" A musical dream comes true for Jean"
"I got rhythm" says a lively auburn haired lass form Redcar, who is off today on an eight month tour of Germany with her saxophone, as the youngest member of the Ivy Benson band.
She is 16 year old Jean Fox, a girl with a musical mind of her own, who went along to the local piano teacher seven years ago, booked her own piano lessons, and told her mum about it afterwards.
Learning to play the violin at school was nothing much out of the ordinary, so after hearing that one of the girls was about to learn the clarinet, Jean racked her brains for something really unusual. The result was a request to mum an dad for a saxophone in her Christmas stocking.
"It must have been about 3 years ago when my parents heard Redcar saxophonist Bill Dennis playing at the "Queens Hotel", explained Jean, after demonstrating her improvisation on the Steptoe theme, on a brand new sax she brought in London especially for the German tour.
"Knowing that I wanted one, they went round afterwards and asked how much one would cost".
"He advised us 'Don't buy one until Jean comes round and has a blow on mine'", chipped in Mrs Fox, who is going to miss her daughters loud and length practice sessions at their home in Station Road.
"Bill's an excellent saxophonist" said Jean, explaining how he taught her to play, found her a saxophone and then suggested she wrote to Ivy Benson, for whom his daughter, Gillian used to play.
By now Jean had left school, was spending her days behind the counter at the local chemist's and was playing each evening at a Grangetown workingmen's club.
"But my big ambition was to join Ivy Benson. I was thrilled when she invited me over to the Isle of Man for an audition one day in July".
So, taking the day off work, Jean whipped over to Douglas where Ivy was playing, and became mightily impressed with the tiny - "no bigger than I am" - all-round musician " who can spot your mistakes like lightening!"
"Jean, you're playing like a mouse!" called Ivy, as the young saxophonist began her audition. It's a mans instrument - so blow it like a man!"
"But the criticism didn't worry me. Ivy's the most friendly, motherly person you could hope to meet", added Jean, who heard of her success a few days later plus the invitation to play in Douglas for a fortnight as a warm up for the German tour.
"It gave me a chance to meet the girls - 18 are going on tour - and I think they're a fabulous crowd. The drummer, Andrea, is only one year older than me".
"We're all wearing the most gergeous outfits. A striped blazer and white skirt for mornings and a gold lurex at night. We'll be playing for one month at eight Ameriacan forces camps all over Germany".
Then, towards the end of October, we're making a special visit to East Berlin. It's the first time the band's been there. As for me, it's the first time abroad. There's even talk of radio and television broadcasts and perhaps a record.
What will we be playing? Just about everything from Gilbert and Sullivan to the latest chart topper. Our first engagement is tomorrow night!".