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Subject: Jazz legend Johnny Dankworth dies aged 82

Written By: Philip Eno on 02/07/10 at 6:03 am

Sir John Dankworth, a mainstay of the British jazz scene for over 60 years, has died, his family has confirmed.

Saxophonist Sir John, 82, served as musical director to the likes of Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald.

Sir John, known as Johnny, was knighted in 2006 for services to music. He died at the King Edward VII Hospital in London on Saturday.

His wife, the singer Dame Cleo Laine, announced his death at a concert at their theatre in Buckinghamshire.

The concert was celebrating 40 years of the theatre, which the couple founded in the grounds of their home in Wavendon.

In a statement, his agent said: "The all-star concert, featuring numerous British stars of stage, screen and recordings, became a tribute to John."

He was hailed by Jazzwise magazine as "one of the totemic figures of British jazz" and the UK's "first major jazz musician".

'International figure'

His agent Jim Murtha, speaking from New York, told the BBC it was "a sad day".

Mr Murtha added: "For British jazz and jazz around the world, I believe John has become such an international figure, particularly since he became Sir John Dankworth a few years ago."

On his Twitter page, jazz singer Jamie Cullum hailed Sir John as a "genius".

He wrote: "Sir John Dankworth, a great man and one of our finest musicians and composers, has died. Rest in peace sir."

Sir John and Dame Cleo met in 1950 while he was auditioning for singers with his band, the Dankworth Seven.

He also leaves a son and a daughter, both jazz musicians.

In 1993 Sir John formed the Dankworth Generation Band, with his son Alec.

After winning a place at the Royal Academy of Music aged 17, and following a short spell in the Army, the young Sir John was voted British Musician of the Year in 1949.

The same year he attended the Paris Jazz Festival, where he played with the legendary Charlie Parker.

In the 1960s, Sir John scored such films as Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, The Servant and Modesty Blaise and wrote the theme tunes for The Avengers and Tomorrow's World.

Sir John and Dame Cleo founded their charity, the Wavendon Allmusic Plan, in 1969, which led to the establishment of the Stables.

He was appointed CBE in 1974 and founded the London Symphony Orchestra Summer Pops in 1985.

Sir John was a fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and received the Freedom of the City of London in 1994.

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