78rpm and Vintage Music Researches and Discussions

from 2005

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this page first published by John Wright, 29 June 2005
last update 12 January 2006vintage@r2ok.co.uk

Do you have an interest to share?Was there an important musician in your family?

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October 2005

George 'Happy' Blake
I have been contacted by Loraine Miller who wrote to say: "I have recently started doing my family history,and have found out that my grandfather was George "Happy" Blake. George Blake and his brother Cyril came to Britain from Trinidad after the first world war".

I wrote back to Lorraine to say that I knew of the names Happy Blake and Cyril Blake, and they were members of the Southern Syncopators, but I have very little information about 'Happy'. Cyril made some records in 1941.

Can anyone tell us more about the Southern Syncopaters? I believe trombonist Ellis Jackson was also a member.

October 2005

Neville Grant Martin (Oppenheim)
I was contacted by Kirsten Beach, from the Netherlands, who wrote to say: "I am writing to enquire if you have any information about Neville Grant Martin (real surname Oppenheim) who was a composer and played with the Ambrose Orchestra. Neville was the brother of my grandmother, Eileen Oppenheim of Kensington, and died during the bombings of London in September 1940. The family believes he played with the Ambrose Orchestra and have some of his published sheet music".

I replied to Kirsten that I had not seen either name listed in Ambrose discographies. Kirsten will try and get access to the sheet music held by her family in UK.

October 2005

Phil Cardew
I was contacted by Dr George Cardew who wrote: "My relationship to Phil was that my father was his 1st cousin. I never actually met him but remember seeing him on early British TV (late 40's to early 50's) in his band "Phil Cardew and his Cornhuskers. One of Phil's brothers was Michael Ambrose Cardew who was a world famous Potter ("The Potter of Winchcombe") who practised at Wenford Bridge, Cornwall www.wenfordbridge.com. Michael had a son Cornelius Cardew who became a well known Avante Garde musician http://www.composer.co.uk/composers/cardew.htm - I wonder if he was inspired by his Uncle Phil?"

There is a possibility that he appears in the photo of the Elizalde band at http://www.r2ok.co.uk/elizal2.htmalthough we're not sure which one he is!

September 2005

Bob Robson
Julie Robson wrote saying "My great grandfather Robert Young Robson played violin and double bass with Billy Thornburn, not sure of any dates or of any recordings. He also played with Edmundo Ros, The Cosmopolitan Four, Geraldo, Debroy Somers, and Carroll Gibbons. He was very sucessful with the double bass, playing earlier in the Newcastle Philharmonic Orchester and moved to London in the 1930's. He made many broadcasts and worked on several films and worked for 6 years with the Harry Davidson Old Time Orchestra. He also played in orchestras conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham. Bob towards the end of his career was a member of the orchestra aboard the Canadian Pacific liner".

I replied to Julie saying I'd found a Bob Robson (string bass) had recorded with the Jack Simpson Sextet in a few sessions in 1944-45, they were an important jazz outfit in those days. This is very likely Julie's great-grandfather. Although Bob may have worked with BillyThorburn, CarrollGibbons etc they did not always use the same musicians on records, but he likely attended other recording sessions during WWII as the bands shared musicians (because so many joined the forces) and the sessions personnel lists in the discographies may not be accurate.

February 2005

Harry Robbins
Heard from Pat Beale, daughter of percussionist Harry Robbins. The Harry Robbins that I know a bit about played xylophone and drums for many of the fine British dance bands who made records in the 1930's, bands like Jack Hylton, Jack Payne, Debroy Somers, and also Henry Hall etc. There was also an older Harry Robbins, presumably his father, who played drums with bands before 1920.

Pat Beale replied with this very interesting information:

"The Harry Robbins who played/recorded during the 1930's is my father. You are quite right about my grandfather Henry William Robbins. He was with the rifle brigade and was at the defence of Ladysmith in South Africa . He was a member of the London Symphony Orchestra and during the second world war I believe was awarded the George Cross for bravery in Portsmouth. My fatherHarry Robbins was born in 1902 in Rochester England and was married to my Mother early in the twenties. She was a member of the Anglo Russian Ballet Company her name Violette Kemplen, the smallest ballerina in the world, she danced with Ninette De Valois and danced in Paris during the first world war was in a show called "The kiddies in the Ruins". Ralph Kemplen the film editor was my cousin, his father my mother's brother. I will try and get some more background and send a photo. We are also trying to research the Kemplen side of the family. My grandmother (fathers mother) was Spanish and came from Andalusia and was a Seraphanic Jewess".

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