Ilya S. Savenok, Getty Images The sad news came across late Wednesday afternoon…
- Posted on Feb 7th 2010 5:03PM by Liz Colville
Dankworth, who was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2006, was known primarily as a saxophonist, but his love of music extended into musical direction, composition, philanthropy and music education. The Stables hosts music camps and school concerts on top of a regular concert series, and Dankworth founded two charities, the Wavendon Allmusic Plan, which funds music education, and the Wavendon Foundation, which provides financial assistance to artists and organizations.
Dankworth worked as a musical director for greats including Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald and composed scores for television shows including 'The Avengers' and films including 'Darling' and 'Modesty Blaise.'
Dankworth was born in Woodford, Essex in 1927. His first instrument was the clarinet, but he switched to alto saxophone after hearing the music of Charlie Parker. He studied at the Royal Academy of Music from 1944 to 1946, then took a job playing aboard cruise ships so he could experience the jazz scene in the U.S. He founded a band first known as the Johnny Dankworth Seven, which soon grew larger. While auditioning musicians for the band, he met Cleo Laine. They married in 1958 and had two children, Alec and Jacqui, both jazz musicians themselves.
Though Laine was worried she would tear up announcing his death at the Stables Saturday night, she delivered the news steadily, according to the theater's CEO, Monica Ferguson. Dankworth "would have wanted the evening to go ahead," Ferguson told the AP.
Dankworth was "absolutely driven by a real ... passion for music, passion for excellence, and passion for sharing the joys of music with everyone, particularly young people," Ferguson added.
John Dankworth on AOL Music
Cleo Laine on AOL Music