Cedric West 1918-1997
Jazz Guitarist & Trombonist,
Cedric West, Joe Pass, & Ike Isaacs at Ike’s House in the 1970s. This photo was taken at Ike’s House in Wembley, North London, a great meeting place for Guitarists. Ike had a nice Guitar collection. The Guitar on the left held by Cedric is the W G Barker. Ike gave me that Guitar for my 21st Birthday, I played it during my Stephane Grappelli years, and I still have – Martin Taylor
Barker Guitar. Built by W GBarker, Toledo, Ohio in 1964. Spruce front, maple back, sides & neck. Single diagonal brace. Strings Elixir Nanoweb 12-52 Nickel. Owned by Hollywood studio Guitarist Johnny Gray, who used the Guitar on many Film & TV Sessions including the Batman TV Series. Ike Isaacs bought the Guitar in the mid-1970’s, and it featured on much of his work with Stephane Grappelli. Ike gave the Guitar to Martin Taylor as a 21st Birthday present. Martin used the Guitar throughout 11-yrs of Touring & Recording with Grappelli. Bill Puplett recently undertook some repair and restoration work on the instrument.
Bill Barker originally learned Guitar building from Carl Albanus Johnson, a violin maker in Chicago who built 60-70 Archtops of his own before passing away in the 1970s. Carl is believed to have learned to build Archtop Guitars from none other than Elmer Stromberg
Cedric West demonstrates his delicate improvisation abilities on an acoustic Guitar on a Duke Ellington seamless Medley which includes Strayhorn’s ‘Chelsea Bridge’ – Sophisticated Lady & Prelude to a Kiss with his Fingerstyle Picking. c.1980. (Forgive the traffic and string squeaks but admire the Interpretations).
Cedric West Born 9th December 1918 Rangoon, Burma
Rangoon 1940 – L/R Paul Ferraz sb, Reuben Solomon cl, Dean Wong vcl, Cedric West gtr (22yrs), and a young Ike Isaacs gtr. In 1941, as WW2 raged, the Japanese advance on India’s Borders had an unforeseen effect on the Country’s Jazz Scene. Among the 1,000s of people who trekked out of Burma for India ahead of the Japanese vanguard were several Burmese Jazz Musicians. The most prominent were members of one of Rangoon’s hottest Bands, the Jive Boys, which featured Reuben Solomon on Clarinet, Paul Feraz on Bass, and 3 Guitarists: Ike Issacs, Reuben’s brother Solly (Saul) & Cedric West. They arrived in Calcutta in March 1942 and were immediately offered positions in the City’s most prominent Bands to emulate the sounds of the Hot Club of France. Cedrics wife to be Nesta was Singer with the Jive Boy’s
Cedric West’s musical talents got him quickly hired by Teddy Weatherford the stride Pianist and was very soon recognised as the leading Jazz Guitarist in Calcutta. He appears on many Teddy Weatherford sides. Jenny Legget, the daughter of the astoundingly talented Cedric West who played with Teddy’s Band from 1942 through 1945 is the Archivist.
Regarding Cedric West & Teddy Weatherford – I was a jazz piano player in London in 1959 when Cedric was at a Night Club in New Bond Street (Fischers or the Embassy?) with Rudy Bernardo (drums) Ricky Fernandez (bass) and myself (Stuart DeSilva, piano). Cedric also played a very fluent Trombone, styled on J J Johnson. As for Teddy Weatherford, he played at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. My father used to take me for the Sunday afternoon Concerts to hear him. I was only 4 yrs old, studying Classical Piano and still listening to Fats Waller & Art Tatum. Dad was a good friend of Teddy’s. Further news – Reuben Solomons (Alto Sax) was living in Sydney where I live and passed away on 12th October 2009 – Born 29th May 1921 – Regards Stuart de Silva
He made a number of records with Weatherford and began to double on Trombone before briefly returning to Burma in 1945 prior to moving to Britain in late 1947. He worked with Leslie ‘Jiver’ Hutchinson in 1949 and returned to India in 1951 with Revell Terry before returning to Britain in 1952. After leading his own Band he became a free-lance Session Player and worked for BBC Orchestras in the 1960s & ’70s. He continued to free-lance regularly into the 1990s mostly in Essex and sometimes co-led a Quartet with Dave Cliff Guitar. Cedric died in Essex in October 1997.
He recorded mainstream sessions between 1954 & 1956 with the groups of Kenny Baker, Bertie King, Bruce Turner, Al Fairweather and with pianist Eddie Thompson. also with Shake Keane in 1962.
Leslie ‘Jiver’ Hutchinson Band Personnel:
Hutchinson – Trumpet
Kenny Baker – trumpet
George Chisholm – trombone
Bertie King – alto sax
Jimmy Skidmore – tenor sax
Kenny Graham – tenor sax
Cliff Townsend – baritone sax
Max Harris – piano
Derek Smith – piano
Cedric West – guitar
Major Holley – bass
Lennie Bush – bass
Phil Seamen – drums
Cedric West went to England in September 1947 along with his wife Nesta, who had been a Vocalist with the Jive Boys. In England, he went on to become a respected Session Guitarist, recording with Nelson Riddle, Quincy Jones & Elmer Bernstein. He was a close friend of Joe Pass, Ike Isaacs & Louis Stewart. He went on to hold down the Guitar Chair in the BBC Jazz Band and is described by Mike Edmonds as “a Master Bebop player and often played with his thumb like Wes”.
Aptly, many years later, Cedric West released an album titled (Cedric) West Meets East
Cedric West Guitar Ensemble –
West Meets East
Five To Four On:
The Midnight Sun Will Never Set
In The Mode:
When Sonny Gets Blue:
Spring Is Here:
Columbia Q 33SX1617 (12 in).
Contemporary Review from the Gramophone
One might be excused for thinking that the Guitar in Britain has become the prerogative of hirsute & weirdly-clad Teenagers. Here is a handy refutation by a reliable Guitarist from Rangoon who has been resident in this country for some years. Cedric West has cropped up on many record dates during the past decade, usually with Bertie King or Kenny Baker, but this is the 1rst time I have heard him Solo at any length. The programme is varied and ranges from out-and-out Jazz material such as The Midnight Sun Will Never Set (Quincy Jones), Django (John Lewis) and In the Mode (Bob Brookmeyer) to superficial performances such as Moonlight Tango in which the Jazz content is slight. West is an excellent instrumentalist with acute regard for Melody; he runs his Chords beautifully on the slow When Sonny Gets Blue and succeeds in establishing the right atmosphere from the very 1st Bars of Django & Midnight Sun. He may not be the most original Guitarist yet heard in Britain but he is certainly one of the most accomplished. Anyone satiated by the sound of the Guitar badly played by the latest wonders of the Hit Parade is advised to hear this LP is only as a reassurance that the Guitar is a musical instrument. Cedric is supported in thoroughly professional style throughout by Dick Abel, Laurie Wise & Len Argent (also on Guitars), Ken O’Donnell (Bass) & Ronnie Lord (Drums). A.M
Cedric West, on Wes Montgomery. Cedric West Writes on “The Man Who Does The Impossible,” Crescendo International, May (1965), According to West these methods include
A) The Johnny Smith style, in which the Pick is held firmly while the thumb, forefinger & wrist of the right hand are held slightly rigid, requiring the cross-motion Swing for picking to originate at the elbow. This method gives a sure way to alternate picking across the Strings but can generate a tendency to play ‘tight’ & mechanically.
B) The Chuck Wayne/Jimmy Raney style, where the Pick is held looser and is controlled entirely by the forefinger & thumb of the Right hand, producing a faster & gentler sounding articulation. However, this method is not as effective for playing Arpeggios or cross-picking.
Cedric West recognises the difficulty of playing with the Thumb and feels that Wes is an example of a “natural’ who stumbled on a freak Right-hand approach and was lucky enough to overcome its shortcomings.
Cedric’s L-5c with DeArmond Pick-up was used by Wes in the discussion.
Cedric sold the L-5c to Dave Shakespeare
Cedric West was seen on UK TV on an almost daily basis in the 1960’s playing, amongst others, a Gretsch White Falcon or a Gibson 3-Pick-up Les Paul Custom SG.
Cedric West, “Guitar Discussion Featuring Wes Montgomery, Jack Duarte, Ike Isaacs and Cedric West,” Crescendo International, May (1965)
Cedric West Guitar Quartet
With Guitarists, Cedric West, Dick Abel, Len Argent & Laurie Wise with Rhythm section of Ken O’Donnell on Bass & Ronnie Lord on drums
Cedric West Guitar Quartet: Bach goes (Cedric) West – Columbia STCX 340.575 –
Bach Goes West –
Bach to Baroque –
Bach Goes West 2 –
Bach Goes West 4 –
Sinfonia No.2 –
Cedric’s Wee Fugue –
Swing in Baroque –
Invention for four Guitars –
Fugue for Three –
3/4 Waltz – Bach Goes West 4.
Carl Dewhurst born 1969 returned to London in 1995 and there led his own Group “Burnt Orange”. He performed regularly and played at all major Venues including Ronnie Scott’s, 606 and the Vortex. He taught Jazz Studies & Guitar at Brunel & Thames Valley Universities. He played with British Jazz Guitarists and Dick Abel in the Cedric West Guitar Quartet.
Video made in Castleton Road, Goodmayes, Essex – ‘Indian Summer’ indeed with Cedric using his Thumb. Spot the end glimpse of Louis Stewart as the Mystery Guitarist
I had lessons with Cedric back in 87, I was 17 he was into photography too. He had a nice Polytone Guitar, Great to see him with Joe Pass – Cedric gave me a couple of lessons and I used to watch him play his Sunday lunchtime gig at the Bow Bells 116 Bow Road, in Bow (he let me sit in once) – Hugh Turner
Hugh Turner started playing the Guitar at age 11 and by 13 he was playing with his brothers Blues Band in Pubs & Clubs around his native Reading. At 16 he had already started Teaching Guitar and had discovered Jazz, 1st studying under Cedric West, the acclaimed thumb picking Burmese Jazz Guitarist; and later John Etheridge & Dave Cliff, Britain’s finest bebop Guitar player. Hugh’s latest quartet comprises Tolly Vyacheslavov on Tenor Sax, Bassist Jerry Soffe & Simon Price on Drums.
(Hi to Louis (Stewart), You may recall me, Cedric’s & Ike’s friend, and remember how we got lost in the Maida Vale Studios looking for a Drinks Machine? that was when you were there Recording with the Cedric West Guitar Sextet, happy days Louis. The last time we met was at Ced’s Gig the “Bow Bells” Pub Stratford London, hoping to hear from you, all the best and keep up the World Class playing. – Ken
Cedric was my God Father and as a boy, I used to listen to him playing in Pubs & Clubs. Whilst I was amazed as a child, ABBA seemed to me a better option, if only I knew now what I should have known then! Cedric & Nesta were truly amazing to me as a child and I miss them – Glen
One for my old Teacher Cedric West. His house was always full of Guitarists drinking his terrible cups of tea, chatting, arguing, and playing. Wonderful. – Mike Chapman
Oh yes, I knew Cedric West also….he was famous amongst the Anglo-Indian community and his house was a sort of Hotel to journeying Jazz Guitarists (Wes, Joe Pass etc). I still have the interview on tape that Ike & Cedric did with Wes Montgomery in 1965. – Colin PRS
Eddie Thompson – Piano
Jack Fallon – Bass
Cedric West – Guitar
I used to go to a Jazz Night in a room in a Pub in Walthamstow, run by a bloke who was a mate of Cedric West. One night they had Ike Isaacs there as a Guest and he did a kind of display/workshop, it was simply magical.
Robin Hall: vocals, guitar
Jimmie Macgregor: vocals, guitar
Cedric West: guitar
Brian Brocklehurst: bass
Bill McGuffie: piano
Derek Grossmith: piccolo, clarinet and flutes
Bobby Orr: drums
The most amazing thing I remember about Cedric was him telling me that he originally came over to London from Burma and worked as a Trombone player – until one morning he woke up and found that he had had a slight Stroke and lost the use of his Top lip – so he couldn’t continue with the Trombone, and with a Family to support continued his musical career as a Guitarist.