Keep It Light is an anthology of British modern jazz spanning the decade from the mid-fifties until eclipsed by the advent of The Beatles, R&B and Beat. The early British modernists were influenced by such black American masters as Charlie Parker, Thelonious Monk and Dizzy Gillespie, and they based their lives and art on similar premises as their heroes, affecting dark glasses and a hip stance. In contrast to the beer-swilling revivalists, pot and pep-pills were their chosen stimulants though such were the physical and psychological demands of touring, some suffered damaging encounters with hard drugs.
The rise of the modernists marked an extraordinary era which saw the opening of the original Ronnie Scott’s club in Gerrard Street, Soho, and the emergence of a golden generation of exceptional musicians who would create a musical identity for British jazz. Prominent among them, two prodigies, multi-instrumentalists, composers and school chums, Tubby Hayes, (who with Ronnie Scott would create the finest British be-bop group of all, The Jazz Couriers) and Victor Feldman, described by Benny Green as “the most gifted jazz musician Britain has ever produced”. Stan Tracey (another authentic jazz composer who was resident pianist at Ronnie Scott’s for seven years), also emerged along with the brilliant and much in demand Scottish arranger and trumpeter Jimmy Deuchar, the Jamaica-born saxophonist Joe Harriott, who abandoned the security of a successful quintet to devote himself to his revolutionary new “abstract” music, Cleo Laine and Annie Ross, simply two of the greatest post-war female jazz vocalists in the world, and Johnny Dankworth and Dudley Moore, both leading composers of film music.
Keep It Light captures the atmosphere of the late 50s, early 60s British jazz scene; a time of creativity, style and excitement. The sound is not American. It’s not East Coast, or West Coast, but unmistakably, London.