Wilton GAYNAIR (Saxes Inc.)

Sadly, Wilton Gaynair made only three albums as leader before his death in Germany in 1995. Who can tell his story better than Wilton in his own words ? That's what he did in 1991.

I was born in 1927 in Kingston, Jamaica. My father died two month after my 10th birthday, leaving my mother and three kids. At the age of twelve, my mother sent my brother and me to "Alpha Boys School". After one year, we started to learn the clarinet. Then my bandmaster suggested that I change over to alto sax wich I liked very much. Shortly later I changed over to the tenor sax. It was no long after, when Mr. Tuby Henriquez came to our school to form a big band. He had the idea to play the music of the Glenn Miller band. We played a lot of concerts at the Carib Theatre in Kingston. At this time I was 15 years old. It was a really enjoyable time playing that music. When I turned sixteen I had the wish to play music professionally, so I decided to leave school.
A few weeks later, after I had left school, Mr. Don Gordon visited me, asking me to join his band. I told him that I had to get my mother permission first. She wasn't home at the moment. When my mother returned I told her about Mr. Gordon's offer and begged her to agree. After all, playing with Don Gordon would be a big chance for me. My mother looked at me good, not saying anything. When Mr. Gordon came back and explained everything to her, she said "Well Mr. Gordon, I'll only give my permission if you promise to bring my son home right after the show. No alcohol, no cigarettes!". Mr. Gordon accepted. I played with Don Gordon for over one year. Things started to move up when I was approached by Redver Cook. He mentioned that his tenor player wanted to leave the band and he would like me to come and join his band. I told Redver that I would think it over because I was still playing with Don Gordon. After two weeks I quit Gordon's band and joined "Redver Cook and the Red Devils".
At this time, Redver Cook was the "Count Basie" of Jamaica. Now I began to learn what it takes to be professional musician. I stayed with Redver for two years. Then I left to join the Steven Brothers, who I played for three month, because they planned to leave Jamaica to go to England, which I didn't want to do as yet. So I left and joined the band of the "Glas Bucket Club". The leader was Oswald Wilkins. During that time, I had the pleasure to share the stage with George Shearing and Carmen McRae. I stayed for over four years at the "Glas Bucket Club". After I left the Club, I had contracts for various hotels and night-clubs all over the island.
In 1955, I made up my mind and left for London, England where I intended to stay for a while, if everything goes allright. I arrived in London in October. I didn't feel so good as I thought I would have. Everything was so different, anyhow you can't compare England to Jamaica. Frankie McCook, Tommy's little brother picked me up and drove me to his place where I did stay for some time. The first thing I did was to look up Dizzy Reece's number because I haven't talk to him for ages. Dizzy sounded very surprised to hear my voice. He invited me over at once. Both of us were very happy to meet again. Enjoying a taste of the famous jamaican "white-run" and listening to the latest jazz albums, we talked about my musical future in England. Dizzy said that he had his own group and if I would stick around I maybe could come and play some sessions and even some gigs. This sounded very promising for a start. Next day Dizzy called me up and asked me to accompany him to rehearsal. Dizzy introduced me to the guys and a young lady, named Kathy Stobert, who was one of England's best tenorists. Dizzy asked me up to the jam with everybody. Boy oh boy, I needed it because I hadn't play for weeks.
Diz told me there were a few gigs coming up. Next day Diz asked me to come to the "Flamingo Jazz Club" to play as a guest with his band called "The Hallstars". This was my first gig in England, I enjoyed it very much. I started to look forward to the 2nd and 3rd gig. I also intended as a guest with the "Hallstars" at the National Jazz Festival which took place at the Royal Festival Hall in London. This was great, I think we all played our best. Coming up to Xmas time the music scene wasn't so promising in town. I felt sad and decided to look for a night club gig, which would be more lucrative than a jazz club gig. While walking to Victoria station, I met George Tyndall, an old buddy of mine, who was playing with Johnny Dankworth at that time. He took me to the club where some other friends would be playing. To my surprise I found an old friend from Redver Cook's time. Ossie de Costa! Ossie introduced me to the band leader Chris O'Brien, who asked me to play in his group. So I played at "Susie's" night club. I played ther a couple of weeks when a german agent came down to the club and offered Chris a six month tour through West germany. Chris O'Brien accepted but he had to promise the club owner to come back after the tour.
We left London in january 1955. Our first gig was a day later in Hamburg. We played at the "Pigalle Jazz Club". After four weeks we went to Berlin. There we played at the "Woodhouse". Then we went to Gelsenkirchen where we performed at the "Schaumburg". During that time, I decided to take up a correspondence course "Arranging and Harmony" at the UEC Chicago Conservatory of Music. In Gelsenkirchen, I got a letter from George Maycock, a well known piano player, asking me to join his group. After our tour had finished, I went to Cologne where I joined The George Maycock Combo. My first job with him was at the "Boheme" in Cologne. With George Maycock, we toured all countries in Western Europe. In august 1959 during a holiday, I went back to London where I made my debut album with local musicians. It's called "Blue Bogey" and was producef by Tony Hall.
I stayed for eight years with George Maycock. After I had left the band, I was asked to be a member of the Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra, which was based at the WDR radio station in Cologne.
Beside our radio work, we played a lot of jazz festivals and galas. Also we did tours through Africa and Europe. But the main event for the Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra was the honour of opening the Olympic Games in Munich 1972.
1973 I played with Dieter Reith. We recorded an album called "Knock out" and did a television series by the name of "Geheimtip".
1975 I became a steady member of Peter Herbolzheimer's Rhythm Combination & Brass. But still I did a lot of work with artists like Third Eye, Gil Evans, Freddy Hubbard, Shirley Bassey, Manhattan Transfer, Horace Parlan, Bob Brookmeyer, Mel Lewis and many others.
In september 1983 I got a stroke during a concert with Peter Herbolzheimer. Since that time up till now I'm unable to play any instrument. (Wilton Gaynair, Nov 1991)

What Wilton doesn't say, is that out the London session from August 1959, which produced the "Blue Bogey" album on the Tempo label, there was an other "holiday" session in June 1960 which never came out (the Tempo label died in between) until more than 40 years later, in 2006, when the same Tony Hall from "Blue Bogey" produced it as "Africa Calling" on the Candid Productions. Only the band changes slightly. On "Africa Calling" Jeff Clyne replaces Kenny Napper on bass and, on 3 tracks, comes Ellsworth "Shake" Keane on trumpet and flugelhorn.

The third album "Alpharian" was recorded in 1982 in Cologne for the Konnex label. The band is Allan Botschinsky tp, Rob Van Den Broeck keyboards, Ali Haurand b, Joe Nay dr.

I'm happy to share with you the Wilton Gainair's 1959 debut album "BLUE BOGEY" on Tempo EXA 103 with Wilton Gaynair tenor sax, Terry Shannon piano, Kenny Napper bass, Bill Eyden drums. A great forgotten tenor !


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