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Photo of Ron Rubin

© Photograph courtesy of Ron Rubin

Ronald Rubin was born in Liverpool, Lancashire on the 8th July 1933 where his father, who was trained as a Cantor, would sometimes conduct services at the local synagogue on the High Holy days. Ron’s mother was not musical and it says something for her love of Ron’s father that she once sat with him through the whole of a week-long performance of Wagner’s Ring Cycle.

Whilst his brother John learned to play vibraphone, piano and trombone, Ron tried to teach himself guitar and clarinet but it was the piano that really took his interest. When he left school, Ron was articled to his uncle's law firm, but the work did not inspire him and at eighteen his two years National Service in the Army took him away to Germany with the Royal Army Service Corps. It was there that he started to play jazz with the Rhine River Jazz band.

To say that Ron would become a prolific and sought after jazz musician is an understatement when you read his musical C.V., his list of associations and the compass of his travels.

Photo of Ron Rubin meeting Prince Charles


Meeting Prince Charles at the Royal Festival Hall in July 1980 with (l-r) Prince Charles, Peanuts Hucko, Laurie Chescoe, Ron Rubin and Fred Hunt.

© Photograph courtesy of Ron Rubin



On leaving the forces, Ron started to play the double bass and joined Ralph ‘Bags’ Watmough’s Band playing in the Liverpool area where the band was in the line-up for the opening of the Cavern Club in 1957. Ron's father ran an Estate Agents business and when he died in 1959, responsibility for the business fell to Ron. Musically, there were other associations with the Les Harris Six, the Wall City Jazzmen and Darryl Dugdale’s Trio and increasingly Ron realised that music meant far more to him than property management. In 1961, Ron decided to move to London to become a professional musician, and his brother John took over the Estate Agency.

Arriving in London, Ron played piano with the bands of Glyn Morgan, Dick Williams and Brian Leake. When Brian Lemon could not make some of the gigs arranged for the Fairweather-Brown band in 1962, Ron was asked to deputise. Six weeks later he was asked to join the band on a regular basis. Ron stayed with Fairweather-Brown playing piano and occasionally bass until 1964 when he left and Matt Mathewson took over.

From Fairweather-Brown, Ron found himself playing with a long list of bands and musicians of various persuasions. There was his colleague Tony Milliner from the Fairweather-Brown band and trumpeter Alan Littlejohn. He played from time to time with Mike Taylor, the Ronnie Selby Trio, Fat John Cox, and Bruce Turner with whom he accompanied American musicians Bill Coleman, Henry ‘Red’ Allen and Ray Nance. He was involved in Live New Departures, the Jazz and Poetry sessions with Mike Horovitz and Pete Brown at venues like the Albert Hall, and there was time with groups like those of Long John Baldry and the Hoochie-Coochie Men and Manfred Mann.

The possibility of work on cruise ships presented itself two years later when Ron played for a Mediterranean cruise with the Lennie Felix Trio. They were booked as first class passengers and the trip was an enjoyable one. When the opportunity to play for a world cruise with the Ray Till band presented itself, it seemed too good to miss, but the experience was a little different. The band members had a background of playing for silent movies, and the only decent opportunity for playing jazz came from impromptu boogie woogie sessions that Ron squeezed in with the band's drummer. Unfortunately even these were frowned upon and did not last for long. The three months were spent cramped in with band's drummer, in a tiny, single cabin converted to take two.

In the late 1960’s and into the 1970’s, Ron played bass with the Lennie Best Quartet, and during this time he joined up again with Sandy Brown in 1967 for sessions with Kenny Wheeler, and toured with Billy Eckstine.

Photo Ron Rubin with Ruby Braff


Playing with Ruby Braff in 1978.
(l-r) Ruby Braff (trumpet), Peter Ind (bass) Ron Rubin (piano)

© Photograph courtesy of Ron Rubin




The late 1960’s also saw Ron playing with Howard Riley, Michael Garrick, Lionel Grigson and Pete Burden, Humphrey Lyttelton, Barbara Thompson, Art Themen, and again with Tony Milliner and Alan Littlejohn.

It was in 1964 that Ron made his first visit to Majorca where he played bass in the island's first jazz club in the capital, Palma. The club had a number of visiting guest stars that included Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott and Dick Morrisey. Ron stayed for six months and then went back in 1965 for another four months with Colin Purbrook, Ramón Farrán and various visiting guests.

Ron, his wife and their four children moved to Majorca in 1969 this time playing solo piano in Palma. When they came back to Britain in 1972, Ron joined Colin Purbrook for a year, and then played with the John Picard band for three years until 1976. During this time he played a few duo bass gigs with bassist Ron Mathewson at venues such as Merlin's Caves in Margery Street, London, and weekly sessions at the Roundhouse Bar in Chalk Farm with his own band for a year.

The cruise ships called again and he joined the Nina Barry Trio on bass for a Mediterranean cruise, and then followed this with solo piano work in Malta.

Photo of Ron Rubin with Ralph Sutton and Johnny Richardson




Ron Rubin (bass) with Ralph Sutton (piano) and Johnny Richardson (drums) in June 1977

© Photograph courtesy of Ron Rubin



Come the late 1970’s, Ron played with the Keith Ingham and Fred Hunt Trios, played solo piano in London and Oslo before joining Alex Welsh’s band to play bass for two years in 1979.

As the 1980’s arrived, Ron played abroad again with Fatty George in Vienna, with Geoff Simkins, Keith Smith and Oscar Klein in Zurich as well as taking solo piano work in Germany, Austria and Switzerland.

In 1983, Ron paired up with Earl Okin and toured with Wild Bill Davison and in Britain played with George Howden’s Band and a pairing with Brian Leake. Ron also toured with Donald Swann and Digby Fairweather for the Swann In Jazz shows.

At the end of the 1980’s, Ron played bass with John Chilton and George Melly, and again worked with Bruce Turner.

In 1990, he played the Edinburgh Festival with Campbell Burnap’s band, joined George Melly and John Chilton again for three years from 1990, this time on piano, and played with Phil Franklin in Switzerland during 1993 and 1994.

Photo of Ron Rubin with John Chilton Feetwarmers





Ron Rubin with George Melly (vocals) John Chilton (trumpet) Eddie Taylor (drums) and Ken Baldock (bass) in 1990.

© Photograph courtesy of Ron Rubin



Ron’s brother John, who now lives partly in Spain and partly in Cheshire, continues to play vibes around the North West of England and along the Costa del Sol. It was an enjoyable occasion when the two brothers were able to play together in 2006 at the Isle of Man Jazz Festival.

Ron also has a talent for poetry and in particular for the art of ‘Limerick’. He has had three books of Limericks printed and the latest: ‘A Fanfare of Musical Limericks’ is published by Hampstead Press (ISBN 978-0-9557628-1-9).

Eighty-Eight Musical Limericks (Useful Music 1986) and ‘Out On A Limerick’ (New Millennium 1995) illustrated by Tim Holder and Derek Hazeldine, are occasionally available from Amazon). Try this for a ‘taster’:

There was an old Sikh of New Delhi,
Who modelled himself on George Melly;
oooHe’d the voice and the smile
oooAnd sartorial style,
But he couldn’t quite manage the belly.

Ron has also written the limerick verse for a series of cards and postcards illustrated by Tim Holder and Derek Hazeldine that deal with most of the instruments of the orchestra and all of these are included in ‘A Fanfare of Musical Limericks’.

Ron lives in London with his wife Marie. They have four children and four grandchildren.

Listen to Ron playing piano with Sandy Brown’s All Stars on the ‘Work Song’ album from Lake Records (LACD160) (see Recordings page). There are four fine tracks here (Royal Garden Blues, Stompin’ At The Savoy, Love For Sale and Work Song) of a 1963 recording from a band that included Sandy Brown (clarinet), Al Fairweather (trumpet), Tony Coe (tenor sax and clarinet), Ron Rubin (piano), Brian Prudence (bass), and Terry Cox (drums). Ron leads the band into Stompin’ At The Savoy and plays solos on that track and on Nat Adderley/Oscar Brown Jr.’s Work Song.

Other selected listening includes Ron’s bass playing on:

Coe-Existence’, again with Tony Coe on the Lee Lambert label (available through Amazon).
The Songs Of Johnny Mercer’ from Susannah McCorkle with Keith Ingham and Co-Jazz Alliance (Jazz Alliance CD TJA-10031).
'Digby Fairweather and Pete Strange with the Lennie Hastings Trio' (Rose Cottage Records - RCR001).
Songs For Sandy’, Digby Fairweather’s tribute to Sandy Brown on Hep Records (HEP CD2016 - see Recordings page).

and Ron’s piano playing with George Melly and John Chilton on ‘Frankie And Johnny
(Legacy Records Ltd LLCD135) .

© Ron Rubin / Ian Maund 2007-2015

© Photographs courtesy of Ron Rubin

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