Twenty Years a Jazz Writer

I realised recently that I’d notched up 20 years writing about jazz, mostly for The Herald newspaper in Glasgow. There was a lot more of the kind of jazz I love being played in Scotland back then and I was able to gain a great deal of writing experience in a relatively short space of time.

Indeed, it was my passion for jazz that led to my very first commission: I was a student doing an unofficial work experience on The Herald Diary when the then arts editor, John Fowler, came over to say hello. He asked me what my interests were. I told him jazz and film. I explained that the jazz I loved was not the stuff that was deemed cool and current, and that I was always the youngest person at every gig I attended.

It so happened that my favourite saxophonist was playing in town that very week – so John asked me to try writing a personal preview. He liked it, printed it – and promptly commissioned me to review the gig. And so, my fate was sealed … as was that of my Aunty Tanny, from whose archive these cuttings come!

From The Herald, April 6, 1993

From The Herald, April 6, 1993

From The Herald, April 8, 1993

From The Herald, April 8, 1993


Filed under Glasgow Jazz reviews archive

4 responses to “Twenty Years a Jazz Writer

  1. Tom Myers

    Great to hear about your start in Jazz Journalism. I am very interested in one name mentioned a couple of times in your article from 1993 – Murray Smith. I am sure that this is the same Murray Smith as I knew as Harry Murray Smith, the drummer with my band ‘Jive Five’ around 1956/7 based in Renfrew, I would love to find out a bit more about Murray and his subsequent career. I have a feeling that he called himself Alexander Murray Smith around the 60’s when he was leader and drummer of the Back O’Town Syncopators. I also understand that he is no longer with us, having retired to Spain and passing away around 2003. I would be delighted to hear of any other information on Murray Smith.

  2. Anne Noble

    Hi Tom, Yes indeed, I am Murray’s cousin and have many fond memories of him. When last did you see him? My twin brother is still in Glasgow, as well as my older sister, so I will definitely find out more information for you. He has two sons, Martin and Derek – I have lived for thirty years here in N.Z.but keep up correspondence with the family back in Glasgow. Murray was really a very special person, so talented from an early age, but he was always a joy to be with – always so entertaining.
    My maiden name is Anne Macintyre but I married a Noble(came up in the world!)

    • Tom Myers

      Hello Anne, Many thanks for your comments about Murray Smith. I last met him when he played with my band “Jive Five” in the mid 50’s, playing Rock and Skiffle. The band folded in 1957 when I had to do either National Service on join the Merchant Navy – I chose the latter. When I left the MN in 1960, I started the trad band “Riverside Rhythm Kings”. [Alison Kerr might be interested to hear that a journalist from the Glasgow Herald, I think, put up an article about me leaving the MN and starting then band with the comment that I “had been on the High Seas and am now hitting the hign C’s on clarinet!!]
      However, by this time, I had lost touch with Murray, although his name keeps cropping up in musical circles. He was either a very prolific muso, or there are more than one drummers called Murray Smith! When he played with “Jive Five” his bass drum had the initials H.M.S rising up diagonally on one side of the front of the drum, and he called himself Harry Murray Smith at that time.
      It would be great if I can get any confirmation that the Murray Smith referred to by Alison Kerr is the same person thatI knew back then – nearly 60 years ago!
      My email is if you want to contact me direct.
      Best regards,

  3. Dallas Colwell

    Hello Everyone or anyone that knew Murray Smith and his wife Frankie. I was bridesmaid at their wedding in Glasgow I think 1963. I have been trying to trace Frankie for some time now but lost contact with her when I went back to live in Canada with my husband Michael Read who was a City of London Policeman and subsequently joined the Ontario Provincial Police. If anyone can give me any information about getting in contact with Frankie I would really appreciate it. I live in West Sussex, England now and am married to a musician who plays keyboards and sings. I remember fondly the jazz nights in 1961/62 at the club Jazzshows at 100 Oxford Street London where I first met the Back O Town Syncopators and then became friends with Frankie and Murray.
    Dalls Colwell(ne Petryshyn)

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