Alan Ross

Random memories of Conrad- teacher and friend

1 Generosity – Conrad would visit Blackthorn Books when we had just begun to stock CD and LPs as well as books. In the early days it was a tiny selection but he would always buy more than any other customer- ‘to encourage you.’ One night I stayed so long talking and listening to music that I missed the last bus home from Thurmaston. Conrad did not hesitate but drove me home- and it’s quite a distance.

When I moved into my new house, leaving behind most of what had been joint possessions Conrad and Ali took me off to Calais to furnish my kitchen from a French hypermarché. I can’t have been much of a travelling companion but I was delivered to my door with an assortment of gadgets after Conrad’s late-night drive from the coast.

He developed a database to catalogue our record collections; a labour of love which he offered as a gift to his friends. He also developed software for our bookshop which was enormously helpful to our impoverished collective.

2 Courage – To stand on a stage next to Lee Konitz, playing the same instrument, playing his tunes. No more to be said, really. I’m not ignoring the fine contributions of John Runcie and Gavin Bryars. Taking a student band playing Carla Bley songs to the Camden jazz festival and playing the opening set of Carla’s gig. And receiving a glowing review from Charles Fox for his soloing. Assembling an ad-hoc band to play with Ian Carr at a memorable gig at the Cooler, after persuading Ian to be honorary president of the club.

3 Intellect – I’m not a musician and though I tried I did not try hard enough with his great work ‘Harmony with Lego Bricks’ but much of the thought behind it has sunk in and taken root. Conrad’s ‘W’ tag- standing for ‘Western European Art Music’ – WEAM – is attached to the few classical albums on the Jazz House Records website! And I always learnt a lot through discussing music with Conrad- I remember him distilling the difference between classical and romantic styles in a sentence. I admired the breadth and depth of his reading- he once explained to me he had a notional section labelled ‘Man in Extremis’ on his bookshelves.

When we met Sheila Jordan he told her: ‘I’ve been in love with you for 30 years.’ She sang well that night.

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