Another series: Loft Vinyl
For Christmas, my elder daughter Christelle bought me a turntable which I picked up from her home in Lewes.
The excellent Union vinyl record shop around the corner was closed so first purchases had to wait until I was back in Ealing and able to get to the equally admirable Sounds Original.
In the meantime, I climbed into the loft to look through my huge collection of old LPs languishing there. I set about liberating a few of them and pressing them back into service. And this is first example that I shall be featuring here
One day in the 1980s, maybe before starting a late shift, I dropped into Doug Dobell’s specialist record shop on Charing Cross Road. I was looking for folk music.
But Dobell’s was probably even better known for jazz - Doug was to die suddenly while attending a jazz festival in Nice in 1987 - and a real gem of US boogie woogie was playing as I browsed.
Instantly hooked, I bought it on the spot, leaving the shop folkless but delighted with my find: a record by Albert Ammons’s Rhythm Kings.
It also brought me modest kudos when I got to work. The Daily Telegraph newsroom in those days was packed with journalistic talent. There was wit and there were hints of rebelliousness; the reporters worked hard and often played hard. Very few shared the paper's editorial outlook. We just reported the news, and fondly believed we did it better than anyone else, leaving all the bonkers right-wing polemic to the leader writers and columnists. But along with their other attributes, the reporters - or many of them - were jazz buffs.
There was the odd murmur of approval from colleagues when I showed them my new acquisition. Had I come away with folk, they would have at best looked away without interest, at worst sniggered.
Yet the Telegraph was a paper that indulged folk. Maurice Rosenbaum, my predecessor as folk writer, was a revered figure, as Tom Paxton, Martin Carthy and others told me when I was trying to fill his giant-sized boots. Maurice was gifted, scholarly .. and left wing. He had a fairly senior position at the Telegraph but in features, where I imagine our masters felt he could do little harm.
Of Albert Ammons, only the more knowledgeable would have had much awareness. The album I bought was released in 1980 but had been recorded in New York 36 years earlier, the war in Europe not yet quite won, the Normandy landings still months away.
Ammons was from a musical Chicago family. He excelled early - though he also had a spell driving cabs for a living - and influenced lots of significant jazzmen. He died young, just short of his 43rd birthday.
The track I have chose, Albert Ammons's Special Boogie Woogie, is preceded on side one and followed on side two by playing of the highest order. The track I have chosen oozes classy simplicity and gets under the skin.
I hope and believe Maurice would have liked it, and the rest of the record, as I do. Maybe he did. It certainly deserved his approval.