I knew Conrad in the late 60s and 70s and, needless to say, I learnt a great deal from him. In those days Conrad lived in Formby and, if I remember correctly, worked for Hygena Kitchens in computing. He also ran a jazz appreciation society which met in his house. The idea was that each time someone would present an evening (nothing too formal!) on a particular artist, era, style, comparison, etc., say a few words and play some records. One week it might have been Tommy Ladnier, next week hard bop favorites. My friend’s parents knew someone who attended, so that’s how we got to go. Listening to so many recitals helped me begin to develop an understanding of the jazz heritage and I am always grateful for that grounding. Conrad had a large record collection and was very generous about lending albums to people who came to the appreciation society.
Apart from his piano, Conrad also had a double bass and a bass clarinet. Additionally, there was an old alto which he lent and eventually gave to me and that’s what got me started on the instrument. Fifty years later, I still play alto and no other horn.
The way I remember him is exactly as in the photo of the Newport Festival in the early 70s, with the Eric Dolphy beard! He went with a member of the appreciation society and they came back with records from Sam Goody’s!
In due course I learned that he had moved to Leicester, and then, several years later, I saw that ‘Harmony with Lego’ had been published. It’s a great book and one to which I still refer even now. As is evident, he was always exceptionally perceptive and I always came away after reading a section thinking, ‘Of course, it’s obvious really!’