Alex Welsh Biography

9 July 1929, Edinburgh, Scotland, d. 25 June 1982, London, England. Welsh began his musical career in Scotland playing cornet, and later trumpet, in trad jazz bands. In the early 50s he moved to London and formed a band that quickly became one of the most proficient of its kind. With every chair filled by musicians of great skill and enthusiasm, the Welsh band was a major force in the British trad jazz movement. Eschewing the fancy dress eccentricities and pop music escapades of many of his rivals (although ‘Tansy’ did reach the UK Top 50 in 1961), Welsh concentrated on creating exciting music that echoed the vitality of the best of Chicago-style dixieland jazz. Among Welsh’s sidemen over the years were Archie Semple, Fred Hunt, Roy Crimmins, Roy Williams, John Barnes, Lennie Hastings and Al Gay. During the 60s and early 70s Welsh toured the UK and Europe, building up a rapturous following, and also made occasional successful sorties to the USA. In common with Chris Barber, Welsh saw the need to maintain a wide repertoire, drawing (as jazz always has) from the best of popular music and thus creating a band that effectively swam in the mainstream. By the mid-70s Welsh’s health was poor, but he continued to play for as long as he could. Throughout his career Welsh blew with great exuberance, sometimes sang too and always encouraged his sidemen by his example. Not only popular with audiences, he was also respected and admired by his fellow musicians.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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