“I’ll Never Be the Same”
Composed by Matty Malneck and Frank Signorelli; arranged by Johnny Keating.
Recorded by Ted Heath and His Music in London for Decca on April 26, 1957.
Ted Heath, directing: Bobby Pratt, first trumpet; Duncan Campbell and Eddie Blair, trumpets; Herbert “Bert” Ezard, solo trumpet; Don Lusher, first trombone; Wally Smith, Jimmy Coombes and Keith Christie, trombones; Leslie Gilbert, first alto saxophone; Ronnie Chamberlain, alto saxophone; Henry MacKenzie and Red Price, tenor saxophones; Ken Kiddier, baritone saxophone; Frank Horrox, piano; Ike Isaacs, guitar; Johnny Hawksworth, bass; Ronnie Verrell, drums.
The story: The remarkable sustained success of Ted Heath and His Music through the 1950s and into the 1960s was something that was rare in Great Britain then. It was equally rare in the United States, though big bands led by Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Stan Kenton and Woody Herman also had periods of success in those years. Somehow, Heath was able to very successfully manage the business side of his band through those often challenging years, and consequently maintain a superb rnsemble filled with very talented musicians. Those musicians, being among the best in British Isles, could command top compensation from any bandleader. But few bandleaders had the financial ability to pay them well on an ongoing basis for substantial periods of time. Ted Heath did. Like any leader of a top-flight band, Heath held on to his musicians for as long as possible. Money was always a part of that.
So was public recognition. Heath always made it a practice to introduce the members of his band to audiences on gigs, and to recognize their efforts when they played solos. But he went further yet. In 1957, he devised a unifying theme for an entire Decca LP — to feature his sidemen in individual showcases of their own choosing. Each featured musician was free to choose the tune he wanted to play, and then to work out the routine of the arrangement of that tune with Johnny Keating, then Heath’s chief arranger. Finally, when each tune was recorded, the featured sideman had to be completely satisfied with the recording before it could be released. The resulting LP, Ted Heath Personnel – Spotlight on Sidemen, is filled with virtuoso performances, and inspired playing by the entire Heath band.
Every section of the Heath band was made up of great players, but none were more spectacular than those in the trumpet section. That section was led by Bobby Pratt, who was regarded throughout the time he was with Heath as “the Conrad Gozzo of Great Britain.” Conrad Gozzo was the legendary first trumpeter who played in many American big bands before having an extraordinarily successful career as a Hollywood studio musician. Both Gozzo and Pratt were renowned for their mammoth, ringing trumpet sounds, and power in all registers, especially the highest. These guys were like the sun in the solar system of any bands they played in — all of the other instruments revolved around them. Unfortunately, both succumbed to the emotional pressures that they constantly put on themselves by playing as they did, and died relatively young by suicide.
But there was another trumpeter in Ted Heath’s band who could and did play lead trumpet somewhat like Bobby Pratt. His name was Bert Ezard. There was a good bit of discussion in the Heath band during the time both Pratt and Ezard were there about who should be playing the lead parts at any given time. Ezard usually deferred to Pratt, and genuinely appreciated Bobby’s ability to ignite the Heath band’s performances. Pratt’s efforts were widely recognized and praised. He continued to play spectacularly well, setting a very high bar for himself every time he picked up his trumpet. Ezard would relieve Pratt by playing first trumpet parts from time to time, also inspiring the Heath band. There are recordings of Bobby Pratt and Bert Ezard with the Heath band playing solos together, and/or trading four bar phrases, invariably working their way up on their trumpets into the highest register. Audiences expected this kind of emotional high-register pyrotechnics from Pratt. But they were always surprised at how the Zen-like Ezard kept up with him, and occasionally topped him.
The inner, human dynamics between often high-strung virtuoso musicians in great bands is always interesting, as is the way the leaders of those bands managed them. Ted Heath, like all great leaders, managed his musicians’ emotions by channeling them into great performances. He made it very clear that he listened to what they were playing, and that he appreciated their efforts and excellence. (Above right – Bert Ezard in the late 1950s with Ted Heath’s band.)
The music: The music for “I’ll Never Be the Same” was composed in 1928 as an instrumental by Matty Malneck and Frank Signorelli. In that form, it was called “Little Buttercup.” In 1932, Gus Kahn wrote a lyric for the melody, and the title was changed to “I’ll Never Be the Same.” Early vocal recordings of it were by Mildred Bailey, Ruth Etting, and a bit later by Billie Holiday. In 1945, Artie Shaw made a wonderful instrumental recording of it, playing a great Ray Conniff arrangement. A superb vocal version arranged by Nelson Riddle was recorded by Frank Sinatra in the mid-1950s.
This performance is a showcase for the brilliant, powerful trumpet playing of Bert Ezard (1922-2019). After a brief introduction, Ezard steps forward to play through the entire first chorus of “I’ll Never Be the Same.” The arrangement by Johnny Keating provides subtle background sonorities to heighten the impact of Ezard’s full, rich trumpet sound as it is applied to this lovely ballad. In this sequence, Ezard plays the melody in his lower and middle registers with flowing swing, adding a few telling embellishments along the way. After this, there is a modulation which is highlighted by lead trumpeter Bobby Pratt’s ringing high notes. It provides a foretaste of what is to come. When Ezard returns, he is in his high register with his golden trumpet sound remaining full and fat, playing passionately, working his way up to a titanic high note finale.
This is virtuoso trumpet playing of the highest order.
The recording presented with this post was digitally remastered by Mike Zirpolo.
Here are some links to other great performances by Ted Heath: