Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music



An all-star international big band based in Europe. Gigi Campi (b Pierluigi Campi, 15 December 1928; d 6 January 2010) was an architect and restaurateur who became a jazz producer. From 1949 to 1980 he ran the gelateria cafe Campi in Köln (Cologne) Germany, described by George Avakian as the 'best ice cream parlor in the world', where he hosted jazz concerts, and which soon became a meeting place for musicians. In the 1950s he founded the Mod and Old record labels. Accepting a dare, he organized a band around co-leaders pianist/arranger François 'Francy' Boland (b 6 November 1929, Namur, Belgium; d 12 August 2005) and drummer Kenny Clarke (see his entry): Campi had the band in the studio within weeks. Most of the albums were made in Köln, most available on Hans-Georg Brunner-Schwer's MPS label, not well distributed outside Europe.

It was the band of our dreams; it did a better job than any other of re-creating the joy and esprit of big-band jazz, but most Americans never heard it. Jazz Is Universal '61 on Atlantic included Benny Bailey on trumpet ('I didn't know I could play lead ... all of us played above our level'), Aake Persson on trombone (b 25 February 1932, Hassleholm, Sweden; d 4 February 1975 in Stockholm), in the reed section Derek Humble (b 1931, Durham, England; d 22 February 1971) and Sahib Shihab (b Edmund Gregory, 23 June 1925, Savannah GA; d November 1989: underrated reedman and teacher; albums All Star Sextets '57 on Savoy, with Brew Moore on Fantasy, Sentiments '71 on Storyville), Jimmy Woode on bass, Boland and Clarke, others included guest Zoot Sims. An Atlantic LP '63 as the Francy Boland Big Band added Idrees Suliemann on trumpet, Keg Johnson on trombone, and London's Ronnie Scott; an album made the next day was issued on Columbia in the USA. Others variously included Johnny Griffin, Tony Coe, Tootie Heath, Kenny Wheeler, many more, all superbly recorded by Wolfgang Hirschmann. Karl Drewo und die Clarke-Boland Big Band '66 on Philips included Drewo and Sal Nistico on tenors; Sax No End also included Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis on Saba, later on Pausa, also on Prestige as Fire, Soul, Heat And Guts; Out Of The Folk Bag on German Columbia added second drummer Kenny Clare (b 8 June 1929, UK; d 21 December 1984); Open Door on Muse was made in Prague; Seventeen Men And Their Music was on a Campi label in Italy; all '67. Let's Face The Music was also on Prestige; More on Campi; Latin Kaleidoscope on Campi, Polydor, Prestige; Fellini 712 on Polydor, all '68. Volcano and Rue Chaptal were made live at Ronnie Scott's, All Blues in Köln, Francy Boland And His Orchestra in Warsaw for Supraphon, At Her Majesty's Pleasure (aka Doin' Time) in Köln on Polydor and Black Lion, all '69. Our Kind Of Sabi '70 was on Polydor, Change of Scenes '71 on German Verve included Stan Getz.

A proposed USA tour '70 was scuppered partly by American red tape. Blue Flame, Red Hot and White Heat on MPS were all made the same day in '76 without Clarke, who was ill; there were other albums, including one backing Carmen McRae. Clarke and Clare died within weeks of each other; on the last three albums Persson had been replaced by Frank Rosolino, who like him became a suicide. Boland and Campi worked together again with Sarah Vaughan, Gene Lees and the Pope '85. Boland also made small-group LPs with Shihab, Clarke etc on various European labels: Francy Boland Combo '65, trio Out Of The Background, Music For The Small Hours, Flirt And Dream (with strings), all '67. Clarke/Boland CD reissues finally began with limited edition two-CD sets on an Emanon label at extremely high prices, presumably with some of the money going to charity: Historically Speaking '94, Blowing The Cobwebs Out '95, The Power Of Positive Swinging '96 each reissued several albums complete. Affordable single CDs from German Polygram's Motor Music: Two Originals '94 included All Blues and Sax No End; Three Latin Adventures combined Latin Kaleidoscope, Cuban Fever and Fellini 712 (Two Originals included a track from Fellini).