Alex Welsh

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Alex Welsh
Birth nameAlex Welsh
Born(1929-07-09)9 July 1929
Edinburgh, Scotland
Died25 June 1982(1982-06-25) (aged 52)
Hillingdon, London
GenresJazz, Dixieland Jazz
Occupation(s)Musician
Jazz Singer
Band leader
InstrumentsTrumpet
Cornet
Vocals
Years active1947-1982

Alex Welsh (9 July 1929 – 25 June 1982) was a Scottish jazz singer,[1] and bandleader who played cornet and trumpet.[2][3]

Biography[edit]

Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, Welsh started playing in the teenage Leith Silver Band and with Archie Semple's Capital Jazz Band.[1] After moving to London in the early 1950s, he formed a band with clarinetist Archie Semple, pianist Fred Hunt, trombonist Roy Crimmins, and drummer Lenny Hastings.[1] The band played a version of Chicago-style dixieland jazz and was part of the traditional jazz revival in England in the 1950s.[1] In the 1960s, Welsh's band played with Earl Hines, Red Allen, Peanuts Hucko, Pee Wee Russell, and Ruby Braff.

During the 1960s and early 1970s, Welsh frequently toured, including many visits to the United States and held performances with pianist Earl Hines and trumpeter Ruby Braff. He was infuenced by his fellow trad jazz bandleader Chris Barber and built up and extensive musical repertoire, working from popular music as well as jazz and building up a large mainstream following for ensembles.[4]

Welsh recorded under the Decca Record label from 1955 and had four records released that year, I'll build a stairway to paradise Decca F10538, Blues my naughtie sweetie gives to me Decca F10557 and What can I say after I say I'm sorry Decca F10652 and Dixielanders at the RFH an EP (extended play single) on Decca DFE 6254. None of these recordings charted, although six years later in 1961 the band's single Tansy on Columbia Records DB 4686 peaked at No. 45 in the BBC Top 50 and remained on the UK Singles Chart for 4 weeks.[2] The single was released as music from the film No My Darling Daughter. The film was based on the play 'Handful of Tansy' by Kay Bannerman and Harold Brooke and follows teenager Tansy Carr (played by Juliet Mills) as she runs off with American Cornelius Allingham (James Westmoreland).

In January 1963, British music magazine NME reported that the biggest trad jazz event to be staged in Britain had taken place at Alexandra Palace. The event included George Melly, Diz Disley, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Kenny Ball, Ken Colyer, Monty Sunshine, Bob Wallis, Bruce Turner, Mick Mulligan and Welsh.[5]

Welsh toured internationally and played at the 1967 Antibes jazz festival, the 1968 Newport Jazz Festival, and 1978 Nice Jazz Festival. In the period 1970-1980 Welsh was a performer with his Alex Welsh Band at public house venues throughout the UK having performed at the Bell Pub in Maidenhead, Berkshire where he was a regular in the early 1970s, and the Five Ways Pub in Sherwood, Nottingham in 1981 among many others.

Welsh's popularity as an Edinburgh-born dixieland jazz musician and vocalist has remained strong. More recently a concert was held in 2016 at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival as a tribute to him.[6] A further festival is planned in his memory in July 2021.[7]

Death[edit]

He died in June 1982 in Hillingdon hospital in London, England, at the age of 52.[1]

Discography[edit]

  • Dixieland to Duke/The Melrose Folio (1957/60)
  • Music of the Mauve Decade (1960)
  • Classic Concert (1971)

With Peanuts Hucko

  • Peanuts Hucko Vol. 1 (Lake, 2002 [1967])

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e Colin Larkin, ed. (2002). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Fifties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 486. ISBN 1-85227-937-0.
  2. ^ a b Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records. p. 596. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  3. ^ Alex Welsh Biographyallmusic.com. Retrieved 21 May 2020.
  4. ^ Alex Welsh Biography www.allmusic.com
  5. ^ Tobler, John (1992). NME Rock 'N' Roll Years (1st ed.). London: Reed International Books. p. 116. CN 5585.
  6. ^ Edinburgh Jazz Festival A Tribute to Alex Welsh www.heraldscotland.com
  7. ^ Remembering Alex Welsh www.edinburghjazzfestival.com