Jazz Professional               

The Jack Parnell Orchestra

After many successful years on drums with the Ted Heath band, Jack Parnell formed a small band in 1951 to play in the London West End show Fancy Free.

Line-up in 1951 for Fancy Free:
Jimmy Watson (trumpet, arranger); Harry Roche, Don Lusher, Jimmy Wilson (trombones); Bob Burns, Ronnie Scott, Pete King, Dave Shand (saxes); Max Harris (piano, arranger); Sammy Stokes (bass); Phil Seamen (drums); Jack Parnell (drums, vocals, leader)

When the show folded Jack continued to run this small combination as a touring band.

Line-up in 1952:
Jimmy Watson, Jo Hunter, Mo Miller (trumpets); Mac Minshull, Brian Perrin (trombones); Bob Burns, Ronnie Scott, Pete King, Harry Klein (saxes); Max Harris (piano); Sammy Stokes (bass); Phil Seamen (drums)

Line-up July 1952:
Jimmy Watson, Jimmy Deuchar, Jo Hunter (trumpets); Mac Minshull, Jimmy Wilson (trombones); Derek Humble, Jerry Alvarez, Ronnie Scott, Pete King (saxes); Max Harris (piano); Sammy Stokes (bass); Phil Seamen (drums)

October 1952: add Ken Wray (trombone); Albert Hall (trumpet) Jimmy Watson out.

Jan. 1953:
Ron Simmonds (trumpet) and Joe Temperley (tenor) replace Hall and Scott. Most of the band later left in protest when  Jack fired Pete King to make way for Ronnie Keene, who brought his vocalist wife, real name Marion Davis, with him. Pete King later became Ronnie Scott’s business partner in the Ronnie Scott club.

After the walkout Henry Shaw, Laddy Busby, Bob Burns, Ronnie Keene, Kenny Graham, Allan Ganley replace Deuchar, Wray, Humble, King, Klein, Seamen. Add Marion Keene (vocals)

In 1953 Parnell formed his first big band and retained that formation from then on.

Line-up Dec. 1953:
Ron Simmonds, Jo Hunter, Henry Shaw, Terry Lewis (trumpets); Mac Minshull, Robin Kaye, Bobby Lamb, Johnny Edwards (trombones); Bob Burns, Jimmy Phillips, Joe Temperley, Don Honeywill (saxes); Max Harris (piano); Kenny Napper (bass); Phil Seamen (drums)

Feb. 1954 add Annie Ross (vocal); Tubby Hayes (tenor)

Kenny Clare (drums) joined around this time. As in most of the touring bands, there were a great many personnel changes.

In 1958 Jack disbanded his touring band and took over as director of the Associated Television Orchestra at London's Wood Green Empire.

Line-up August 1958 for ATV studio orch. (Associated Television):
Ron Simmonds, Tommy McQuater, Basil Jones, Freddy Clayton, Derrick Abbott (trumpets); Jimmy Wilson, Laddy Busby, Jack Irving, George Chisholm, Jackie Armstrong (trombones); Bob Burns, Dougie Robinson, Frank Reidy, Bob Adams, Phil Goody (saxes); Norman Stenfalt (piano); Lennie Bush (bass); Bobby Midgely (drums).

Jock Cummings (drums) and Tommy Whittle (tenor) later replaced Midgely and Adams.

Bobbie Pratt replaced Ron Simmonds in 1960 (Simmonds left to join Ted Heath). The orchestra moved to the Elstree Film Studios to continue the ATV work.

Jack Parnell was a superb drummer. A feature of his show was a two-drum special, where the two drummers were on a stepped podium, one behind the other. This was moved downstage while they played an established routine. Jack did this, in succession, with drummers Phil Seamen, Allan Ganley, Kenny Clare and Bobby Orr. He was also a very good vocalist and the band made many commercial recordings. Around 1954 he added Dennis Hale and Irene Miller (vocals) for a tour of South Africa with the singer Eve Boswell. (Upon retiring from the business Eve later taught singing in Durban, together with Darius Brubeck, son of Dave.)

In later years Jack Parnell conducted The London Jazz Orchestra, run by arranger Laurie Johnson.

The top photograph was taken at the Villa Marina, Isle of Man in 1956. Shortly afterwards the band made a tour of South Africa with the singer Eve Boswell, with yet another change of personnel. As usual, the picture quality leaves much to be desired.

The lineup in the picture is:
George Hunter, Kevin Balenzuela, Duncan Lamont, Eddie Mordeu, Don Honeywill, saxes;
Ron Simmonds, Bill Bedford, Jo Hunter, Terry Lewis, trumpets;
Johnny Edwards, Derek Tinker, Brian Perrin, Clarry Baines, trombones;
Ronnie Roulier, piano; Brian Brocklehurst, bass; Bobby Orr, drums.
Irene Miller, Gene Williams, vocals.
Jack Parnell, leader, drums, vocals.

The lower picture of the trumpet section shows, left to right: Terry Lewis, Ron Simmonds, Ronnie Hughes, Jo Hunter.

Click the pictures to enlarge