Video: Fond farewell to Leeds jazz legend

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He was one of the biggest names on the local jazz scene and credited with introducing the New Orlean’s style jazz to a wider audience and even at his funeral, the late Ed O’Donnell still managed to play out in style.

The 87-year-old, who died on February 14, was given a rousing send off by a live jazz band at Lawnswood Cemetery as part of the funeral ceremony.

The funeral of Ed O'Donnell at Lawnswood Cemetery. PIC: Simon Hulme

The funeral of Ed O'Donnell at Lawnswood Cemetery. PIC: Simon Hulme

Ed was instrumental in moulding the Leeds jazz scene, playing for many years at The Adelphi, amongst other venues across the city.

A former Bevin Boy, he also did a stint as a life model at Leeds College of Art and it is rumoured a saint in one of the stained glass windows in the Chapter House at York Minster was modelled on him.

Widow Ann, with whom he had two children, Frances and Kate, said: “It’s a traditional New Orleans-style funeral, going in with a slow march and coming out very joyful. Ed did this himself for other people, it’s something he would have wanted, a celebration of his life.”

Family friend Dave Lewis added: “He could be very amusing in company but he could also be acerbic and did not suffer fools gladly. For Ed, music was the be all and end all.”

After working in the mines, Ed travelled to London, where he met the renowned Ken Colyer (1928-1988), who played with some of the New Orleans greats before returning to the UK. The pair hit it off, Ed being by that time already an accomplished trombonist.

He recorded with Colyer and later returned to Leeds to spread the word of jazz, or, as he called it ‘the good oil’.

He was part of the local music scene which had its zenith in in the smokey dive bars of the 1950s, just before the rock n’ roll movement but which continued long after.

His funeral took place at Lawnswood Cemetery

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