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UK Jazz Piano Pioneers

The Piano

."Monk's Jazz" Poster"Feeling Blue" Poster

Anyone wishing to donate a Piano to Concert Jazz in trust or as a gift we could certainly put it to work and you can then hear it sing as it should on a regular basis.  Our pianists always prefer to play on a real piano but normally resort to electronic keyboards. So if you wish to hear real live jazz on a real acoustic pianoforte instrument please pass on this appeal to anyone with a redundant instrument. Click on the above title to advise us.

piano e forte, soft and loud: term used (c. 1710) by its inventor, Bartolomeo Cristofori (1655-1731), of Padua, Italy
piano + forte, soft + loud, strong
from its gradation of tone in contrast with the harpsichord

The Piano - a brief history

The Piano is certainly the most versatile Instrument. With it’s 88 keys it has the widest range of any instrument. The piano can reach higher than a piccolo and lower than a bass drum. The pianist can play both melody and accompaniment at the same time. The piano is able to accompany virtually any other instrument. All of this from a stately looking wooden box on legs
The first real piano didn’t come about until around 1700. The inventor was a maker of harpsichords in Florence, Italy by the name of Bartolomeo Cristofori. By adding different groups of strings to the harpsichord Cristofori was able to extend the range of the harpsichord. But it wasn’t until he made up small hammers that struck the strings rather than plucking them that a real breakthrough came about. Now the player could control the sound of each note by the force with which he struck the key. He could accent the notes and had the whole range from piano (soft) to forte (loud) to draw from. Cristofori called his new invention gravicembalo coi piano e forte which meant ‘harpsichord with soft and loud.’ Happily, this was later reduced to piano forte and finally simply piano.
Cristifori’s new invention, however, did not catch the public imagination and he soon returned to making harpsichords. It was up to others to refine the developments over the next 100 or so years. The first public piano performance was given in 1777 by Johann Christian Bach, son of the great Johann Sebastian Bach.
However, it was the Austrian composer Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart who took piano music to the next level. Mozart wrote his first piano concerto at age 11. His favourite pianos were those made by skilled German piano maker Johann A.Stein. Along with Ludwig Van Beethoven, Mozart created music specifically for the piano that demanded the best out of both performer and instrument. Beethoven was known to attack the piano with such force that keys and strings were liable to go flying.

As pianists demanded more and more from their instruments, manufacturers built larger and heavier frames to support the higher string tension that was desired. The one-piece cast iron frame, developed in 1825, was a great advancement in this area. By 1880 the piano had developed into the instrument we know today.

The history of the piano, then, revolves around the life’s work of some very skilled individuals – Bartolomeo Christofori, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Ludwig Van Beethoven, Johann Stein…and - in the end - a series of masterly Jazz Exponents

Nottingham National Jazz Piano Competition - Judges
Applications are now closed

Jelly Roll Morton
Lemott; La Menthe; La Mothe; Ferdinand Joseph (1890-1941) Composer and pianist

His publicity photos claimed he was the 'originator of jazz and stomps', an example of the kind of outrageous and colourful statement frequently associated with this most colourful of jazz characters. Morton was born in New Orleans, and he grew up in that City's creole society.
After leaving his hometown in 1907 to become a wandering pianist, he seldom returned there, yet his subsequent music was to include some of the most brilliant examples of what is now known as New Orleans jazz. From 1907-1922 he criss-crossed the United States, drawing in a wide range of musical influence, and becoming fully aware of the emergence of jazz.
By the end of that period, he was based on the West Coast, where he not only played, but began publishing his compositions. In 1923 he moved to Chicago and soon began a series of outstanding recordings both as a pianist and with various bands.
His solo piano work marks a vital phase in the transition from ragtime to jazz, but Morton also incorporated many of the rhythmic ideas of his Hispanic Creole heritage. His band discs, notably those from 1926-7 with his Red Hot Peppers, are classic examples of the New Orleans ensemble style, with trumpet, clarinet and trombone parts weaving together in collective improvisation.

In the early 1930s, Morton drifted into obscurity. He settled in Washington, DC, where he managed a jazz club and also played intermittently. In 1938, the folklorist Alan Lomax, later Morton's biographer, recorded him in an extensive series of interviews held at the Library of Congress (issued on disc in 1948 and reissued in 1957). In this invaluable oral history, Morton recalled in words and performances his early days in New Orleans, recreating the styles of many of his turn-of-the-century contemporaries. His accounts, both verbal and pianistic, have the ring of authenticity and revealed Morton as jazz's earliest musician-historian and a perceptive theorist and analyst of the music. The Library of Congress recordings rekindled public interest in Morton, eventually leading to further recording sessions in 1939-40 and, in tandem with the New Orleans revival, a renewed career. This was cut short in 1940, however, owing to his ill health. His vocal delivery was eerily close to that of George Melly. His diamond studded smile was stolen on his death and his nickname Jelly Roll referred to his favoured sexual proclivity.
Jelly Roll Morton Bio

Fats Waller
Thomas Wright (1904-1943) Pianist, organist, singer, bandleader, and composer
Fats Waller's father, Edward Waller, was a Baptist lay preacher who conducted open air religious services in Harlem, at which as a child Waller played reed organ. He played piano at his public school and at the age of 15 became organist at the Lincoln Theatre on 135th Street. His father hoped that Waller would follow a religious calling rather than a career in jazz, but after the death of his mother Adeline Waller in 1920, he moved in with the family of the pianist Russell B. T. Brooks. Waller met James P. Johnson, under whose tutelage he developed as a pianist and through whose influence he came to make piano rolls There is some evidence to support Waller's claims that during his formative years as a pianist he studied with Leopold Godowsky and composition with Carl Bohm at the Juilliard School

In 1938, Waller undertook a European tour, recording in London with his Continental Rhythm, as well as making solo pipe-organ recordings for HMV. His second European tour in 1939 was terminated by the outbreak of war, but while in Britain, he recorded his London Suite, an extended series of six related pieces for solo piano: Piccadilly, Chelsea, Soho, Bond Street, Limehouse, and White Chapel. It is Waller's longest composition and represents something of his aspirations to be a serious composer rather than just the author of a string of hit songs. He died aged 39 from pneumonia while on a train to New York - Hip Dude

Teddy WilsonWILSON, THEODORE SHAW (1912-1986). Teddy Wilson, jazz pianist, was born in Austin, Texas, on November 24, 1912, the second son of James and Pearl Wilson. In 1918 he and his family moved to Tuskegee, Alabama, where his mother worked as a librarian and his father taught English at the Tuskegee Institute. Wilson attended the institute, where he studied piano and violin; he also played the E-flat clarinet and oboe in the school band. He attended Talladega College for a year, but moved to Detroit in 1929 to earn his living as a musician. Wilson played in a band with Speed Webb in the Detroit area from 1929 to 1931. In 1931 he moved to Chicago, where he had the good fortune to play alongside Erskine Tate, Louis Armstrong, and Jimmy Noone. He joined the Benny Carter band in 1933 and made several recordings. Wilson's big break came in 1936, when he began touring with Benny Goodman and Gene Krupa, making the trio one of the first interracial groups to perform in the United States. Crowds at that time cheered Wilson on the bandstand, but he still had to stay at the "colored" hotels. Between 1935 and 1939 Wilson also performed with soloists from the Count Basie and Duke Ellington bands, as well as with vocalist Billie Holiday; during this time he recorded on the Brunswick label. He formed his own band and worked with CBS studios in the 1940s and 1950s, and he taught piano at the Juilliard School of Music from 1945 to 1952. He also appeared in The Seven Lively Arts and in the movie The Benny Goodman Story (1956). Wilson brought to jazz an elegance and sophistication that it had not previously enjoyed. He drew elements from Fats Waller, Earl Hines, and Art Tatum, blending and refining them into his own unique sound. His style was subtle and disciplined, providing an effective contrast when he accompanied artists like Billie Holiday, who usually sang just outside the beat. Characteristics of Wilson's music included short, single-note phrases, tenth chords in the left hand, and a wonderfully provocative use of dissonance. His talent at improvisation let him create intricate counterpoint lines that complimented whichever soloist he was performing with. Wilson rejoined Benny Goodman's group for tours of Scandinavia in 1952, England in 1953, Australia in 1960, Europe in 1965, several trips to Japan in the 1970s, and a concert at Carnegie Hall in 1982. He died on July 31, 1986, in New Britain, Connecticut, after a lengthy illness.

Jess Stacy, changed forever the way jazz piano was perceived.
On that night, and until the twelve minute long version of Sing Sing Sing ( With A Swing) came along near the end of the concert Stacy had played his normal role of laying down chords, plus the odd honky tonk inspired solo. No one - and I suspect not even the pianist himself - was prepared for the extraordinary solo that Stacy came up with on this old Louis Prima war horse (cleverly stitched together by arranger Jimmy Mundy with Redman’s Christopher Columbus) that has now gone down in jazz history.
The piece starts with drummer Gene Krupa laying down a hard tom tom pattern that ushers in the brass and sax sections blowing wild counter riffs kicked along by some beautifully executed double and triple time rim shots from Krupa (a man who changed drumming forever too, but more of him some other time), until the orchestra are forced to rest seemingly out of sheer exhaustion that signals in a pretty mundane solo from tenor sax player Babe Russin, whose lips must have been giving out by this stage, followed by a short solo from Harry James on trumpet, whose lips never seemed to give out, and a gentle solo from Goodman himself on clarinet which is a master class in scales, ending on a barely audible high C. At this point Krupa ( who is doing the drummers version of running on the spot) obviously looks at Stacy, and with a ” yes Jess” opens the door for the pianist’s solo which Krupa probably thought was going to be yet another barrel-house work-out. Not this time it wasn’t.
Actually it starts that way and Krupa is obviously waiting for Stacy’s nod to get the piece out of the way and head down town to drink away what’s left of Sunday. But no, this time Stacy is inspired and soon throws out the honky tonk replacing it with some dreamy Debussy like phrases that Krupa - taken by surprise but with a smile on his handsome face - simply backs up with the quietest 4/4 engine you’ve ever heard that is like a child’s heart beat ( elasticated slightly by Harry Goodman’s bass) and just sits back to listen, as does the audience in something close to awe.
From Debussy Stacy takes us on a piano journey which, via a bluesy Chopin, takes us into the jazz future with some beautiful forward echoes of Errol Garner, Thelonious Monk, and just about every other jazz player of the past sixty years. It is an extraordinary piece of on-the-hoof composing that can, if you listen too carefully, take your breath away. It sounds as if Stacy is almost saying goodbye to the music world as the solo fades away and, God bless him, Krupa just keeps beating time to allow the audience to show their appreciation, which comes over in wave after wave of applause. And only when the applause begins to die does Krupa throw all caution to the wind, winding up proceedings with a drum solo that sends smoking musical shells through the roof of Carnegie Hall itself. A little bit of history has been made.
Stacy did give up music, ending up in California working for Max Factor. That is until the 1950 recording of the concert came out and there was renewed interest in the man’s playing, and a realisation that he was a genius.  The concert is available on a double CD. Buy it.

Art Tatum was born Oct. 13, 1909 in Toledo, Ohio and despite being blind in one eye and only partially sighted in the other he became arguably the greatest jazz piano player who ever lived. The starting point of Art Tatum's style was Fats Waller's stride.  As Tatum once said, "Fats, that's where I come out of and, man, that's quite a place to come from".  From this beginning he went on to create and superbly original and creative style of playing piano.  His left-handed figures where similar to stride but he was really known for the way that he explored harmonic complexities and unusual chord progressions.  When improvising, Tatum would often insert totally new chord sequences (occasionally with a chord on each beat) into one or two measures.  He also developed the habit of quoting from other melodies, something that became a standard practice among modern jazz musicians.  What really set Tatum apart was his amazing technical abilities which combined with his willingness to explore the imagined limitations of the orthodox keyboard which produced astonishing rhythmic and harmonic complexities.  It is claimed that he could identify the dominant note in a flushing toilet. Perhaps the greatest tribute to the excellence of Art Tatum lies in the opinions of his peers.  His influenced many musicians including Bud Powell, Herbie Hancock, and even non-pianists such as Charlie Parker and John Coltrane.  Many would say that he inspired the bebop revolution in jazz.  When Oscar Peterson first heard him play he thought it was two people and he considered Tatum the best jazz instrumentalist of all time.  Legend has it that classical pianist Vladimir Horowitz was so awed by Tatum's wizardry that it brought him to tears.  Fittingly, his strongest support comes from one of his early influences, Fats Waller.  One time in 1938 Tatum dropped in to hear Waller play at a club.  By way of introduction Waller told the audience, "I just play the piano, but God is in the house tonight." http://www.jazzonthetube.com/page/43.html

Art TatumTatum was playing professionally in Toledo by 1926 and performed on radio in 1929-30. In 1932, he travelled to New York as the accompanist for Adelaide Hall. There, in March 1933, he made his first solo recordings, for Brunswick. After leaving Hall, he worked in Cleveland from 1934-5 and led a group in Chicago from 1935-6. His reputation as an outstanding jazz pianist was consolidated in 1937 with his performances in various New York clubs and on radio shows. He toured England the following year and appeared regularly in New York and Los Angeles in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Taking Nat "King" Cole's successful jazz trio as a model, Tatum founded his own influential trio with Slam Stewart (double bass) and Tiny Grimes (electric guitar) in 1943. Grimes left the following year, but Tatum continually returned to this format, playing with Everett Barksdale in particular.

Nat King Cole
Born Nathaniel Adams Coles on March 17, 1919 (although 1916 and 1917 have also been cited), in Montgomery, Alabama, Cole was born into a family with a pivotal position in the black community; his father was pastor of the First Baptist Church. In 1921, the family migrated to Chicago, part of the mass exodus seeking a better life in the prospering industrial towns of the north. At four years old, he was learning the piano by ear from his mother, a choir director in the church. At 12 years old he took lessons in classical piano, but was soon to be bitten by the Jazz bug -- inescapable in Chicago. He left school at 15 to pursue a career as a jazz pianist. Cole's first professional break came touring in the revival of the show "Shuffle Along." When the show folded he was stranded in Los Angeles. Cole looked for club work and found it at the Century Club on Santa Monica Boulevard, where he made quite an impression.

In 1939, Cole formed a trio with Oscar Moore on guitar and Wesley Prince on bass, notably they had no drummer. Gradually Cole would emerge as a singer. The group displayed a finesse and sophistication which expressed the new aspirations of the black community. In 1943, he recorded "Straighten Up And Fly Right," for Capitol Records, inspired by one of his father's sermons. It was an instant hit, assuring Cole's future as a pop sensation. With the addition of strings in 1946 "The Christmas Song" began Cole's evolution into a sentimental singer. In the 1940s he made several memorable sides with the Trio, including "It's Only A Paper Moon" and "(I Love You) For Sentimental Reasons." But by 1948, and "Nature Boy," the move away from small-group jazz, towards his eventual position as one of the most popular vocalists of the day, was underway. He died on February 15, 1965 of lung cancer aged 46.  Oscar Peterson said he was the best time keeper in the business.  Oscar Moore guitar trailblazer ended up as a bricklayer - unbelievable hands.

George Shearing
The tight trio format that Nat perfected and with the humour that has full echoes of Fats was further embellished by the George Shearing Quintet by the addition of Vibes and used a locked hands or block chord style to create another unique subdued rhythm sound with John Levy - Bass, Denzil Best - Drums, Chuck Wayne - Guitar,  Marjorie Hyams - Vibes.  Shearing voiced the guitar (without vibrato) one octave higher than the vibes (without a motor), both playing the melody in unison while Shearing played harmonies in the block-chord style. The bass and drums remained subdued.  Cal Tjader also replaced Hyams later on vibes

George Shearing enjoys an international reputation as a pianist, arranger, and composer. Equally at home on the concert stage as in jazz clubs, Shearing is recognised for inventive, orchestrated jazz. He has written over 300 compositions, including the classic “Lullaby of Birdland”, which has become a jazz standard.

Shearing was born in 1919 in the Battersea area of London. Congenitally blind, he was the youngest of nine children. His father delivered coal and his mother cleaned trains at night after caring for the children during the day. His only formal musical education consisted of four years of study at the Linden Lodge School for the Blind. While his talent won him a number of university scholarships, he was forced to refuse them in favour of a more financially productive pursuit…playing piano in a neighbourhood pub for the handsome salary of £1.25 a week! Shearing joined an all-blind band in the 1930’s. At that time he developed a friendship with the noted jazz critic and author, Leonard Feather. Through this contact, he made his first appearance on BBC radio and then moved to New York.

By the time the Classic Album with Peggy lee - Beauty and the Beat was made the personnel changed to Toots Thielemans - Guitar, Ray Alexander - Vibes, Carl Pruitt - Bass. Ray Mosca - Drums,  Armando Peraza - Conga
Nat Cole and Shearing had popular success together with ''Let There be Love'

Oscar Peterson
Internationally renowned, Canadian jazz pianist Oscar Peterson has entertained the world with his mastery and prowess over the piano for over 40 years. Born in a limestone house on Montreal's Delisle Street on August 15, 1925, he was the fourth of five children to his parents, Daniel and Kathleen. All of the Peterson children (Fred, Daisy, Charles, Oscar and May) were introduced to music in a good way before any of them can remember. Their father, a porter with Canadian Pacific Railways who learned to play piano on his own while in the merchant marine, taught his children all he could until they achieved a certain proficiency. It was at this point, during his high school years, that Oscar came to study with an accomplished classical pianist, Hungarian Paul de Marky, who taught Oscar "technique and speedy fingers". He also helped Oscar come to believe that he had something special to give to the music world.

Some of the artists who influenced Oscar during the early years were Teddy Williams, Nat (King) Cole, James P. Johnson and the legendary Art Tatum, who many have tried to compare Oscar to in later years. In fact, one of Oscar's first exposures to the musical talents of Art Tatum came early in his teen years when his father played an Art Tatum record to him and Oscar was so intimidated by what he heard that he didn't touch the piano for over a month.

In his last years of high school, Oscar played in a band called the Montreal High School Victory Serenaders with trumpeter Maynard Ferguson.

Bill Evans
billevansBill Evans was born in Plainfield, New Jersey, in 1929, of a devout Russian Orthodox mother and an alcoholic father of Welsh origins, who managed a golf course. Evans' Russian side accounts for the special feeling many of his Russian fans have for him that he is one of them. Bill received his first musical training in his mother's church; both parents were highly musical. He also held a lifelong attachment to the game of golf.   Bill began studying piano at age six, and since his parents wanted him to know more than one instrument, he took up the violin the following year and the flute at age 13. He became very proficient on the flute, although he hardly played it in his later years. Proficiency at these instruments in which great emphasis is laid on tonal expressiveness, might have encouraged Evans to seek the similar gradations of nuance on piano. He did, of course, thereby extending the expressive range of jazz piano.
One of the most influential and tragic figures of the post-bop jazz piano, was known for his highly nuanced touch, the clarity of the feeling content of his music and his reform of the chord voicing system pianists used. He recorded over fifty albums as leader and received five Grammy awards. He spawned a school of “Bill Evans style” or “Evans inspired” pianists, who include some of the best known artists of our day, including Michel Petrucciani, Andy Laverne, Richard Beirach, Enrico Pieranunzi and Warren Bernhardt. His inescapable influence on the very sound of jazz piano has touched virtually everybody of prominence in the field after him (as well as most of his contemporaries), and he remains a monumental model for jazz piano students everywhere, even inspiring a newsletter devoted solely to his music and influence.  Yet Bill Evans was a person who was painfully self-effacing, especially in the beginning of his career. Tall and handsome, literate and highly articulate about his art, he had a “confidence problem” as he called it, while at the same time devoted himself fanatically to the minute details of his music. He believed he lacked talent, so had to make up with it by intense work, but to keep the whole churning enterprise afloat he took on a heroin addiction for most of his adult life. The result was sordid living conditions, a brilliant career, two failed marriages (the first ending in a dramatic suicide), and an early death.
Bill Evans Memorial Library

Thelonious Sphere Monk (1917-1982) is recognized as one of the most influential figures in the history of Jazz. He was one of the architects of bebop and his impact as a composer and pianist has had a profound influence on every genre of music.   Monk was born on October 10, 1917, in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, but his parents, Barbara Batts and Thelonious Monk, soon moved the family to New York City. Monk began piano lessons as a young child and by the age of 13 he had won the weekly amateur contest at the Apollo Theater so many times that he was barred from entering. At the age of 19, Monk joined the house band at Minton's Playhouse in Harlem, where along with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, and a handful of other players, he developed the style of jazz that came to be known as bebop. Monk's compositions, among them "Round Midnight," were the canvasses over which these legendary soloists expressed their musical ideas. In 1947, Monk made his first recordings as a leader for Blue Note. These albums are some of the earliest documents of his unique compositional and improvisational style, both of which employed unusual repetition of phrases, an offbeat use of space, and joyfully dissonant sounds. That same year, he married his long-time love Nellie Smith and later had two children, Thelonious, Jr. and Barbara (1954-1984). In the decade that followed, Monk played on recordings with Miles Davis, Charlie Parker, and Sonny Rollins and recorded as a leader for Prestige Records and later for Riverside Records. Brilliant Corners and Thelonious Monk with John Coltrane were two of the albums from this period that brought Monk international attention as a pianist and composer.
 In 1957, the Thelonious Monk Quartet, which included John Coltrane, began a regular gig at the Five Spot. The group's performances were hugely successful and received the highest critical praise. Over the next few years, Monk toured the United States and Europe and made some of his most influential recordings. In 1964, Thelonious Monk appeared on the cover of Time magazine, an honor that has been bestowed on only three other jazz musicians. By this time, Monk was a favorite at jazz festivals around the world, where he performed with his quartet, which included long-time associate Charlie Rouse. In the early '70s he discontinued touring and recording and appeared only on rare occasions at Lincoln Center, Carnegie Hall and the Newport Jazz Festival.

Thelonious Sphere Monk passed away on February 5, 1982. His more than 70 compositions are classics which continue to inspire artists in all forms of music. In his lifetime he received numerous awards and continues to be honored posthumously. The Smithsonian Institution has immortalized his work with an archive of his music. In addition, the U.S. Postal Service issued a stamp in his honor. A feature documentary on Monk's life, Straight, No Chaser was released to critical acclaim. The Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz was founded to honor Monk by preserving the music to which he dedicated his life. Monk's integrity, originality, and unique approach set a standard that is a shining example for all who strive for musical excellence. Monk Zone

Herbie Hancock

Gwilym Simcock at 27 is the most outstanding jazz pianist and composer of his generation. He is also an exceptional Classical repertoire performer and French horn player. Gwilym attained the highest marks in the country for his Associated Board Grade 8 exams - on both piano and French horn - at the age of eleven. After attending Chethams School in Manchester he moved to London, where he studied piano at The Royal Academy of Music. His teachers there included John Taylor, Nick Weldon and Geoff Keezer. Gwilym left the Royal Academy with a first-class honours degree and the coveted 'Principal's Prize' for outstanding achievement.

with Yuri Goloubev (bass) and James Maddren (drums)

Andy Quin - Review
The music was the jazz standard Tiger rag. The pianist a virtuoso, who one evening last November held a capacity crowd at London’s Cadogan Hall spellbound. He went on to give electrifying performances of two more jazz pieces, and was cheered to the rafters. But this was a performance and a concert with a difference. No surprise in the repertoire: Cadogan Hall gladly hosts jazz concerts as well as being the London home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The surprise was the pianist, Andy Quin. For Quin is not a professional pianist at all, but a man who makes his living writing music for films, television and advertising. 
Quin’s set had everything: casually but expertly executed Art Tatum-esque runs up and down the keyboard, a fascinating version of a Coltrane tune - Giant Steps - with sustained passages of perpetuum mobile, and a Gershwin finale - I Got Rhythm - in which he astonished the audience by doubling an already nippy tempo and then doubling it again.’
Andy also has The Estonia Grande Piano and the mighty Hammond A100 with the Leslie Cabinet in his Studio - some guy's have all the luck eh.
Andy Plays - I Got Rhythm - UK's Art Tatum - but this time merely myopic - Jazz Eddie -Tiger Rag  - Art Tatum's Version

David Gordon

John Horler

Judy Lewis Group

Tim Richards

Liam Noble

Tom Cawley

David Newton Growing up in Renfrewshire, Scotland, Newton had a musical upbringing with the piano trio sound of Peterson, Tatum or Garner an ever-present feature in the Newton household. After graduating from Leeds College of Music in 1979 David Newton freelanced around Yorkshire and eventually became a resident musician at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough for two and a half years. A move to Edinburgh followed where theatre work using local musicians quickly led to an established position on the Scottish jazz scene but after some four years there, his old roommate from college, Alan Barnes, persuaded him to move to London where he rapidly became a much sought after pianist teaming up with Barnes, guitarist Martin Taylor and saxophonist Don Weller.
Newton's recording career had begun in 1985 with Buddy De Franco and Martin Taylor and his first solo album was released in '88 in association with producer Elliot Meadow who oversaw the next nine years of recording for Linn Records followed by Candid Records. Once again, in 1997, David Newton and Alan Barnes teamed up and together with Concorde Label agent Barry Hatcher, made four CDs for that label. By 2003, Newton had learned a great deal of the ways a record company operated and he set up a business partnership with former pupil Mike Daymond and they established "Brightnewday Records" initially as a vehicle for Newton's own music but with an eye to opening up the catalogue to other artists later on.
In the first five years of the nineties, Newton's reputation as an exquisite accompanist for a singer, spread rather rapidly and by '95 he was regularly working with Carol Kidd, Marion Montgomery, Tina May, Annie Ross, Claire Martin and of course Stacey Kent, with whom he spent the next ten years recording and travelling all over the world. While all this was going on, Newton was composing music which he would record on his own CDs as well as writing specifically for Martin Taylor, Alan Barnes, Tina May or Claire Martin and Newton's music can now be heard on many television productions, especially in the United States where over twenty TV movies benefit from Newton's haunting themes. In 2003, after a twenty year gap, David Newton was reunited with playwright Alan Aykbourn having been involved with eight world premiers in Scarborough and London back in the early eighties, and he was asked to write the music for two new productions, 'Sugar Daddies' and 'Drowning on Dry Land'. Currently, with the release of a new CD called "Inspired", on the 'Brightnewday' label, David Newton is relishing the musical freedom of his Trio and the special sound it makes whilst working on two other new recording projects, as an arranger and a composer.
David Newton has been voted best Jazz Pianist in the British Jazz awards six times and was made a Fellow of Leeds College of Music in 2003.

philpeskett049Phil Peskett is one of the hottest young names on the London jazz scene. He has played with Jim Mullen and at Ronnie Scott’s club in London many times with Trudy Kerr, with whom he has recorded two albums. He has also performed with Stan Sulzman and Steve Waterman. A tutor on the degree course at the Trinity College of Music, he is also a respected composer and has his own piano trio which perform at the 606 club regularly. Studied at Leeds College of Music and the Guildhall.

Will Bartlett
A graduate of Oxford and The Guildhall School of Music, Will Bartlett is a sophisticated pianist with a beautiful taste for ballads. His tone is reminiscent of Bill Evans - a characteristic he uses to his advantage when accompanying vocalists or lead instruments.  Though Will has done a lot of solo playing, he has another talent with bands having received the award for 'Best Arranger' in last year's BBC Big Band Competition. Will also runs a trio and quartet that play a range of Jazz genres.

Keith Jarrett - Somewhere over the Rainbow


Holger Skepeneit -   Holger started playing classical piano at the age of eight and turned to jazz and blues at fourteen. After finishing school he briefly attended a full-time jazz course in Frankfurt/Germany. He then came to England to study piano, jazz piano and composition at the London College of Music, graduating in 2000 with a first class honours degree. The same year he started and completed successfully an MMus in jazz piano at the Leeds College of Music. Since graduating he’s been a sought after pianist, keyboard player, composer and MD. During his career so far he has performed and recorded along side artists such as Pete King, Jeff Clyne, Tina May, Alan Barnes, John Wheatcroft, Steve Waterman, Alan Shaw, Mark Nightingale, Kiranpal Sing, John Surman and many others. Apart from having played in most of the UK’s major live music venues (including the Southbank, Cadogan Hall, Shepherds Bush Empire, Peel Bay Festival, and the Wigmore Hall), he has so far performed in over 20 different countries, in Europe and overseas. Furthermore Holger has played for the guests of her Majesty the Queen and was awarded the Westminster prize for improvisation.  Apart from being a busy performer, Holger is quite a prolific composer as well. His first works (for piano and sax) were published when he was only seventeen. Since then he has written a variety of highly acclaimed pieces ranging from piano concertos and string quartets to Big Band pieces, solo piano works and trio suites.  At the moment Holger works mainly with his own trio (with Chris Nicholls on drums and Alan Mian on bass), the Counterfeit Stones and the Balkan Fusion line-up Dark Raki (with Vasilis X). He is also part-time tutor for keyboard and theory at the Institute for Contemporary Music Performance and Thames Valley University).     www.myspace.com/holgerskepeneittrio

“...dedicated to a more progressive approach towards contemporary jazz, and consequently seeks to steer away from the conventional neo-conservative mainstream be-bop that has become so synonymous with jazz nowadays.”  Tony Cooper, Eastern Daily Press

John Horler - John is a highly respected pianist and composer who has earned a formidable reputation on the British jazz scene over many years. His credentials as a musician are as impeccable as they are diverse. He started studying at the Royal Academy of Music at the precocious age of sixteen. He acquired his LRAM. Unlike today, Jazz was not valued or studied at the Academy, so he didn’t find himself launched onto the jazz scene at an early age. But his abilities were acknowledged by the Royal Academy at a later stage when he was made an ARAM for services to music!  The route to success was through pub gigs and appearances on BBC’s Jazz Club, funded by work as a successful session musician. As his reputation grew he found himself increasingly supporting American jazz stars, such as Bob Brookmeyer, Clark Terry, Zoot Sims, Al Cohn, Art Farmer, Pepper Adams, Bud Shank, and Shorty Rodgers. One of the most memorable of these events was working with Chet Baker for a week at The Canteen in Great Queen Street.  He worked closely with Pete King, Tommy Whittle, Tony Coe and the late great Ronnie Ross for many years, playing regularly in their groups and recording with them. For the last twenty years he has been first pianist to Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine. His most recent accolade was Critics choice Jazz pianist of the year 2002.  Finally in 1993 he started making his own recordings, highlighting his own compositions alongside his favourite standard tunes. The first recording was Lost Keys recorded with Jeff Clyne and Trevor Tomkins in 1993. The most recent is the new Modern Jazz Trio album with Sam Burgess and Mike Smith - The Key to it All released by Divingduck Records in April 2007

Frank Harrison, Piano

Frank Harrison was born in Oxford on 8 July 1978. He took up the piano at 11, and began playing gigs when he was 15. In 1994 he won the soloist award in the Daily Telegraph Young Jazz Competition, and in 1996 placed second in Young Jazz Musician Of The Year.  After taking up a scholarship at Berklee School Of Music, Boston, he returned to England and joined Gilad Atzmon's band. In 2000 they started the Orient House Ensemble, with whom Frank has recorded four albums on Enja Records, including BBC Jazz Album Of The Year 2003, "Exile". The band regularly tours Europe, playing at major Jazz and World music festivals. Frank has also performed with Peter King, Julian Siegel, Don Weller, Alan Barnes, John Etheridge, Louis Stewart and Iain Ballamy.

Clive Dunstall
Clive has performed as a pianist for The Queen onboard The Royal Yacht Britannia (during his service in the Royal Marines Band) and has appeared on several occasions as a soloist on 'Friday Night is Music Night'.   During his career to date, Clive has been a member of The National Youth Jazz Orchestra.   The Glenn Miller Orchestra UK, The Syd Lawrence Orchestra and has occasionally appeared with The BBC Big Band.   He has worked with some of the country's leading orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, The London Sinfonietta and The Ulster Orchestra.   In the West end he was the Musical director of 'Five Guys Named Moe', Assistant MD on 'Our House', 'Smokey Joe's Cafe' and led the jazz group on 'Lenny ' with Eddie Izzard.   On tour he has Musically Directed Matthew Bourne's 'Play Without Words', (Japan) Shall We Dance', (Europe)'Fame', (Norway, Sweden)'Grease', (Norway, Finland) 'The Rat Pack' UK and has toured with Jack Jones, Michael Ball and Sister Sledge.

Tim Lapthorn - Arnie Somogyi in Clare CellarsTim Lapthorn - Arnie Somogyi in Clare CellarsTim Lapthorne

Originally from Cambridge, Tim has studied French & Philosophy at Leeds University & then completed the one year Postgrad Jazz course at the Guildhall School of Music. He now teaches piano privately from home & performs regularly in & around London. His exciting new trio with Tom Herbett (bass) & Pat Levett (drums) has just released it's first album "Outlines", containing six original compositions by Tim. The music has a strong focus on openness, interplay & flow, the themes being simple & melodic.


Geoff Eales Pianist





Leon Greening - Piano
Pianist Leon Greening studied at Leeds College of Music and the Guildhall. His extraordinary solos, inspired by the likes of Wynton Kelly and Bud Powell, keep the audience on the edge of their seats and mark him out, at the age of only 31, as one of the finest pianists this country has ever produced. An all star gig absolutely not to be missed. He was voted runner-up in the 1999 Sun Alliance Musician of the Year awards.
He has performed at Ronnie Scott's and with Christian Brewer Quartet, Matt Wates Sextet, Gareth Lockrane Septet and toured with pop band 'Incognito'.

GRAHAM HARVEY (Mayhem Garvey)
Graham is a fine keyboard player who, although perhaps best known for his work with the acid jazz group “Incognito”, is also a very impressive modern jazz pianist. Yet another of the players who studied in America, Graham is generally recognised as one of the finest players of his generation. He is appears with his “All Star” band, featuring four of Europe’s greatest musicians, award winning trombonist Mark Nightingale, Laurence Cottle-bass, Ian Thomas-drums and special guest Nigel Hitchcock-sax. This is a “super group” if ever there was one.

Albums include George Benson, Incognito, Sax Appeal. Roadside Picnic, Bobby Wellins, Maysa Leak, Derek Nash Quartet. Has worked with Stevie Wonder, Ronnie Laws. Clark Terry, Warren Vache, Spike Robinson. Toured U.S.A, Europe and Japan as keyboard player and musical director for Incognito also composed and played on 7 of their albums. He also appears on Hamish Stewart's recent album with Jim Mullen. For the last couple of years he has been playing in various west end musicals. He has produced and played on an album now due for release which includes Ed Jones and Jim Mullen. He has played with his trio at such venues as the 606 club and the Festival Hall foyer as well as various solo appearances. He has played with the BBC. Big Band and Lawrence Cottle Big Band at Ronnie Scotts and Brecon Jazz Festival also occasional chair with the Back to Basie Orchestra . Graham is at present preparing an Album for his own Trio. B.Mus Honours University of Denver.U.S.A

Simon Colam - piano
Simon was born in Lancashire and studied at Salford University before moving on to undergraduate classical and jazz studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He was one of the first to graduate from the combined classical/jazz degree course. He performs in various groups ('Gato Loco') and often works with vocalists.   Since then he has developed a career in live and studio music concentrating on jazz, salsa and commercial music and has performed in many of the major venues in the UK including the Royal Festival Hall, Barbican Centre, Earls Court and Wembley Arena. Simon is keyboard player for NZ saxophonist Nathan Haines, Mercury Music Prize nominated London MC Ty, Robert Miles, Theo Travis, Dave O'Higgins and vocalist David Tughan, touring with them in Europe, South Africa and Japan. He is also a member of the Big Blue band, which was featured on the Pop Idol TV Series and arena tour as well as accompanist for ITV's X Factor and BBC's Fame Academy series. Simon is head of Jazz at The Purcell School and teaches at the Royal Academy of Music Junior Dept.

UK Pioneer Brian Dee is one of England's leading jazz pianists. He first came to prominence with the opening of the Ronnie Scott Club in 1959. His international reputation grew and he toured as a member of The Jazz Five opposite Miles Davis. In 1965 was voted "Melody Maker New Star".

Dee's working experience as an accompanist of world class vocalists is well known. The list of jazz stars that he has worked with is endless and includes recording with Bing Crosby, Johnny Mercer, Peggy Lee and Fred Astaire.

He is still making frequent appearances at Ronnie Scott's and broadcasts regularly on radio with his own trio.

  • The outstanding feature of Dee's performance here, is its fleetness of fingering and cleanness of articulation. Russell Davies, Daily Telegraph

  • Dee's qualities, delicacy, flexibility, wit and ingenuity soon make themselves apparent. Dave Gelly The Observer

  • Brian Dee's Trio was perfect ... amongst the best of our jazz pianists, and probably one of the best accompanists we have ever had.
    Steve Voce Jazz Journal


Grant Windsor - After achieving his A.Mus.A on flute he moved on to study piano, conducting and composition at the West Australian Academy of Performing Arts.

During his time at the Academy Grant studied with many artists such as Brian Howard, Steve Williams, Graeme Lyall, Mark Levine, Frank Foster and Paul Grabowsky. In 1999 Grant was one of five pianists selected for a place in the National Academy of Music in Melbourne and it was here that he studied with Mick Nock and Dr Tony Gould, as well as performing with some of the Australia's jazz legends.

Since completing his Bachelor of Music in December 2000, Grant has performed with many artists including Frank Foster, Sandy Evans, Sarah and Leila Petronio, Don Burrows, James Morrison, Janet Seidel and Randy Brecker.


Geoff Castle - Pianist and composer Geoff Castle has played with top names on the British jazz scene since 1970. He was born in North London in 1949. His father was a photographer, his mother a social worker. Both parents were musical and he started piano lessons at the age of 8. He joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in 1967 with whom he toured nationally and visited France and Bulgaria. After leaving NYJO in 1970 he joined Graham Collier's septet which starred at the 1971 Montreux festival winning two prizes. Geoff has featured in both acoustic and electric jazz and he joined Ian Carr's Nucleus in 1974 playing electric piano and Moog. He played with this band for eight years and appeared on six albums and many European tours. The band played at the first Jazz Yatra in Bombay in 1977

He plays regularly at Ronnie Scott's with tenor player Stan Robinson and has accompanied visiting artists including US jazzmen George Coleman, Jimmy Giuffre, James Moody and Art Farmer well as appearing with his own line-ups. British bands he has worked with include Morrissey Mullen, Ian Dury, Sax Appeal and Georgie Fame. He has also worked in several cross-over Irish folk and jazz projects with NZ harmonica player Brendan Power.  In addition to freelance work on the London jazz scene Geoff features with his acoustic trio with Gary Crosby and Daniel Crosby. He also appears with Frank Holder and Stan Robinson with Castle Frank'n'Stan. He also makes regular concerts with Geoff Castle's Latinesque and Paz.

Local Tuition for Piano and Keyboards

Chiltern Music Services & Studio
Tuition, Sales, Service - email Alan Peppett Walters Ash, nr High Wycombe, Bucks
 - for beginners or improvers 01494 562 048


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Last modified: 18/02/2012