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Record Restorer John R.T. Davies Dies

John R.T. Davies, one of the top sound restoration engineers of vintage jazz recordings, died of cancer on May 25, 2004 at his home in Buckinghamshire, England. He was 77.

Davies’ respected and highly sought after work includes the superbly remastered editions of Louis Armstrong’s Hot Fives and Sevens, the various Bix Beiderbecke compilations titled Bix Restored, the complete recordings of blues diva Bessie Smith, Duke Ellington’s British Connexion 1933-1940, and a seemingly endless list of 1920s-’50s recordings by artists like Count Basie, Sidney Bechet, Tommy Dorsey, Benny Goodman and Fletcher Henderson.

Davies’ work in sound gained momentum with the creation of his Ristick label in the late 1940s, and with the release of a compilation of recordings by the mysterious and obscure trumpet great Big Charlie Thomas. Additionally, Davies’ immense record collection provided source materials for many acclaimed reissues, including Sidney Bechet’s 1923-1925 and an innovatively edited collection of Louis Armstrong’s work in Fletcher Henderson’s Orchestra. Davies also revitalized many records from his own collection that feature some of jazz history’s forgotten names. Sharkey Bonano’s 1928-1937 and the Georgia Washboard Stompers’ Complete Recordings are among these reissues.

Davies success in music wasn’t relegated solely to sound restoration work; he was also a multi-instrumentalist who found commercial success in the Temperance Seven. The group scored a number one UK pop hit in 1961 with “You’re Driving Me Crazy,” a recording that features Davies as a soloist on alto saxophone. The group also had a few other British hits including “Pasadena.” Davies continued to play music throughout his life, performing in the New Paul Whiteman Orchestra from 1972-’75 and leading the Gentle Jazz group during the 1990s.

He is survived by his wife, daughter, stepdaughter, and three grandchildren.

Originally Published