Shake Keane

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Ellsworth McGranahan "Shake" Keane (born May 30, 1927 in Kingstown , St Vincent , † November 11, 1997 in Oslo ) was a Vincentian jazz musician ( trumpet , flugelhorn ), poet and minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines .

Live and act

Keane attended the Methodist School and St Vincent Grammar School in Kingstown and was early involved with literature and theater in school plays, such as adaptations of Shakespeare . His nickname 'Shake' was soon derived from this. He then published two volumes of poetry in St. Vincent, L'Oubili (1950) and Ixion (1952).

In 1952, Keane moved to Great Britain , where he first found employment with BBC Radio on the Caribbean Voices program . He read poetry and interviewed fellow writers and musicians; he also studied literature. During this time he also began to play as a trumpeter in London nightclubs; he played the different styles of cabaret music , highlife , soca , mento , calypso and jazz . From 1959 he turned completely to modern jazz and became a member of the alto saxophonist Joe Harriott's band for six years . Whose group was the first to play an independent free jazz in Europe; Keane was also involved in Harriott's epoch-making album Free Form (1960). Meanwhile, Keane also worked frequently with jazz pianist Michael Garrick , including on jazz-and-poetry projects. He also recorded a few albums under his own name, but stylistically, in contrast to his work with Harriott and Garrick, they were more related to light jazz.

In 1965 Keane left Great Britain and moved to Germany, where he became a soloist in Kurt Edelhagen's big band and remained a member of the orchestra until 1971. He also played with Charly Antolini ( Soul Beat ), in the Kenny Clarke / Francy Boland Big Band ( Sax No End , 1967) and with Peter Trunk ( Sincerely PT , 1972).

After he had left the Edelhagen band at the end of 1971, he temporarily interrupted his music career and returned to St. Vincent in 1972 to take a government post in his home country; until 1972 he was the administrative director for culture. After that he worked mainly as a teacher and continued his writing activity. His main work, the poetry collection One a Week with Water (1979) won the Cuban poetry prize Casa de las Américas .

In the early 1980s, Keane moved to New York and lived in Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. In 1989 he continued his musical career and worked again with Michael Garrick as well as for a tour in honor of Joe Harriott with old bandmates from the Harriott band, such as Coleridge Goode and Bobby Orr. In 1991 he made an appearance in the BBC documentary about the Jamaican poet Linton Kwesi Johnson .

During the 1990s he lived mostly in Brooklyn, but then found a second home in Norway , where he appeared frequently, including in various music programs on Norwegian television. He fell ill while on tour and died of stomach cancer at the age of seventy in Oslo.

In 2003, Shake Keane was honored in his home country with a life-size bust located in the Peace Memorial Hall in Kingstown.

Discographic notes

  • In My Condition (Columbia, 1961)
  • Bossa Negra (Columbia, 1962)
  • That's The Noise (Decca, 1965)
  • With The Keating Sound (Decca, 1966)
  • The Big Fat Horn Of Shake Keane (Decca, 1966)
  • Dig It (Phase 4, 1968)
  • Rising Stars At Evening Time (Economy, 1971)


  • L'Oubili (1950)
  • Ixion (1952)
  • One a Week with Water (1979)
  • The Volcano Suite (1979)
  • Palm and Octopus (1994)


  • Alan Robertson: Joe Harriott: Fire in his Soul . Northway Publications, 2003. ISBN 0-9537040-3-3 .
  • Coleridge Goode and Roder Cotterrell: Bass Lines: A Life in Jazz . Northway Publications, 2002. ISBN 0-9537040-2-5 .
  • Ekkehard Jost: Europe's Jazz 1960-1980. Frankfurt a. M., Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 1987.

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