Les Condon

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As for who the most widely-heard trumpet players were in the '60s, it could be assumed that the honor might go to the likes of Herb Alpert, Hugh Masakela or even Louis Armstrong, all Top Ten hitmakers…
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As for who the most widely-heard trumpet players were in the '60s, it could be assumed that the honor might go to the likes of Herb Alpert, Hugh Masakela or even Louis Armstrong, all Top Ten hitmakers whose records were splashed with brass sounds during that era. But examining the issue purely in terms of trumpet licks heard, regardless of who the actual star of the record was, the name of Les Condon would have to come puckering up. He was one of a triumvirate of trumpeters featured on the Beatles' song entitled "Got to Get You Into My Life", one of many hits off the 1966 Revolver album. For good measure, it can also be added that Condon also played on the controversial, slightly horrid Jesus Christ Superstar in its original double-album form.

Like many British musicians utilized on such pop recording sessions in the '60s and '70s, Condon had a remarkable career that only certain fringe audiences were aware of. Along with trumpeters such as Harry Beckett, Henry Lowther and Kenny Wheeler, Condon was one of the top jazz players on the British scene, blowing expertly in the context of both traditional and progressive varieties of jazz. He had begun performing as a teenager in the British Air Force Military Band and continued his interest in brass bands throughout his career. In the late '60s and early '70s he served as musical director for the national Salvation Army Band. His compositions for brass ensembles, particularly "The Present Age", have become respected parts of the repertoire for such groups.

At least in terms of his jazz influences, Condon was inspired by a typical set of American heroes: Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown and so forth. His early associates in England were the bandleaders Vic Lewis and Tony Crombie, with whom he gigged and recorded in the early '50s. Besides leading the Les Condon Quartet from swinging time to time, the trumpeter went on to collaborate with noted multi-instrumentalist Tubby Hayes, the fascinating West Indies experimenter Joe Harriot and an Anglo-American version of the Woody Herman Big Band which was convened circa 1959. About a decade later he recorded with jazz drumming legend Philly Joe Jones.

Condon died in 1983 while actually out on the winter streets performing with a brass ensemble, the Croydon Band. His most well known composition within this context, "The Present Age", has been recorded on a collection of brass band music by the Grimethorpe Colliery UK Coal Band. Other brass works by Condon include "Celestial Morn", a concerto for tuba and "Song of Praise", an arrangement for massed bands.