Legacy of big band leader lives on in Jewish music group

Veteran band leader Joe Loss (l), 80, at a Variety Club lunch in his honour. He is alongside singers

Veteran band leader Joe Loss aged 80 alongside singers Dame Vera Lynn and Frankie Vaughan. Loss and his orchestra provided backing for Dame Vera's first radio performance in 1935. - Credit: PA

The legacy of legendary big band leader Joe Loss will live on when young Jewish musicians launch their new album next week.

Loss and his orchestra provided the soundtrack to the 30s and 40s, backing the likes of Vera Lynn and Frankie Vaughan.

He lived in Prince Albert Road and his daughter Jennifer Jankel has continued the family tradition as Chair of the Jewish Music Institute. Although their usual performances and education courses focus on ancient Jewish Music traditions, their latest project is an album - launched at JW3 by JMI's Big Band.

The JMI Youth Big Band launches its album at JW3 on Finchley Road on December 19, 2021.

The JMI Youth Big Band launches its album at JW3 on Finchley Road on December 19, 2021. - Credit: Jewish Music Institute

Led by Sam Eastmond, the group - aged 11-18 - was a bid to engage talented secondary pupils.

"We have wonderful programmes for primary schools, but we wanted to give musical input for teenagers," says Jankel. "Sam is an exciting creative and passionate musician who went into schools and worked with children playing saxophone, trombone and percussion. Most of what we do at JMI is very different music but I leapt at it. Big band music is in my heart."

Jennifer recalls their St John's Wood mansion flat was: "full of music."

"In those days it was the radio shows, Daddy did whole programmes and people would listen in over Sunday lunch. I remember Max Bygraves being in and out, always laughing, and Daddy bringing home all sorts of new tunes. The mid 50s was a very dour time and there were still a lot of programmes playing popular war time dance tunes.

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"My father was the only band leader who wore Tzitzits under his shirts. He was a doer who cared for people. He helped increase the average wage for musicians and I suspect played more concerts for cost than we could count hot dinners. He didn't end up a millionaire."

Jennifer with her dad Joe Loss

Jennifer with her dad Joe Loss - Credit: Joe Loss Archive (Jankel/Loss Family)

Jankel didn't move out until she was 22: "In those days girls stayed at home until you were married."

Her first home in 1962 was in Willifield Way, Hampstead Garden Suburb: "We bought it for £3,000 it was gorgeous, the neighbours were elderly and had stories of the First World War but it was a little workman's cottage and when I got pregnant in 1964 we couldn't get a pram into the front door so we moved."

The mother of four went on to run a successful shoe business but has ensured her father's legacy is passed on, establishing the Joe Loss Lectureship in Jewish Music at SOAS.

(l-r) Joe Loss, Lionel Blair, Cilla Black, and Billy J Kramer demonstrate a new dance routine to acc

Joe Loss, Lionel Blair, Cilla Black, and Billy J Kramer demonstrate a new dance routine to accompany Joe Loss's new track Let's Kick. - Credit: PA

"Every time I hear daddy's music I smile to myself," she adds. "So many younger band leaders were inspired by him. He would be so proud of the JMI big band."

JMI Youth Big Band launch their album in December 2021

JMI Youth Big Band launch their album in December 2021 - Credit: Supplied

JMI Youth Big Band launch their album Bet at JW3 on December 19 at 3pm with a concert, sharing the bill with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra's Academy Big Band.