Storyville Records

Disley, Diz

Diz Disley (27 May 1931 – 22 March 2010) was an Anglo-Canadian jazz guitarist and graphic designer. He is best known for his jazz guitar playing, strongly influenced by Django Reinhardt, and for his collaborations with the violinist Stéphane Grappelli.William Charles Disley was born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, and was brought up in Ingleton, North Yorkshire, England. In his childhood, he learnt to play the banjo, but took up the jazz guitar at the age of 14, after hearing the playing of Django Reinhardt. Disley played in Ken Colyer's band. Guitarist Diz Disley leads the Hot Club Trio and has been prominent in British jazz circles since the end of the nineteen-forties. Disley played banjo with the famed Yorkshire Jazz Band in 1949 and 1950 at a time when the band had Dickie Hawdon on trumpet... Disley formed his String Quintet in 1958 with a library based largely on that of the Quintet of the Hot Club of France ; Diz's companion on many of the sessions was guitarist Denny Wright and the two have remained firm friends. Disley did his National Service in the Army from 1950–1953 and then moved to London, where he joined Mick Mulligan's band, along with George Melly. In January 1963, the British music magazine, NME reported that the biggest trad jazz event to be staged in Britain had taken place at Alexandra Palace. The event included George Melly, Alex Welsh, Acker Bilk, Chris Barber, Kenny Ball, Ken Colyer, Monty Sunshine, Bob Wallis, Bruce Turner, Mick Mulligan and Disley. That same year Diz played the conductor in the Harrison Marks' film The Chimney Sweeps (1963), a slapstick comedy starring Pamela Green. In the late 1960s, Disley moved across to the folk club scene, becoming the first ever 'folk comedian' and preceding the rise to fame of similar artists such as Jasper Carrott, Billy Connolly and Tony Capstick. Also at this time he collaborated with fiddle player Dave Swarbrick and singer-guitarist Martin Carthy. Disley also played guitar accompaniment to Mike Absalom on the latter's 1968 album, Save the Last Gherkin for Me. By the 1970s, he was one of the folk scene's busiest artists and a mainstay of folk festivals as musician and compere. In the 1970s, he was influential in persuading Stéphane Grappelli to return to playing public performances. They played together at the 1973 Cambridge Folk Festival and this began a lengthy collaboration between Disley and Grappelli, including tours of Australia, Europe and the United States. Karl Dallas reported Disley as having "single-handedly created a revival of interest in the music of Stephane Grappelli, which has taken him to the Carnegie Hall, Australia and New Zealand" (the latter in September 1974). "...the night he closed at the Palladium, he went to The Troubadour where he was booked later that night to perform his folk club act of idiocy and mayhem, keeping up the tradition he has built up over the past 20 years for delivering a shrewd mixture of musical brilliance and vocal insanity". In 1984 Disley was instrumental in forming a club quintet for Nigel Kennedy, who was starting to explore other musical styles. This led back to Kennedy's attendance at one of the Grappelli gigs in 1973. Musicians in the original line-up with Kennedy were Jeff Green, Ian Cruickshank, Nils Solberg (guitars) and Dave Etheridge (bass), who had played with Disley and Denny Wright on their 1973 tour with Grappelli. In 1986, Disley formed the Soho String Quintette with Johnny Van Derrick (violin), Nils Solberg and Jeff Green and David Etheridge. An album Zing Went The Strings was issued on Waterfront Records. In the 1990s, during several years he spent in Los Angeles, Disley recorded with the blues saxophonist Big Jay McNeely and country-rockabilly artist Ray Campi. He also painted several now sought-after portraits of jazz greats, including Illinois Jacquet, in the style of the cubists. In early 2010 Disley's health took a serious turn for the worse, and he was admitted to the Royal Free Hospital, Hampstead, on 2 February. He died on 21 March 2010.

Recordings

Stephane Grappelli / Diz Disley: Stephane Grappelli Live At Corby Festival May, 1975

The music on this CD (16 tunes-78 minutes) is a from a previously unreleased live concert in England in 1975. Stephane Grappelli is best know for his collaboration in the thirties and forties with the famous gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt. Diz Disley plays guitar in the tradition of Django, but has his own style, and the fact that the band on this CD consists exclusively of string instruments makes it reminiscent of Django's famous Hot Club Quintette, of which Grappelli was a prominent member. In his seventies at the time of this recording, Grappelli, musically, is younger and more inspired than ever, and his playing is fiery and clear and full of virtuoso improvisation. This CD is testimony to Grappelli's basic principals: "Improvisation is another form of composition. It's fresh. Also, one must try to think young in this life."