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Monday, 19 October 2015

Spike Hughes born 19 October 1908

Patrick Cairns "Spike" Hughes (19 October 1908 – 2 February 1987) was a British jazz musician, composer and music journalist. He was the son of Irish composer, writer and song collector Herbert Hughes and great grandson of the sculptor Samuel Peploe Wood. Hughes was a multi-dimensional musician, playing the double bass, composing operatic scores, arranging jazz recordings and writing books on topics ranging from gardening to Toscanini's music. 

Hughes was a bassist whose interest in jazz dated from 1924 when he saw touring African-American groups in Vienna. Arthur Briggs’ Band so impressed him that he wrote some arrangements for them, which Briggs played. After a stint in the Piccadilly Players led by Al Starita, Hughes started his first band and was introduced through William Walton to Decca recording director Philip Lewis, who engaged them as the Decca “house jazz band.”  

Hughes' small recording group was one of the earliest artists signed to Decca Records in England, spanning the period from 1930 to 1933, including over 30 sessions. Originally billed as Spike Hughes and his Decca-Dents, he reportedly did not like the name and after three sessions was changed either "his Dance Orchestra" or "his Three Blind Mice" for smaller sessions.  

His recording career culminated in his visit to New York City where he arranged three historic recording sessions involving members of Benny Carter's and Luis Russell's orchestras with Coleman Hawkins and Henry "Red" Allen from Fletcher Henderson's band. These fourteen sides were mostly Hughes' own compositions. Though most were not released in the U.S. at the time, they have become known as classic jazz masterworks and are still available on CD.

After his 1933 recordings Hughes made not one single record either as a leader or sideman. By 1934 he had packed it all in for the world of classical music. "I left Jazz behind at the moment I was enjoying it most, the moment when all love affairs should end" wrote Hughes in 1949. 

Here's a photo of Leslie "Hutch" Hutchinson, Spike Hughes and Al Bowlly taken in 1932. 
He became a writer, regular BBC broadcaster and a critic for the rest of his life. His subjects included music (especially opera), food, and travel. In between his more serious works, he produced his series of "The Art of Coarse...." studies which opened with The Art of Coarse Cricket in 1954 and was followed over the years by ...Coarse Travel, ...Gardening, ...Bridge, ...Cookery and ..Entertaining. The series was named as a play on coarse fishing; other later Coarse books were written by Michael Green. 

After the publication of his book "Second Movement" in 1951, he married his third wife Charmian in 1954 and they moved to a farmhouse in Ringmer, near Lewes Sussex, where they lived until his death in 1987.  
Patrick was a diabetic for most of his adult life. At the time of his death he had been working on a new encyclopaedia of opera. His widow Charmian died in 2003, and his musical estate has been passed by her to Patrick's daughters. There is a memorial bench to them both in the gardens of Glyndebourne. (Info various mainly Wikipedia & JABW)

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For Spike Hughes & His All American Orchestra LP go here:

1. Nocturne
2. Someone Stole Gabriel's Horn
3. Pastoral
4. Bugle Call Rag
5. Arabesque
6. Fanfare
7. Sweet Sorrow
8. Music At Midnight
9. Sweet Sue Just You
10. Air In D Flat
11. Donegal Cradle Song
12. Firebird
13. Music At Sunrise
14. How Come You Do Me Like You Do