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Humph and Coe

Humph : John DeakinThis picture of Humphrey Lyttelton rehearsing with his band some time in the 1960s is currently to be seen in a show of the work of John Deakin on the northern fringe of Soho, amid the portraits of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, the Bernard brothers and other notable figures of post-war London’s bohemian society. Next to the trumpeter, unidentified, is a young alto saxophonist: none other than the phenomenally gifted Tony Coe, on his way to becoming one of the distinguished musicians ever produced by the British jazz world, although no one seems to talk about him much now.

Three other musicians are visible, and I would guess — although someone will probably put me straight — that they’re the trombonist John Picard, the drummer Eddie Taylor and the bassist Pete Blannin. Humph began his musical life as a New Orleans revivalist, but his approach broadened to encompass mainstream jazz and he employed many excellent musicians who were sympathetic to more modern styles. I’d love to have been present to hear how this line-up sounded the day Deakin, a former Vogue photographer who lived the Soho life to the full, took his camera to record them.

* Under the Influence: John Deakin and the Lure of Soho is at the Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies Street, London W1F 7LW, until July 11.

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One Comment Post a comment
  1. I agree with you Richard about Tony Coe, certainly a hugely gifted player. By my reckoning this year on November 29th will be Tony’s 80th birthday. The London Jazz Festival a few weeks previously offers a perfect opportunity to celebrate this quiet, diffident, man’s unique talent.

    May 1, 2014

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