Joe Temperley: The Single Petal Of A Rose

May 14, 2016 at 3:19 pm (jazz, Jim D, music, scotland)

Sad news: the great Scottish sax player Joe Temperley has died. He played in Humph’s band between 1958 and ’65, then went to America and found himself, in October 1974, playing the baritone sax at Harry Carney’s funeral: as a result he was invited to step into Carney’s shoes in the Ellington band (by then being run by the Duke’s son Mercer), the ultimate honour for a baritone sax player.

Since 1990 he’d been the acclaimed veteran star of the Lincoln Centre Jazz Orchestra, with whom he can be heard here (on bass clarinet) playing a lovely rendition of Ellington’s The Single Petal Of A Rose:

RIP Joe Temperley, jazz musician: b (Fife Scotland) 20 Sept 1929; d (NYC) 11 May 2016


  1. Robert R. Calder said,

    a wonderful musician, and I remember him playing an unaccompanied “Hieland Laddie” on soprano to the memory of Ken Gallacher, who died just before Joe was in Edinburgh with the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra, Joe played his heartfelt goodbye to Ken months later, to a small audience, Ken Mathieson & quartet partners in Adelaide Place Baptist Church, Glasgow. His professional career had begun one street away, in the band of a nightclub on Sauchiehall Street, replacing men who had been called up for wartime military service. He never liked football, he said, so he had become proficient at snooker, the wee boy who doubled his wages on the incredulity of musicians that this kid could really have been so accomplished on the green baize. He was a professional reedman for over seventy years — and Harry Carney’s deputy for some time before great Harry’s demise, when the cancer treatment took that other wonderful baritone player away.
    The earlier baritone player he sounded most like was actually Omer Simeon, judging from a small number of big band recordings, though Simeon in later years was restricted to clarinet by his engagement with Wilbur de Paris, which he undertook to pay for his daughter’s education, turnin down an offer from Ellington. Hearing a wonderful quartet set by Joe with the late Brian Lemon, the programme also broadcast in a different session by the BBC, I was thinking somebody could have mugged Joe and put a clarinet into his hands, for on that occasion he sounded not so much like Simeon on baritone, but with a breadth and flow of sound like a great New Orleans clarinetist. I taped the recording broadcast off the air, but there is the CD, and one of Joe’s best.
    It was fascinating and impressive over the years, in Glasgow and at Edinburgh Jazz Festivals, how Joe never sounded exactly the same, there was always something spontaneous. The last of his annual gigs in Glasgow was marred by a failure of piano, despite the best efforts of the Edinburgh Hank Jones, Tom Finlay, and Joe expressed a strong desire that night to play a lot of Ellington. As Humphrey Lyttelton said at the end of his memorial broadcast to Bruce Turner, “mine ears have heard the glory..”

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