0502I Was Frank Sinatra's Unwanted Saxophonist20180709

Andrew McGibbon talks to saxophonist Duncan Lamont about Sinatra - and writing Mr Benn.

Series analysing great artists from the perspective of someone who knew them

Andrew McGibbon talks to Duncan Lamont about growing up in Greenock, playing jazz saxophone, composing music for Mr Benn, King Rollo and Spot, and being fired from Sinatra's band.

Frank Sinatra remains one of the most influential singers of the 20th century. In a singing career characterised by a spectacular reinvention after falling out of fashion, he came to epitomise a cool, intelligent post war jazz chic - a singer with a unique, close mic singing technique, supported in the studio and live by some of the best musicians and bandleaders in the world.

Throughout the 1960s, he solidified further his claim on the swingin' crooner style with a string of critically acclaimed albums, and later appearing with his cartoonish mob of co-performers in the Rat Pack, Sammy Davis Junior and Dean Martin. He maintained a sure grip on the business side of his music, creating his own record label, Reprise.

His touring schedule meant that, when he came to the UK, only the best musicians were called upon to play with him.

British tenor saxophonist Duncan Lamont was a successful jazz saxophonist in his own right. His unique tone has been heard on thousands of recordings and he was one of the key UK studio musician legends. He was also one of Frank Sinatra's regular musicians when he performed in the UK until, without warning, he found himself unwanted.

Duncan is a prolific composer, having written the music to the TV shows Mr Benn, King Rollo and Spot as well as the critically praised, Young Persons Guide to the Jazz Orchestra. But as a musician he will have always faced the possibility of being out of work.

After having been faithful to Frank for many years, he found that as far as Sinatra was concerned, he was "outta luck".

Written and presented by Andrew McGibbon
Producer: Nick Romero
A Curtains For Radio production for BBC Radio 4.