Dave Gelly

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Dave Gelly MBE (born 28 January 1938) is a British jazz critic. A long-standing contributor to The Observer, he was named Jazz Writer of the Year in the 1999 British Jazz Awards. Gelly is also a jazz saxophonist and broadcaster, presenting a number of shows for BBC Radio 2 including Night Owls for much of the 1980s.

Gelly attended St Dunstan's College, Catford, and read English under F. R. Leavis at Downing College, Cambridge.[1][2] He played with Art Themen[3] and Lionel Grigson in the Cambridge University band, and from the mid-1960s co-led his own quartets and quintets with Frank Ricotti, with Jeff Scott, and with Barbara Thompson.[4] He was also a member of the New Jazz Orchestra, directed by Neil Ardley, which also featured Ian Carr, Jon Hiseman, Barbara Thompson, Mike Gibbs, Don Rendell, and Trevor Tomkins. Gelly was a teacher during the 1960s and 1970s at William Penn School, Dulwich.


As leader/co-leader
  • 2001: Strike A Light (Mainstem Records)
As sideman


  • The Giants of Jazz (Schirmer Books, 1986) with Miles Kington
  • Masters of Jazz Saxophone: The Story of the Players and Their Music (2000)
  • Stan Getz: Nobody Else But Me (2002) ISBN 0-87930-729-3
  • Being Prez: The Life and Music of Lester Young (Equinox, 2007)
  • An Unholy Row (Equinox, 2014)


  1. ^ 'Cambridge Tripos Results', Times, 23 June 1960.
  2. ^ 'Authors: Dave Gelly', Jazz Journal (Accessed 28 April 2019).
  3. ^ Art Themen biography Archived 2013-04-30 at the Wayback Machine David Taylor's British jazz website. Retrieved 28 July 2013.
  4. ^ Chilton, John (2004) Who's Who of British Jazz 2nd Edition, p. 147. Continuum At Google Books. Retrieved 28 July 2013.

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