-since soaked-in?)

An Update

On cessation of events, we promised to keep you abreast of matters – a promise I think we’ve largely honoured in various formats and forums – though very largely matters remain beyond our control.

The latest news is we are tentatively exploring the resumption of jazz gigs at the glorious Bradford Latvian Club, although this will not be until 02 October at the earliest.
 
A Question
 
Of course preparations are all very well if they are indeed put to the test by keen jazz-goers which brings me to the point:  do you feel ready, able and, more importantly, willing to attend jazz gigs as yet, or do your instincts still outweigh the urging of Government? 
Please understand, this is not an appeal for footfall or a call to “jazz arms”. It is solely an attempt at assessing the degree of interest and based on the nature of interest, we can consider the economic viability for both JATP and Bradford Latvian Club. If “the numbers work”, we can then apply good sense and guidelines to risk assessments, venue preparation, non-contact methods of payment, “electronic” ticketing (as a means of limiting numbers if found necessary – never ever thought I’d have that issue at a jazz gig!), table plans, mid-set access & egress routes, maintenance of social distancing, and work out sensible one-way routes to bar and toilets (not necessarily in that order of course) to name but a few of the many challenges.
Of course we realise that Covid-19 remains amongst us – the best we can ALL do is minimise the risk of transmission. We realise also that the typical jazz demographic very much puts most of us in the “vulnerable age group”.
 
So we beseech you to take the time to respond to this enquiry of interest with your honest views whatever they are. We need to know so that we can prepare or preserve our war chest for more normal days.
 
I look forward to hearing from you all
 
Take Care, Stay Safe
 
JATPJazz Committee

Sunday, 28 June 2020

Lockdown "easement" update

Dearest Jazzers,

We hope you are all keeping well and treating lockdown "easement" with the large dollop of common sense required.
We are now in the odd situation where venues may open yet hold no live gigs so we are forced to officially cancel the Shirley Smart Gig of 03 July 2020 and in so doing draw a line under JATPjazz' 2019/2020 season.
We thank you for your attendance, enthusiasm and support whilst regretting we could not complete the season. We look forward to a vaccine and/or effective treatment for Covid-19 as soon as humanly possible, and that such a situation might arrive before our planned commencement of our 2020/2021 season on 4th September.

Meantime, as many health and scientific experts continue to wisely repeat - lockdown may have eased up but Covid-19 has not - we hope you stay safe and well in these most challenging of times, hoping we can safely reconvene in September and welcome an audience in the full knowledge that none will suffer as a result.

Please take care. In truth, very little has changed.

We wish you all well

JATPjazz Committee

Friday, 29 May 2020

Update : Suspension of Events

Dearest Jazzers,

We hope you are all keeping well and staying home for the most part.
Having reviewed the current Covid-19 situation and the latest Government stipulations, we regret to advise that the 06 June gig with the Rob Luft Band is cancelled. We await further easing of Covid-19 Regulations preventing such events and we will review the situation again in that light and advise further as soon as possible.

We hope to be back where we belong at Bradford Latvian Club in the not too distant future and hope you will bear with us in the meantime.

Please stay safe and hopefully virus-free until happier, more normal days return.
We wish you all well

JATPjazz Committee