Corey Mwamba


A reminiscence

I suppose it's just getting to that time of year again. I was thinking about people from the past. And a name popped into my head that I hadn't thought about for a while, but actually could be classed as a strong reason why I stuck with the vibraphone as an instrument.

If you've read the About me pages [and why wouldn't you? They're literally full of information, and you'd be at least twenty thousand points up on any journalist I've spoken to] you'll know that I spent some of my years in Southampton. There was a band there run by Chris Walker who played drums and sang; they played trad and swing. Occasionally he had a dazzling vibes player join the group called Tan Smart. Tan always used to play Cherokee at a ridiculous tempo.

As in the style of Hampton and early Norvo, the sustain pedal wasn't used much but the "vibrato" motor was set fairly high! As I remember, he leaned towards Hampton more in his soloing; but the harmonies Tan would play were really advanced and his sense of space was startling. For me at the time [I was a harmony freak back then; one arpeggio after another!] it was all very thrilling and new.

I spoke to him a few times, and he was always warm and friendly, showing enthusiasm for another musician wanting to play the instrument. Does anyone know what happened to him?