A jazz trombonist in the relaxed style of the great Jack Teagarden, a singer with a penchant for obscure ballads from the twenties and thirties, a broadcaster who, almost single-handedly, represented the jazz content of Jazz FM for several years, and a raconteur whose hilarious tales of the jazz life regularly enlivened Radio Two’s Jazz Score – Campbell Burnap, who died, aged 68, on May 30, was all these things and more.
A fellow jazz commentator once described him as “a one-man charm offensive”, and there was indeed something utterly irresistible about this amiable, cricket-loving character. Even without his many talents, Burnap could probably have got through life on personality alone. As it was, he played with all the leading traditional and mainstream bands, including seven years with Acker Bilk, before travelling the world as a soloist.
Campbell Crichton Mackinnon Burnap was born in Derby on September 10, 1939, fell in love with jazz as a schoolboy, took up the trombone, and emigrated to New Zealand at 19. The love of travel and adventure stayed with him and he regularly took off on epic journeys thereafter. In New Orleans he worked for a while at Preservation Hall, the Mecca of traditional jazz lovers, and sat in with many living legends.
When gigs were thin on the ground, he enrolled as a film extra, and his knowledge of cricket led him for a while to deliver commentaries on country matches for BT’s ball-by-ball service. His devotion to both jazz and cricket came neatly together when he played as a member of John Barnes’ Out-Swingers, the band of cricketing jazzers which entertains the crowd during the lunch interval at test matches.
Although gravely ill, Burnap carried on performing until a couple of weeks before his death from cancer.