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 Lucky Ol' Me
                  - Cy Laurie

Sub-titled “the autobiography of a jazzman’s quest for meaning”, this autobiography of Cy Laurie is a fascinating read for all those readers who enjoyed the music of this clarinettist. It covers all of Cy’s life, and although some eras are expanded on more than others, it gives a very good insight into the man’s psyche.

The book takes us through the early years, starting out with Bill Brunskills Band, then the forming of his first band; the coming together of his love for the music of Johhny Dodds in his preference to that of the Revival, and to the decisions made concerning his search for inner peace through meditation.

Obviously the period 1950 – 1960 is given more space, as I think most will agree that he had some excellent bands, and played some exciting music, although the Colyer/Barber fanatics of the time would not have agreed. His inevitable break-up of his band and his visit to India to study meditation under the spiritual leaders pre-dated The Beatles by six or seven years. But who took all the accolades?

Nevertheless, as history now tells us, Cy returned with his knowledge, continued his studies in the UK and started up classes for those seeking inner peace without having to travel to India. All this meant having to earn some money, so Cy decided to go back to playing music for a living and in the seventies re-formed his band, and also undertook guest appearances with other bands. All at a time when jazz was being pushed by the media into the background, but along with the big names he managed to survive the austere years and was back in focus again in the 80s, when he shared the billing with Ken Colyer and Max Collie’s “Mardi Gras” road show.

Cy, it seems, must have enjoyed life, and enjoyed his music, and with his partner Veronica (Ronnie), continued to run his meditation classes and play his music. He writes quite poignantly about the illness that affected him and which brought a halt to his playing; obviously as he wrote about it, he was unaware that it would bring about his untimely death.

I found the book an excellent read – informative, and humorous in places. Cy certainly will be remembered by those who attended his jazz club in the fifties; to them he was their “god”. Quite rightly, this book is a fitting reminder of those times, and more appropriately, of the man himself.

Review by Peter Lay

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