Mart Rodger
9th March 1936 - 14th March 2019

Order of Service

Dear Fred,  I have seen such kind messages on the Tribute page to Mart. Thank you all for contributing. The remark by Philip Probert about the “dangerous competition from the alien land of Manchester” was so funny that I have to tell you that whenever we were going to a gig in Liverpool we would say that we were going into enemy territory!  -  Kind regards, Janet.

This is a photograph I took of Mart on 23rd Sept 2007
at The Last Drop Village in Bolton - Fred Burnett

"Amazing Grace", from the CD All Mart

It came as a great shock to Barbara & myself to learn from Mart Rodger's wife Janet today, that Mart had died in Stepping Hill hospital last night at the age of 83, after being ill for a week. We regarded Mart not just as a great musician, but as a friend, and we were invited to his 70th birthday and Diamond Wedding celebrations.  Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz has been around since before I started jazznorthwest web site, and we first went to hear the band when they played at a cricket club in Haslingden. Right from that first visit Mart & Janet have always made us feel very welcome.  We shall miss Mart and that infectious smile, insatiable humour, and the beautiful sound of his clarinet which he recorded in a CD after he had promised Janet he would record an album of their favourite tunes on clarinet with just his rhythm section backing, it was called ALLMART.

The following information was written by Pat O'Beirne and appeared in Just Jazz Magazine -

The youngest of three boys, Mart, short for Martin, was born in Cheadle Hulme on 9th. March 1936. Donald  being older than Mart by 13 years and Keith by 9 years.  His father was a good singer and his mother a very good pianist and as a family were involved musically with the Methodist church they attended in Cheadle Hulme. 

An advertisement appeared in the Stockport Advertiser saying “Jazz Musicians Wanted - Instruments and abilities immaterial” this was placed by Alan Hare and Alan Jackson and Mart cycled to the meeting place clutching his brothers guitar along with four other eager and keen youngsters. They were introduced to chord sequences for basic traditional jazz tunes. The following Christmas a simple system clarinet arrived purchased by dad from Madame Harrison. A dance band reed player friend showed how to set up a reed and how to finger the instrument. Trumpeter Alan Jackson gave Mart his first engagement playing in a gig on New Years Eve in Prestwich only six days after receiving the clarinet. The improvement of Marts playing resulted in dad giving Mart a brand new Boosey & Hawkes Regent Bohem system clarinet for his 14th birthday. Also on his 14th birthday brother Keith took Mart to the Grosvenor Hotel in Manchester to hear the Saints Jazz Band.

Mart founded a band called 'The Hounds of Sound' in the 50s, before joining the Zenith 6  in 1957, and it was several bands later that Mart, at Janet's suggestion, formed  Mart Rodger Manchester Jazz. Since then they have played all over the world -  Scandinavia, U.S.A., Canada, Germany, Italy, Belgium, Holland, Ireland etc.

Mart leaves a big hole in the North West jazz scene, and he will be, without doubt,  greatly missed

Fred Burnett

14/03/19 -

Very shocked & sad to hear this Fred. My sincere condolences to Janet,
Laurie Cooper

14/03/19 -

I am so sorry to hear this news! He was one of the Manchester’s Traditional jazz legends!!

R.I.P. Mart.

Condolences to his wife Janet, family and friends.

Pete Lay

14/03/19 -

That man with the scythe really is going round taking so many names at the moment, Fred.  

Very sad  -  Mart will be sorely missed; he did so much for our music.

John Westwood

14/03/19 - Dear Fred,

Louis telephoned lunch timed with the very sad news, which we also saw on your site.

We met Mart when we were filming our first documentary and he was such a nice man. He took great care with his programme the evening we filmed so that the band played a selection of songs we may have not heard before. It was most thoughtful of him. Although we didn't know him very well, he was a lovely person, and did quite a bit of work for local charities. He will be sadly missed. Our deepest condolences to his wife Janet and their family.

Jenny & Ray Knight

14/03/19 -

That is sad news indeed. Mart was certainly a stalwart of the NW Jazz scene and beyond.

Peter Maher (Webmaster Savannah Jazz Band)

14/03/19 -

Thanks for letting us know, Fred.  What a shock.

Martin Bennett

14/03/19 -

Very sorry to hear the news.

 Colin Ball

14/03/19 -

Such sad news, have known Mart since 1960.
Sincere sympathy to Janet and of course his band members.

Des Hopkins

14/03/19 -

Dear Fred,

This is devastating news. When we were playing together in High Lane the Thursday before last, Mart’s hip was giving him severe pain, and he remained seated, but his clarinet-playing was as immaculate as ever, and it never occurred to me for a moment that this might be the last time.

My first encounter with Mart was a very friendly telephone conversation in the late eighties as he sounded me out about joining his band for a Caribbean cruise. I was unable to do so as it was a term-time tour, and I was a full-time teacher, but I always felt that this had been a missed opportunity, and when that well-remembered voice telephoned me again some twenty-four years later I was there like a shot. Retired by now and master of my own diary, I could take virtually any dep. work he had to offer, and five years ago I was proud to become his regular bassist.

Needless to say, I have thoroughly enjoyed the ride. As a bandleader, Mart was a true professional who really respected the musicians in his band. He had high expectations of us and was always firm when he needed to be, but he was unfailingly kind and generous. As a front man he had a charisma that was all his own – a deadpan, self-deprecating manner that never failed to make me laugh, and I was behind him! I don’t know how often I heard him explain, slowly and gravely, that we couldn’t play another encore because our old people’s home had a very strict new warden who would lock us out if we didn’t get back in time, but I’d always be disappointed if he didn’t. There would be a little pause, nobody in the audience quite sure whether they should laugh, and then Mart would beam and give his inimitable, reassuring guffaw. Wonderful times! I’m going to miss him.

Allan Wilcox

14/03/19 -

Lasse Karlsson and Sheila Collier send their deepest sympathy to Janet Rodger and family on the sad news that Martin has passed away

With love to you all xxx

14/03/19 -

On behalf of the Merseysippi Jazz Band I would like to express our sincere sympathy to Mart’s family and friends. He had been a leading figure on the North West jazz scene for many years and I am sure he will be very much missed by those who knew him.

Peter Fryer, Band Secretary

14/03/19 -

Very sad news, our thoughts are with Janet and family. I enjoyed playing with Mart and the MJ many times and was fortunate to be taken along to Dresden, Vancouver, Norway and the Caribbean: experiences I will always remember, along with his and Janet’s endless hospitality.

 Jon Critchley

15/03/19 -

I was so sad to hear the news about Mart’s death. His dedication to our sort of music goes back a long way, and I was fortunate to have known him when we were all young aspiring musicians.

It was about 1959 when my late ex husband joined the Zenith Six when they were very popular at their venue at the Clarendon in Manchester every Friday night and lots of gigs around the area. They were also regular visitors to The Cavern when it opened as a Jazz club. I remember going on a tour of London clubs with them in those early days which was a lot of fun. I did manage an odd sit in on piano, but they didn’t use a piano in their line up In those days, as many trad bands didn’t.

We did lose touch when we moved to North Wales and had busy lives, but in the last few years I met up with him and his band when they have played in the area and it was a real treat to listen to the band, and have a chat with him and Janet.

My condolences to Janet and the family.
RIP Mart.
Brenda Canty-Forrest


15/03/19 -

I had just arrived at a gig last night at the Sun Inn, Llangollen, when Alan Wilcox arrived and told me the sad news about Mart.

Ever since the earlier days of Mart’s band, I always longed to be the drummer in the band, but alas this never came about, but several opportunities arose to dep with the band which I was very grateful for.  I have always thought that Mart Roger Manchester Jazz was one of the best around the North West. I will remember him as a good friend and a great musician.

Sue and I send our sincere condolences to Janet and family at this very sad time.

Mike Carnie.

15/03/19 -

Hello Fred, I was shocked to hear about Mart, my daughter phoned me from Devon she had seen it in your newsletter. Mart played at my 80th birthday party, which had been arranged as a complete surprise by my family. I have followed Mart’s band for many years. He was a very talented musician and a thoroughly nice person. I send my sincere condolences to Janet and his family.

Mildred Finney

16/03/19 - A real shock and hard to take in at the moment! 

My first 'gig' with Mart was when I was at Art College in the 50s. Mart and John Mayall were playing at a pub in Grosvenor St, All Saints, The Manchaster Arms, I think.  I took my trombone along just to have a sit in. Unfortunately the only sound I could produce was a wishy-washy breathy noise of indeterminate pitch due to the cork on the waterkey becoming detached. I was left with a red face and made my apologies to Mart before slinking out of the venue.

Many years later, Mart invited me to join Manchester Jazz on a permanent basis playing double bass but I preferred my status as a freelance. More recently Mart called on me to dep on local gigs or where Alan Wilcox was unavailable.

Sadly no more to be!

Both Mart and Janet are remembered in our prayers.

Paul and Elke Medina

17/03/19 -

Hello Fred, just read about Mart on your site.

Mart was very helpful and encouraging when I was starting out and booked me to dep in his band on several occasions. Very happy memories of being a 15 year old finishing school and running home to get changed then Mart and Janet picking me up in their rolls Royce to take me to the gig!! . It was on these gigs I met jo palin who suggested that playing acoustic rhythm guitar would be a good thing to do .... he was right! I was a lucky boy to play with such a great band.

As well as his superb playing Mart was a great jazz enthusiast and very knowledgeable about its history and players .

A great loss. Very best wishes to Janet

Spats Langham

17/03/19 -

I am very sorry to hear the sad news about Mart.

I first heard him at a concert at the Onward Hall on Deansgate with his “Hounds of Sound” just before he was called up for his National Service.  I always enjoyed his playing and listening to his band.

My sincere sympathy goes to Janet and any others in his family.
A fine musician and a wonderful person.

Alan Brown

17/03/19 -

Mart Rodgers- brilliant musician and what a bundle of energy. He’ll be missed.

Peter Ward

17/03/19 -

"We treasure many wonderful memories of our dear friend Mart — going back over 64 years when we were teenagers. Although now living in Essex, we happily travel north for MRMJ gigs whenever possible. Monday nights at High Lane is a favourite, particularly 4th March last. We were so glad to have been there when each member of the band was on sparkling form. Mart never seemed to have played better than he did that night. We both remarked that he looked so happy and fulfilled. Such a special couple — Mart and Janet.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to Janet and the family at this sad time.”
Ron & Brenda Barker

17/03/19 -

Dear Fred ,
I am very sorry to hear of the death of my very old friend Mart Roger.  We played together for several years in the late '50s and early 60's in the renowned Zenith 6 band, with a Friday night residency at the Clarendon hotel in Oxford Road, Manchester.. Since that time I have also played on a jazz cruise in the Caribbean , followed by cruising across the Atlantic , ending up in Palma, Majorca., with Mart's band Manchester Jazz. Marion Montgomery was featured on the same voyage and sang with the band several times. The cruise which was on a ship named 'Sunbird' was my first experience of large ship , deep sea cruising. Since that time my wife Muriel and I have had the happy experience of cruises to many beautiful places such Norwegian fiords .the Mediterranean, France, Belgium , and so on.

So thank you, Mart, for introducing me to cruising, and of course the immense pleasure of playing jazz alongside this great clarinet player.

Sincerely, Dave Berry

17/03/19 -

Devastating news - a true jazz legend and good friend for many years who will be dearly missed. I was honoured and delighted when he came to play at my 80th Birthday party a while back - fantastic memories!

Sincere condolences to Janet and the family.
From Brian Priestley and Family

18/03/19 - Very sad to learn that Mart Rodger has died.

My life-long devotion to traditional jazz was born on a Friday night at the Clarendon Hotel, Oxford Street listening to the Zenith Six. I was technically too young to enter licensed premises and I knew almost nothing about jazz but it was obvious on that first night that Mart was a master of his instrument and of the art of jazz music.

Thanks Mart for many joyous times.

John Simpson.

18/03/19 -

Sorry to hear about Mart. A fine musician. My condolences to Janet.

Ian McCann.


20/03/19 -

I was devastated to hear the sad news.

Mart and I went back a long way. I first met him in 1956 when I was writing a weekly jazz column on the old Stockport Advertiser. I duly recorded the birth of his Hounds of Sound (with the future superstar John Mayall on piano and dear Janet on banjo) and over the next few years followed his progress with interest. Years later Mart asked me to handle publicity for his new band – Manchester Jazz – and I was privileged to contribute sleeve notes to his first George Buck album and later CDs.

Mart and the boys played at my retirement party, and I was with him only recently, at an event in Accrington.

My daughters and I will miss him dreadfully.

Doug Jackson

20/03/19 -

Colin and I were both shocked and saddened last week to hear about Mart. I've known Mart (and Janet) for 30 years but Colin met them well before that. He played in several bands alongside Mart before joining him as one of the original members of Manchester Jazz. Mart worked tirelessly for the band and over the years they have played in some great venues and we have some wonderful memories of all the places we've been and the people we've met.

Thank you Mart and Janet for all the good times .

Our sincere condolences to you, Janet and to all your family.
From Colin and Linda Smith

20/03/19 -

Condolences to Janet and his family. I have played with Mart many times as a member of his band and when he depped with the Savannah Jazz Band. He was a fine clarinet player and a stalwart of NW Jazz and beyond. His support for local venues was appreciated by all concerned particularly Didsbury Cricket Club. He will be greatly missed.

~John Meehan and the Savannah Jazz Band

21/03/19 -

Very sorry to hear the news about Mart Rodger, who made such a huge mark on jazz in the North-west and well beyond. Although I’d depped with his band a few times, I didn’t know him very well, but when our daughter Edwina died suddenly in 2015, Mart took the trouble to phone me and his words were a great comfort in the face of our raw pain. Thanks, Mart, and rest in peace.

Keith Allcock.

22/03/19 -

I first met Mart when a trumpet player friend brought Mart and a banjo player to my parental home in Glossop. What first attracted me to jazz was the polyphony and inter-weaving of three voices. This was the first time I'd been able to experience this from the inside and it was a big day for me. The year would be 1952/3  and I already had much respect for Mart as a musician, so add that to my joy. Mart and I played together from that time on, at first occasionally but increasingly more frequently. Mart had amazing enthusiasm and zest for life and it all went into his music. It has been a privilege to work with him on and off and enjoy his friendship for more than sixty years.

Thank you Mart.
Eric Brierley

22/03/19 -

I learned this morning the sad news of the departure of another perennial stalwart of British "traditional" jazz, Mart Rodger. I was well aware of Mart and his band, although I only met him a handful of times - over may years - and played with him twice. I enjoyed his clarinet playing and it was easy to see that he was extremely professional and popular as a bandleader. My condolences to his family, friends and the audiences who will miss his presence and his music.

Down here in the South West, we recently said goodbye to Roy Pellett, another clarinet maestro, bandleader and broadcaster. Both these men have left gaps that will not be filled - but they've also left many fine, treasured, musical memories with a lot of people.

Many thanks to them. R.I.P.

John Shillito

22/03/19 -

I was very sad to hear about the death of Mart. I first met Mart a few months after my wife passed away in 1998 when I was invited by a friend to see the MRMJ at the Didsbury cricket club. There I met a lot of friends in an atmosphere of pure pleasure listening to the band. During that time I spent many happy times on three Tran-Atlantic cruises from the Caribbean to Palma, one of which had Marion Montgomery as a guest singer. Listening to Mart playing solo on his clarinet was a delight.

My thoughts, at this time, go to his wife Janet and their family.

Alan Holmes.

26/03/19 -

So shocked and sad about the sudden death of Mart.  Legend seems to be an over used word these days, but in Mart’s case, a very much deserved title.

I first met Mart when I was a teenager and he gave me so much encouragement when I was still a very raw beginner. The North West Jazz Scene has lost a clarinet player who has been at the top of his game for decades.

Our thoughts go out to Janet and family.
R.I.P. Dear Friend.
John Hallam

26/03/19 -

Terribly upset to hear this sad sad news. We were at school together and I have followed Mart as a friend and as a fan for more than sixty years. Kind and helpful doesn’t begin to describe Mart. He will be missed by many. Condolences from Hilary and from me to Janet and the family.

Alan Salem

28/03/19 -

It was such sad news about Mart. He was very helpful to me when I first started playing jazz. He will be greatly missed. Love and condolences to Janet. 

Annie Cousin

29/03/19 -

Mart & I had been close friends since we were about 14 years of age. We had a mutual pal in John Mayall whose dad (Murray) took us to see the George Webb Dixielanders at a concert in Stockport. Needless to say we were blown away & couldn't wait to start playing ourselves. Mart's dad had bought him a clarinet, John had a guitar & I bought my first drum kit from Alan Jackson for Ł15 - no two drums the same make or colour!. Our first gig, with a meagre, but well rehearsed, repertoire was at Cheadle Hulme Parish Hall & we carried the drums between us on two bikes. Along with a couple of other keen friends we formed the Darktown Jazz Band & John did a picture on my bass drum. John & I used to ride a tandem to Manchester (no late buses home) to see the Saints Jazz Band on a Saturday night at the Grosvenor Hotel. We were members 7 & 8 of The Lancashire Society of Jazz Music.

After National Service we became the Mart Rodger's Jazz Aces, then the Eric Batty Jazz Aces, then the Dizzy Burton Jazz Aces with Tom Alker replacing Mart who had formed another band called The Hounds of Sound. Also Sue McManus on banjo (later Mrs. Alker).

Work took me away from Manchester for a couple of years, but I returned with a beautiful Scottish wife (Cathie). I bought a second -hand drum kit from Dave Berry & began to rejoin the Manchester jazz scene through bands such as Dave Hopkins, Alan Hare's Bluenote Jazzmen, Randy Colville & the Pete Haslam Collegians featuring Geoff Wild on trumpet. My big break came when I was offered the drumstool with The Dallas Jazz Band replacing Dave Berry who had joined the Red River Jazzmen through the sad death of Eric Pizey killed in a motor accident. Tony Iddon (founder & leader) was inspired to play the clarinet by Mart from the old days at the Clarendon Hotel.

I spent 7 wonderful years with the Dallas band in the company of Tony Foulkes, Bill Smith, Alan Dent, Dave Mott, Terry Brunt, Roger Browne & Tony Pollitt. On the sad break-up of the band, I was extremely fortunate to team up with Ian Royle, Mick Morris, Tony Pollitt (again) & the fabulous Leo McManus on piano on Sunday nights at the old MSG under the name of The Nev Taylor Jump Band. The Alan Hare Big Band played upstairs & we were in the cellar. When the MSG closed I rejoined Tony Foulkes & The Harlem Hot Stompers at the White Lion on Friday nights in Withington. Scotland finally called me back for good, & this time, in a role reversal, Dave Berry took my place & stayed with the band for over 40 years. Old age eventually caught up with him & my son Grant Taylor then took over the drumstool till pressure of work forced him to retire. In my final playing years I was in the resident quartet at the world famous Gleneagles Hotel up here where we live.

Mart & I kept up the friendship over the years. We both became captains of our respective golf clubs & he invited me to play Disley G.C. with him on a couple of occasions. We always went to see the band whenever we were in Manchester which gave Cathie & me the added pleasure of seeing Janet again. I had also known Janet from our teenage years when she was the outstanding swimmer of our group at Bramhall baths.

What an incredible pair she & Mart have been. Wonderful people full of love for each other & possessed of a marvellous talent.

I am proud to have been a close friend for over 70 years.

Neville Taylor

More messages taken from Facebook

Jeff Lewis - Sorry to hear that.

John Petters - Very sorry to hear this. May he rest in peace.

Ian Bateman - My condolences.

Jeff Matthews - Very sad news.

Charlie Bentley - So sorry to hear the terrible news.

Jim Swinnerton - Sorry to hear this. Rest In Peace Mart.

Phil Steadman - Sad news. He was a legend around these parts.

David Dixson - Another good man gone. My sympathy is with the family.

John Dorgan - Very sad news. RIP Mart. 😢

Štefan Méry - Oh, my god. I am very sad. My condolences to family. God bless Mart. R.I.P.  Thank you for your nice jazzmusic.

Štefan Méry -

Tony West - Very sad to hear. It is one of those awful things when commonplace medical treatment goes terribly wrong, as with Humph, and Don Brow in Adelaide :(

Brian Grant - Our thoughts are with Mart's family at this very sad time R.I.P.

Richard Slater - So sorry to hear the sad news. I played alongside Mart a few times and he was always a true gent. RIP

John Maddocks - So sorry to hear this. Didn’t know Mart well but a lovely man and a fine clarinet player.

Tad Newton - So sad to hear this. Mart was a true gentleman. Prayers and thoughts for Janet and the family.

Christine Mcaviney - RIP

Nick Balmforth - All at Stafford Jazz Society mourn the death of Mart Rodger. Some fine musical and personal memories will remain.

Harvey Duck - This is a very sad day. Mart was a lovely man and made us so welcome when we filmed his band. Our deepest sympathy to Janet and his family and also to the band who must also be feeling so bereft.

Philip Probert - I’m so very sad to hear this news. I remember Mart from my early twenties when I played with the Blue Magnolia band in Liverpool back in the late 60s/early 70’s. We thought his band(s) were dangerous competition from the alien land of Manchester, and they were! There goes an icon of jazz in the North-West. RIP Matt, and Janet, you are in my prayers.

Elizabeth Bacon - Very sorry to hear this sad news. Condolences to all concerned

Harry Davison - So sad. RIP Mart and my love to the family at this sad time x

Maggie Peplow - Sad news. RIP Mark.

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