Bert Ezard, musician

Bert Ezard
Bert Ezard
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Bert Ezard, who has died at 96, was a Whitby musician widely considered one of the greatest Britain had produced. His trumpet could be heard accompanying the likes of Frank Sinatra, Nat ‘King’ Cole and Shirley Bassey.

For 12 of his 50 years in the industry, he played with Ted Heath’s orchestra, arguably the best of the British showbands, and appeared at some of the world’s most prestigious venues.

“He was one of the best trumpet players I ever sat next to or worked with,” observed the bandleader Chris Dean, at a tribute to him, 10 years ago.

Born in Manchester in October 1922, Herbert ‘Bert’ Ezard had developed a love of brass instruments from his father, who played euphonium with the Salvation Army band.

Bert son followed suit, but broke it when he fell off his friend’s bike on his way home from practice. With no other instrument, he had no choice but to accept an old trumpet given him by a fellow player.

By the time he left school, he was playing in six different bands and in 1939, at 17, continued his musical career in the Royal Artillery, blowing horn in military bands.

But it was in peacetime that he began to rise through the ranks. Making his way to London, he joined Cyril Stapleton’s orchestra, which became the BBC Show Band. In 1954, he became a member of Heath’s band, and on world tours with them, his playing was picked out by the American conductors Henry Mancini and Nelson Riddle.

Bert gave up touring after Heath’s death, and became a resident London session player, also joining Jack Parnell’s orchestra at ATV, which backed just about every star singer from either side of the Atlantic.

On his occasional free days he played freelance on TV shows for Paul Daniels and Russ Abbot, and on New Faces and Surprise Surprise with Cilla Black.

His return to Whitby, to which his family had moved in 1946, came in 1992 when his wife, Mavis, whom he had married in the town in 1949, fell ill. She died before they could move into the bungalow they had bought on Mulgrave Road to enjoy their retirement.

Bert remained there, however, golfing and taking breakfast every day at the White House Hotel.

In 1995, at the somewhat more ostentatious Savoy Hotel in London, he received a British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors award for his services to music.

He is survived by a daughter, Christine.