I first met Bob at the old Dizzy’s Friday Night Jam Sessions. He was painfully thin, and appeared to be subsisting on a diet of white wine and very little else: in turns eccentric, colourful, humorous, optimistic and irascible. As a pianist, he had a sense of rhythm and a touch to be envied. He could play a mean half stride.
I cannot recall him ever playing at the Glasshouse, Scarlette Bar, La Pena, Ramage or Royal Standard jams, but he became a regular again once we moved to the Leinster.
He had moved into new digs in Windsor, and generally cadged a lift with Frank, Debbie or Anne. Never played more than three tunes in a row, never wore the same tee-shirt twice, collected watches, most of which were only correct twice a day, and took coffee with six sugars.
For quite a while, I picked him up from Windsor each week. And every week on the way to the Jam, the conversation would be the same. How was I ? (turn left into Commercial road), could he cadge a cigarette? (turn right into Punt Road), did I remember this or that tune?(he’d sing it going down Punt Hill) a brief discussion of what book he was reading (always about Jazz) his plans for getting his Hammond Organ from wherever it was. Once onto Hoddle Street, he would get on to stories from his past, most of which would surprise a few Jammers, and none of which should be repeated.
I am told Bob went out for a walk last Thursday, got home, sat down in his chair and went to sleep. He did not wake up.