“Musicians don’t retire; they stop when there is no more music in them”

By Cristina da Costa Brookes, in News · 13-11-2020 01:00:00 · 0 Comments

I had the greatest pleasure of meeting Ian Carfrae, a jazz musician, who has led the most incredible life. It was a privilege to hear his inspiring story where we embarked on a journey of his love for music and his driving force, Karen, his wife.

I asked him “What impact jazz has had on music as a whole” and spoken like a true jazz enthusiast he proudly said a “a hell of a lot”. He believes Louis Armstrong to be the most influential jazz artist who has shaped the genre with his repeated riff. Armstrong further influenced the most famous musicians, like Frank Sinatra and popular music today, “everything links back to that one man”. What I was not expecting and was blown away by was that he had a front row seat to watch none other than Louis Armstrong himself, three months before he passed away.

Carfrae was born in Bromley, Kent in 1946 and he was heavily influenced by his mother’s record collection of Fats Waller and Harry James.

After spending most of his childhood concentrating more on music than on academics he agreed to study chemistry and get job, and once that came to an end too, he was asked by an old friend if he wanted to join the pop group The New Vaudeville as their new keyboard player. This band who had become famous through their 1968 hit “Winchester Cathedral”. Carfrae was “in the heart of the entertainment industry” where they were doing three shows a night, six days a week for 52 weeks in total and making good money. He likened his time in Vegas as being in a “dreamland” because he was amongst aspiring artists that he had only seen on his mother’s records.

The band continued performing for another 18 years in the UK but it came to an end in 1988 and Carfrae got back into playing jazz in a Dixie band and started his own band OO-BOOP-I-DO, which performed 1920´s hits. Alongside this he taught children different woodwind instruments and “their enthusiasm and drive to improve really inspired him” which took him to become a musical director for the Bedfordshire Jazz Orchestra. He conducted the children at the Royal Albert Hall and described this as a “high point in his whole musical career” and a “memory to treasure”.

Following this, Carfrae and his wife went on holiday to the Algarve and bought a cottage in Salema, deciding to move to Portugal in 2001. They started their linen-etc.com business and Carfrae got offered a job at “The Good Time Jazz band” and following that reformed “OO-BOOP-I-DO”. He soon persuaded Karen to perform with him as a vocalist which was a dream of hers for years and the duo-band “Nostalgia” was born.

Carfrae then went on to tell me about a musical he had already written and had been performed in America, called “Pollen”. In 2016, “The Algarveans experimental Theatre Group” approached him and they worked together to perform this musical, which was “incredible to see it come alive on stage”. I also asked if he is planning more musicals and he said he will “never say never” to a future musical and that it is “always possible” with Karen’s support. Karen “pushes him and is the driving force that keeps him so inspired” so we can be assured there is more to come.

Karen was sadly diagnosed with Cancer a month after “Pollen” and after treatment and surgeries, Ian’s creativity has come back and he has now been re-recording a tribute to John Lennon. It is the 40th anniversary of Lennon’s death this year and inspired by his song “Imagine”, Carfrae is hoping to get this track online and on the radio in time for the anniversary. As our interview came to a close, I inquired what the future holds for him, he told me that he will keep creating music and the duo will continue to perform once safe to do so, for now they will perform in their living room just for their sheer love of music.



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