Saturday, 18 March 2023

Pat Halcox born 18 March 1930

Patrick John Halcox (18 March 1930 – 4 February 2013), was an English jazz trumpeter. 

Pat Halcox was born in Chelsea and his parents thought that he might be a childhood prodigy, as he was playing the piano from the age of four. He stopped a few years later, but he returned to the instrument in 1945. He played boogie woogie and formed a makeshift jazz band with his friend Mick Mulligan. Halcox was conscripted in 1948 and was asked to play trombone in an RAF band. No sooner had he learnt the instrument than he was switched to trumpet. He was to cite his influences as Muggsy Spanier, Tommy Ladnier and Louis Armstrong. 

Originally destined to be a research chemist, Halcox took a trainee laboratory job at Glaxo, in Greenford, and began to study for his exams while pursuing his nascent interest in jazz. He had stumbled on traditional jazz when a record shop counter-hand played him a King Oliver record; he soon fell in with other like-minded enthusiasts. Having started on piano, Halcox transferred his allegiance to the trombone while in the RAF, but when his local friends needed a trumpeter for their amateur band, he changed instruments again, this time permanently. "I thought I'm not going to be left out," he said. "The trumpet wasn't a difficult leap in those early days." 

Balancing his growing passion for jazz with his day job – he also played football and hockey for Glaxo – proved to be more of a challenge. As he crammed in as many jazz sessions as he could, he began to fall behind in his studies. "I wasn't getting through any exams and before you know where you are, the music becomes the most important thing to you." 

Halcox began to play more and more, sitting in with an early version of Barber's group without anticipating his professional career in jazz. By 1954, Barber's band had begun to prosper, the advent of the cornettist Ken Colyer proving decisive until he decided the band's members were insufficiently committed to his purist viewpoint. Colyer was voted out of the band and Halcox was voted in. He recalled: "I thought I'll give it a go until it wears out, but you soon realise it doesn't." Although primarily the trumpet player, Halcox also had a fine singing voice, and led the band's various renditions of "Ice Cream", one of their most popular standards. He also played piano on the Lonnie Donegan recording of "Digging My Potatoes". 


For the next 54 years, Halcox, Barber and the clarinettist Monty Sunshine (whose recording of Petite Fleur propelled the band to even more success) made up a frontline that balanced clear-eyed traditionalism with driving swing. Early on, Halcox had wedded himself to the strict New Orleans style; later, he broadened his tastes as the band widened its repertoire and toured with key players from the heyday of US mainstream jazz. 

Barber's deep understanding of African-American blues and gospel also brought the group into contact with Muddy Waters (they sat in with the bluesman at his Chicago South Side club) and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Halcox remembered the UK tour with the ebullient American saxophonist Louis Jordan with pleasure: "Working with Louis Jordan was like being dragged along by wild horses. He went out to enjoy himself and make an impact, which he did." 

Halcox with Richard Burton

An excellent short film Momma Don't Allow, co-directed by Tony Richardson and Karel Reisz in 1955, showed the early band in their element, performing to a club full of happy jivers. Other film associations included the soundtrack for the 1959 screen adaptation of John Osborne's Look Back in Anger – Halcox tutored Richard Burton in how to mime the trumpet and dubbed his playing – and a brief appearance in 1962 by Halcox and a small group in The Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner. 

Known from 1968 as Chris Barber's Jazz and Blues Band, with the excellent blues guitarist John Slaughter as a regular sideman, it had, by 2001, morphed into the Big Chris Barber Band, with added instrumentalists enabling them to play Duke Ellington's 1920s material. While other band members came and went, Halcox stayed on, always playing with luminous elegance, his partnership with Barber at the core of everything they sought to achieve. 

The Barber band maintained an astonishing workload and Halcox would even guest with other bands on nights off. In 1977, when Barber took a summer break, Halcox formed his own All Star Band and continued this for several summers. He undertook cruise work and played on sessions, notably Elton John's album A Single Man (1978). Another passion in Halcox's life was photography and his work is in many of the band's programmes. 

As the band began to spend more time touring in Europe – they were especially popular in Germany – the travelling took its toll and at the age of 78 Halcox retired. He continued to play and front occasional bands of friends and sometimes returned to guest with Barber. He died on 4 February 2013 at the age of 82. 

(Edited mainly from Peter Vacher obit @ The Guardian with help from The Independent & Wikipedia)


boppinbob said...

For “ Pat Halcox – Remembering Pat Halcox (2015 Lake)” go here:

1-1 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– New Orleans Hop Scop Blues
1-2 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Who’s Sorry Now?
1-3 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– I Love My Baby
1-4 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Old Stackolee Blue
1-5 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Turning Grey Over You
1-6 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– The Mountains Of Mourne
1-7 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Do Right Baby
1-8 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Shine
1-9 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Georgia On My Mind
1-10 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Rent Party Blues
1-11 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Somewhere Over The Rainbow
1-12 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Buddy Bolden's Blues
1-13 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Some Of These Days
1-14 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Blues On Trumpet
1-15 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Oh Baby
1-16 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Working Man Blues
1-17 Pat Halcox & Chris Barber– Isle Of Capri

2-1 Colin Kingwell's Jazz Bandits– Give Me Your Telephone Number
2-2 Sonny Morris And The Delta Jazzband– Wabash Blues
2-3 Don Ewell– Rosetta
2-4 Don Ewell– Confessin’
2-5 Art Hodes– Tin Roof Blues
2-6 Alex Welsh & His Band– I Found A New Baby
2-7 Alex Welsh & His Band– Undecided
2-8 Humphrey Lyttelton And His Band– Blues For Humph
2-9 Pat Halcox All Stars– Blue Orchid
2-10 Pat Halcox All Stars– Apple Honey
2-11 Pat Halcox All Stars– I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart

Recorded 1955-98

Pat Halcox was the trumpet player in Chris Barber's band for 54 years. That alone produced the longest serving partnership in Jazz anywhere in the world. A self-effacing man whose playing was described as "fiery, creative and with an impressive range". Quite simply he was one of the finest Jazz trumpeters the UK has ever produced. The first CD in this double CD collection takes a few tracks from each decade with Chris Barber's band. Making appearances are Ottilie Patterson, Lonnie Donegan, Kenny Ball and Alex Welsh. The second CD has tracks of Pat with other musicians and bands including leading American pianists Art Hodes and Don Ewell. There are also tracks by Pat's own All Stars. All the tracks are previously unreleased. (Product description)

jazzing said...

Discography CD1 and CD2:

boppinbob said...

Hello Jazzing, Thanks for the additional information link. Will keep it for future reference.