Please DONATE to help with maintenance and upkeep of the Wind Repertory Project!

John Dankworth

From Wind Repertory Project
Jump to navigation Jump to search
John Dankworth


Sir John Phillip William Dankworth, CBE (20 September 1927, Woodford, Essex, Eng. – 6 February 2010, London, Eng.), also known as Johnny Dankworth, was an English jazz composer, saxophonist, clarinetist and writer of film scores.

Dankworth grew up within a family of musicians and attended Selwyn Boys' (Junior) School in Highams Park and later Sir George Monoux Grammar School in Walthamstow. He had violin and piano lessons before settling eventually on the clarinet at the age of 16, after hearing a record of the Benny Goodman Quartet. Soon afterwards, inspired by Charlie Parker, he learned to play the alto saxophone.

He began his career on the British jazz scene after studying at London's Royal Academy of Music and then national service in the Royal Air Force, during which he played alto sax and clarinet for RAF Music Services.

In 1950 Dankworth formed a small group, and then in 1953 formed his big band. The band was soon earning plaudits from the critics and was invited to the 1959 Newport Jazz Festival, the first British group to receive an invite.

In the early 1960s Dankworth began a second career as a composer of film and television scores (often credited as "Johnny Dankworth").

Dankworth's friendship with Duke Ellington continued until the latter's death in 1974. Other jazz musicians with whom Dankworth performed include George Shearing, Toots Thielemans, Benny Goodman, Herbie Hancock, Hank Jones, Slam Stewart and Oscar Peterson.

He always had an enthusiasm for jazz education, for many years running the Allmusic summer schools at the Stables in Wavendon. From 1984 to 1986, Dankworth was professor of music at Gresham College, London, giving free public lectures.

In 1982, Dankworth was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Music from Berklee College of Music. He was married to the singer/actress Cleo Laine.

Works for Winds