Frederick James 'Freddy' Randall (6 May 1921 – 18 May 1999) was an English jazz trumpeter and bandleader born in Clapton, East London.
One of England's top mainstream trumpeters, Freddy Randall has through the years been a star on many Dixieland-oriented record dates. He became interested in music at school and took up the trumpet when he was 16 and joined Albert Bale's Darktown Strutters. He formed his first band, the Saint Louis Four, in 1939 and freelanced with other up-and-coming players. He joined the Rifle Brigade at the beginning of the war but was invalided out in 1943. Randall surprised audiences with his outstanding ability when he joined Freddie Mirfield's Garbage Men in 1944. John Dankworth played clarinet in the band.
That year Randall won an Individual Award at the annual Melody Maker concert. He recorded with Mirfield and stayed with him until 1946 when he formed his own band. Over the next 10 years this was to include many of the most inspired jazz improvisers, including Bruce Turner, Brian Lemon, Lennie Felix, Roy Crimmins, Danny Moss and Archie Semple.
Ignoring the determination of most revivalist groups to let their music be dominated by the banjo, Randall used a rhythm guitar and often a tenor saxophone. As a result his music was generally more sophisticated than that played by the other bands. When producer Mark White started the BBC Jazz Club broadcasts in 1947 he often called on Randall and when, in 1949, White took a collection of stars into the Decca studios to make some records Randall was amongst them. His feature on "Black and Blue" gave an early example of his eloquence with the growl mute style of trumpet.
Randall had based his style first on the playing of Spanier, a limited but effective American trumpeter. But he soon surpassed Spanier, and from then on Randall had no doubts about his talents (when Alun Morgan submitted a liner note for a Randall LP to the trumpeter for his approval, Randall made an alteration. Morgan had written that Randall had "one of the best jazz bands in the country". When Randall returned the script "one of" had been deleted and "bands" had become singular).
He was undoubtedly a great player and towered above his contemporaries. One can only speculate at the result had he been dropped into one of Eddie Condon's or Jack Teagarden's bands of that time.
Randall played with such great power that it was inevitable that he would damage himself. The many spectacular records he made for the Parlophone label between 1951 and 1957 testify to his energy. They included the classic "Dark Night Blues" (1952), an eloquent display of plunger muting of the trumpet, and he was always supported by musicians of great taste, like Crimmins, Turner, Semple, Danny Moss, Lennie Felix and Lennie Hastings. In 1958 he retired from music because of lung strain.
He bought a hotel in Brighton, which he ran from 1958 until 1961 when he sold it and bought a nursing home in Berkshire. He reformed his band in May 1963, keeping it together until 1966 when he again left full time music. He was back again in 1972 when he co-led a band with a clarinettist from one of his earlier bands, Dave Shepherd. They played at the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1973 and their performance there was issued on record.
In late 1973 he formed the Freddy Randall All Stars, backing various American musicians including Bud Freeman. This band stayed together until Randall gave up touring in the late Seventies. He continued to play jobs in the Essex area throughout the Eighties and recorded with the American saxophone player Benny Waters in 1982.
Randall finally gave up playing and retired to Teignmouth in 1993 and shortly afterwards began to suffer from Alzheimer's disease. He died aged 78 on 18 May 1999 in Teignmouth, Devon. (Info edited from AMG and mainly obit by Steve Voce @ The Independent )