Cyril Davies... British Blues Harp Pioneer

Arthur Themen's recollections of Cyril Davies

Musician's recollections of Cyril Davies
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The John Critchinson / Art Theman Quartet

Born Arthur Edward George Theman, on 26 November 1939 in Manchester, Art began his medical studies at the University of Cambridge in 1958, going on in 1961 to complete his studies at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, qualifying in 1964. He specialised in orthopedic medicine, eventually becoming a consultant. Themen started playing jazz with the Cambridge University Jazz Group, and then in London playing with Alexis Korner.

I was able to contact Art Theman with the help of John Critchinson; it was from his website that I learned of the The John Critchinson / Art Theman Quartet.

alexis, dhs, cyril, art themen

In mid-October, 2006, John forwarded my inquiry to Mr. Theman and we received the following response in January 2007. It was a strange coincidence that the day Art responded I discovered the accompanying picture of Alexis, Dick Heckstal-Smith, Cyril and Art in a book called A Century of Jazz - (Hamlyn). Everyone seems to be having a good time!

A.T. - Sorry for the delay in getting back to you. I have been winding down my medical practice and things have been rather busy for the last month. I am afraid I do not have a fund of stories about Cyril, but I did actually play with Alexis' band before Cyril became ill. I do have memories of his intensely exciting playing. I am not sure if it is common knowledge, but in the daytime he ran a car repair business. I gather this was not just knocking out dents - he would from time to time weld together the font end of one car to the back end of another, following road accidents. Certainly Cyril sold me one such hybrid, a green Austin A35 van. This served as band transport for quite some time, but finally expired with Alexis and I on board on the way back from a gig in North Wales!

I was in the band before Dick left, but I think Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce had left (? to form Cream) and the drummer who replaced Ginger was of course Phil Seaman. I cannot recall who filled Jack Bruce's slot, but I do remember a few occasions when Mick Jagger hung around the bandstand at the old Marquee Club, hoping for a sit-in!

If any other thoughts occur to me I will get back to you.

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