Went to the Bugle at Botley, in Hampshire, today for the regular Sunday midday jazz gig with Cliff Harper and the Bugle Boys. A good gig, well attended, with reed player Dave Bowen on the front line, accompanied on some numbers by clarinettist Roy Sear. Only one thing was missing: Cliff, who died last week.
Cliff was a jazz bass player who had been part of the Southampton jazz scene for as long as most people can remember. He was one of the musicians who had helped keep alive the long tradition of jazz in the village of Botley.
For some years he had led a quartet consisting of a rhythm section – drums, keyboard and bass – plus a front-liner changing every week. Cliff was the longest serving member of the band. Drummer Mike Hutton died a few years ago and was succeeded by Terry Francis, who has now retired and is followed by Roy White. Pianist/keyboard player Dave Lewin had ceded his spot to Alec Andrews. But Cliff played on, in the third pub in the village to host the gig. He will be hugely missed now that he has left us to rejoin his beloved Jane, the jazz singer, whom he so greatly missed after her death nine years ago.
I suppose we’ll miss Cliff’s awful jokes. We’ll certainly miss the man, whom we had probably grown to regard as there forever, behind his big double bass. Rest in peace, Cliff.