Straight after the ‘Spirit of Django concert I drove to the Cinnamon Club in Bowdon to attend the launch of Bill Birch’s new book ‘Keeper of the Flame’ with foreward by Don Rendell. Bill’s experience in the printing world has helped him to publish the definitive work of the highest production values on a fascinating subject which has not been covered comprehensively until now. You can get the more information on this superb book here in a synopsis on Jazz Clubs Worldwide.

I have never met anyone quite like Bill, first time at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester (built behind the facade of the Free Trade Hall where many gigs took place and where I went to my first – Black Sabbath in around 1972 – and this is where Dylans’s ‘Live at the Royal Albert Hall was actually recorded) at a Jeremy Sassoon gig where his enthusiasm and knowledge on the Club 43 and the Manchester jazz scene were simply not containable by any vessel known to man – except for that wonderful invention – the book. I only look at the superb pictures – the text is already embedded in my mind – Bill told me the story of how it all happened in Manchester in a few breathless minutes as he showed me the print proofs and told me how he had spent so much time at the printers directing everything down to the ink mix for his labour of love.

Pretty well every major artist in jazz appears in this book on and off stage giving a fascinating into life on the road – including Billie Holliday at The Midland Hotel after her concert – with the late night familiar view of no food available but perhaps a little drink. As I mentioned earlier the print quality is first class especially bearing in mind that many images are from vintage prints and not in first class condition.

There are many atmospheric images – it’s hard to tear myself away to write this with great work in view by the boss –  Terry Cryer, – Sefton Samuels, Brian Foskett, Brian Lawton, Malcolm Carling, Peter Vacher and so many other talented photographers who keep the flame alive and bright.

There was music of course with a bebopping band you see here lead by the very Iain Dixon. I’m sure he won’t mind me saying that, Mike Walker’s very dry humour is spreading by osmosis.

Some night – some book!

Signed book – £@25.00 + £5.50 UK PP  order form – go on!

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Mr. Bill Birch

Mr. Bill Birch

Bill with guests

Bill with guests

Neil Hughes of the Cinnamon Club (right) and actor Phil Hackland of 'Shameless'

Neil Hughes of the Cinnamon Club (right) and actor Phil Hackland of 'Shameless'

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0241©William Ellis

The Band (Les Chisnall to left of Dave Green)

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0221©William Ellis

Caroline Boaden

Frank Toms

Frank Toms

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0200©William Ellis

Iain Dixon

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0263©William Ellis

Jack Massarik

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0254©William Ellis

Mike Farmer

Bill_Launch_Cinn_MG_0242©William Ellis

Peter Maguire

A few words from Bill Birch

A few words from Bill Birch