Tommy Whittle: Why Not (1977) Jam Records


Selection 1.Funk in a Deep Freeze (Mobley) – caution, record scratch for some revs early on, but hey, its one of the better tracks.

Selection 2. Why Not (Whittle)


Tommy Whittle (ts) Tony Lee (p) Martin Drew (d) Tony Archer (b)  recorded at BBC Studios, London, England, 1977, engineer Robin Sedgeley

Year: 1977 UK

1977Jubilee celebrations  in the United Kingdom to celebrate twenty-five years of Elizabeth II’s reign. EMI sacks the controversial UK punk rock group the Sex Pistols, who promptly release Never Mind The Bollocks Here’s The Sex Pistols. The Queen confesses to being a fan, wears the T-shirt.

Music: What’s in a name?

If your repertoire of British tenor players is limited, as mine was, to Tubby Hayes, and possibly Don Rendell, add Tommy Whittle, a name to conjure with… or am I thinking of Tommy Cooper?

Let’s be frank, a name like Tommy Whittle is never going to set pulses racing,  Its alright if you start out in life as Elvis Presley, but for many it was necessary to improve on the family tree’s opening offer:  Harry Webb Cliff Richard, David Hayward-Jones Bowie, Manfred  Lubowitz Mann, Kenny  Gorelick G, and third-time lucky Steve Georgiou Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam. But Tommy Whittle

Tommy Whittle Quartet Capture

“Saw him in a pub in Norwich in 1986…”  The sort of legacy no musician would wish. Yet Tommy Whittle was voted Britain’s top tenor-sax player in the New Musical Express polI in 1955 and topped the Melody Maker poll the following year. He was UK union swap to the US for Gerry Mulligan’s UK residency. In 2005 he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award in British Jazz, and is still standing, and playing, in 2013.

Musically he occupies similar ground to Zoot Sims, and David Taylor’s excellent site on British Jazz wraps Tommy up well:

Usually reticent and a little shy in demeanour, Whittle on the bandstand in compatible company is a confident improviser, well capable of taking on the finest of his contemporaries, whether British or American. There’s an urbane exterior to Whittle’s music but make no mistake, there’s pride and a lithe muscularity at its core as well.

It’s more than just an ordinary name. Take another Whittle (no relation) Frank Whittle, who is credited with single-handedly inventing the turbojet engine. Not bad eh? And then there was Elvis Roosevelt Whittle, who…no, I just made that up.

The LJC Fashion Award for the Worst Dressed British Saxophone Player on a British jazz  record cover goes to…

Vinyl: JAM Records 648


And LJC award for Best Disembodied Heads on a Record Sleeve Award goes to…JAM-648-Tommy-Whittle-rearcover-1800

Collectors Corner

ENVY-RATING-1-200pxAnother toe in the water of British jazz, but this time way out of time, in the late Seventies, a decade that is just a blur, personally

LJC-Jason-King-BandW-2A lot of record covers around the Seventies seemed to carry these cut out heads with  the customary ‘tache.  I recall sporting big hair and a moustache myself in those days,   dark coloured patterned shirts with large collars, even bigger ties.  Is it time for the Seventies to make a come back? I very much hope not. Once was enough.


3 thoughts on “Tommy Whittle: Why Not (1977) Jam Records

  1. the good thing about LJC is that one is stimulated to pull out albums for listening, which otherwise would stay in the racks for years, untouched. Upon Kees’ suggestion I pulled out Esquire 20-048. Harry Klein is too much: an agility greater than Serge ever showed. Tom, for my ears, is in the Perkins vein. Whilst writing this I realize that we Europeans have this unfortunate tendency to compare our performers to their American counterparts. This is very unfair, since in the US artists are also grouped after their influences.( In this respect look at the diagram of tenor influences by Ira Gitler on PrLp 7038).
    Conclusion: let’s appreciate our European musicians on their own merits. Well, this 10″ (Esq 20-048) is a gem. They were a working group for almost two years. Britain can be proud of having produced such a great group, way back in 1955. And now on the Tempo 27!

  2. I am not familiar with his later records,but I do like the early ones.In my collection I have two 10″ s on Equire : 20-061,with K.Wheeler and Joe Temperley(rec.’55 and ’56) and 20-048,with Harry Klein and Dill Jones(!) (rec.’55)Influences of Lester and Sims,sounds great !
    I also like the Ember 3305 “Easy listening wth T.W. and his friends” and “New Horizons” on Tempo 27,both with Harry Klein on bariton.

    • Thanks for the tips KK, you are indeed, a jazz scholar. Having dipped my toe into British jazz I can hear there is more to enjoy.

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