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Jazz Remembered

Bert Courtley

Jane Stobart, Kathy Stobart's neice, suggests we take a moment to listen to trumpeter Bert Courtley.


Here he is playing in the movie All Night Long.


Jane says that she thinks All Night Long (1962) "was certainly one of the worst films ever made but fortunately the story took place in a night club and they did at least get the jazz right. This clip features Dave Brubeck backed by four British musicians and offers a rare sight of wonderful Bert Courtley on trumpet. As you will no doubt spot, the editing of Raggy Waltz is nonsensical, showing certain musicians playing, when the soundtrack says otherwise!" The YouTube video text talks about Dave Brubeck's famous quartet, but clearly that is not who he is playing with here. Readers might be able to help me, but I assume that apart from Bert Courtley, it is Kenny Napper (bass), Allan Ganley (drums) and  ?Johnny Scott (saxophone).

Bert Courtley was born on September 11, 1929 in Moston, Manchester, England as Herbert Courtley. He was married to Kathy Stobart. He died on September 13, 1969 in Croydon, Surrey. Ron Simmonds remembers Bert Courtley in an article held by the National Jazz Archive. In it, Ron says: '... He was a jazz trumpet player, pure and simple and he was happiest standing out the front in a small band, playing what he liked the way he wanted, free from all the restrictions and disciplines of the big combination."


"He left Tommy (Sampson)’s band and went straight out with a small group got together by a young lady tenor-saxophonist by the name of Kathy Stobart. It must have been a case of love at first sight, I guess, between this tall, beautiful, fair-haired girl and the fresh-faced, young blonde newcomer. It was enough, anyway, to keep them together when Kathy’s band folded and the two of them joined Vic Lewis’s big band ... Bert did about three years with Ken Mackintosh at Wimbledon Palais and then went on tour with Eric Delaney’s band ...' '... Bert had one of those sharp, clear sizzling sounds on the trumpet; he would shut his eyes and hunch his shoulders up and play the most beautiful jazz you could imagine. In 1956 he became part of the Jazz Today unit, which toured Britain with Gerry Mulligan’s Quartet and later the Modern Jazz Quartet. Some of his colleagues in Jazz Today were Phil Seamen, Kenny Wheeler, Kenny Napper and Ed Harvey ... "

Here is a recording of Bert in 1957 playing Salute To The Bandbox from an album Jazz From London. The personnel - Bert Courtley (trumpet);  Ken Wray (bass trumpet); Tubby Hayes (vibraphone); Dill Jones (piano); Lennie Bush (bass) and Bill Eyden (drums). Away from his usual saxophone or flute Tubby Hayes plays the vibrapohone here. Bill Eyden was a founder member of the Jazz Couriers and went on to play with Procol Harum, Georgie Fame and others.

Listen to Bert and Founder Member from the 1959 album The Jazz Committee featuring Bert and Don Rendell here. On the YouTube page Neil Yates says: 'Great to hear this. Bert was great. He never even gets a mention now. Sad. I love his laid back timing, beautiful phrases and sound.'

"...... Bert made a solo record for Decca called Bertrand’s Bugle around this time. Then he was part of the Woody Herman Anglo-American Band, playing alongside Reunald Jones, Nat Adderley and Bill Harris. ..."

In 1962 the BBC featured a series of broadcasts Jazz For Moderns, introduced by Steve Race. Some of these have been preserved on recordd and here is Bert Courtley's Sextet playing Bert's composition In A Very Close Vein. The Personnel are: Gordon Beck (piano); Dave Willis (bass); Pete "Ginger" Baker (drums); Bert Courtley (trumpet); Dick Heckstall-Smith (tenor sax) and  Kathleen "Kathy" Stobart (tenor sax).

If you would like to add to these memories of Bert Courtley please contact us.

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