A World Class Jazz Instrumentalist
Born in London in 1910, he was a skilled clarinetist, alto, tenor, and baritone saxophonist, and one of England's most popular saxophone players during the 1930s and '40s. It was after serving in the second World War that he was featured as a soloist with Peter Yorke and His Concert Orchestra. He, Freddy Gardner, was a world class jazz instrumentalist, a virtuoso not only on clarinet and alto sax, but also on every instrument that comprised the saxophone family; however I best remember the sound of his "golden tone saxophone" when it was backed by “lush orchestral accompaniment.” His renditions of “Body and Soul” and “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes” have never been surpassed.
Although the staff of the music store must all have come to know me by sight, and must certainly have connected my visits with the inevitable Freddy Gardner recording that would be put onto the turntable to oblige me, it came as a shock to learn from the manager — to whom I had not spoken at any length before — that Freddy Gardner was no longer alive. That he had, in fact died a year or two before I had ever heard of him. Needless to say, I was devastated! It was as if I had just suffered a personal loss!
That night, as I held a record in my hands, mourning, I studied the information on the label more carefully than I had ever done before, and all of a sudden the name of the recording company (I seem to recall that it was Parlophone) became a very important link. I did not go to bed until I had written a letter, addressed the envelope to a place on Wardour Street in London, and extracted a solemn promise from my husband that he would post it on his way to work next morning.
The waiting was intolerable. It must be remembered that there was no “airmail” in those days, and the very word “email” was still to be invented. Every Thursday at 4pm a Union-Castle Royal Mail Ship would leave Southampton bound for Cape Town and, at the same time, a Union-Castle Royal Mail Ship would be leaving Cape Town bound for Southampton. I realized that I had at least a month of suspense ahead of me, but the response, when it did arrive, proved to have been worth the wait.
How nice people were in those days! And how obliging! I was advised that, if anyone could provide the answers to the questions I had posed, it was a popular musician by the name of Ted Heath. The writer, trusting that I would not object, had, in order not to waste time while further correspondence was exchanged, taken the liberty of passing my letter directly on to Mr. Heath, from whom I should expect a reply very shortly!