The Honours System



I thought I'd leave a discussion of jazz and the British honours system until we got to the 60th anniversary of the introduction of rationing, which falls today.

The press never points out the statistically obvious fact : hundreds of British honours are given to people in Civil Service departments, local authorities and other publicly-funded bodies, and are given in accordance with the grade people have reached. And therefore- with my linear regressions r-squareds to the fore again, I venture to suggest that there are at least a few where the correct citation should be: "for doing their job."

The people who make our jazz scene happen are at the opposite end of the scale. Things mostly happen through some combination of individual drive, passion and endeavour, persistence, volunteering, going beyond the call, reckless abandon.

Which could be a reason why honours into jazz are so....rationed.

Look in this year's New Year's Honours list and there is one (thank you RT!), tucked away in the Foreign Office's list, a well-deserved OBE for

-the first English girl to wade ashore on Omaha Beach in Normandy.
-the first English girl to marry an American in wartime Germany
-who has made her home in the US since April 23, 1946

Marian McPartland, approaching her 92nd birthday in March.


Many congratulations. If anyone upstairs is reading this: here's a quick list of some of the desrving, which, please, please, should be added to forthwith: Kenny Wheeler, Stan Sulzmann, John Taylor, Eddie Harvey.

Marian McPartland facts from this Ph.D thesis

8 comments:

  1. From Twitter:

    John L Walters is suggesting
    Gordon Beck, Barry Guy and Don Rendall


    Patrick Hadfield is suggesting:
    Keith Tippett!
    Tommy Smith!
    The guys at Assembly Direct

    There is also a Twitter topic #jazzhonours

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  2. John Stevens Marshall Horler Taylor Surman

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  3. I assume that we don't want to give honours the Civil Service way - awarded when people have been doing something dull and worthy for a long time and are getting towards the point where they can't do it any more!

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  4. Alyn Shipton wrote in via Twitter

    Well done @LondonJazz for pointing out the Marian McPartland OBE.

    Those most deserving of honours are probably the least likely to want to accept them...Humph being a good example.


    By the way here's the full citation

    Mrs Margaret Marian McPartland, Pianist and Radio Show Host, National Public Radio, USA. For serv jazz and to aspiring young musicians in the USA.

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  5. Aside from the musicians, there are just such passionate volunteers all over the land helping jazz musicians to get heard via their local organisations. Alyn Shipton makes the fair point that those worthy of nomination probably wouldn't want the honour, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't name them anyway: I'd go for Tony Dudley-Evans, prime mover at Birmingham Jazz and artistic director of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival,
    William Shaw - doing the same at Coventry, and Oliver Weindling for his tireless work on the Babel label and at the Vortex.

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  6. Two more comments via Twitter:

    Jack Davies wrote: Nick Smart!

    Harrison Wood wrote: It's got to be "Arise Sir Bill Ashton". I'd love that, he deserves it!

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  7. Bill Ashton is already an MBE.
    An OBE is well overdue. NYJO played a storm at Ronnies this year and has got to be the Hot ticket for 2010 (and 2011) Theres some rumour going around about funding problems, surely not!

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