What’s New? (and occasional blog)
Apr 2017 Lots of musical developments. Last Sunday we bumped into my old bassist mate, Phil Berry (he plays on lots of tracks on my albums), at the White Hart, Bagshot, playing with a very tasty trio. Mentioned I was getting back to playing and Phil asked if I fancied any trio work. It is tempting, as he’s such a good player, but I haven’t done trio jazz work since the 1960s, so I’ll have to work on my chops. Then, first rehearsal yesterday of the potential jazz-funk quartet and it’s looking very promising. Next one coming up soon. And finally a couple of Bournemouth trips coming up; the first one’s a mini-reunion on 9 May instigated by Al Stewart (‘The Year of the Cat’), and Nigel Street and I, plus others will get together for a natter. Then on 14 July I’m instructed by Zoot Money to sit in for a few numbers at the Jazz Cafe, Sandbanks, which will be nice, as my kids, plus at least one granddaughter, will be there. And finally on 16 July I’m playing at Keith Collins’s birthday bash near New Milton. I think it’s time to splash out on some new keyboards!
Apr 2017 We spent a nice Sunday afternoon at the Sunningdale Lounge chatting with two DJs from Solar Radio, Big H, and Angus Kemp and his lady. And what a couple of nice blokes they are – and so knowledgeable about jazz and funk. And…first rehearsal for the jazz quartet coming up on 18 April, so I’ve got a lot of work to put in on my chops.
Mar 2017 RIP Chuck Berry, one of the founding fathers of rock’n’roll. This clip from the movie Hail! Hail! Rock’n’Roll is one of my favourites. It struck me at the time that thousands of young guitarists around the world who’d faithfully copied Keith’s guitar lick (rather than the original) would suddenly realize that they’d been playing it wrong. Play video
Mar 2017 Blimey! Three ‘interviews’ (in the broadest sense) done in the last 24 hours. First one was just by email, giving memories of the old Bure Club, Christchurch, for Nick Churchill, Bournemouth author and journalist, then a face-to-face recorded interview here with Tom Murphy re the Hippodrome/Royal Arcade Ballrooms in Boscombe, and finally a chat on the phone with Guy Mowbray, an ex-muso and writer from Chesterfield, who’s writing a book on the Small faces and wanted info on Don Fay, baritone player from Bournemouth, who played with the Faces. How strange that when you have to talk in depth about a subject, little details emerge that have lain dormant in your mind for years. (I wonder what else is lurking in the dark recesses of my brain.)
Mar 2017 A lot’s been happening so far this year. Firstly, while hunting for an old jazz chart I came across a pile of old photos, many of which have now been added to the Galleries section. Secondly, it turned out that the 1,000th listener to Hill Street Blues was my granddaughter Katie, who was obviously following the plays counter and jumped in when it reached 999. (It’s comfortably past 1,000 now). But the big news (for me at least) is that Pete Giles and I are putting together a jazz quartet (or at least trying to). We’ve teamed up with a couple of nice guys who are really experienced and hope to have the first run-through in a couple of weeks. But will we get any gigs??????
Dec 2016 Once again, up to the Bulls Head, Barnes for more merry mayhem, and Zoot Money and I at last managed to stumble through Ray Charles’s ‘Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying’ – a first for us, as neither of us had done it before, (although we did talk about it earlier this year down the pub). His Moneyship’s new Hammond keyboard ‘Baby Beast’ sounded great, but the highlight of the evening was John Altman (check out his Wikipedia page!) sitting in on soprano sax and swapping licks with Nick Newall, who was on fine form. And now, as 2017 beckons, I must get down to finishing the next book, ‘Legal High’.
Dec 2016 On, on, and ever onwards. Over the last 4 weeks I’ve sold 6 more copies of my book ‘Act of God’, after nearly a year of deafening silence on the sales front. And… as if that isn’t enough excitement, Zoot Money, fresh from his tour with the Manfreds, has bought a new Hammond keyboard. It looks fab from the photos and I’ve demanded a go on it before the doors open at his gig at the Bulls Head, Barnes on 29 December. And… finally, one of my tracks (Hill Street Blues) has now reached 935 plays on SoundCloud. Who’ll be the 1,000th listener? Mustn’t get too excited, though. It’s been on SoundCloud for over 5 years, so it hardly qualifies as going viral (more like a grumbling appendix).
Dec 2016 Great lunch with Peter Giles on Tuesday, not only having lots of laughs but also plotting a possible new jazz-funk combo. If we can pull this off it should be great fun, but lots of work to do (including working my chops back up). And… have sold another copy of ‘Act of God’! That’s another 99p, (less of course Amazon’s commission). That villa in the south of France is drawing ever closer.
Nov 2016 Spent several hours today gassing round Zoot Money’s gaff and we never mentioned Brexit or the US election once. Are we really that out of touch? (If so, thank God!)
Oct 2016 I’ve added ‘Out-of-the-ordinary gigs’ to (Musical) sweepings from the factory floor in Odds and Ends.
Oct 2016 The Downstairs Club/Disque a Go! Go! has now got its own Wikipedia page, which you’ll find here.
Sep 2016 Spent a couple of hours happily swapping text insults with Zoot Money. I was doing so well with my rapier wit and then he got in his best line just as my phone went flat. (I told him I was hoping to play some numbers that were younger than me. He replied that that includes practically everything that’s been written.) Grrr! Will get him at play time.
Aug 2016 Had a call from my old mate Dave Crabtree, sax player in our old jazz quartet ‘Birdland’. He’s bought an electronic sax and wonders if we might put together another 4/5 piece. Oh yes, bring it on! All sorts of possibilities, ranging from straight-ahead jazz to jazz-funk a la David Sanborn etc! Will I actually get to play Sanborn’s Chicago Song in anger? (I know the synth part). Mustn’t count chickens, but this could be very interesting.
July 2016 I’ve added a shameless bit of name-dropping to the end of the Biog blow-by-blow section, which you can see by clicking here
July 2016 Blimey! Just received 25 quid royalties from PPL for The Bare Necessities Megamix which reached no. 14 in the charts in 1991. Maybe it’s due to the new movie of the Jungle Book that’s now on release. Most of this massive payout was from the BBC, who must have some cash to spare since they sacked Chris Evans from Top Gear. At this rate I’ll soon be breaking even on music! Maybe I should retire (again).
July 2016 Managed to upload a snippet of last Thursday’s Zoot Money gig at the Bulls Head, Barnes. To view it click on the YouTube button on the right of this page.
June 2016 Yet another super night at the Bull’s Head, Barnes. Zoot was in fine fettle and an even bigger sound than usual with two great saxes (Nick Newall and Mornington Lockett). And on drums Bob Jenkins (from Be Sharpe), whom I still think of as Bob junior, as I knew his parents from Bournemouth days. (His dad, Bob senior, was a great alto player and his mum a super vocalist). Plus, my old mate Peter Giles came along to listen, still the fittest septuagenarian in the country and still smoking! The highlight of the evening, though, was after the gig with yours truly pushing Zoot Money’s car up Barnes high street trying to bump start it. I should come out of traction next week. (Now you really owe me one, ZM.)
June 2016 Chatting on the phone yesterday to Peter Giles, younger brother of Michael (see below), and he mentioned he’s now ranked 2nd worldwide in the over-70s road running ratings. And he’s still smoking!
June 2016 The 1964 recording of ‘In A Big Way’ by Trendetters Limited, complete with images which someone’s put together has been added to the videos on YouTube. Just click the YouTube button on the top right to access them.
June 2016 Life’s just one long social whirl at present, at least by my puny standards. Lunch today down in Hungerford with Michael Giles, and as usual we didn’t stop gassing for five hours. How nice it is to meet up with mates you’ve known since you were both teenagers and find you both still want to carry on talking when it’s time to leave.
June 2016 Jolly boys’ outing down to Poole, Dorset yesterday with Zoot Money for funeral of Johnny Hammond. Lots of laughs (though not during the service) with Ed Roberts, Ken Langdown, and met Tony Letts for the first time since 1966 when he sold me a superb Singer Gazelle convertible (which was written off a few weeks later when Ed Roberts’s then girlfriend sideswiped me with her VW Karmann Ghia when she was pissed – she ended up in hospital.) Zoot tells me he had an email last week from Andy Summers lamenting my death. Eh?… if it were true, I’m sure I would have known. At least, though, I can now use Mark Twain’s line of reports of my death being greatly exaggerated. And.. Zoot’s given up dope!!!! No wonder the economy’s in the doldrums. ZM’s asked me to suggest new material for his set (i.e. old standards that can be dressed up and bluesified). Hmm… must fish out my vast collection of Gracie Fields albums.
May 2016 Another old muso mate bites the dust. Johnny Hammond, drummer with the original Big Roll Band, Al Kirtley Three etc, sadly died yesterday (15 May). He was a good, solid drummer and a good laugh, and as Roy Phillips, later of The Peddlars, put it to me he’s now reached his coda. Now Hammond’s left the stage, there’s only Zoot and me left out of the original 5 members of the Big Roll Band. (I’ve explained to Zoot that if I go before him and he plays at my funeral to remember that the Dead March is in a minor key.)
You can see a video of John Hammond and me playing in France in 1996 here.
Apr 2016 2016’s turning out to be a lucrative year for yrs truly’s music and literary efforts. Music payouts YTD now exceed a staggering ten quid, thanks to both the 1967 Abbey Road session for The Giles Brothers and The UK Mixmasters single that got to number 14 in 1991 (see Discography). On top of that, royalties have been pouring in for my 2012 book ‘Act of God’ (see my Amazon page) and have now reached 27 US cents. And, as you’ll see from that page, a used copy of ‘A History of the Blacketts’, which sold out last November, is now on sale for £210! If I pop my cloggs will the price soar even higher? Or would nobody notice (except me)? I think it’s time for a lie down until the excitement passes.
Apr 2016 I’ve unearthed a few more photos, mostly of Palookaville, Covent Garden, which have been added to Gallery 1990s
Apr 2016 Over the years I’ve had hundreds of enquiries from one or two people about the cartoon of me in the top panel on these pages. It was drawn one drunken night at Mori’s Bar, in Rue de France, Nice by Jack Pennington, who was one of a bunch of us who used to go to the Nice Jazz Festival every year. (Click here for image.) Jack was an accomplished cartoonist who drew cartoons of a number of jazz musicians, and following his death in 2006 a number of eminent jazzers played at a memorial concert for him. You’ll find a report of that here.
Feb 2016 A brief postscript to last night’s gig at the Bulls Head. Whilst chatting with Zoot Money about a documentary recently shared on Facebook about Screaming Lord Sutch, featuring the promoter Reg Calvert, Zoot reminded me that it was his act that Sutch had disrupted at one of our gigs at Weymouth, and not, as I’d thought, Dave Anthony’s. Zoot had been doing a slow (for him) number when Dave Sutch came swinging towards us hanging from the roof supports and belting out Tarzan calls. Such vignettes could of course be of immense importance to future students of ancient rock history and I’ve corrected the piece in The Bournemouth Years (Lead Guitar) (NB. This is probably the only recorded instance of anyone out-looning Zoot Money.)
Feb 2016 Yet another night of merry-making at the Bulls Head, Barnes with Zoot and the guys. Sat in for a few numbers as usual, this time including a few Fats Domino ones, as it’s his 88th birthday tomorrow (Fats, not Zoot). And how nice to see Ronnie Johnson back playing after he broke his hip last year while going offstage in Dublin on the last night of the Leo Sayer tour. Ronnie kindly gave me a copy of his 2005 album ‘Field Day’ – wonderful stuff, and reminiscent of Pat Metheny. (NB. Sad to say that my big brother, Stan Kirtley died last Friday, aged 94. Wonderful, modest guy – former Spitfire pilot and later a Wing Commander, who could play Honky Tonk Train Blues faster than any of us, including Rick Wakeman etc, and even Mead Lux Lewis, who wrote it.)
Jan 2016 I’ve added a transcript of my brother Stan talking about his RAF experiences, including as a Spitfire pilot in World War II, which you’ll find by clicking here.
Nov 2015 Uploaded another composition to SoundCloud and Reverbnation. Check out Sunrise. Now that’s out of the way am wrestling with complexities of Logic Pro so I don’t have to bother my son or grandson for help.
Oct 2015 Yet another night of happy mayhem at the Bull’s Head, Barnes (see pic in Gallery 2010s. Sat in for a number, as did the wondrous Kenny Clayton, who played some awesome chord inversions in ‘Georgia’. And I got to meet two really nice Blackett cousins, who’d found out about the gig. And… Paul MacCallum apparently saw, while in Bournemouth recently, someone up a ladder cleaning the blue plaque outside the old Downstairs Club (see Blue Plaque page) Could it have been Ed Roberts trying to retrieve one of his false nails?
Oct 2015 Just added an image of a programme from a Trendetters Ltd gig with Gerry and the Pacemakers to The Bournemouth Years (Piano)
Oct 2015 Nice little reunion gig tonight with my old mates, Dave Crabtree, Mick Kirby and Tony Eden at Dave’s daughter’s wedding. First time all four of us had played together since Tequila Sunrise days more than 30 years ago. Lots of laughs and just one set of Jerry Lee Lewis, Spencer Davis, Status Quo, Billy Joel etc numbers. (Old musos never die, they just do shorter gigs.) (See pic at Gallery 2010s)
Sep 2015 Just added to Soundcloud playlist a wonderful track by my old mate, the late Tony Lee. Check out Teach Me Tonight. Got to know Tony and his wife Olga while I was working in Richmond in the early 1980s and often used to give him a lift to his gigs at the Bulls Head, Barnes, where we sank many a pint.
Sep 2015 Whilst hunting for something else, came across a box of old tapes of gigs from many years ago. I’ve added two tracks from them to SoundCloud, viz ‘The Cat’ from a Four Way Split gig at The Windmill, Windlesham, Surrey in 1996, and ‘George’s Dilemma’ from a Birdland gig at Palookaville, Covent Garden, London in 1989. Just scroll down through the first few SoundCloud tracks to play/download them.
Sep 2015 Just spotted in the Bournemouth Echo site that in a list of readers’ past favourite rock venues someone has included the Al Kirtley Trio residency at the Potters Arms, Hamworthy. How nice that it’s remembered after 45 years.
Aug 2015 Sad news. Rog Collis, guitarist and leader of the first two versions of Zoot Money’s Big Roll Band, died in Thailand on 14th August. Another good mate gone. Zoot and I had a two-man wake for Rog down the pub today (19 Aug).
Aug 2015 Just found a YouTube posting by someone of “In a Big Way” by Trendsetters Ltd. Looks like whoever posted it has borrowed some images from my galleries, but who cares? I like the attention! Now added to Discography
Jul 2015 On 17 July 2015 I returned a Count Basie LP to Dan Stooks, son of the late Jerry Stooks, (see towards the end of Downstairs Club page for pic). I borrowed the LP from Jerry Stooks in 1962 and have had it for 53 years. Is this a record? (pun intended)
Jul 2015 Well I never! In January I signed my first ever song publishing contract (for Dinero y Efectivo) and now there’s another one coming up, this one for Friday Night is Rock’n’Roll. At this rate I could give up my day job, if I had one.
Jun 2015 Finished recording a version of a song wot I wrote over 30 years ago. Thanks to my son, Pete, for the drums, and of course for his patience in recording it. Check out Friday Night is Rock’n’Roll
May 2015 Just discovered that, sadly, the old Potters Arms pub in Hamworthy, Dorset has closed for redevelopment. That was a super twice-weekly residency for The Al Kirtley Three in 1969/70. I’ve added an image of the pub to The Bournemouth Years- Piano
Mar 2015 Well I’ll be hornswoggled! Just discovered that a letter I wrote to the Daily Telegraph last October is included in “What Will They Think of Next?”, their book of readers’ letters that never made it on to the Letters page. So at last have achieved much-deserved fame for being unpublished. (Not quite sure that’s the epitaph I’d have chosen, but whatever…) Oh yes, letter reads:
SIR – Having endured the Eurovision Song Contest, any remaining doubts I might have had about voting Ukip have now been dispelled. Yours etc…
Mar 2015 Another pic, this one of me doing a muso’s “tic-tac” sign, added to Gallery 1990s
Feb 2015 Up at the Bull’s Head, Barnes again on Thursday. Zoot and the guys were in absolute top form and swinging like a garden gate. Zoot was singing and playing like a demon. I accused him of practising but he stoutly denied it. Sat in for a couple of numbers and Nick Newall told me he could actually here my steam piano for once through the monitor at the other end of the stage. I should’ve gone and sat there…
Jan 2015 What’s going on? Over the last 4 weeks I’ve had nearly 500 plays of Burning Up the Carnival on Soundcloud. Up till then I’d had about 20 over three years. And they look like real plays, not ones by a robot. It’s very gratifying, particularly as the sound quality’s so poor, as it was taken off a cassette tape of a live recording at Palookaville, Covent Garden about 25 years ago. Keep the plays coming, guys! P.S. The YouTube recording of Dinero has now had more than 200 views too!
Jan 2015 Had some really nice compliments from musician mates whose opinions I respect about Dinero y Efectivo. Aw shucks, fellas!
Dec 2014 What a great Christmas it’s been! Apart from Rig’s Christmas tunes (see earlier post below) being played on Soundcloud all over the world (including Kazakhstan!), we had a super night on Boxing Day up at the Bull’s Head, Barnes, where I got to sit in for a few Ray Charles numbers with Zoot Money and the guys. Kenny Clayton, Petula Clarke’s former musical director, got up too and played a super version of Georgia. And… I had an extra Christmas present from my clever son, Pete, who’s put on YouTube a 1930s video to the audio of Josh and my tune Dinero y Efectivo. You’ll find it on YouTube. A nice bit of editing by Pete, especially the shots of the piano player during the keyboard solo and the bits where the brass section stands up for the riffs. Plus, he quantized my piano playing in the last verse and chorus. I’ve never been quantized before but it didn’t hurt a bit (in fact you could say it put me in my place!). (p.s. it’s not Josh and me doing the dancing, honest.)
Dec 2014 After much persuasion (and bullying) finally persuaded my wife, Rig, to record an album of English/American and Norwegian Christmas tunes. She did a great job and you can hear them on Soundcloud. When you get to the page scroll down a bit and you’ll find them.
Dec 2014 Whoops! Just realized I uploaded an MP3 version of Dinero y Efectivo to Soundcloud (see previous post). The proper WAV file (with much better sound quality) has now replaced it.
Dec 2014 Never thought I’d end up working for my grandson, Josh Kirtley. You’ll find our track Dinero y Efectivo on Soundcloud (K2 has a combined age of 91 years, nearly all of them mine)
Produced, engineered and mixed by Josh Kirtley. All keyboards, bass and Spanglish “vocals” by Al Kirtley. Tune written by Al Kirtley. So stick on those headphones, crank up the volume and have a listen!
Nov 2014 I’ve managed to restore the link to the two tracks recorded by my brother Stan Kirtley in New York City in April 1944. You’ll find them by clicking the MySpace button in the “Find Me On” panel on the top right of this page. (The MySpace button is the left one out of the three.) When you get into the MySpace page just click on “Music” in the panel headed “Al Kirtley” and you’ll find the tracks.