The early 1960s was the era of the curious and brief British "trad jazz" boom. In those years the Temperance Seven, who played a version of 1920s white American dance music, achieved such success that in 1961 they had a British No 1 hit, You're Driving Me Crazy, produced by George Martin in his pre-Beatles days. The follow-up, Pasadena. made No 4, and there were two other top 30 hits.
The clarinettist Alan Cooper, who has died of cancer aged 76, was a founder member of the group in 1957. Usually a nine-piece, and invariably billed as "one over the eight", the Temps wore Edwardian clothes, played bizarre instruments, and projected vocals through a megaphone. Most of the band could play a variety of instruments, and Cooper - who arranged Pasadena - doubled on clarinet, bass-clarinet, soprano saxophone and the obscure phonofiddle.
The band appeared on television shows such as ITV's Thank Your Lucky Stars and a special featuring Peter Sellers - with whom they recorded. Cooper's quirky playing style and wheezy sound were exactly right for the band. Even so, he left in 1962 after "internal dissensions".
Born in Leeds, he fell in with traditional jazz at the city's college of art, where aspiring guitarist Diz Disley was a fellow student. They played together in the college jazz band, the Vernon Street Ramblers, and were founder members of the Yorkshire Jazz Band, with which Cooper turned professional, recording in London in 1949.
After national service as a flying officer, Cooper moved to London in the mid-1950s. Initially a Royal College of Art student, he became a part-time lecturer at St Martin's School of Art and at Chelsea Art School. He also performed in a quartet with bassist Bernie Cash and drummer Lennie Hastings, and recorded in 1958 with trombonist Graham Stewart's Seven.
After the Temperance Seven, Cooper freelanced as a musician and lecturer, deputising in the Alex Welsh and Freddy Randall bands, and also appeared regularly with the Anglo-American Alliance alongside his old Temps bandmate John RT Davies (obituary, May 29 2004) and sundry Americans then resident in London, notably cornettist/journalist Dick Sudhalter.
This informal outfit were the ideal backing band for the veteran blues singer Eva Taylor and former Paul Whiteman trombonist Bill Rank when they performed and recorded in London in the 1960s.
It was during this time that Cooper created his monument to Edwardian design and style with his three-storey house in Wandsworth. Formerly owned by the water-closet pioneer Thomas Crapper, it was taken over by Cooper on the understanding that it would be left untouched by modernity. He filled it with period artefacts and statues, vintage equipment including gramophones, and old instruments.
He also kept open house for musician friends but moved, after a series of burglaries, to a tower in Hay on Wye, Herefordshire, which he restored, and where he recreated the Edwardian ambiance of his former home. Cooper joined the revived New Temperance Seven in 1969 and recorded with them before working regularly with pianist Keith Nicholls and touring overseas with drummer Dave Mills. He was also an occasional guest with Bob Kerr and His Whoopee Band, and led his own small groups.
He is survived by his second wife Jenefer and sons Boris and Rollo. · Alan Swainston Cooper, musician, born February 15 1931; died August 22 2007
About this article
This article appeared in the Guardian on Friday September 28 2007 on p40 of the Obituaries section.