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Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Denny Wright born 6 May 1924

Denny (Denys Justin) Wright (6 May 1924 – 8 February 1992) was a jazz and skiffle guitarist, who performed with Stephane Grappelli, Lonnie Donegan, Johnny Duncan (bluegrass musician), Digby Fairweather, Ella Fitzgerald, Billy Eckstine, Fapy Lafertin and many other musicians, including young rising stars such as Bireli Lagrene and Nigel Kennedy. He was a session musician for many years and frequently acted as arranger and fixer for recording sessions.   

Denny was a prolific composer for jazz and orchestra. Denny led many bands in his career, ranging from
small jazz ensembles through night club bands to full size orchestras. In addition to jazz and skiffle, Denny worked with Latin American and Jamaican bands, including Kenny Graham's Afro-Cubists. He greatly enjoyed contributing to some of the best swing bands and orchestras of the period, playing frequently with the Carl Barriteau orchestra, with Decca Records' own house-band under Phil Green, and even the Glenn Miller band on occasions. Although he was best known as a guitarist, Denny's favourite instrument was actually the piano, no doubt partly inspired by his great friend George Shearing. 

Denny Wright was born in Deptford, London, England, and grew up in Brockley, with frequent forays to the Old Kent Road and the Elephant and Castle. Denny's first instrument was the piano. His older brother, Alex Wright, was a semi-professional guitarist before the war and it was inevitable that Denny, ten years younger, was soon trying to play his brother's guitar. 

Denny spent the first part of the war playing in jazz clubs in the West End of London, doing almost non-stop session work and performing in bands on many hit wartime shows. He worked with Stephane Grappelli for the first time in London around 1941. Denny was unable to join up, being classified as medically unfit due to a childhood injury suffered in a road accident which resulted in his spleen and half of his liver being surgically removed. Whilst still at school, Denny served with the Auxiliary Fire Service in Brockley. When he was old enough to join up, Denny joined ENSA, entertained the troops, apparently had a great time, and ended the war in 's-Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. 

After the war,in 1945, he set up London's first bebop club, the Fullado in New Compton Street, where he played both piano and guitar. In the late 1940s he toured Italy and the Middle East with the Francisco Cavez orchestra before ending up playing in King Farouk's palace. He returned to the United Kingdom. Throughout the 1950s Denny was hard at work providing some of the great guitar accompaniments for Lonnie Donegan, Johnny Duncan, Humphrey Lyttelton, Marie Bryant (one of Duke Elligton's great vocalists) and others, as well as featuring on the BBC's Guitar Club. Wright worked with Tex Ritter, providing him with musical accompaniment at the 'Texas Western Spectacle' at the Haringey Arena in 1952.   

From 1940 (Workers' Playtime, among others) until the early 1980s, Denny Wright was a regular in the recording studios as one of Britain's best session musicians. Denny loved the life of a session musician, and he relished the musical challenges that it brought, providing guitar on hits by Mary Hopkin, Dusty Springfield and Tom Jones, among others.

Paul McCartney: "I remember going to see Lonnie Donegan in 1956 at the Empire in Liverpool. It was wonderful. After we saw him and the skiffle groups, we just wanted guitars. Denny Wright, his guitar player, we really used to love – he was great." ( interview) 

         Here's "Bossa Romantica" from above i-tunes album

Denny married Barbara Nelson-Jones, lyricist and actress, in 1961 and their son, St.John, was born on 1st March 1963 while Denny was on stage with Lonnie Donegan in Leeds. Barbara died on 16 February 1989 after an eight year battle with breast cancer. They had been married over 27 years. Denny, who was devastated by his wife's death, died on 8 February 1992 in London after a nine year battle with bladder cancer. 

Johnny Van Derrick and Denny's son, who had given up his career to become Denny's carer, were with him when he died. (Info edited from Wikipedia)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

for Denny Wright – Cocktail Lounge go here:

1. Blue Champagne
2. Bossa Romantica
3. For the Good Times
4. If You Like It
5. Meditation
6. Softly
7. Something
8. S'Posin'