Letter: Colour bar?

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Sir: Last Friday, when we heard about the death of Nat Gonella, I found myself recalling my time as an adolescent in the late 1930s and the great difficulty one had of listening to good jazz music. If one's parents permitted it one could very occasionally have the pleasure of listening to Nat Gonella on the radio late at night, but otherwise one was mainly restricted to the mildness of "dance music". I had imagined the reasons were mainly based on class distinctions, perhaps strengthened by colour prejudice, as leading American jazz experts were often black. It was therefore interesting to read that the BBC's Director General, John Reith, had banned Nat for a year for including the words "Ants in my pants" in his singing of "I can't dance".

I also reflected on having seen South Africa's impressive black trumpeter Hugh Masekela in a sell-out concert in Oxford recently, as well as hearing him during the day on the BBC - so we have made progress in the last 60 years.