Of jazz and dogs, and how to avoid being bitten by both

All This And Many A Dog by Jim Godbolt Northway, £12.99 It is countless the number of times you want to say poor old thing while reading Jim Godbolt s autobiography All This and Many a Dog. This is the man who was in the thick of the post-war jazz boom

All This And Many A Dog

by Jim Godbolt

Northway, £12.99

It is countless the number of times you want to say "poor old thing" while reading Jim Godbolt's autobiography All This and Many a Dog.

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This is the man who was in the thick of the post-war jazz boom and put his wealth of knowledge into his two volumes of the A History of Jazz in Britain, and The World of Jazz in Printed Ephemera and Collectibles. He was also the editor of Ronnie Scott's in-house magazine until last year.

Yet for all the great times he had with the likes of Humphrey Lyttelton, George Melly, Wally Fawkes and a host of others, this book is sub-titled Memoirs of a Loser/Pessimist.

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Some of this attitude is God-bolt's own personality but some is equally the way he was treated by self-obsessed jazz players who regarded his work as a manager and booker as little more than a hanger-on, making money from other people's talent.

But bad luck and a little bad judgement has followed Godbolt throughout his life. Melly, in his own work, Owning Up, says that around Godbolt "a whole comic tradition of disaster has grown up".

So the majority of anecdotes and reminisce are self-deprecating and he is not afraid to lay the blame for tantrums, bad temper and misunderstandings at his own door - in Gospel Oak, where he has lived for the past 25 years.

He moved there originally to get some fresh air, away from the fug of the West End.

Goddbolt's love affair with jazz - as opposed to its practitioners - began before the war. "I was listening to dance bands in the 30s and one of the people, unconsciously, I was listening to was Nat Gonella. In those days there were no professional jazz bands."

After a war spent in the Navy, Godbolt returned to a country in the centre of a new jazz boom.

"They were very passionate times because they were playing what was called the real jazz," he told me. "They wouldn't play dance music. It was very rough and ready but it had a certain gospel appeal to people.

"Somehow or other I found myself working for an agency, representing bands, including the Johnny Dankworth Seven. I then formed my own agency representing bands including Mick Mulligan's band, whose featured singer was George Melly."

The "many a dog" in the title is the time Godbolt had to take a job a electricity meter reader in order to make ends meet. Inadvertently, he became an expert on dogs and how to avoid being bitten.

Godbolt's role in British jazz is not inconsiderable. While the glamour of the business wore off over time, Godbolt has al-ways had a great affection for the music and musicians.

This is the story of a love affair told by a realist and not the story of a loser.

Barry Reynolds

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