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John Jack – ‘I improvised’ (and funeral details)

So sorry to hear about the death of John Jack, such a great supporter of the jazz scene – as manager, promoter, bouncer, record label and distributor. And covering the whole range of music from trad (working with Ken Colyer and Bruce Turner) through to improv. We would still see him at the Vortex two or three times a month, at all types of gig. Stalwartly at Evan Parker, but also at the Freedom sessions, at Penny Rimbaud’s nights and at Partisans.

I was also fortunate enough to interview John for a short film that we are preparing for a seminar in Germany next year. I spoke with him for over 4 hours, both at the club and in his flat on Charing Cross Road (where he lived from 1961).

In telling me about all sorts of things, from his early days in Barnes through his time working at Dobell’s to managing Ronnie’s Old Place in the mid 60s and starting Cadillac at the end of that decade, he was riveting. Some wonderful English elements of dry wit too.

His summary of his life – “I improvised”

A tribute by Mike Westbrook in Londonjazznews:

Guardian obituary by John Fordham:

A tribute by Matthew Wright in Jazzwise:


The main funeral ceremony, conducted by humanist celebrant Jim Trimmer, will be held at the  100 Club, Oxford Street at 3.30pm. on 5 October. There will be memories and poems from Michael Horovitz, Kerry Pilgrim (daughter of John Pilgrim) and others, and musical contributions from Mike Westbrook, Chris Biscoe, Evan Parker, and John Russell. Following this there will be food and drinks then further music starting around 6pm, from Mingus-inspired band Hogcallin’, then as a jam-session, in true JOHN JACK style, in honour of our dear friend. This will last until 8.30. Hope you can come.

No flowers please; donations to Musicians benevolent fund


Oliver Weindling


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