Ken Clarke's Jazz Greats

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Ken Clarke joins Radio 4 to indulge himself in his passion for jazz.as he profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th century.

There was a one-off broadcast of an unnamed episode to replace a news programme on 20050523

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Episodes

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0101Kenny Clarke20020205

Former Chancellor of the Exchequer Ken Clarke joins Radio 4 to indulge himself in his passion for jazz.as he profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th century.

There was a one-off broadcast of an unnamed episode to replace a news programme on 20050523He discusses his namesake drummer Kenny Clarke, and talks to Nat Peck, a member of the Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland band.

0102Billie Holiday20020212

Today, Billie Holiday, whose life equipped her perhaps better than any other to sing the blues. He talks to her biographer John Chilton.

0103 LASTJohn Coltrane20020219

Today, John Coltrane, who did everything - work, drugs, religion - to excess.

0201Ella Fitzgerald2003040120030801
20030921 (R4)

In the first of four programmes, he talks to Britain's Queen of Jazz, Dame Cleo Laine about the First Lady of Song - Ella Fitzgerald. When Dame Cleo won her first Grammy in 1985, Ella sent two dozen roses and a note reading, 'Congratulations, gal and about time, too. Love Ella.' The admiration was mutual. "

0202Miles Davis2003040820030808
20031005 (R4)

This edition features Miles Davis, who lit the path followed by a succession of hopeful imitators. He talks to top trumpeter, Guy Barker about the man who changed everything - then changed it again and again and again. As the two men wallow in their admiration, they both agree that the man, Miles Davis, was incomparable.

0203Charles Mingus2003041520030815
20031012 (R4)

was a virtuoso bass player, a legendary band leader and prolific composer. His genius however came with its own price tag. Emotionally he swung from the extremes of love to violence, once even knocking out the tooth of his trombone player Jimmie Knepper in a fight. Ken Clarke explores the music and life of this extraordinary figure with his widow, Sue Mingus.

0204 LASTCount Basie2003042220030822
20031019 (R4)

William 'Count' Basie was the most influential band leader of the swing era. Not only did he maintain a strong jazz influence in what was essentially dance music, but the musicians he hired were the finest of their generation, and generations to follow. Ken Clarke talks to sax player Dave Gelly about this monumental figure in the history of jazz.

0301Duke Ellington2004011320040329

This week ""Duke"" Ellington is the focus of his attention. Arguably the most significant figure in the early big band era, he took a simple dance orchestra formula and transformed the 1920s world of jazz. One of his innovations was to get his musicians - instrumentalist and singers - to explore unconventional sounds with their instruments. One such growling effect led to the expression ""Jungle Sound"" which became a byword for the Ellington sound. Ken is joined by band leader, trumpeter and Ellington aficionado Humphrey Lyttelton to share their enthusiasm for the ""Duke"".

0302Dexter Gordon2004012020040405

The huge talent of tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon was matched only by his physical appearance - Long Tall Dexter was a giant in all respects. He however failed to fulfil his rightful place in jazz history, falling into decline in the 1950s. Critics argue that it was the new West Coast jazz that left him on the sidelines, but nearly a decade in and out of prison for drugs offences can't have helped either! Ken Clarke talks to Norway's leading jazz singer Karin Krog who performed and recorded with Dexter Gordon after his release from jail.

0303Bessie Smith2004012720040412

She was born in abject poverty. Singing on street corners before her tenth birthday and tragically killed just thirty-two years later, she had nevertheless crammed a lot of hard living into that relatively short life. Ken Clarke talks to George Melly about the woman who brought together the blues and ragtime traditions to forge a new sound in jazz.

0304 LASTStan Getz2004020320040419

The name of tenor saxophonist Stan Getz may forever be associated with the Brazilian singer Astrud Gilberto in their 1963 hit, The Girl From Ipanema. Arguably the enormous acclaim by a huge popular market attributed to just one recording belittles Getz' contribution to jazz history. Stan Getz was after all, a great player and inspiration to all who came in contact with him including John Coltrane. Having served his apprenticeship with the likes of Jack Teagarden, Stan Kenton, Jimmy Dorsey, Benny Goodman, and finally Woody Herman, he formed a classic quintet. Ken Clarke talks to his bass player Bill Crow about working with Stan Getz during that period.

0401Dizzy Gillespie2005052420050528

Jazz devotee Ken Clarke shares his enthusiasm for the musicians who made growing up such fun.

He focuses on the founder of the bebop movement, the trumpeter Dizzy Gillespie.

Ken is joined by, in his opinion, Britain's best jazz trumpeter, Guy Barker, who was taken under the wing of Gillespie as a young boy.

The two met when the teenager asked his hero to autograph Barker's own hand-written transcriptions of Gillespie's solos.

The older man, suitably impressed not only with the boy's interest but with the sheer volume of solos he'd actually played, later invited him on stage to play with him.

0402Oscar Peterson2005053120050604

Jazz devotee Ken Clarke shares his enthusiasm for the musicians who made growing up such fun.

He focuses on Oscar Peterson, one of the most enduring names in jazz.

Through his long association with the impresario Norman Granz and the numerous Oscar Peterson Trios which he led, Peterson is a household name.

Ken Clarke is joined by Peterson's biographer and autobiography editor, Richard Palmer, to share a mutual admiration for the Canadian pianist.

0403Thelonious Monk2005060720050611

Ken Clarke is joined by the young British saxophonist Tony Kofi to share their passion for one of the most misunderstood figures in jazz history, the pianist and composer Thelonious Monk.

Monk, who started off on the holy-roller American Gospel circuit, went on to be one of the most advanced composers of his time, one of music's true pioneers and geniuses.

0404 LASTStephane Grappelli2005061420050618

The final programme in the series is devoted to someone Ken Clarke admits may have slipped through the net of his Bebop infatuated teenage years.

Yet the name of violinist Stephane Grappelli became synonymous with PARISian elegance when he and the guitarist Django Reinhardt established their distinctly French swing group, Hot Club of FRANCE in the 1930s.

Forty years later, Grappelli rekindled that old style and once again became a major musical force on the world scene.

Ken catches up on a lost experience with one of the guitarists who stepped into Reinhardt's shoes to create Grappelli's second successful career, the British guitarist John Etheridge

0501Art Blakey2006032820060401

was a drummer of incredible power and originality. He was a showman, a leader and a visionary. His long running band, The Jazz Messengers, became something of an academy for the finest young talent who would make up the next generations of great jazz musicians.

Along with people like the Marsalis brothers, saxophonist Jean Toussaint was one of those to be taken under Blakey's wing. He joins Ken to talk about his great mentor.

0502Louis Armstrong2006040420060408

Armstrong is remembered by the wider public as a popular entertainer and avuncular middle of the road singer who had the chart blockbusters, Mack the Knife, Hello Dolly, Wonderful World, and We Have All the Time in the World.

Those popular successes obscure the fact that Armstrong was one of the first and greatest pioneers in the history of jazz, and one of the best trumpeters there has ever been. Ken is joined by band leader Chris Barber who spearheaded the 1960s Trad Jazz revival.

0503Coleman Hawkins20060411

was the original tenor sax player, the man who raised it from the ranks of the American military band to the front line of jazz. Ken Clarke talks to Sir John Dankworth about 'Hawk' and his legacy.

0504 LASTHorace Silver20060418

Silver's funky, blues-based piano playing, with its sharply defined right hand and grumbling left hand bass, are the elements that took bebop jazz into hard bop and soul jazz.

Ken is joined by leading British sax player Alan Barnes - whose string of accolades include BBC Jazz Awards for best album and Instrumentalist of the Year. Barnes has played every kind of jazz from 1920s nostalgia to cutting edge modern jazz. Moreover, he has got right inside the musical mind of Silver by performing and recording an album of Silver's music.

0601Jelly Roll Morton20080304

He talks to pianist and bandleader Keith Nichols to explore the life and music of Jelly Roll Morton, one of the most colourful characters in jazz.

0602Max Roach2008031120080315

He is joined by alto saxophonist Peter King to explore the life and music of drummer Max Roach. Roach was one of the pioneers who changed the face of jazz in the 1940s by redefining the drummer's role from simple time-keeping duties to that of a fully-fledged and equal member of the band.

0603* Art Pepper2008031820080322

He is joined by jazz writer Steve Voce to explore the career of the West Coast alto saxophonist Art Pepper. A life-long drug addict, Pepper spent much of what should have been the peak of his career in prison. It is widely believed that the periods of freedom between incarcerations concentrated Pepper's creativity to the benefit of his music.

0604 LASTBrian Priestley2008032520080329

He is joined by writer and pianist Brian Priestley to explore the career of bebop pianist Bud Powell, whose life was tragically dogged by mental illness following a savage racial beating.

0701Charlie Parker *2009031020090314

Ken Clarke MP profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th Century.

Ken talks to British jazz musician Soweto Kinch about saxophonist Charlie Parker, one of the founding fathers of the bebop movement. After moving to New York in 1939, he worked with Dizzy Gillespie and helped to push the boundaries of the form. However, his life and career were blighted by a heroin addiction which killed him at the age of just 34.

Ken talks to Soweto Kinch about saxophonist Charlie Parker, one of the founders of bebop.

0702Fats Waller * *2009031720090321

Fats Waller is most familiar to some as a comic singer, but he was also a skilled jazz pianist.

His father had wanted him to follow in his footsteps and become a minister.

But the keyboard skills that Fats learned while playing the organ at church services were instead transferred to theatres and cabaret clubs, where he accompanied the likes of Bessie Smith as well as playing his own solos.

Ken is joined by singer Gwyneth Herbert, who talks about her love of Waller's music.

0703Benny Goodman * *2009032420090328

Ken Clarke MP profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th century.

Clarinettist and bandleader Benny Goodman became known as the King of Swing.

Brought up in extreme poverty in the Jewish ghetto of Chicago's South Side, by the end of the 1930s he had achieved the adulation of a modern-day pop star

There were reports of ballroom riots, jitterbuggers dancing in the aisles at his concerts and solemn words being written about how the nation's youth was being corrupted by his music.

0704 LASTMilt Jackson * *2009033120090404

Milt Jackson, known as 'Bags', was the first vibraphone player to perform in the bebop style of jazz. He was spotted at the age of 22 by Dizzy Gillespie and given a place in his band. His reputation grew from there, and he is perhaps best known for helping to bring jazz to a new concert-going audience during his 20-plus years as a member of the Modern Jazz Quartet.

0801Humphrey Lyttelton2010011220100116

The much-loved broadcaster, who led the post-war traditional jazz revival in Britain.

Ken Clarke MP profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th century.

Many Radio 4 listeners knew 'Humph' as the hilariously deadpan chairman of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. But the much-loved broadcaster was also an exemplary and influential jazz musician. Louis Armstrong dubbed him 'the top trumpet man in England today', and not without reason. A master of his instrument as well as several others, he spearheaded the post-war traditional jazz revival in Britain, later forming his own band that set the standard for British jazz for several decades.

Friend and fellow BBC jazz presenter Alyn Shipton joins Ken in the studio to discuss Britain's most important jazz musician.

Many Radio 4 listeners knew 'Humph' as the hilariously deadpan chairman of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue.

But the much-loved broadcaster was also an exemplary and influential jazz musician.

Louis Armstrong dubbed him 'the top trumpet man in England today', and not without reason.

A master of his instrument as well as several others, he spearheaded the post-war traditional jazz revival in Britain, later forming his own band that set the standard for British jazz for several decades.

0802Cannonball Adderley2010011920100123

Ken Clarke MP profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th Century.

Florida-born saxophonist Cannonball Adderley first made his name alongside his brother Nat in the 1950s.

Moving to New York, he quickly found success and before long was playing with Miles Davis.

Drawing influence from many of the greats, including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Louis Jordan, Cannonball was one of the leading pioneers of hard-bop.

By the 1960s he was also prominent in the soul jazz scene, becoming increasingly experimental towards the end of the decade.

Leading British sax player Alan Barnes talks to Ken about Cannonball's eclectic career.

Saxophonist Cannonball Adderley first made his name alongside his brother Nat in the 1950s

Florida-born saxophonist Cannonball Adderley first made his name alongside his brother Nat in the 1950s. Moving to New York, he quickly found success and before long was playing with Miles Davis. Drawing influence from many of the greats, including Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and Louis Jordan, Cannonball was one of the leading pioneers of hard-bop. By the 1960s he was also prominent in the soul jazz scene, becoming increasingly experimental towards the end of the decade.

0803Chet Baker2010012620100130

Ken Clarke MP profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th Century.

By his early twenties, trumpeter Chet Baker was the poster boy of jazz with a beautiful playing style and film star good looks.

A leading exponent of 1950s 'cool jazz', his lyrical playing drew comparisons to Miles Davis and his career blossomed.

But his life was hampered by drug addiction and came to a brutal end in 1988.

Mike Maran, who wrote the recent hit production Chet Baker: A Funny Valentine, joins Ken to discuss Baker's flawed genius.

A leading exponent of 'cool jazz', Chet Baker's playing drew comparisons to Miles Davis.

By his early twenties, trumpeter Chet Baker was the poster boy of jazz with a beautiful playing style and film star good looks. A leading exponent of 1950s 'cool jazz', his lyrical playing drew comparisons to Miles Davis and his career blossomed. But his life was hampered by drug addiction and came to a brutal end in 1988.

0804 LASTSonny Rollins2010020220100206

Ken Clarke MP profiles great jazz musicians of the 20th Century.

New York sax player Sonny Rollins is regarded as one of most influential and unique saxophonists in contemporary jazz.

He began playing in the late 1940s, rehearsing and performing with such luminaries as Thelonious Monk, Art Blakey and Tadd Dameron.

By the mid 1950s he was winning popularity polls and enjoying widespread critical acclaim.

He has since gone on to develop a fluid and easily accessible style, often lauded for bringing jazz to a wider audience.

Ken talks to Mercury Music Prize-nominated saxophonist Denys Baptiste, a fellow Sonny Rollins fan.

Sonny Rollins is regarded as one of most influential saxophonists in contemporary jazz.

0901Lee Morgan2011111520111119

Ken Clarke and guest Ian Smith examine the life and music of the hard-bop trumpeter.

Ken Clarke, QC, MP returns with another series of Jazz Greats.

Joining Ken in the studio for this first instalment is the lecturer and musician Ian Smith.

Their subject: the American hard-bop trumpeter Lee Morgan.

Lee Morgan's tense, urgent trumpet with his searing high register and funky timing was the essence of harp-bop.

He became a professional musician in his late teens when he joined Dizzy Gillespie's big band in 1956.

It was the perfect launch-pad for his career and he went on to play with some of the best in the Art Blakey, John Coltrane and Benny Golson.

Perhaps most known for his landmark album "The Sidewinder," Morgan became one of the legendary Jazz label Blue Note's best loved stars.

He may have been blessed with musical talent but the rest of Morgan's life was something of a mess.

A crippling heroin addiction hampered his recording career and resulted in a painful encounter with gangsters.

While the unfortunate tangle of his personal relationships brought about his rather dramatic demise.

0902Zoot Sims2011112220111126

was one of the most naturally talented saxophone players in jazz, most remembered for his incredible sense of swing.

He was the archetypal saxophonist and found fame with the general public thanks to having a Muppets puppet modelled on him, right down to the name.

Born in 1925, Zoot grew up as the youngest in a family of vaudeville performers.

He took up the saxophone, developing his signature sound in the early 1940s when he was picked up by bandleader Benny Goodman.

A few years later he was playing alongside fellow saxophonists Stan Getz, Herbie Steward and Serge Chaloff in Woody Herman's famed Second Herd band.

But after a move to New York his career stalled and by the early 50s Zoot was making ends meet working as a house painter.

He was rescued by the legendary baritone saxophone player Gerry Mulligan who asked Zoot to join his quartet.

From the late 50s onwards Zoot went on to form a series of successful partnerships, the most enduring with tenorman Al Cohn.

Although his style got gruffer with age, Zoot's popularity continued right up until his death in 1985.

Ken Clarke, QC, MP and his guest John Altman discuss Zoots' life and music, revealing how he never once lost his enthusiasm or that gifted sense of swing throughout his career.

Ken's guest John Altman is a BAFTA award winning film and television composer.

He's also a saxophonist who has played with such jazz luminaries as Chet Baker, Slim Gaillard and Red Holloway.

He's played on rock music sessions too with stars such as Eric Clapton, Phil Collins, Jimmy Page and Little Richard.

Zoot Sims is one of his all-time favourite musicians.

Ken Clarke QC MP and the composer John Altman discuss the music of Zoot Sims.

0903Joe Henderson2011112920111203

This week Ken examines the life and music of Joe Henderson, the tenor saxophone star of both Verve & Blue Note Records.

Born in Ohio in 1937 Joe Henderson taught himself to play at the young age of 9, later perfecting his craft at college and university.

By the time he was 25 he'd led his own band and joined a group with Kenny Dorham.

Over the course of his career he went on to play with jazz greats such as Miles Davies and Herbie Hancock and even joined the jazz-rock band Blood, Sweat & Tears.

His own projects won several Grammys and in his later career he became something of a national star in America, even performing for Bill Clinton at his first presidential inauguration.

He had a lovely lyrical style with a virtuosic technique and is widely regarded as one of the greatest improvisers in jazz.

Ken is joined in the studio by one of UK's leading saxophonists, Soweto Kinch.

Ken Clarke MP examines the life and music of the saxophonist Joe Henderson.

Ken Clarke QC MP examines the life and music of the saxophonist Joe Henderson.

0904 LASTClifford Brown2011120620111210

In the last programme of the current series, Ken Clarke and his guest Abram Wilson discuss the life and music of the 1950s trumpeter Clifford Brown.

Given a trumpet by his father at the age of 15, Clifford's natural talent was immediately apparent.

After only a few years of practising the instrument he was playing gigs with artists such as Miles Davis, Kenny Dorham and Fats Navarro.

By 22 he already had an original style and the quintet he went on to form with Max Roach is regarded as one of the best of the 1950s.

Sadly his professional career was bookended by two horrific car crashes.

The first was nearly ended his life and left him in hospital for a year.

And only five years later he was involved in a second accident, but this time he was tragically killed.

But, as Ken and Abram explain, in the short time he was playing and recording he did enough to put him up there with the all time Jazz Greats.

Abram Wilson is an award winning New Orleans trumpeter and vocalist based in the UK.

Ken Clarke and guest Abram Wilson discuss the music of the 1950s trumpeter Clifford Brown.