Alan Haven

Alan Haven
Alan Haven (1935-2016)

I first discovered jazz organist Alan Haven through the early film scores of John Barry: The Knack (1965) and The Chase (1966) in which Haven is asked to improvise spectacularly around John Barry’s chord progressions. I later learned that Haven had also played the organ part in the main title music of John Barry’s score for the film From Russia with Love (1963), Goldfinger (1964) and A Jolly Bad Fellow (1965)

Born in Prestwich, Manchester, Haven was self-taught and played a Lowrey organ. The thing I like about his sound is that when he plays melodies, he sometimes harmonises every note, even if they are fast tunes. This produces an ‘explosive’ and very exciting organ sound. (The Lowrey Automatic Orchestra Control may have helped.)

Alan Haven has released quite a few LPs. The best in my opinion are Through ‘Til Two (1967) and Live at Annie’s Room (1966) both with Tony Crombie on drums, and Latin Sounds for the Small Hours (with Chaquito & the Quedo Brass). All LPs are on the Fontana label. Alan Haven’s sound is warm and alive!

Through his website I contacted him. He invited me to a solo gig he was giving in Essex. Instead of playing an analogue organ, he performed on multitracked digital keyboards with a breath controller to shape the sound. I took my record collection along and he signed all the covers. Sadly, Haven passed away in 2016. An astonishing musician.

In his sleeve notes to Haven’s LP St Elmo’s Fire, Spike Milligan wrote describing Haven playing live:

I was absolutely floored by the sheer determined energy of the young organist to drive the organ right through you. …Buy the record man! Do yourself a favour, If you don’t like it, jump off a bridge, or throw yourself under an oncoming organ, preferably Alan’s.

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