Bromley jazz maestro Joe Mudele, 92, still going strong
PUBLISHED: 11:32 21 December 2012
If you listen closely to The Beatles's Penny Lane you may just hear a sound or two from the double bass of Joe Mudele, Bromley's very own 92-year-old jazz maestro.
Joe, from Bickley, is something of a legend in musical circles, and the bassist puts his heart and soul into running music nights every Monday at Bexley Jazz Club.
He has played under many guises since starting his first band aged just 16 and to his great relief was able to keep playing bass during his service with the Royal Air Force throughout the Second World War, which he admits helped to keep him sane.
After the war he worked as a roofer while playing part-time in a dance band at Eltham Studios before getting his first professional job in 1947.
He said: “Part of getting my big break as a professional was luck, being in the right place at the right time. I got that and never looked back.”
From the 1950s to 1980s, Joe was one of the most in-demand session musicians in the country, working with the likes of Barbra Streisand, Frank Sinatra, Jack Jones and The Beatles on the Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band album.
A stalwart of the Bexley Jazz Club for 20 years, he says: “I’d been playing at the club since it started but when the owner, Les Simons, died in 2004 I was asked to carry on running it. It was a great honour.
“Great jazz, played to a knowledgable and friendly audience, results in superb entertainment and will always thrive and prosper. These are the ingredients we have at Bexley Jazz Club.
“There’s no money in it for me any more. I do it for the love of the music – that’s where my motivation comes from.”
Joe has been married to second wife Janet since 1991 and she has been supportive of his music and the running of the club.
Janet, 74, said of Joe: “He has great talent, dedication and professionalism.
“Even at 92 years of age he is still a lot more than just memories.
“Joe has always been rated as one of the country’s supreme bass players and is still incredibly busy on the jazz and gig scene.”
He celebrated his 90th birthday by releasing his first CD as a vocalist and shows no sign of letting up.
Joe has had quite a life in the music world without ever gaining a formal qualification – coming closest with two years of music lessons just after the Second World War from James Merritt, then lead bass player of the Philharmonia Orchestra.
Today he carries just two regrets.
He said: “A musical college education would have been wonderful.
“But my main lasting regret is that so few people truly appreciate or understand the immense talent of the very best modern jazz soloists.
“But there is a resurgence of the great songs, thanks to people like Michael Bublé and Jamie Cullum, and I get the feeling more youngsters are starting to listen to them.”
To buy Joe’s album and hear a selection of his music, visit www.bexleyjazzclub.org.uk.