The Dudley Moore Trio
Pete McGurk (bass)
In the sixties and seventies, Britain produced an impressive array of formidable jazz bass-players. For example, the outstanding Peter Ind, with whom I studied, and learnt so much about music and philosophy etc. Then there was the superb virtuoso bassist Ron Matthewson, best known for his work with the Ronnie Scott band.
Another excellent bassist was Ken Baldock, whose playing I admire enormously, and who I was proud to know as a personal friend before his sad death. Other great names are Dave Green, Roy Babbington Dave Holland and Spike Heatley etc.
But, the bass-player for whom I have the utmost regard is the late, great Pete McGurk. Peter was best known for his work with The Dudley Moore Trio. When it came to playing the double bass, Peter was in a class of his own.
In my own personal opinion Peter was the British equivalent of the popular American bassist, the late Ray Brown. As well as being virtually note perfect, the great thing about Peter was that he had a distinctive ‘sound’, which added dimension, and enhancement to the quality of the music of whoever he was working with.
Peter was always very much in demand. When he wasn’t playing bass with the Dudley Moore Trio, he could be found accompanying The Roy Budd Trio (with Chris Karan on drums).
As an all round bass-player, Peter was happy either playing jazz, or completely at home doing sessions in the recording studio with various orchestras. He contributed some wonderful work to the popular sixties outfit “Sounds Orchestral”. His strong but sensitive playing added both tone and warmth to many of their excellent albums.
Another orchestral formation that Peter played with was the popular Tony Hatch Orchestra. They also made some first class records. Peter can be heard to great effect on the album “Hatchback”.
Tony Hatch, (a very fine pianist himself) receives full credit for discovering the great British jazz pianist and composer Roy Budd. Indeed it was The Tony Hatch Orchestra (with Pete McGurk on Bass) that accompanied Roy Budd on the excellent album “Pick Yourself Up”.
I cannot praise Peters playing too highly, and will always be grateful to him because it was his wonderful playing that inspired me to take up the double bass.
There are many fine recordings of Peters playing, too numerous to mention, but I would say that if one wanted to hear a perfect example of some text book bass playing, then just listen to Peter on the track “Baubles, Bangles and Beads” by The Dudley Moore Trio.
In trying to trace the whereabouts of Peter, I discovered that very sadly, he passed away on 18th of June 1968. His funeral service was held at Worthing Crematorium, on 25th June 1968.
Phil Kent. August 2017.
Pete McGurk (Bass).
Chris Karan (Drums)
Chris Karan was born in Melbourne, Australia of Greek parents. He became a professional musician at the age of 16 and worked in local clubs in Melbourne, including Australia’s most famous jazz club “The Embers”. It was there where he recorded his very first album. Later he moved to Sydney and joined a well-known jazz trio called “The 3 out” with Mike Nock on piano. The trio became well known on TV and performed at many Jazz concerts. They were also involved with the first International Jazz Festival held in Sydney in 1960 when they accompanied Coleman Hawkins, Teddy Wilson, Gene McDaniels, Dakota Staton and others.
He joined the Dudley Moore Trio in 1962 shortly after arriving in England where they appeared at the famous Establishment Club in Greek Street, Soho, run by Peter Cook. Apart from recording many albums and concert work, including touring Australia twice, The Dudley Moore Trio also featured in all the “Not Only But Also” series for BBC TV. The trio was invited to guest on many other popular TV shows. They were filmed in concert in Australia which was networked throughout the UK on LWT.
Alongside his jazz work he quickly became established in session work and played with such great names as Michel Legrand, Lalo Schifrin, Charles Aznavour Stanley Myers, Tony Hatch, Quincy Jones, Herbie Hancock, Gerry Goldsmith, Jerry Fielding, Pat Williams, Andre Previn with the L.S.O., Richard Rodney-Bennett, Barry Tuckwell, Carl Davis, Henry Mancini, The Beatles and Roy Budd. He became part of the Roy Budd Trio appearing frequently on TV, radio and all Roy’s albums.
Apart from session work he was and still is involved in ethnic, Latin and Brazilian music. He studied Indian tabla with the legendary tabla player Alla Rakha. His tabla playing has been added to many famous film scores such as Roy Budd’s Get Carter.
He has also worked with many well known artists such as Stephane Grapelli, Yehudi Menuhin, flamenco guitarist Juan Martin, John Williams, Oscar Peterson, George Shearing, Barney Kessel, Pepper Adams, Bud Powell, Bobby Shew, Bill Perkins, Al Cohn, Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrissey, Jim Mullen, Victor Feldman, Lambert Hendricks and Ross, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Billy Eckstine, Mark Murphy, Dizzy Gillespie, Phil Woods, Marion Montgomery, Blossom Dearie and Oscar Brown Jnr. He toured with John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, The Bee Gees, Caterina Valente, Dusty Springfield, Lulu, The Swingle Singers and of course Dudley Moore.
He was a member of the Harry Stoneham group who did the Michael Parkinson shows on BBC TV accompanying many great artists. He was also invited to join Laurie Holloway’s group on stage at the Piccadilly Theatre to accompany Elaine Page in the West End hit “Piaf”.
He is part of the quartet, Spectrum, whose repertoire reflects the name, covering most areas of music including classical and Brazilian.
He has performed at the Royal Opera House with the Harlem Dancers for John Keilehor’s Troy Games which was a percussion spectacular.
He started his own company Karan Percussion making Latin drums and specialized percussion instruments, selling and hiring out to musicians such as Dizzy Gillespie, Victor Feldman and Don Alias during their engagements at Ronnie Scott’s Club.
He has led his own groups “Sugar Loaf”, a Brazilian band, and his current jazz group, Blue Note Revisited. Both have recorded for the BBC.
In 1992 he did a successful tour with Dudley Moore and the BBC Concert Orchestra. This was recorded during the final three nights at the Royal Albert Hall and has been released on CD, “Dudley Moore, Live from an Aircraft Hangar.” His very last engagement for Dudley was held in New York in April 2001 at Carnegie Hall, where they celebrated Dudley’s birthday and his life and times in show business. The proceeds from the Trio’s last CD have been donated to the Research Foundation Fund for PSP Progressive Supranuclear Palsy (Martine Avenue Productions, Inc., CD No. MAP18486)
In September 2001, Chris was invited as a guest percussionist, by composer Mike Batt to launch his new group, The Planets, at the Royal Festival Hall.
He is currently playing, recording and touring with Juan Martin. Over many years now he has contributed ethnic percussion to Juan’s development of the Moorish aspect of flamenco music and recently completed a successful tour of the UK at the Barbican.
Chris Karan is happy to accept emails at: email@example.com