Burnley Express & News - Dec 1967

IVY BENSON, Queen of the saxophone.

Saxy - and sexy is probably the best way to describe the style of what is probably the most surprising thing in an industry which would go broke if it weren't surprising. How many "Big Bands" are there left from the days of rows and rows of blazered musicians? How many bands at all that pour out music sweet and low under dimmed lights instead of stirring up a happening? And how many all girls bands are there? The answer is one, and the one name behind it all is IVY BENSON.

Saxy must mean sexy to the admirers of the girls, for the one most admired is alto sax player JEAN FOX who at 17 is also the youngest player in the band.

Jean's success proves the point that Ivy's biggest headache is that her girls seem to have got younger and younger, but instead of staying with her longer, they just get married and leave her at an earlier age too!

CAROL MACBEAN, 20 year old tenor sax was the girl picked out by Godfrey Winn when he wrote an article about the band's recent visit to Jersey.

"A dazzling figure in her silver sheath uniform" Godfrey Winn called her, and described how she had taken up show business with Ivy instead of going to university.

By now the performances of Ivy and her musicians have killed all the earlier protests that playing instruments other than the drawing room Piano is "unfeminine" and even Eddie Calvert never got the admiring looks of the Australian trumpeter ROBEY BUCKLEY.

But the biggest conqueror of prejudice is JASMINE BARCLEY. A girl with a name like "Jasmine" seems the business, and not even the height of femininity but it takes a lot of charm with some people to get over the fact that she plays the trombone.

Jasmine - like the other girls - is never short of followers who may have hopes that the girls in this line are bold as brass.

Even though they are not, it's a constant battle for Ivy to keep replenishing her bands numbers as the girls marry - almost always men outside show business.

This means that Ivy spends her touring days running auditions for new talent - some of them she's accepted from as far away as Australia by listening to tapes sent to her.

Then comes coaching and training the new girls or the younger musicians still short of professional experience - and all of Ivy's girls are young and some recently joined.

Finally is the bit that shows the public - those streamlined performances that have made the band a household word.

And if Ivy has kept the wolf from the door for another week, she's happy. But if one of her girls is snapped up by Mr. Right, she's happy about that, too. After all, it's all show business.

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