Today I read about the death of a Jazz great; the guitarist Diz Disley.
He was part of my youth and provided me and many of my friends with great entertainment he comes into the category of people whose demise while very sad also reminds me that I am getting on a bit as well. Some time ago I wrote about the passing of George Melly and then Humphrey Littleton and mused about them playing and partying together somewhere in the afterlife along with others like Spike Milligan, George Shearing, Ella Fitzgerald, Oscar Peterson and others more or less of the same generation and all Jazz greats and; all of whom I was privileged to see perform live except Peterson, in Disley’s case on several occasions with the mighty Stephan Grappelli.
I was introduced to this kind of music by my late great friend Davie Spiers who was a great fan as well as a very fine musician and a friend from way back of Disley, Davy regarded Diz Disley as one of the top Jazz guitarists and also one of the craziest characters he had ever met which is quite something for Davie to say considering the life he had led as well. Round about the eighties Disley teamed up with the legendary Grappelli and began a 10 year partnership which sold out concerts in every venue they played worldwide. Leaning heavily on the music and traditions of the famous and fabulous “Hot Club of Paris” where Grappelli was partnered by the guitar marvel Django Rheinhart they regularly ripped the roofs off venues everywhere as they introduced swing Jazz to a whole new audience, they were a force of nature when they were in full flow and never to be forgotten.
Dizley was also a talented cartoonist who sold his work to major newspapers and magazines but his mission in life was music and serious partying. Melly tells of returning from a gig with the Mick Mulligan band when their mini bus had a serious crash and landed in a kind of swamp field; several were badly injured and Dizley got free from the wreck and made off, having alerted ambulance services he returned; waded out to the van and dragged himself up and poked his head in the smashed window where he said to the others lying in disarray, (with apologies to our Chinese friends) “you no wully, me bling ladda” One of his favourite quotes was “ I always carry a generous supply of brandy with me in case I get bitten by a snake which I also carry with me but, I only drink to steady myself and sometimes I’m so steady that I can hardly move” I like to think of these guys round a big table somewhere with supply of gargle and plenty of music, some might say that sounds like heaven, I’m off to play some of their music and have a wee sherry in his memory, do yourself a favour and look him up.