Thanks to trumpeter Chris Hodgkins, jazz research archivist David Nathan (National Jazz Archive – Loughton Library), and trombonist / scholar Michael Pointon for more information about Spike Mackintosh:
including Spike’s aesthetic manifesto:
Godbolt’s assessment is in keeping what others have said, but I think anyone who ever heard Spike, live or on record, knew that he had a particular genius. I wonder what else is contained in that Melody Maker article, and launch a possibly fantastical question. British jazz of the Fifties seems well-documented and not only on official recordings, but radio broadcasts, location recordings, even television and film. Even given that Spike was reticent about playing — not simply about being recorded — it may be understandable that his recorded legacy is so small. But are there any archivists who know of more music?
I talked with banjoist Bill Dixon of the Grand Dominion Jazz Band, who had heard Spike in the UK, and Bill told me he hadn’t played with or spoken to Spike — but provided this cameo:
I was playing on the UK jazz scene late 50’s through 60’s and was aware of him. Fiery but melodic lead,always seemed to have his beret hanging from his horn. Wild Bill Davison/Henry Red Allen style.
But one should never despair. Earlier this year, I received this wonderful email from Spike’s youngest son:
Dear Mr. Steinman,
My daughter Lauren came across your article on my father Spike. I have yet to ask why she was googling his name but nevertheless I was very surprised but delighted to see an article about him so long after his death. I am in the US at the moment but going back tomorrow to the UK.
I am the youngest of the three sons. Cameron has probably said it all and you have obviously done your research, so I am not sure if can add to your knowledge. There is of course the story of him returning to a cafe to retrieve his trumpet before boarding a boat at Dunkirk and then refusing to go into the hold with the other soldiers because he wanted a ‘fag’ ( cigarette!) on deck! Needlessly to say a bomb was dropped into the hold and dad survived to keep blowing his trumpet!
Thanks for the article.
If my fascination with Spike seems excessive, I ask only that you listen to his playing:
I’ve written much more about Spike — here is my most recent post — and hope to continue (with friends Jim Denham and Bob Ironside Hunt assisting).
May your happiness increase!