Stanley Mackay Greig, 12 Aug 1930 – 18 Nov 2012
Stan Greig had been ill with Parkinson’s for many years, so his passing was not altogether unexpected. But it still comes as a tremendous loss to the traditional and mainstream jazz scene in Britain and internationally.
Stan started out on piano and drums in Edinburgh in the early 1950’s, playing with clarinettist Sandy Brown and trumpeter Al Fairweather, both of whom became long-term musical associates and personal friends of his. They admired (and modelled their playing upon) the music of Louis Armstrong, King Oliver and Johnny Dodds from the 1920’s, and although all three would soon broaden their musical horizons, none of them ever completely lost those early influences.
When Stan moved down to London he began working with Ken Colyer’s New Orleans-style band and then Humphrey Lyttelton’s rather more forward-looking outfit, in both cases as a drummer. It’s Stan who’s brushing away behind Johnny Parker’s piano on Humph’s 1956 boogie woogie hit Bad Penny Blues. One can only speculate about how Stan felt about his role on that record, given that his true forte, even then, was as a pianist (and a boogie specialist at that). When Stan was called up in the Suez crisis, Humph replaced him with the more modern drummer Eddie Taylor. On his return, Humph (by his own account) went through agonies in terms of loyalties, using both drummers in turn for a while before Stan solved the problem for him and left the band, joining Acker Bilk. He can be seen, shuffling from the piano to the drums and back again, with Acker’s band in this clip (below) from the 1962 film It’s Trad, Dad!:
Some years later (in the 1980’s) Stan re-joined Humph’s band, this time on piano and it was during this period that I had the tremendous pleasure and privilege of playing with him on a couple of memorable (for me, at least) occasions. The trombonist in that band, Pete Strange, told me that he thought Humph felt he “owed” Stan because of what had happened in the fifties.
Stan was a great player in quite a wide range of styles, but really excelled at boogie woogie, a style that can sound hackneyed and repetative. But not when Stan played:
Good obit from Peter Vacher in the Graun, here