Friday, 20 February 2009

Friendly Ghosts-a follow up...



You may remember I posted a piece on the bizarre moment I found what I believed to be a photograph of my grandfather in the Imperial War Museum. I hadn't gone looking for it and had virtually no idea who he was whatsoever, but had a very strong feeling that the man in this photograph (back row in the middle with his clarinet) was him. The following weeks were spent digging up as much as I could on Freddy Grant and I discovered he had worked with some of the greatest calypso and jazz musicians of pre and post war including Humphrey Lyttleton and Lord Kitchner. 
Last night I received the most wonderful email from my aunty by way of my cousin, who confirmed that yes, the man in the photograph was him! His name was Frederick Josiah Grant, the youngest of 13 children who grew up in British Guyana and moved to Britain in the early 1930s before joining the war effort in 1941...and playing as much jazz as he could in between, injecting his own unique style of calypso jazz which became a focus of the Humphrey-Lyttleton Paseo Band in the late 40s. I even found a recording of him playing his clarinet with the band!


Freddie Grant pictured next to Cyril Blake (with guitar) playing his clarinet on a recording with Lord Beginner (in his dapper suit).

So now I know it's him, I'm going to dig deeper to try and understand the man behind the big smile. It may be difficult to trace as he left my grandmother and his children behind to pursue a life in New York, so deciphering fact from fiction may be tricky...but I can't wait to find out more! Oh, and if anyone happens to have any Sir Freddy Grant calypso records-send them my way, they're rare! 

4 comments:

  1. that is so exciting! good luck finding any info that you can!

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  2. Found your blog while researching West Indian musicians - in 1957 Sir Freddy Grant and his band toured Europe and were featured in the third annual Calypso Concert at Carnegie Hall in New York.

    Also in 1957, Sir Freddy Grant & his Caribbean Troubadors recorded an album for Bethlehem Records, entitled 'Calypso' (BCP 7001).

    Nothing after 1957.......

    Best Wishes Keith Jones, Winnipeg, Canada

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  3. Hi
    Just came across your site,my great uncle was Cyril Blake,trumpet top pic,and guitar bottom pic.

    I have found out that the band did a live recording of three tracks at the Jigs club in London,1941 or 1942.

    I would love to find out more about Cyril Blake and his band mates.

    Keep going with your family history research..
    All the best
    L.Blake.
    serenity732@gmail.com

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  4. Hi,

    Would really like to reproduce the top image of Cyril Blake for a documentary film.
    Could you let me know where I could find a copy and who I should ask for permissions?

    Any info would be greatly appreciated.

    Best,
    Chris

    ReplyDelete