Dennis Williams (-) Frank Jeffs (1922-2016)


 NB caution !! ... I only keep these preliminary notes on my website so I don't lose them !   

This is an initial draft of musings & gleanings which contain many omissions, errors, inaccuracies & misinterpretations ... but it is 'only a story', for a bit of fun ... written, before it was all forgotten, for my great grandchildren's children ... just in case they ever ask; what was grandpa? They will now know that Grandpa was a saxophone player!


Dennis Williams Quintet

In late 2016, thanks to Leigh Jeffs and Colin Gibson, we unearthed some of the magical music of the late 1950s that we remembered from the Clemences Dance Hall, Chester.

Frank Jeff's Scrapbook ... was a wonderful documentary record of musical success ...

There were also live recordings from around 1956, poor quality, but who cared, the music was full of the atmosphere of Clems which we could still 'feel' 60 years later. 30 odd tracks of Jazz Standards ... this was inspiring music ... the saxophone phrasing which first attracted us to the instrument ... and the magnificent electric guitar trajectories, clean, agile swing ... and the enduring American Songbook -

1 -- Tangerine -- from 'The Fleet's In' 1941. Music Victor Schertzinger. Lyrics Johnny Mercer. Jimmy Dorsey 1942.

2 -- Beautiful Love -- waltz 1931. Music Wayne King, Victor Young & Egbert Van Alstyne. Lyrics Haven Gillespie. Real Book volume 1.

3 -- For You -- waltz 1933. Music Joe Burke. Lyrics Al Dubin. Glen Gray & Casa Loma Orchestra 1933. Jo Stafford & Tommy Dorsey 1941.

4 -- Thou Swell -- from 'A Connecticut Yankee' 1927. Music Richard Rodgers. Lyrics Lorenz Hart.

5 -- I've got My Love to Keep Me Warm -- from 'On the Avenue' 1937. Irving Berlin. Les Brown 1946. Mills Brothers 1949.

6 -- Easy to Love -- from 'Anything Goes' 1934. Cole Porter. Billie Holiday 1936.

7 -- Seven Come Eleven -- Benny Goodman classic 1939. Charlie Christian & Benny Goodman.

8 -- Cheek to Cheek -- from 'Top Hat' 1935. Irving Berlin. Fred Astaire 1935.

9 -- Why Do I Love You -- from 'Show Boat' 1927. Music Jerome Kern. Lyrics Oscar Hammerstein II.

10 -- Good Morning -- from 'Babes in Arms' 1939. Music Nacio Herb Brown. Lyrics Arthur Freed, 1939. Famously in 'Singin' in the Rain' 1952.

11 -- Remember Me -- Music Harry Warren 1937. Lyrics Al Dubin. Teddy Wilson 1937.

12 -- Wouldn't it be Loverly -- from 'My Fair Lady' 1956.  Music Frederick Loewe. Lyrics Alan Jay Lerner.

13 -- Beautiful Love -- track 2 duplicate

14 -- All Alone -- Music & Lyrics Irving Berlin 1924.

15 -- Side by Side? -- ? -- Harry M Woods 1927, now considered a standard.

16 -- On the Street where You Live -- from 'My Fair Lady' 1956.  Music Frederick Loewe. Lyrics Alan Jay Lerner.

17 -- Jersey Bounce?  -- a 12 bar blues riff? -- No 1 for 4 weeks in 1942 as an instrumental recorded by Benny Goodman - Tiny Bradshaw, Eddie Johnson, and Bobby Plater with lyrics by Buddy Feyne

18 -- Whispering -- 1920. Music Vincent Rose. Lyrics John Schonberger & Richard Coburn (Frank Reginald DeLong). Paul  Whiteman 1920.

19 -- Ruby -- from 'Ruby Gentry' 1953, Music Heinz Roemheld. Lyrics Mitchell Parish. Ray Charles 1960.

20 -- unknown -- what's this one?

21 -- I Wished on the Moon -- Music Ralph Rainger. Lyrics Dorothy Parker. Ruth Etting 1935. Billie Holiday 1935.

22 -- Just You Just Me -- from musical film 'Marianne', 1929. Music Jesse Greer. Lyrics Raymond Klages. Lester Young 1943.

23 -- Our Love Affair -- from 'Strike Up the Band' 1940. Music Arthur Freed. Lyrics Roger Edens. Glen Miller 1940. Judy Garland 1940.

24 -- That's a Plenty -- Lew Pollack ragtime piano 1914. New Orleans Rhythm Kings 1923.

25 -- medley intro

-- You're Dancing on My Heart -- 1932. Music George M Meyer. Lyrics Al Bryan. Victor Silvester's signature tune.

-- Don't Say Goodbye -- Victor Silvester's signing off tune.  

 ((some uninspired guesses were abject failures and didn't cut the mustard -- This is My Lovely Day -- from English musical 'Bless the Bride' 1947. Music Vivian Ellis. Lyrics A Herbert. -- I Won't Dance --  from Kern-Harbach musical 'Roberta' 1933. Music Jerome Kern. Lyrics Dorothy Fields.))

-- Miss Annabelle Lee -- 1927. Music & Lyrics Sidney Clare, Lew Pollack & Harry Richman. Ted Weems 1927. Annette Hanshaw 1927. Bert Ambrose & whispering Jack Smith 193?

-- Best Things in Life are Free -- from 'Good News'. Music Ray Henderson. Lyrics Buddy DeSylva & Lew Brown. Ink Spots 1948. Dinah Shore 1948.

-- You're the Cream in My Coffee -- from 'Hold Everything' 1928. Music Ray Henderson. Lyrics Buddy G DeSylva & Lew Brown. Annette Hanshaw 1928.

-- On the Street where You Live -- from 'My Fair Lady Music' 1956. Frederick Loewe. Lyrics Alan Jay Lerner. 

26 -- Lover -- from 'Love Me Tonight', 1932. Music Richard Rodgers. Lyrics Lorenz Hart. Frank Sinatra 1950.

27 -- Exactly Like You -- from Lew Leslie's 'International Revue' 1930. Music Jimmy McHugh. Lyrics by Dorothy Fields. Louis Armstrong 1930.

28 -- medley of waltzes

-- One Night of Love -- waltz from the movie 1934. Music Victor Schertzinger. Lyric Gus Kahn.

-- ???? -- even the great Pete Smith couldn't identify this track!

-- Wonderful One --  waltz from a theme by movie director Marshall Neilan 1922. Music Paul Whiteman & Ferde Grofé. Lyrics Theodora Morse (Dorothy Terris). Paul Whiteman 1923.

-- Dream Lover -- from 'The Love Parade' musical comedy Maurice Chavalier 1929. Music Victor Schertzinger. Lyrics Clifford Grey. Gracie Fields 1930. Joe Loss 1959.

29 -- Long Ago & Far Away -- from 'Cover Girl', 1944. Music Jerome Kern. Lyrics Ira Gershwin. Jo Stafford 1944.

30 -- East of the Sun -- Princeton University all-male a cappella group, 1934. Music & lyrics, Brooks Bowman. Hal Kemp 1934. Jazz standard since the 1950s.

31 -- I'm Young and Healthy -- from '42nd Street'. Music Harry Warren. Lyrics Al Dubin.

32 -- I've got My Love to Keep Me Warm -- duplicates track 5

Al Powell

Al Powell with Syd LawrenceAll this excitement started with Al Powell ... but who was Al Powell?

A splendid photo of The Al Powell Quintet with Syd Lawrence at Clemences in the 1940s emerged from the dusty archives of the Cheshire Image Bank ...

 Pianist Al Powell was a legendary character, highly thought of by people who knew him. Al Powell & his Rhythm Aces were active in Chester in 1945. In 1976 The Melody Maker music newspaper issued a 56 page publication detailing the British Music scene in the previous 50 years of it's existence. A paragraph referred to 1946 -

'Trumpet-player with Al Powell and his Band, winners of MM Merseyside contest, was the future sessioneer and bandleader Syd Lawrence'. (In 2016 the Melody Maker archives were digitised and will surely prove to be a goldmine for historians of the jazz scene in UK).

The Al Powell Orchestra were superb 4th in the Melody Maker Dance Band Contest in 1948 (or The Empress Ballroom Blackpool, November 1946? out of 296 All Britain Bands). On October 11th 1949 The Al Powell Quintet broadcast on the North Home Service at 6.30 pm.

The wonderful photo of The Al Powell Quintet at Clemences was taken prior to Frank Jeffes joining the band in February 1949.

In 1954 Al Powell returned to the hotspot at The Riverside Ballroom.

Syd LawrenceSyd Lawrence (1923-98)

Dad was a drummer in Chester. Syd played violin as a child and a cornet by 12. Played with the Wilf Murphy and Art Gregory bands (and some ESNA tours) before the RAF in 1942, Kneller Hall studies and The Middle East Command Dance Orcestra. Joined Al Powel in 1946 in Chester and won the Melody Maker Award. Late 1946 joined Teddy Foster then Paul Lombard on Mauretania. Then back to Al Powell in 1948 and Ken Mackintosh in 1948 and Cyril Stapleton 1949 (not yet reformed as the BBC Show Band but busily touring dance halls on the road around the country) but left to form his own band in Chester with some of his old colleagues from the Al Powell days in Chester, he formed a quintet to play at the Clemences Restaurant, Northgate Street in late 1949 (a small but it was a start, even if it did not last long). Stapleton hired him back in July 1950, a year later Syd moved over to join Geraldo and his Orchestra 1951. Then across to the Grosvenor House to play for Sidney Lipton's Band 1952/3 before back to Chester May 1953 with Dennis Williams and the big time with Alyn Ainsworth's BBC Northern Dance Orcestra. Glenn Miller inspired his own band The Syd Lawrence Big Band in Nov 1967 ... and success!

 A clipping from the Musical Express 1951 gave an inkling into the rampant personnel changes in the Dance Band scene around this time as everyone jockeyed for position and elusive fame ... Stapleton went for strings, Geraldo went for quality!

 RIP 1998 Syd Lawrence (1923- 98) ... but 2,000 big band arrangements live on! Syd's obituary appeared in The Independent in 1998.

Wilf Field.

Helen Southall uncovered a photo of Wilf Field and His Collegians at Clemences Restaurant, Chester, in 1937?

Wilf Field and his Collegians were in the thick of festivities at The King's School on Monday January 2nd 1939; a Fancy Dress Ball organised by Sergeant Hankinson ... forever know as 'Hank' by all the boys who knew he ran the school in those days ... and he was still in charge of everything when we joined his platoon in 1951.

 The band were established at The Majestic Ballroom, Ellesmere Port in 1939. And at The Bars Hotel, Chester in 1940. At this time Al Hartley and the Rhythm Club Band were at Clemences and Joe Loveday at Quaintways ... interestingly 1940 advertisements also boasted a Clemences Dance Orchestra on Wednesdays and Saturdays and a Mayfair Dace Band on Friday ... wartime Chester was throbbing with Dance and Dance Bands.

Wilf Field Ambassadors.


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