b. Henry Percy South, 7 September 1929, London, England, d. 12 March 1990, London, England. South played piano from an early age and also studied composing and arranging. In the early 50s he was playing in various London-based dance and jazz bands including that led by drummer Basil Kirchin. He led his own small group and also arranged for Ronnie Scott’s band. In the mid-50s he played with Tubby Hayes, Sandy Brown, Vic Ash, Cab Kaye and others. In the last few years of the decade he was heard with Joe Harriott, John Dankworth and was then a member of the Ronnie Ross-Bert Courtley Jazztet. In the early 60s he played in India in a band that included Dick Morrissey with whom he continued to work for the next few years. The late 60s saw a reunion with Harriott by which time he had also become musical director for Georgie Fame, a role in which he would continue for several years. His albums with Fame as the Harry South Big Band were memorable slices of jazz meeting pop. He was also a long-term musical associate of Annie Ross. Intermittently, from 1960 South had led a big band that was host to many of London’s finest jazz musicians. Among his many compositions is the ‘Portraits’ suite written for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Enormously respected among his fellow musicians, South’s contribution to British jazz is exceptional although frequently undersung.
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