Denny Purssord

Denny Purssord – Jazz Guitarist

? ~2011


Denny is playing an Acoustic Gibson L-5

Denny Purssord, Guitar

Purssord & Bob Clarke had worked with Stephane Grappelli.

They were members of the Soho String Sextet, a ‘Tribute’ to The Hot Club de France and were also members of the Bill Hall Trio then Hall, Norman and Ladd, the internationally renowned mime, music and comedy trio, originally created by Spike Milligan.

Notable venues included:

The Albert Hall; 100 Club; The Palladium; Victoria Palace; Ronnie Scott’s; The Crazy Horse Saloon Paris (10 year record run); Las Vegas; World Cruise on the QE2; and The Kremlin!

The Ken Sykora Six. It was described as a ‘novel line-up’ and featured Ray Dempsey on guitar, Bruce Turner, alto, Denny Purssord, Guitar, Jimmy Macmillan, vibes, George Jennings, bass and Pete Harris, drums. It became the only resident band at The Bandbox, based on the Premises of the Café Anglais in Leicester Square, London. They performed in most of the leading Jazz Clubs in and around London, although unfortunately, their style of music was going out of fashion. Skiffle was increasing in popularity and Jazz Music was also taking a different route. The Band continued to play throughout 1954, the highlight an appearance on BBC Radio in 1954 with Stephane Grapelli.  Their last work together as a band was for the Film The Passing Stranger, scored by Ken Sykora


3 Guitarists (2 Selmer Maccaferri) here are all Acoustic Ray Dempsey possibly in the Tuxedo right of Purssord? and ? with guitar behind the drummer playing rhythm and perhaps a pianist or just the piano – Ken Sykora appears to be stood in the background with Bruce Turner Sax to the right and Jimmy MacMillan Vibes left – is this a Septet or the 6 with the Arranger.

The Ken Sykora Six became the resident Band at Bandbox, with regulars Ken, Ray Dempsey & Denny Purssord on Guitar, Fred Hunt (violin), Jimmy MacMillan (vibes), George Jennings (bass), Pete Harris (drums) and Bruce Turner, talented alto, poached from the Humphrey Lyttleton Band. The same pool of musicians also performed as the Ken Sykora Trio & Quartet, over the next few years.

Florida Club – Jeff Kruger’s famous Florida Club, in the Cafe Anglais in Leicester Square opened on Saturday nights. No resident Group, but always an impressive Bill. Often to be found there were the 2 Terrys (Brown & Shannon) with their associates Kenny Graham & Don Lawson. Kenny & Terry Brown always played well together, although Kenny’s usually excellent Tenor-sax work is sometimes marred by exhibitionism.  Pianists Max Harris & Eddie Thompson were often to be found there as were George Chisholm and Joe Muddel and others from the Show BandClub 11, one of the 1st bebop Jazz Club, opened in 1948. The famous Ronnie Scott’s, opened in 1959 and is still a Mecca for Jazz in London today. In between times, Clubs mushroomed everywhere, and disappeared just as quickly!  Forgotten names of Clubs long-closed: Café Society, The Mandrake Club, The Spanish Garden Club, The Papagallo, the Coloured People’s Club Frith Street. The latter comes as something of a shock to us today, but back in the early 50s the 1st influx of Commonwealth Immigrants arrived in Britain, ready to help rebuild the country after the War. A number of talented Afro-Caribbean musicians, such as Joe Harriott & Harold McNair arrived in this 1st wave, adding their talent to the mix and opening Clubs.

I‘m sad to have to report that my old friend, Denny Purssord, jazz guitarist died last Saturday, 16th April 2011.

It was because of the Internet that I renewed contact with Denny after a long absence. He was much involved with the jazz scene in London’s West End in the 60s, but spent many years at the Crazy Horse in Paris with the act, Hall, Norman and Ladd aka Bobby Clarke violin, Denny Purssord Guitar and Johnny Mulgrew bass. Denny’s funeral was held at Islington Crematorium. – Ros Glickman

Denny Purssord, Guitar, Bob Clarke Violin &  Bassist Johnny Mulgrew

Bill Hall Trio   comedy musicians video
Probably filmed at Pathe Studios, London.

Various shots of the Bill Hall Trio, which includes Spike Milligan, playing a unique version of The Canary on Violin, Johnny Mulgrew double bass & Spike on Gibson Guitar. Bill looks to be dressed like an undertaker, Spike looks like a Hillbilly with big false black beard, the other wears a flat Cap and looks miserable – look out for his elastic string

On 27 March 1947 Spike wrote to BBC Television asking for work. He said he had recently performed as a Guitarist with the Bill Hall Trio at Alexandra Palace. He had now formed a Guitar Duo with Reg O’List, who had just performed at the Windmill Theatre.  Spike wrote: “We present a very colourful act in rhumba costume and our numbers comprise sambas, beguines, rhumbas etc. We feature the 2 guitars and the 2 voices.”

When Anne Lenner vocalist left the Savoy & Carol Gibbons she formed a short-lasting Trio comprising of Anne on vocals and 2 guitarists one called Reg O’List and the other being Spike Milligan. They did a Tour of Germany in the middle/late 40s. then they disbanded. As Spike said ‘we had to, Reg died. – Well I hope he did as they buried him’.

SohoString4DizDizleyA veryYoung Bob Clark on Violin with lead guitar Diz Disley right land eft on Rhythm Guitar is likely Roy Plummer and another Unknown Session Guitarist

Diz Disley, Solo Guitar Vocals – At the White Bear
Dick Powell, Violin
Neville Skrimshire, Denny Purssord, Rhythm Guitars
Johnny Johnson, Tim Mahn Or Toni Goffe, Bass.

Ken’s Guitar Club Band was ably supported by a varying line-up from a pool of Musicians including Reg Wale (vibes), Jimmy Macmillan (vibes),  Alan Metcalfe (guitar) Denny Purssord (guitar),  Sammy Stokes (bass), George Jennings (bass), Arthur Watts (bass), Allan Ganley (drums), Denny Percy (drums). Bruce Turner’s alto was often present at the performances with Ike Isaacs and the Guitar Club Group that made their way onto Saga Record’s 3 volume Guitar Club EP series, which was released in 1958.