Ian Hamer ( trumpet/flugelhorn/composer/arranger) was born in Merseyside on 11th September, 1932, the son of Wilf Hamer, and brother of Stuart and George.
In their early years Ian, and both of his brothers,
played in the band run by his mother, known as Mrs Wilf Hamer’s Band,
in the Grafton Rooms, Liverpool.
Later on he worked with Carl Barriteau, Oscar Rabin,
Vic Lewis, the Kirchin Band, Jack Parnell, Roy Kenton, Vic Ash, Eric Delaney,
Gracie Cole, David Ede, Tubby Hayes Big Band, Harry South, Ted Heath,
Kenny Wheeler, Joe Harriott, Woody Herman's Anglo-American Herd, Thad
Jones-Mel Lewis, Mike Gibbs, Dizzy Gillespie, Benny Golson, Gary McFarland,
Lalo Schifrin, James Last, Barbara Thompson, Peter Herbolzheimer and the
Beatles– (hope I haven’t left anyone out!) He led his own successful sextet
from the early 1970s until settling in Brighton.
This is an interview conducted entirely by email, so
some of the events may be chronologically inaccurate.
Yes, it is Dizzy in the second picture on some
railway station in the UK in 1958 when we were doing a Newport Jazz Festival
tour for 16 days. I was with the Vic Ash Quintet and we opened the show
every night. I also met Clark Terry on that trip and he tried to teach
me his breathing trick. I still can't do it!
my dirty Martin, I would never have it painted as I am sure it would
ruin it, but my valves are fine, though I did have them re-plated about
20 years ago!
van Rooyen had it wrong, I never wrote for Basie. The only American who
did record two of my tunes was Paul Gonsalves on an album with Tubby Hayes
called 'Just Friends' at Lansdowne studios (you remember them).
As regards Cubase I have tried to put an album together with me doing everything, big orks, the lot. I also have an 8 track recorder link to the Atari, but the only problem is that I keep wanting to go back and remix it, as one is never satisfied. The trumpet is the least of the problems. I think the problem with us—we have spent all our lives in recording studios but somebody else was fiddling with the knobs. It's fine having all this gear but you need an engineer to go with it.
most exciting thing I did recently was a Memorial concert for Dick
Morrissey with my London Quintet here at Brighton Jazz Club, with Alan
Skidmore and Jim Mullen (great guitarist as special guest). We all did
it for less money and it raised £330 for the local Martlets Hospice—the
gig was steaming!
was very honoured to be asked, but Dick and I were very closely
associated and played together non-stop in the sixties.
regards my big band—it is as all these things are—a labour of love, i.e.
giving a bit back for all I’ve had out of music,
started it 15 years ago: Ian Hamer and the Sussex Youth Jazz Orchestra,
but I found the youths came and went too quick, so I dropped the youth
bit and it has worked fine ever since. Some rehearsals are a pain in the
ass, but somehow the gigs come together, and I am quite proud
of it at times.
just stand out front and play solos on almost every tune, which is what
I wanted to do in the first place. But I did enjoy being a lead
player as well at one time—but not any more! I will ask Tessa to send
you a flyer of the band, so you can see what music we play.
you want to see a recent picture of me, (bags ‘n' all) look at www.jazztrumpet.co.uk.
On this website you can hear excerpts of Freddie Hubbard and Lee Morgan!
regards Jo Hunter—I was going to lend him your big band memories,
but in the end he didn't want them!
Music Scoring software—I have been using Cubase Score for some time which does the job, apart from its idea of writing chord symbols. It doesn’t know what a +chord is or an aug! And if you want to write a sharp11th it has to do e.g. G7,9,#11, so if I do a Kenny Wheeler chart it is well confused. Apart from that it is fine. I believe Sibelius or Finale are better, but I don't see any point in spending all that money when Cubase is OK.
can write a score much quicker, but the copying is a pain in the ass.
Anyway I don't have one of those special pens any more, thank God.
your bit about Bill Chase and your trumpet—when I met him he played a
Martin Committee. He had bent his the night before doing a TV show here,
so he borrowed mine and blew the shit out of it.
you download the picture you can see mine, complete with rubber band round
the third valve slide. I don't need the ring any more. I have been
playing it so long now—the low C# is in tune!
Crescendo Archives are amazing! I just found a bit about Harry South having
two five-piece brass sections with Derek Watkins, Greg Bowen, Hank Shaw,
Kenny Wheels, Les Condon and I, and I can't even remember it!
would love to send you a testimonial. Maybe you should write it and email
me as you are much better at putting words together than me.
am looking forward to having a look at your new magazine. My big band
gig went great—we finished the year with Peter’s (Herbolzheimer) Blues
In My Shoes, which I am sure you could still play without opening
also have his Giant Steps, where I don't have to play the high
G#, but only fly around the changes, which is worse. My lead trumpet
player is almost but not quite as loud as you could be—but you were the
very best there was!
Don Pashley returned your Great Big Bands yesterday and Jo Hunter wants to borrow it next. I saw him doing his street gig yesterday and he sends his best to you. I have also spoken to a few trumpet players and they all send their regards. First of all I rang Eddie Blair—he went to the final Heath gig and took a bow. I told him I had been in contact with you. He said to tell you your name was mentioned, and sends you his regards. He gave up playing about 5 years ago. He said it was very well attended. I didn't even think of going as I can't stand the music. If I heard Hot Toddy again I would throw up! Anyway, I was not invited, even though I played 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th towards the end. Ted didn't know who was there as we were all so busy in the studios by then! It didn't really matter—it sounded just the same whoever was there!
Davies (of Button-Down Brass) sends his best. Likewise Pete Winslow. He
hasn't got the parking meter anymore—I remember it too! (This refers
to the time when Pete was feeding coins into a parking meter in the 1950s
and the meter fell off. He took it home, intending to report it and then
forgot about it. It was empty. He gave it back later.)
Pete also lives in Brighton. He doesn't play any more but is still building
houses and lives in the biggest penthouse in Hove.
idea of a Jazz Online web site is great and I would love to be involved.
Do you need an Agony Aunt?
had a gig with my Tribute to Miles Quintet on Tuesday which was full of
people and a great audience. I don't copy Miles but it is a good gimmick
and puts buns on seats!
next one is with my big band on the19th Dec and the next is a Dick Morrisey
Memorial concert on 5 JAN with my London Quintet with Alan Skidmore. Jim
Mullen is coming down as a special guest. We are making a donation
to the local Hospise in his memory, so it is sure to be a sell out.
I am becoming quite a draw in my old age!
I have just lent your big band things to Don Pashley, who lives around the corner. I am sure you knew him, and later on I will lend them to Jo Hunter.
have now finished reading all of your Great Big Bands. I remember
with horror those all night bus rides in the fifties! For the last 25
years if I've been on the road it has been in the best hotel with somebody
else picking up the bill. I was pleased to be mentioned in
the last bit of Saarbrücken in your memoirs. I still have a copy of the
original of that, the one you wrote in Crescendo.
bit on Lew Soloff was great. And also the bit about the recording of the
Exodus film music, when you got the lead part thrown at you at the
last moment. I remember Ronnie Hunt doing the same thing on TV shows when
I was sitting on the end and it was a distraction to say the least!
trumpet player who you’re talking about who couldn’t make it would have
been George Taylor. I did some TV shows with Geoff Love and he did the
same thing, but Freddy Clayton and I did it all!
same happened with Stan Roderick—at the end of a session it was
always 'THANK YOU STAN' until they finally realised it wasn’t Stan
at all, and he disappeared out of the studio scene almost overnight!
other thing I would like to mention was at the beginning of the Udo Lindenberg
tour in 1978—Derek Watkins and I shared a room for two nights. We were
probing as the Germans call it. I was tootling on the trumpet and
there was a knock on the door and it was Al Porcino who dropped
in to say 'Hello'. He then picked up my horn to demonstrate Carmine
Caruso, (I had already worked with Jon Faddis and was well into
it and still am—Jon showed me!).
said 'watch how my chops don't move between F on the top line and
high F. He then splattered something all over the ceiling and Derek
and I fell apart laughing for five minutes. Another time I was in
Munich and I rang him and he said come over for dinner tonight we
are have salmon. I went but that is another story. Is he still around?
Davies had a cancer scare 4 years ago but has had 3 years of checkups
and is OK. We are always in touch as we try to chase royalties from the
Top Of The Pops television show which we did for the best part of 20 years.
He is fine.
Watson I saw at a presentation for Tommy McQuater at the Coda Club—the
only time I have ever been there—and he looked amazing for 77.
Hunter told me I have a great big sound, like Freddie Hubbard. Jo had
will find out more about Jimmy Watson and let you know.
and I were in the Algarve two years ago at Playa de Luz—about two
miles from Dougie Robinson, but we didn't know he was living there at
the time. I saw him at Derek Collins's funeral later on. He
still owns a house on Kingston Hill and I think lets it out to the German
Embassy for a few marks.
have never been a mouthpiece freak. When I played with you with Jack Parnell's
band I played a Bach 6B, because I wanted to sound like Jimmy Deuchar.
Then I did a tour with Dizzy in '58 and he gave me an Al Cass, and then
sent me five more with different throats and back-bores. In 1990 I changed
to a Giardinelli 10M, given to me by Kenny Wheeler, so that is only three
mouthpieces in 42 years.
am still playing my Martin Committee trumpet which I bought in the Paramount
music shop in Shaftesbury avenue in 1960. I still have the Hire Purchase
form for £4.86 per week. It looks like a Monet, or whatever they
call them, because it has no lacquer on it I think it would ruin
it if I had it painted. I love it and know where every note is on it—and
all the other ones!
have downloaded all your big band things and I have read all apart from
Saarbrücken, but what I find amazing is that, apart from Sampson, Squads,
Leon Roy, and some of the Germans, I also played with all the rest, but
we only really played together with Jack Parnell. I think
when we were younger 4 or 5 years was a lot of space. For instance:
Peter Herbolzheimer’s trumpets when I played with him was Derek Watkins,
me, Ack van Rooyen and Kenny Wheeler.
have really enjoyed reading your writings—you were always good at that,
and were always a shit-hot trumpet player—my inspirational lead player.
Breen was not South African, as you thought, but was born in Jamaica.
He was a seaman and I knew him in Liverpool when I was a kid and
played with Lou Warburton and Terry Walsh in the Liverpool Jazz Club when
I was 16. He sang and played the congas. Also he was with Tubby's first
band with me on the road.
were talking about Derek Healey the other night. I saw a lot of him in
his last year. My eldest daughter lives in Kingston, so we always called
in to see Sheila and Derek. I last saw him a week before he died, and
he still had a great sense of humour. I think we both came to London the
same week and had wonderful careers.
did mean it about your lead trumpet playing. It was an inspiration to
me even if you were a nasty bastard at the time! I can remember kicking
Leon Calvert one time (on stage!) when we did a concert of Tubby's music
(and mine) because he had too many whiskeys and messed it up. I also learnt
that from you.
Interviewed by Ron Simmonds
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