I wish my Dad had been like Kevin – a real enthusiast – excited and motivated by music. I first met Kevin Daly in 1975, when he produced Richard Sudhalter’s New Paul Whiteman album for Argo. We hit it off – Kevin knew all that was to be known about my kind of music, plus owning a record collection of many thousands of discs. The Whiteman project was successful, and this led to my participation on many recordings, mainly conducted by Alan Cohen, who had recorded Ellington’s Black, Brown & Beige for Kevin.
It was a wonderful time working for Kevin in the mid-70s. We did albums with Arthur Askey, Stanley Holloway and Alan Randall, plus a rare session where we added jazz instrumentalists on to early George Formby tracks very successfully. Kevin also produced an album of Fats Waller piano rolls played back on Ron Curtis’s roll-playing cinema organ, with Ron controlling the stops to create the right sounds. This shows the enterprise of the man. I suppose the pinnacle of my career was the album with Bing Crosby, recorded in 1976 for Decca. Kevin had the great idea of turning up the studio mikes when Bing walked in, and starting a conversation about the old days when he was with Paul Whiteman, and shared a room with Bix Beiderbecke. Bing took the bait, and shared lots of fascinating information.
Kevin was in at the beginning when Alan Cohen and I formed the Midnite Follies Orchestra, and recorded us for ASV. He supported the orchestra in its early heady days, and gave us invaluable help. It was fun having Kevin around for dinner. On one of these occasions, we recorded a vocal duet with piano – Ain’t She Sweet in German, which has found its way into my discography!
I was sad when Kevin went to live in Australia, but so many Australian jazz musicians have fond memories of him, and of the opportunities he gave them, broadcasting for ABC.
Kevin eventually returned to England a very sick man, and I took a little band to serenade him… It was at the last stages of his final illness. He listened patiently while we played some old obscure tunes of the 20s. Then he made the motion that he would like to say something to the banjo player. The banjoist went over and put his ear near to Kevin’s mouth – Kevin whispered, “Tuning…”
Kevin Daly – always the professional recording producer!
There’s a lot more… Kevin was a good mate – I miss him.