Reader Sam Wood has sent me this comment:
Good to see your piece on Kenny Ball. He was a regular at Buxton Opera House which is where I got to know and love his band and its music over the last twenty years.
I don't take the purist view that this wasn't jazz. It was a jazz band playing a lot of pop music and show tunes in their own style, but so what? The musicianship was faultless, and it was entertainment that pulled in an audience. You could excuse the bad jokes because they were delivered so well, it was all part of the show.
The purists also criticise Chris Barber who plays some superb Blues and Ellington. Makes me think the "purists" don't know what they are listening to.
I do miss Kenny Ball, I always regard the classic line-up as Kenny, John Bennett, Andy Cooper, Hugh Ledigo, John Benson and Nick Millward.
The band were always immaculately dressed and always stuck around after the show, signing CD's and so happy to talk to the crowd, who of course pay their wages!
I last saw Kenny about five years ago at a "Three B's" night at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester. He was playing Cornet, an easier blow than Trumpet I believe, and had another player alongside him but the show was as good as ever, including the jokes.
PS. Regarding pop and show tunes, a lot of cinema/theatre organists still make a living playing contemporary popular music on their 1930's-style instruments, so why shouldn't we?