Photo: Jak Kilby / ArenaPAL
15 Oct 2015
Coleridge Goode, who has died aged 100, was a double-bass player who featured with distinction on the British jazz scene for almost 70 years; he was universally admired for his musical abilities, but equally for the grace and good humour with which he pursued the often trying career of a freelance musician.
Coleridge George Emmerson Goode was born in Kingston, Jamaica, on November 29 1914, the son of a church organist and choirmaster. He was named in honour of the composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, whose work, Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast, his father had recently conducted. As a child he studied the violin, but had no ambition to become a full-time musician.
At the age of 19 he travelled to Glasgow to study electrical engineering at the Royal Technical College, and went on to read for a degree at Glasgow University. There he first encountered jazz, any hint of which had been forbidden at home. He took up the bass in order to join in with local bands, and was soon in such demand that, in 1942, he abandoned his studies and set off for London.
Jazz thrived in the dives and clubs of war-time London. “The war got rid of all the stuffiness,” Goode wrote in his autobiography, and he was never out of work. Among the bands he played with was a trio consisting of the pianist Dick Katz, the guitarist Lauderic Caton and himself on bass. The group later became part of the original Ray Ellington Quartet.
In 1944 he married Gertrude Selmeczi, a Jewish refugee from Vienna whose family were of Hungarian origin. Their marriage was to last 70 years, until her death in June this year. It was the subject of a Radio Four programme in a series on long and successful marriages.
In 1946 Goode played for the reunion of Stéphane Grappelli, who had been in London throughout the war, and Django Reinhardt, who had been in occupied France. He remembered Django carrying on an animated conversation in French with Gertrude, while sitting on their sofa and dandling their two-year-old daughter, Sandy, on his knee.
Always a dedicated tinkerer in matters electrical and electronic, Goode built his own television set from scratch and constructed one of the earliest effective bass amplifiers. This he combined with a microphone, which enabled him to sing and play simultaneously, after the style of the American bassist Slam Stewart.