Oliver Bennett

Conrad had a big influence on my life. I remember very clearly the first time I met him. It was when personal computers were just becoming available and I thought it would be necessary to learn programming. I was struggling with it and went over to get some advice from what I think in those days was called ‘computer services’. I had been wrestling with a particular logical problem, which I was describing, when Conrad said out of the blue: ‘You don’t play saxophone as well, do you?’ I thought this was an extraordinary piece of intuition, as I had bought a tenor saxophone only a few months before and was looking for a teacher. So for the next few years, I went round to his house at Thurmaston every Friday night, drank copious amounts of alcohol and talked about everything (‘Conrad called in playing saxophones with our heads’) under the general pretext of jazz lessons. I never really succeeded in playing jazz – and it took me 10 years to admit defeat – but it left me with a lasting love of the music. And of course, Conrad and I became close friends during what now seems, looking back, to have been a very difficult time in his life. It also led to his close involvement with the music department at Scraptoft. I remember telling Gavin Bryars that I had met this saxophone player who was immensely knowledgeable about jazz just at the time Gavin was looking for someone to play saxophone in a project he was planning. It’s with such coincidences that lives change!

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