This extensively researched text concerning the life and career of Liverpool-born Black jazz musician Gordon Stretton not only contributes to the important debate concerning the transoceanic pathways of jazz during the 20th century, but also suggests to the jazz fan and scholar alike that such pathways, reaching as they also did across the Atlantic from Europe, are actually part of a largely ignored therefore partially-hidden history of 20th century jazz performance, industry and influence. The work also exists to contribute to a more complete picture of the significance of diaspora studies across the spectrum of popular music performance, and to award to those Liverpool musicians who were not contributors to the city’s musical visage post-rock ‘n’ roll, a place in popular music history.
Gordon Stretton was a jazz pioneer in several senses: he emerged from a poverty-stricken, racially marginalized upbringing in Liverpool to develop a popular music career emblematic of Black diasporan experience. He was a child dancer and singer in the Lancashire Lads (the troupe which was also part of a young Charlie Chaplin’s development), a well-respected solo touring artist in the UK as ‘The Natural Artistic Coon’, a chorister and musical director with the Jamaican Choral Union and, having encountered syncopated music, a jazz percussionist, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist (not to mention a ground-breaking bandleader). All of these musical experiences took place through time on his own terms as he learnt his craft ‘on the hoof’ via many different encounters with musical genres from Liverpool to London, Paris, Brussels, Rio, and Buenos Aires. Gordon Stretton was truly a transoceanic jazz pioneer.
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About the Author
Mike Brocken is senior lecturer in popular music studies at Liverpool Hope University.
Jeff Daniels is an independent research scholar who over the past decade has concentrated on the history of Gordon Stretton.
Table of Contents
Chapter One - An Introduction: “The Times Are Always Contained in the Rhythm” (attributed to Quincy Jones)
Chapter Two – Literature
Section One - Survival and Emergence: From Liverpool to London
Chapter Three - Survival: The Liverpool of William Masters
Chapter Four - Emergence: “Gordon Stretton”
Chapter Five - Identification: London (and Jazz) Calling! Dark Town Jingles, Billy Dorsey; “they did a Marconi test in a plane”
Chapter Six - Fragments: A Summary of Gordon Stretton’s Career Prior to Paris via Historical Fragments: Advertising, Promotional Materials, Sheet Music, Recordings
Section Two – Affirmation: “And So to Paris”
Chapter Seven: Affirmation
Section Three - Celebration: The Latin American Adventure; Brazil and Argentina
Chapter Eight - Celebration! Gordon Stretton and Transoceanic Jazz
Chapter Nine - Verification: Audiovisuals and a Home in Argentina
Chapter Ten - Gordon and the Anglo Argentine community in Buenos Aires
Chapter Eleven – Confirmation: So, What Can We Learn?
Appendix 1: Timelines
Appendix 2: Short Biographical Notes on Members of the Jamaican Choral Union
Appendix 3: Brief Pen Pictures of a Few Musicians Who Performed with Gordon Stretton
Appendix 4: Email Received from Guy Revell, Royal Air Force Museum, London
Appendix 5: Discography