ROBERT (BOB) CORNFORD – 15 MAY 1940 – 17 JULY 1983
(Bob Cornford) was a very interesting man, also with a very broad musical interest and involvements. This guy was a very central figure in the new music scene in London, before the London Sinfonietta was… He was part of the core of people that established the London Sinfonietta. Also he was a close friend of John McLaughlin. He was one of these… kind of guru figures that show other musicians how things work. So, for example, there is a version of “Hearts and Flower” which John McLaughlin plays on. So Bob had a set of changes which suddenly because of harmony is so sophisticated, it changes your whole view of something, you know. Just don’t dismiss this because if you harmonize this way, suddenly it becomes an interesting thing. This is the kind of thing Bob could do. He was one of those real all round musicians. Also he was involved in commercial music, MD, jazz, arranging things… just a fantastic all rounder.
Evan Parker (interviewed in 1994)
Robert Cornford was a multi-talented musician who died tragically young. After training and performing as a classical musician he caught the jazz bug and became an inventive and sensitive jazz pianist. He also composed and arranged for big bands and orchestras as well as small groups. He spent several years on the continent working in Germany and Denmark with radio big bands and orchestras. Bob worked with some of the finest jazz musicians of his day including John Dankworth, Tony Coe, Kenny Wheeler, Pat Smythe, Phil Lee, Chris Laurence, Trevor Tomkins, Bobby Wellins, Alan Skidmore, John McLaughlin, Humphrey Littleton, Palle Mikkelborg, and many more, as well as being a sensitive accompanyist to such great singers as Sandra King and Norma Winstone.
Recorded examples of Bob’s work are thin on the ground although Chapter One Records have recently issued two CDs, one featuring Bob’s arrangements for the NDR orchestra (Long Shadows LRS5024) with soloists Tony Coe and Kenny Wheeler, and the other his piano playing with the Tony Coe Quartet (Before The Dawn LRS5026). However Bob left a large amount of material in the form of reel to reel tapes and cassettes, and it is our hope to make much of this material available via this website.
This website is a work-in-progress, there is a mountain of material and it will take a long time to work through it. We will be adding music and other documents at frequent intervals as our programme of digitising the analogue tapes proceeds, so we hope you will come back regularly.
The music tracks available on this site are low quality MP3s due to file upload size restrictions. We hope to improve this in the near future. Music recorded live on cassette mostly started life as poor quality recordings. All Bob Cornford’s jazz tapes were copied by the British Library and are available there to be listened to in high quality audio. See links page.