You just couldn't make this one up!

I was looking through my old diaries the other day and came across an item which made me smile, let me tell you about it.

One of the most enjoyable jobs I had during my career was playing piano with a great many visiting American jazz musicians. On this occasion the man in question was Ken Peplowski who had come up through the ranks of the Benny Goodman Orchestra playing tenor saxophone and clarinet both at or very close to virtuoso standard. During a break in rehearsal I said to him "I bet you didn't get much opportunity to play your clarinet when you were with Goodman" and he agreed but went on to say that the great man appeared one morning while he was practising, just sat, listened and after a while got up and left. This went on for some time and Ken said that he felt rather honoured to have his boyhood idol come and listen to him until he discovered the real reason for the visits was to steal a couple of reeds each time he came in. Although not the accolade Ken was looking for he said jokingly that it was still an honour for Benny Goodman to prefer his reeds to anyone elses.

Gerry Culley

Richard Valentine -1996 - 2008 © - All rights reserved