#7 My Top Ten British Big Bands…No 6…Kenny Baker

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The list of credits for Kenny Baker is a long one, and he is at number 6, because I’ve only just discovered him myself, what seems to stand out is his skill on the trumpet, and was considered world class. When there was a ban from the musicians union here in the UK, stopping USA musicians working here, one quote was this; “While we have Kenny Baker who needs Louis Armstrong?”

He was a regular session player at Parlophone and in the 60’s and 70’s, and  he was also called in for film and studio work. A famous appearance on soundtrack for Baker was a long hot trumpet solo mimed by Kay Kendall in the famous 1954 film Genevieve, now I do remember watching this quaint film one Sunday afternoon and I remember very well indeed the actress playing this amazing trumpet solo, which was clearly not her.

I’m now going to list some names that he shared the bill with or worked with.
Comedy Acts: Morecambe and Wise, Tommy Trinder, Benny Hill, Ken Dodd.
John Dankworth said, “Everybody regarded him on a different level to any other trumpeter in the British Isles. He was a world class performer.” After the death of Harry James in 1983, he was asked by the James Foundation to take over their orchestra.

His career saw him play with the likes of Frank Sinatra, Petula Clark, Sammy Davis Jr, and Tony Bennett, played on the James Bond sound tracks and with the Beatles. In the 1980s he provided the music for The Beiderbecke Trilogy staring James Bolam.

He was presented with the best trumpet player title for the third time at the BT British jazz awards in 1999. He was also awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 1999.

Kenny Baker has to go down as one of the our Great British musicians, totally dedicated and hard working. When I read something like this it makes me feel proud just to be a musician, and for those who new him and heard him play with his band, it must have been very special.

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