While learning my trade playing rock ‘n roll in South London in the 60’s my friends and I were able to take advantage of a vibrant music scene. The Trad Jazz boom meant there were lots of jazz clubs where you could listen to “Trad” (typically at the back of pubs). Modern jazz tended to be performed in more specialist clubs, such as the Bromley Court Jazz club and “Les Fous Hibous” in Streatham – where I used to go and listen to people like Tubby Hayes and Georgie Fame – still two of my all-time favourites. I worked my way through “Mickey Baker’s Complete Course in Jazz Guitar” (both volumes), which I still have to this day, and tried to figure out what Django Reinhardt was doing. I still haven’t managed – to me his inventiveness is unparalleled.
Although I tried to play jazz at the time, I did not have much success – I didn’t really know anyone who could play their instrument well enough to form a jazz group. You need complete mastery of your instrument, an understanding of complex harmonies and chord progressions, and the ability to make it all up as you go along. Throw in the fact that you also need to be able to understand what everyone else in the band is doing so that you can harmonise with their contributions and you begin to see why it is possibly the most challenging musical form of all.
Although we used to throw in some light jazz into the “Blues Junction” repertoire, it wasn’t ‘till I moved to Northampton about eleven years ago that I decided to look for jazz work. I rapidly found that if I tried playing jazz bass guitar for and singing at the same time then one of the two suffered, so I concentrated on singing – there are many really good jazz bass players out there, but not many male jazz vocalists. I often claim to be one of the top ten living male jazz vocalists in the world. It may sound far-fetched, but just try naming ten who are still alive!
I have my own quartet, consisting of keyboard, bass and saxophone, backing me on vocals.
I also occasionally sing with other bands, and occasionally “dep” on 4 or 6 string bass guitar.
I recorded this song some time ago with the Dave Barry band. I really must get round to doing some recording with my own quartet!