George and Cyril Blake were born in Trinidad, probably in the late 1890s, they both served in the British Merchant Navy during the first world war.
After the first world war they came to live in the United Kingdom some time between 1918 and 1920s.
Cyril and George(George was also known as ‘Happy Blake) were great musicians, and they played with a great group of musicians called ‘The Southern Syncopated Orchestra .
The Southern Syncopated Orchestra played all over the UK including Buckingham Palace,and abroad,there were many great musicians in the Southern syncopated orchestra including Sidney Bechet, Joe Smith,Will Marion Cook (composer)
On the 9th October 1921 several members of the Southern Syncopated Orchestra died when the ship SS Rowan (on which they were travelling to perform a concert in Dublin) collided with the American steamer West Carnak(?) in heavy fog.
It is said that around 35 passengers died when the Rowan sank,and between 8-9 members of The Southern Syncopated Orchestra were among the dead .
George and cyril survived..
This is a short clip showing some of the survivors of the SS Rowan..please note there is no sound..
Both George and Cyril had bands of their own during the 1930s and through the 1940s
Cyril also performed in Paris during the 1920s one of the many people he worked with was the great Josephine Baker.
George played drums …a clip from(probably) the 1930s shows him playing drums, probably at one of his clubs . He also had his own band but also played in many other great bands of the era.
‘Happy Blake’ also performed in Europe possibly one of the countries was Latvia(?)
George went briefly back into the Merchant Navy around about 1940.
This is the link showing George’Happy’ blake playing drums it is a very short clip, probably 1930s(?)but it is good to hear the positive comments of the male voice over artist.
Although George had his band(s) I have been unable to find out if any recordings were made by them..If you know if any recordings were cut onto discs I would love to know about them..
Cyril Blake played the trumpet,guitar and he also sang,he played in the bands of Leon Abbey, he also played in the band of his brother George. Cyril also played in many of the bands of the great musicians of that era including Rudolph Dunbar,Leslie Thompson, Joe Appleton and the genius guitarist Lauderic Caton.
Here is a link to a calypso track with Cyril Blake.
The great musicians of this era kept the 1920s /40s jazz age roaring.
In the late 1930s(?) Cyril formed his own band called Cyril Blake and his Jigs club band(The word Jigs was used as a derogatory term by some, but I guess Cyril decided to turn the negative word into a positive ..Good for him!
About 1941/2 Cyril and his band cut a 78 record live at his club, on the Regal zonophone label.(Three of the tracks are on a Cd,and if you can get the Cd listen very carefully,and you can hear someone asking for ‘A glass of beer!’)
The CD is called Black British Swing, you may be able to find it on E bay/Amazon, it has tracks from the great jazz musicians of the jazz era who were working in UK Europe(and other parts of the world)
It is said that when jazz musicians like Louis Armstrong,came over to the UK they would make their way to Cyril’s club to hear him and his band play..How cool was that!
Both Cyril and George carried on playing their music through the 30s and 40s.
Cyril also did quite a few broadcasts for the BBC.
Cyril also played calypso music he had his own calypso band,Cyril Blake and his calypso serenaders(?) band they recorded on the Parlophone label.
He played calypso with great Calypsonians such as Lord Beginner,and Lord Kitchener.
Both George and Cyril married,I think Cyril married during the 20s, and George during the1940s
Cyril died in the early 1950s,and George died in the early 1960s(car accident)..
There were so many great jazz musicians making music all over the United Kingdom and Europe,it is sad that so many have been forgotten,they were the trail blazers of the musicians that came along after.. some of these great musicians of the era are listed below..
Yorke De Souza
Lord Kitchener (calypsonian)
Pete Robinson (d.ss0 sinking)
Sidney Bechet(member of sso)
Joe Smith(member of sso)
Bertin Depreste Salnave( member of sso)
Will Marion Cook(composer)(sso)
Egbert Emmanuel Thompson(member of sso)
Frank Essien(member of sso)
Rupert Gaskin(member of sso)
Frank( Obediah) Kennedy(member of sso)
William Martin Ofori(member of sso)
Frank Lacton(d sso rowan sinking)
John Herbert Greer(?) (d. rowan sinking)
Charles Henry Macdonald(d rowan sinking)
George William Lattimore (member of sso)
Evelyn Mary Luke(member of sso)
Mope Desmond(member of sso)
Angelina De caillaux(?)(member of sso)
Santos santita Rivera(?)( member of sso
There are so many other great musicians who were helping to make the jazz age roar that have not been added above,but they were all great musicians ..If you know other musicians playing in UK and Europe from 1900-1950 let me know their names and I will add them to the list of great jazz musicians playing in UK and Europe
SSO= Southern syncopated orchestra.
I hope you enjoyed this article, if you know anything more about the Blake brothers or any other musicians playing in United Kingdom and Europe during the jazz age that you might like me to add,please leave details in comments..But please don’t be to unkind,I am new to this writing game.