The funeral took place yesterday in Brighton in the North Chapel of Woodvale Crematorium of Tony Hall. Proceedings were conducted by celebrant Tora Colwill. Tony, a lovely, lucky, man, a music business legend, died on 26 June aged 91.
The congregation entered to ‘Golden Years’ performed over the PA by Loose Ends, then saxophonist Dave Angol played ‘Lush Life’ by Billy Strayhorn beautifully on the tenor.
After an introduction by Ms Colwill and ‘Friends’ by Arrival was played on the PA, Chris and Crecia Carr from Tony and his late wife Billie’s family spoke with feeling and emotion.
The Real Thing’s ‘Children of the Ghetto’ was then played and Chris Amoo from the number one hit Liverpool band spoke explaining how Tony had managed the band for 45 years and that he and his bandmates owed him everything. The next choice of music was perfect in context and captured the mood as it was the soaring Anita Baker rendition of ‘Giving You the Best That I Got’. Frank Collins of Arrival in a rich, warm, Scouse accent spoke again movingly of Tony. He said in a heartfelt way towards the end of his tribute his voice choked with emotion that he was in awe of Tony and spoke of how encouraging Tony was to him and his fellow Motown-loving musicians. Neighbours and friends Abe and Theano Marrache, Jazzwise editor in chief Jon Newey and accountant Simon Nixon who organised the funeral and filled a bus load of a travelling portion of the congregation at Brighton train station beforehand also spoke. Tony was a champion of the long time New York-based trumpeter Dizzy Reece who Tony produced for Blue Note records, the first British producer of the storied label and it was fitting that Monk classic rendered as ‘Round about Midnight’ included on the highly cherished album Blues For Trinity which was recently toured among other Reece repertoire by bandleader-pianist Trevor Watkis who was present at the service and who had only a short time beforehand spoken to Dizzy on the phone was heard as Tony’s coffin was committed. Dave Angol switched to soprano saxophone and played the moving Gordon Jenkins elegy ‘Goodbye’ complete with extensive improvisation. Tony’s spirit and huge influence lives on. Stephen Graham