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The Vibraphone

Hamp Hits Good Vibes

After seeing the distinctive marimbas designed by Clair Musser of the Deagan Company in the early 1930s, Lionel Hampton requested that Deagan create a custom made vibraphone for him to play. The stunning result was this uniquely designed instrument, dubbed the "King George" Model, featuring all brass construction with heavy, solid brass resonators which produce a distinctive, rich sound. Because this vibraphone was specifically designed for Hampton, his name appears on the Deagan plaque on the front panel of the instrument. Lionel Hampton was pictured with this vibraphone on numerous occasions, especially while playing with Benny Goodman circa 1935-38

Hamp on Drums
Gene Norman Concert - Hamp's Band Play Hoagy's Stardust  Take a few minutes to load,
Lionel Hampton (vibraphone), Charlie Shavers (trumpet), Willie Smith (alto sax), Corky Corcoran (tenor sax),
Tommy Todd (piano); Barney Kessel (guitar), Slam Stewart (string bass); Lee Young (drums).
Gene Norman's Just Jazz Concert.  15 min. 

FAQ's About The Vibraphone Instrument

  • No, it's not a xylophone. It's not a marimba, either - It's a Vibraphone.
  • Xylophones have wooden bars and are usually a bit higher-pitched. Marimbas are usually larger and have a bigger frame, and also have wooden bars. Vibraphones have metal bars and are the only mallet percussion instruments with pedals, which dampens the ringing of the bars.
  • Yes, it's a fairly expensive instrument.
  • Yes, it's a pain to transport. some take it apart when they move it, others just lift it all in one piece.
  • Below each bar is a resonator, a resonant metal tube, with a metal disc of a slightly smaller diameter located at the top. The discs in each tube are connected via a rod which can be made to rotate with an electric motor. When the motor is on and a note is struck, the notes acquire a tremolo sound as the resonators are covered and uncovered by the rotating discs. The player can vary the speed of the tremolo. At slower speeds, the effect sounds more like a "wah-wah-wah." At faster speeds the tremolo is more pronounced. With the motor off, the vibraphone has a mellow, bell-like sound. The "vibrato" sound effect is what the vibraphone was named after. Because the amplitude is what varies, not the pitch, the name of the instrument is somewhat of a misnomer. The sound is dated and many modern vibists eschew the effect altogether.  The vibraphone also has a sustain pedal similar to that used on a piano. When the pedal is up, the bars are all damped and the sound of each bar is quite short; with the pedal down, they will sound for several seconds, so frequent rapid pedalling is common when playing a vibraphone.

    Milt JacksonMilt JacksonMilt “Bags” Jackson died in Manhattan of liver cancer at the age of 76. Jackson is best known as one-fourth of the Modern Jazz Quartet, which performed its unique and impeccable “chamber jazz” from 1952 until its dissolution in 1974, with only one change in personnel—drummer Connie Kay replacing Kenny Clarke in 1955. Jackson's death leaves pianist-musical director John Lewis and bassist Percy Heath as the MJQ's survivors.  Jackson was born on New Years Day, 1923, in Detroit. Growing up, he sang and played a variety of instruments, including drums and piano (on which he recorded several times) before settling on a relatively new instrument, the vibraphone, a somewhat unusual choice given that he had perfect pitch. In 1945, Dizzy Gillespie heard Jackson playing the vibraphone in a Detroit bar and immediately hired him for Gillespie's ill-fated first attempt at a big band. After the band collapsed, Jackson joined Gillespie and Charlie Parker in a sextet for what became a legendary two-month engagement at Billy Berg's in Hollywood. Recordings from this period demonstrate that Jackson had not yet fully developed the modern style, but working night after night in a combo with the two great geniuses of the new music obviously had a profound influence.  (("Bags" was his nickname, from the 'bags' under his eyes from staying up late - or more likely cigarette smoke)

    Gary Burton Born in 1943 and raised in Indiana, Gary Burton taught himself to play the vibraphone and, at the age of 17, made his recording debut in Nashville, Tennessee, with guitarists Hank Garland and Chet Atkins. Two years later, Burton left his studies at Berklee College of Music to join George Shearing and subsequently Stan Getz, with whom he worked from 1964-1966. Also in the '70s, Burton began his career with Berklee College of Music in Boston. Burton began as a teacher of percussion and improvisation classes at Berklee in 1971. In 1985 he was named Dean of Curriculum. In 1989, he received an honorary doctorate of music from the college, and in 1996, he was appointed Executive Vice President.   Burton began recording for GRP records in the '80s and '90s. In 1990, he paired up again with his former protege Metheny for Reunion, which landed him the top spot on Billboard magazine's jazz chart. Burton is now recording for Concord Records. Departure (Gary Burton & Friends) was released in 1997 by Concord Records as well as Native Sense, a new duet collaboration with Chick Corea, which garnered a Grammy Award in 1998. Also in 1997, Burton recorded his second collection of tango music, Astor Piazzolla Reunion, featuring the top tango musicians of Argentina, followed by Libertango in 2000, another collection of Piazzolla music. His 1998 Concord release, Like Minds, an all-star hit featuring his frequent collaborators Chick Corea, Pat Metheny, Roy Haynes, and Dave Holland, was honoured with a Grammy win, Burton's fifth. Gary's vibraphone tribute CD, For Hamp, Red, Bags and Cal, was released in March 2001 on Concord and garnered Gary's 12th Grammy nomination. His most recent release in 2002 is a unique project with Makoto Ozone, his pianist collaborator of the past twenty years. In Virtuosi the pair explore the improvisational possibilities of classical themes including works by Brahms, Scarlatti, Ravel, Barber and others. In an unusual move, the Recording Academy nominated Virtuosi in the classical category of the Grammy awards, a unique honour for Gary.


    Roy Ayers - A popular jazz vibraphonist and vocalist, Ayers reached the peak of his commercial popularity during the mid-70s and early 80s. He was also justly celebrated as an important influence on the latter decade's acid-jazz movement. Ayers played piano as a child and took an interest in the vibes after meeting Lionel Hampton. In high school he formed his first group, the Latin Lyrics, and in the early 60s began working professionally with flautist/saxophonist Curtis Amy. Ayers' first album under his own name was West Coast Vibes on United Artists Records, a 1963 recording session which featured Amy. He also worked with Chico Hamilton, Hampton Hawes and Herbie Mann, with whom he first gained prominence between 1966 and 1970. After recording three albums for Atlantic Records in the late 60s, Ayers formed Roy Ayers Ubiquity and signed to Polydor Records, incorporating funk and R&B styles into his jazz. Using a number of prominent sidemen such as Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, Sonny Fortune, George Benson and Billy Cobham, Ubiquity's albums helped to popularize the jazz/funk crossover style. The group reached the R&B charts with several albums and singles during this period, including the Top 20 disco-influenced R&B hit "Running Away". The album track "Everybody Loves The Sunshine" remains a perennial club favourite into the new millennium. Ayers dropped the Ubiquity group name in 1978 and continued to have chart success with both his solo albums and singles into the late 80s. After touring Africa, Ayers recorded Africa, Center Of The World with Fela Kuti and also set up the Uno Melodic Records label with the Nigerian musician. He switched to Columbia Records in 1984 but released records less frequently as the 80s came to a close, concentrating on composing and producing for other artists. Since the late 80s, Ayers and the resurrected Ubiquity have enjoyed a successful collaboration with Ronnie Scott's jazz club in Soho, London, acting as the official house band. In 1993, Ayers guested on the first instalment of Guru's Jazzmatazz project, a self-styled "experimental fusion of hip-hop and jazz". Two years later Ayers secured a contract with RCA Records and the Groovetown label, for whom he recorded the well-received Nasté. He has subsequently appeared on albums by Masters At Work (the Nuyorican Soul project), Erykah Badu and Eric Benét, and re-established his own record label under the name AFI CDs.

    Marjorie Hyams - Vibraphonist
    If Margie Hyams had not retired prematurely, she would be much better-known today. A talented vibraphonist able to play in both bop and swing settings, Hyams was an important musician during the second half of the 1940's. She was featured with Woody Herman's First Herd (1944-45), led her own trio (1945-48) and was an original member of  the George Shearing Quintet (1949-50). In addition, she recorded with  Flip Phillips Mary Lou Williams and  Charlie Ventura. However in 1950 Margie Hyams (who never led her own recording session) married and decided to retire from music at the age of 27. Little has been heard from her since, a major loss to jazz.

    Cal Tjader - The greatest Anglo musician in Latin music. Tjader's father was a musical director and producer in vaudeville, and he grew up around the music and the theatre, even studying to be a dancer for a while. He decided to stick with music, though, and began to play drums with different small groups in California in the late 1940s. In 1949, Dave Brubeck hired him for his trio and Tjader recorded several 10" albums with Brubeck. He left Brubeck and worked briefly with guitarist Alvino Rey before joining George Shearing's combo in 1953, where he began performing on the vibes.

    While with Brubeck, Tjader signed with Dave's label, Fantasy, but it was not until he left Shearing in 1954 that he began recording in earnet. Over the next seven years, Fantasy released an amazing string of 30 albums, over half of them featuring Latin music. To some extent, Fantasy was trying to capitalize on the mambo craze of the mid-1950s, and, in hindsight, the Latin albums tended to cause some listeners (including this writer) to overlook his straight-ahead jazz albums. Worth particular note among these are the two "Brubeck/Tjader" albums and "San Francisco Moods," which featured a number of Tjader originals and remains one of the most listenable albums from the West Coast jazz era.

    Tjader's mid-1950s quintet rode the wave of the popularity of West Coast jazz, giving pianist Vince Guaraldi, among others, major career boosts. In 1963, Creed Taylor signed him for Verve and he worked with Claus Ogermann and other producers to create some of the hippest albums of the 1960s. His single of "Soul Sauce (Guachi Guara)" briefly reached the Top 40 charts. Several of his Verve albums have been reissued on CD and are worth seeking out. Tjader could even take something as square as "The Whiffenpoof Song" ("We are poor little lambs who have lost our way")--theme song of the Yale Glee Club--and make you want to frug to it. n  Although Tjader was often slammed by jazz critics for pandering to popular tastes, he was well-respected among Latin musicians and many of the greats played with him over the years, including Candido, Armando Peraza, Eddie Palmieri, and Tito Puente. And in recent years, he's come to be recognized as one of the fathers of acid jazz, with numerous combos imitating the blend of Latin, jazz, and funk he pioneered in the 1960s. His Concord album, La Onda Va Bien won a Grammy award in 1979.

    Ray Alexander Ray Alexander played jazz for over 50 years, appearing with such luminaries as George Shearing, Claude Thornhill, Stan Getz, Peggy Lee, Anita O'Day, Bill Evans, Charlie Barnet, and a host of others.






    Victor Feldman (April 7, 1934 May 12, 1987) was a British jazz musician. He caused a sensation as a musical prodigy when he was "discovered" at age 7. He appeared as a featured soloist with Glenn Miller when he was 10 years old, playing the drums. His vibraphone, piano and conga drum playing were also notable. He recorded with many different jazz artists, including Miles Davis and Benny Goodman. He also branched out into rock music, working with artists such as Steely Dan in the 1970s and Tom Waits in the 1980s.

    Victor Feldman was a child prodigy who was a professional from the age of seven and sat in on drums with Glenn Miller's Army Air Force Band in 1944 when he was ten. He was active in his native England through the bebop years (mostly on drums), debuting as a leader in 1948. By 1952, Feldman was getting better-known for his vibes playing and he recorded extensively during the 1950s. After touring with Woody Herman (1956-1957), he decided to move to the U.S. in 1957, where he worked at the Lighthouse with Howard Rumsey. Feldman recorded (on vibes and piano) for Mode, Contemporary, and Riverside during 1957-1961, a period in which he became a busy studio musician. Feldman was with Cannonball Adderley's Quintet (mostly as a pianist) for six months in 1960-1961 and recorded with Miles Davis in 1963 (who offered him a job with his new quintet and recorded his original "Seven Steps to Heaven"), but remained in L.A. and the studios. He cut jazz dates for Choice, Concord, Palo Alto, and TBA and in the 1980s up until his death he led a soulful crossover group (the Generation Band) that often featured his son, Trevor Feldman, on drums. ~ Scott Yanow, All Music Guide

    Victor Feldman on Vibes


    Guide to Solo Vibraphone - Lessons

    Terry Gibbs

    Mark Sherman  After nearly 25 years of recording, writing, and performing with Larry Coryell’s group and many others, vibraphonist Mark Sherman a Yamaha performing artist, and a Vic Firth artist has a beautiful quintet featuring Joe Magnarelli on trumpet, Allen Farnham on piano, Dean Johnson on bass, and Tim Horner on drums. Sherman’s previous recording “One Step Closer” featuring Joe Lovano was recently in the top ten on the radio charts for 12 weeks in the United States. The most recent recording “Family First” was the most spun CD in the United States in it’s opening week on the charts. Tied in with most of Sherman's live performances (clubs, and festivals) is a 2 hour master-class on language skills for improvisation, usually done at the local music school or university music department, and sponsored by Yamaha and Vic Firth Co.” These master-classes have been extremely successful at the high school and college level. I've received countless emails from students telling me how my system for learning the harmonic language needed for playing jazz was the simplest and most user friendly system they've come across, and that it answered many of the confusing questions, and got them improvising on chord changes very quickly.” Mark Sherman's background, Juilliard education, and working, performance and recording experience have all contributed to a unique vision, which incorporates elements of jazz and classical music. Accomplished as a soloist (vibes/piano), ensemble player, composer and educator, Sherman is in love with music and re-harmonization of chords to explore and give expression to his musical vision. The Bronx-born and raised son of a star soprano who performed with the Cleveland and Boston Symphony Orchestras had 5 years of classical piano lessons before he fell in love with jazz through Lester Young, Charlie Parker and Coltrane LP's. He had been playing drums for a while and practicing with records, emulating Elvin Jones, when he heard that Elvin was teaching at Frank Ippolito's Professional Percussion Center. Mark sought him out as a teacher. What he learned most from Elvin was a feeling of “loose but intense swing” and how to “channel spiritual energy into music.”

    Sherman graduated from the High school of Music and Art and then went on to Juilliard where he had 5 solid years of percussion training with tympani master Saul Goodman. He played in symphonic situations led by Zubin Mehta, Sir George Solti, and Leonard Bernstein. At Juilliard he met another soul at home in both classical and jazz worlds Wynton Marsalis. They jammed together regularly and years later when Columbia Records' George Butler inquired about Mark, Wynton's endorsement helped pave the way for Sherman's record date A New Balance ( 1986). The first few years after Juilliard he made a living in the “pits” of long running Broadway shows. But more challenging work soon came his way, He found himself in playing situations with, Kenny Kirkland, Rodney Jones, the NY Philharmonic, the Joffrey ballet Orchestra, the American Symphony, the NY New Music Ensemble and many other groups. David Chesky wrote a concerto for vibes and orchestra especially for Sherman, which has been performed twice. Mark performed as featured soloist in Darius Milhaud's Concerto For Marimba and Orchestra at Merkin Hall. Sherman went on the road with singers Jackie and Roy, which led to his recording and working with Peggy Lee (6years). From her he had lessons in how to “turn a musical phrase” and “subtle time.” Working with the special musicians Lee surrounded herself with (Grady Tate, Mike Renzi, and Jay Leonhart, and Jon Chiodini) led to gigs with Mel Torme and recordings with other singers including Maureen McGovern, Liza Minelli, and Jon Hendricks; and he got more studio and work experience. He played on records by guitarists Joe Beck and Rodney Jones and also produced Jones' CD “The Unspoken Heart” for Minor Music in Germany. Sherman began touring with R&B pioneer Ruth Brown just at the time when she was being re-appreciated as a jazz singer. But her singing of standards always calls for a heavy dose of blues feeling and blues changes. Mark was exposed to a lot of different blues forms and tempos. In accompanying her he gained a renewed awareness of the blues as the roots of all American popular music. He played vibes and piano on Brown's “Songs Of My Life” (Fantasy records) After recording for small labels, A New Balance (CBS) showcased his skills as a composer, vibraphonist, and pianist. In the last few years Mark has been performing with his group and doing master classes worldwide. Some of his music has been used regularly on TV shows. Mark has toured with guitarist Larry Coryell. He produced two of Coryell's CD’s, I'll Be Over You (CTI records).

    Hi Eddie, - Your site is one of a kind. Very Cool!! - All my best - Mark Sherman


    The UK Exponents

    Roan Kearsey-Lawson  has been described by the likes of Don Rendell, Harry Beckett and Lee Gibson as a fine percussionist. He has been quoted in the press as the "Vibes Master". Not only considered by some as one of the finest vibes players in the U.K. he is also a well seasoned Kit player having backed a huge list of jazz greats at various venues in the South East and as a house musician at the 144Club in Rochester and Maidstone, Kent. To name only a few he has backed John Etheridge, Jean Toussaint, Tony Kofi, and Alan Barnes on Kit, and performed with among others Art Themen, Duncan Lamont, Duncan Lamont Jr, Dave Cliff and Jimmy Hastings on Vibes. Roan has performed live on BBC Radio, has played at the Royal Albert Hall Ignite Concert Series at the end of the London Jazz Festival, and at Octave8 Jazz Club in Covent Garden, London. In 2007 Roan released a debut album and is currently (2009) working on 2 compilations with serveral artists. Also known to play the piano Roan even developed playing the drums and keyboards at the same time (which was part of a comedy show in London)! In addition to giging as a jazz musician Roan is also the principal percussionist for a non-residential professional orchestra the City of Canterbury Sinfonia Orchestra, he plays in other classical orchestras, performs for theatre companies, has recently published his own books (still working on more!) and with 3 degrees after his name is the managing director of KLMusicGroup, which includes a record label, publishing label, jazz clubs, gig promotions and private instrumental tuition.

    Corey Mwamba is one of the new generation of British jazz musicians. Corey and his vibraphone are a regular sight in Derby’s pubs and clubs, but that’s the just the tip of the iceberg. At just 25, he’s already an extremely accomplished musician having performed with jazz greats, composed for a range of musical genres and has his own radio show.  Corey first became interested in jazz when he mistakenly tuned in to a piano concert whilst studying   for his GCSEs.  He began composing music before he could even play an instrument; he claims to be able to whistle and hum at the same time!    It was only when he saw a picture of legendary musician Orphy Robinson playing his vibraphone that Corey knew he had found the instrument for him. 
    Corey is self-taught apart from five lessons he received whilst at the college in Southampton.  Whilst typically humble about his ability, Corey’s performances are fluid, funky and mesmerizing to watch.  He regularly joins jamming sessions in Derby, plays alongside the decks of DJ Vuyani in nightclubs and plays duos and improvisation sets with percussionist Walt Shaw.  Not to mention various ensembles performing his compositions. His repertoire goesand on! Dialectic, which has received funding from East Midlands Arts, explores the parallels between a conversation between strangers and totally improvised music.
    Conversations between strangers are edited and remixed by Ben and replayed during the performance whilst Corey and Walt improvise to the voices.   Corey and Walt are now running workshops based on the project with under-privileged children in Loughborough and Derby.  They hope to help kids communicate and resolve problems as well as having fun with music.  Although living in Derby, Corey has expressed frustration at the lack of opportunities for jazz musicians in the city.  "Most of the venues that have live music have a reputation for playing rock or punk bands.  Whilst there are plenty of opportunities to play in bars or clubs with a DJ, that’s just a small part of what I do. There doesn’t seem to be any promoters around who are willing to take a risk."
    One venue that has provided a setting for the real Corey Mwamba is The Voicebox -The venue, which opened last year, only hosts acoustic music because of its city location.  The owner, Colin Miller, explains: "We were conscious there was not a small, cheap, arts-based venue in Derby with a good acoustic for good amateur musicians and small groups.  We’ve had jazz, improvisation and classical musicians using the venue including some really unusual combinations; oboe and percussion, harp and saxophone as well as Corey and Walt."  Corey’s aim is to give a personal edge to his music whether it’s totally improvised or his delicately constructed compositions.  He expresses a passion that’s contagious, whether he’s performing or just talking about music

    Jim Hart   is the sensational new vibraphone star of the London jazz scene.
    Awesome multi-talented pianist, drummer and vibraphone player Jim Hart began playing piano and drums at the age of four. By the time he was eleven he was playing both instruments in the Tamar youth jazz orchestra as well as playing percussion in the Cornwall youth wind orchestra and the C.Y.percussion ensemble. At sixteen he went to study at Chetham's school of music. During this time he was a percussion finalist in the BBC young musician competition and won the John Dankworth award for most promising musician in the BBC big band competition. After Chetham's he studied at the Guildhall and after leaving there he became the drummer for NYJO and the vibes player with Martin Drew's Jazz Couriers. As well as studying with Dave Hassel and Steve Berry whilst at Chetham's and the many teachers and visiting tutors at the Guildhall Jim has had some in teaching in workshop environments. He has been an assistant tutor on Wavendon, has assisted Scott Stroman in primary school workshops and did regular workshops around the country with NYJO. Although it is not a jazz project Jim is currently working for the Guildhall's Connect project. Awarded “Best Newcomer” medal by the Worshipful Company of Musicians in August in a competition at the Pizza Express jazz club against others including talented alto saxophonist Sam Mayne, he is best known to audiences as a member of Martin Drew's New Jazz Couriers. Listen to Jim Hart


    Ian Ballantine is regarded as one of the finest vibraphone players in the world. Add to this a whole range of other instruments, compositional skills and the ability to form a variety of ensembles playing different forms of music and you have a pretty formidable package. Growing up in Nottingham, it was here, feeling his way as a young musician, that he first developed a reputation and local fame. Deciding that he needed to expand his musical knowledge he left his home town to study for three years at Leeds College of Music; a place that has produced more of its fair share of 'name' musicians. Whilst still at college he was inspired to form a band called Semuta. This combination of power, excitement and authoritative musicianship, was soon making it imperative for audiences to turn up early to get in at the regular gigs. This was the band he was to bring with him to London, recording an album, and enjoying considerable success for a time playing opposite Ronnie Scott's band. Eventually Semuta split up and he set about developing a broader more flexible base. playing in numerous combinations of duos, trios and quartets, working with some of the top musicians in Britain

    FRANK RICOTTI was voted Melody Maker’s Top Vibraphone player back in his teens, since when he has remained constantly in demand for his work on records, film scores, jingles and TV shows and is the first choice percussionist for many artists, valued for his creative input. He has worked with many of this country’s favourite jazz musicians having performed at many clubs and festivals including the Montreux Jazz Festival, and over the years has played alongside Stan Tracey, John Taylor, Mike Gibbs, Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winstone, Gordon Beck, John Surman and Stan Sulzmann. Widely regarded as the UK’s most recorded percussionist, his playing is featured on numerous best selling albums, including those by Robbie Williams, Tina Turner, Bjork, Lighthouse Family, Elvis Costello, Joni Mitchell and countless films, including Harry Potter, Shakespeare in Love, Captain Corelli and The Beach. As a versatile composer Frank’s crafted and distinctive scores have enhanced many TV dramas, and in particular his commissions in a jazz idiom have won much acclaim. He has collaborated closely with Alan Plater, writing the music for the acclaimed ‘The Beiderbecke Trilogy’ for YTV, winning a BAFTA Award for ‘Best Original Television Music’ for the ‘Beiderbecke Connection’

    Anthony Kerr
    Anthony Kerr was born in Belfast and is regarded by many as the most enchanting, original and exciting Vibraphone Player in the jazz idiom of today. He also works with the BBC Big Band as a session musician and has been commissioned to write for Television and Radio.
    Taught percussion at Belfast School of Music & Harrow School. Tutor with percussion section of Irish Youth Orchestra.  Jazz improvisation teaching at Queens University, Belfast, Southampton University, Morley College, Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Royal Academy of Music in London.  He also teaches privately.. Having spent two years studying and performing in New York in the 1980s, he then moved to London to perform and record with many great musicians including George Shearing, Elvis Costello, Georgie Fame, Claire Martin, Louis Stewart, Norma Winstone, Peter King and Joe Lovano.  He has either been voted, or been nominated ‘best instrumentalist’ in the British Jazz Awards every year since 1994. Anthony was the original endorser for the Xylosynth and his wise advice to the manufacturer has proved invaluable - his be-boptastic playing is an inspiration.  Voted Young Jazz Musician of the Year in 1995 Anthony studied with David Friedman and has made a couple of well received albums.   Apart from session work Anthony's credits include the Anthony Kerr Mallet Band, and the BBC Big Band


    Roger Beaujolais bought my first vibraphone at the age of 24 (after a wasted youth being a very bad - not to mention unemployed - rock drummer) & played my first gig at the age of 28. I am completely self taught.  Soon after starting on vibes I was a founder member of jump/jive band "The Chevalier Brothers" & had a successful time in the 1980's touring Europe extensively along with many gigs in the UK & trips to the USA & Japan. For a brief period we were darlings of the UK rock press but outside the UK we were known on the jazz scene playing at numerous jazz festivals including Montreux, North Sea & others in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Belgium & France.  During this time we also released 3 albums, 4 singles & did several gigs with Slim Gaillard. A compilation of the first album & some outtakes from the same period were released on CD for the first time in 1999 on Westside Records.
    After a brief period with chart topping Fairground Attraction in 1989 (one of the few times a pop band has ever been interested in featuring vibes!) I have been concentrating on recording my own jazz albums - Roger

Orphy Robinson

With a background, which ranges from the golden days of the British Jazz-Funk Scene, Orphy A Founding member of top band Savanna through to playing and recording with Courtney Pine, Andy Sheppard, and the groundbreaking big band Jazz Warriors. As a leader Orphys career took off with the formation of the Annavas band, A sextet that highlighted the fresh Sounds of Kora / Cello specialist Tunde Jegede, Supreme flautist Rowland Sutherland plus Orphy on marimba and Vibes  to create intriguing intricate Soundscapes and extended compositions crossing many disciplines, culminating in the distinctive sound featured on his debut album for the historic record label EMI/BLUE NOTE, "WHEN TOMORROW COMES".


Tom O'Hare - Ireland.
Tom O'Hare was born in Cork City Ireland.  The great Vibes player Milt Jackson who performed with the Modern Jazz Quartet was his first major influence. Tom (who studied and qualified in Classical piano) developed a great interest in the Classical Piano Repertoire and especially in the music of Frederic Chopin. He is also a great admirer of the Bach Preludes and Fugues, the keyboard sonatas of Mozart, Haydn and Beethoven and the romantic piano compositions of Schumann, Mendelssohn and Brahms.
Although he plays the Vibraphone his main influence has been the wonderful Jazz pianist Wynton Kelly of Miles Davis Quintet fame. While playing at Cork Jazz Festival '99 he was informed that Milt Jackson had passed away.  He at once resolved to commemorate the great musician with "This one's for Bags". 

Lewis Wright  18 year old from East Anglia -

Lewis began his musical education at the age of 3 when his father, a percussion teacher and professional musician began giving him formal drum lessons. He took up Piano as well - at the age of 7 as he showed a keen interest in the Vibraphone and was advised to take up the piano first. He then started Vibraphone at the age of 9 when he was bought a set of Premier Vibes. His first public performance was at the age of 6 and the following year he joined the Norwich Students Jazz Orchestra Starter Band playing drums and percussion. After three years he was moved into the Students Jazz Orchestra in which he played both vibes and drums. At age 10 this made him the youngest ever member.  The following year (July 99) the orchestra played in competition at the Festival Hall where he received an Improvisation Award. In 2001 they were invited, as the competition winners, to play at the Royal Albert Hall.   He then left the band in 2002 aged 13. The first full album Lewis recorded on was for Bassist/Vocalist Ruth Bowen in July 2000. He has recorded on 7 CDs altogether. He has collaborated on several CD s, working with the funk band Speedometer (who he also played with at the Jazz Cafe, London), and as part of a live concert recording featuring Henry Lowther, Pat White & pianist Keith Tippett. He recorded a solo CD at age 13 and a live two-hour concert (DVD) with the quartet in January 2004 (Age 15). More recently he has done sessions for ex-Lighthouse Family singer Tunde and American vocalist Catherine Feeny. They have played at venues such as The Boxford Fleece Jazz Club in Suffolk, The Sands Jazz Club in Lincolnshire, the Wigan Jazz Festival, Peterborough Jazz Club, The Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer, and Pizza on the Park in London and have an ongoing gig schedule. Lewis has worked with such musicians as Bill le Sage, Lennie Bush, Jack Parnell, Marc Parnell, Mike Capocci, Peter King, Kate Williams, Alan Skidmore, Roger Beaujolais.
Lewis is currently studying Jazz at Trinity College of Music in London.
Lewis Wright Vibes 'n Drums


John Sparry  - Jazz Musician & Raconteur

John started in jazz as a drummer back in the fifties with the Graham Garner Group, a dance-based band whose regular jobs included the Thatchers' country club at Trysull. Over the years since his main instrument has become the vibraphone (though he still appreciates a knock on the drums if anyone can be persuaded to book him!). John has "mentored" many musicians young and not-so-young over the years, including his regular first choice bass player Jim Sutton, whose first jazz job was at the Navigation, Greensforge, with John and Bromsgrove accordionist Roy Stelling, in the early eighties.
Look out for
Sparry + Heath Coldfield  Quartet.
John Sparry (vibes), Bryn Venus (keys), Jim Sutton  (bass)  and Barry Watts (drums).

Also with RSJ - not a Rolled Steel Joist but Richard Werritt on Guitar,  John Sparry on Vibes and Jim Sutton on Bass

BILL LE SAGE, who died aged 74, was a leading figure in British jazz for half a century.  Pianist, vibraphonist, composer, arranger and occasional bandleader, Le Sage was the driving force behind many successful bands, among them the Johnny Dankworth Seven and his own Bebop Preservation Society.  Like many jazz musicians of his generation, Le Sage was almost entirely self-taught. He always maintained that the best way to learn was to take on a task and devise one's own method in dealing with it.  His style, especially on piano, was mercurial and seasoned with sly wit. No one could match him when it came to the devious insertion of musical quotations into an improvised solo.  William Le Sage was born in London on January 20 1927. His father played the drums and two of his uncles were also musicians. At the age of eight he was given a ukelele and he began experimenting on his father's drum kit as soon as his feet could reach the pedals. He was playing drums in local dance bands at the age of 15, at the same time teaching piano.  He was already leading his own band when, aged 18, he was called up for National Service in the Royal Signals, where he played with several service bands. Demobilised in 1947, he returned to the music profession, working mainly as a band member but occasionally as leader.

In 1949, captivated by the music of Charlie Parker and the other bebop revolutionaries, Le Sage took a job with Frank Abbott's band aboard the liner Queen Mary, in order to hear the new music at first hand.  After the first voyage to New York, the ship docked at dawn. Le Sage went ashore immediately and found himself walking up 52nd Street, the epicentre of the jazz world. The first person he met turned out to be Red Rodney, Parker's trumpet player at the time, coming home from work; the two men struck up a friendship that lasted until Rodney's death in 1994.  Le Sage's contemporary, Johnny Dankworth, who had also had a spell on the transatlantic liners, was determined to set up Britain's first full-time modern jazz band. The Johnny Dankworth Seven was launched in March 1950, with Le Sage as its pianist, though he always insisted he was never asked to join and only read of his appointment in the pages of Melody Maker.  At first, the Seven's music proved difficult to sell, and Dankworth's resources were soon exhausted. He called a meeting to announce that they were broke and would have to give up. It was Le Sage who proposed that they should try working as a profit-sharing co-operative. "We're jazz musicians, so we all know how to live on a shoestring," was his clinching argument, as Dankworth's remembers. The plan succeeded, and the Seven went on with, in Dankworth's words, "growing success over the next three years and without a written document or a signature from any one of us".  Le Sage was also appointed the band's manager, paymaster and all-purpose avuncular figure. To their new, nervous young singer, Cleo Laine, he was "a warm, caring man who you took your troubles to".

When Dankworth formed his first big band in 1953, Le Sage stayed on to see it well launched and then moved on to play with a number of bands, including the Tony Kinsey Trio and Kenny Baker's Dozen.  By now he was also playing vibraphone and had just begun writing arrangements for bands and background scores for television. For almost 20 years, beginning in 1956, he was a member of Jack Parnell's ATV orchestra, while continuing an active career on the London jazz scene.  He often accompanied visiting American soloists, including his old friend Red Rodney, and he struck up a close musical partnership with the guitarist Tal Farlow.  In 1959, Le Sage, together with the poet Christopher Logue, experimented with combining jazz and poetry. This led to the musical The Lily White Boys, with lyrics by Logue and score by Le Sage and Tony Kinsey. The show starred Albert Finney and ran for two months in 1960 at the Royal Court Theatre.  Notable among the bands which Le Sage himself led from time to time were Directions In Jazz, during the early 1960s, and, from 1969, the Bebop Preservation Society, featuring saxophonist Peter King and trumpeter Hank Shaw.  Bebop was always Le Sage's favourite style, but he enjoyed playing in almost any jazz genre. He surprised many of his old admirers in the early 1980s with the fire of his playing in Jubiaba, a jazz-rock band led by saxophonist Barbara Thompson.  Le Sage continued playing almost until the end. His last album, Bebop 2000, recorded at last year's Ealing Jazz Festival, was released in the week of his death.  Bill Le Sage's wife predeceased him. He leaves two sons.

It would be nice to have a Chilterns Hundreds Jazz Art Foundation to advance music education for the public of this Borough and surrounding areas. It could both administer and co-ordinate the provision of music tuition and youth music activities for young people and adults. In addition also support the development of music education in schools and provides a wide range of music making opportunities, including concert performances, workshops, projects and courses.

This webpage is here to encourage all generations to become involved in listening to, playing, discussing Jazz, and conveying its benefits for young people and schools. The website also includes local Events and Venues where you can expand your knowledge of Contemporary Jazz Music and its exponents.

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Last modified: 18/02/2012