Ralph G. B. Venables (1914-2003) was a record collector, an “authority on jazz, not just any jazz but the traditional white jazz of the 1920's and 1930's,” and the “doyen of off-road motorcycle journalism.” 
favorite musicians were Bix Beiderbecke
and Red Nichols.
He published articles in several jazz magazines and a series of
various jazz artists and subjects. Here is a list of some of the
Courtesy of Dave Gittins
Jones and Ralph Venables (eds):
Eye Witness Jazz,
Discographical's Society Books, 1948, 26p.
Jones and Ralph Venables (eds):
Cream of the White Clarinets,
Venables was editor for
Venables was very interested in discographical information, at a time when this was an infant discipline. In July 1949, he published, in collaboration with Albert McCarthy and Dave Carey, the first volume of “Jazz Directory, The Directory of Recorded Jazz and Swing Music,” an alphabetical listing of jazz artists and their recordings in chronological order. By 1957 six volumes had been published covering musicians from Cecil Aagard to Fred Longshaw. Unfortunately, at this point the publishers, Delphic Press, discontinued their support of the publication.
When Ralph died, his collection (mostly white jazz, including all of Bix's Claxtonolas) went to J. R. T. Davies.
of his correspondence went to
 David Gittins in
Ralph Venables and
In an email message of April 5, 2009, Russell explains the circumstances associated with his meeting Ralph.
eighty and grew up on the
I retired from my work twenty years ago and my wife Jane (a retired Librarian) and I enjoy the very rural area in which we live and the snug little cafes and restaurants that lurk amid the leafy lanes.
One afternoon, in a small restaurant, we struck up a conversation with another couple who also 'did the rounds'. They introduced themselves as Ralph and Pam. The husband was clearly an erudite and charming man with a quirky sense of humour and an insatiable liking for Cheese on Toast.
By chance, months later, the subject of Jazz came into the conversation and I realised that he was Ralph Venables, the veteran Jazz Discographer and Journalist with whom, in the 1960's, I'd had brief jazz correspondence. From then on the girl's chatted over the books they were currently reading, as Ralph and I sat in his car listening to some alternate take from his considerable record collection. He had, I gathered, an almost complete collection of Red Nicholls's recordings.
Ralph, who was several years older than I, had a debilitating disease of the spine - just below the neck- which he bravely bore. When driving a car became a problem he purchased a four wheeled souped-up invalid carriage, upon which he raced around the village to the dismay of elderly ladies and the Vicar.
When he died his memorial service was packed with people from all walks of life. His record collection he bequeathed to John R T Davis.
A couple or so months later Pam invited us over to Tea in their Cottage and it was most enjoyable. Just a we were leaving Pam handed me a large frayed envelope together with an equally dilapidated folder. Ralph, it seemed, wanted me to have the contents.
It turned out to be his correspondence with US Jazz Musicians during the period circa 1936-1946. Because, at that time, many other pressurising things were going on in my life the contents were stored safely in the dry and away from the light.
purchased appropriate archival storage boxes and acid free transparent
and the sorting has begun. Not all letters are complete.
just single pages from what is clearly a lengthy
some are over seventy years old it's not surprising pages have
The Blanford Jazz Circle
I am grateful to Russell for his
generosity and for his
permission to publish some of Ralph’s correspondence in the Bixography
website. Uploaded May 14, 2009
Photos of Jimmy McParland in World War II, in England. Uploaded May 14, 2009
Ralph Venables, Jimmy McParland, Marian McPartland
Jimmy McParland in uniform, unknown musicians.
Probably England during World War II
Close up of Jimmy McPartland from previous image.
Enrico Borsetti identifies the cornet as the Conn Victor that Bix helped Jimmy purchase in
Letter from Paul Mertz. Uploaded May 19, 2009