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Guy Barker (trumpet)
Guy Jeffrey Barker MBE (born 26 December 1957) is an English jazz trumpeter and composer. Barker was born in Chiswick, London, the son of an actress and a stuntman. He started playing the trumpet at the age of 12, and within a year had joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. After lessons from Clark Terry in 1975, Barker went on in the 1980s to play with John Dankworth, Gil Evans (with whose orchestra he toured and recorded in 1983), Lena Horne and Bobby Watson.
Barker was a member of Clark Tracey’s quintet from 1984 to 1992, and continues to play with Tracey. As a sideman he has played with many major musicians and groups, including Ornette Coleman, Carla Bley, Georgie Fame, James Carter, Mike Westbrook, Frank Sinatra, Colin Towns, Natalie Merchant, ABC, The The, Haircut One Hundred, Erasure, Chris Botti, Wham!, Kajagoogoo, The Housemartins, Matt Bianco, Alphaville, The Style Council, The Moody Blues, Sting, Bucks Fizz, Mike Oldfield, Cleo Laine, Acoustic Alchemy, XTC and Stan Tracey.
Previously, his own band has featured an international mix of musicians – Perico Sambeat (alto saxophone; Spain), Bernardo Sassetti (piano; Portugal), Geoff Gascoyne (bass, United Kingdom), and Gene Calderazzo (drums; United States).
More recently he has toured the Guy Barker Jazz Orchestra – a 15-piece big band featuring Rosario Giuliani (alto saxophone; Italy) and Per Johansson (tenor saxophone; Sweden) – performing DZF, a reworking of Mozart’s Magic Flute with Michael Brandon narrating the story as a Raymond Chandler style pulp fiction novel, retold by Robert Ryan.
Guy Barker was Musical Director / Arranger for the opening gala concert ‘Jazz Voice: Celebrating a century of song’ at the London Jazz Festival annually from 2008 to 2014. He was also Musical Director / Arranger on a number of BBC Radio 2 Friday night is music night shows featuring the Guy Barker Jazz Orchestra with the BBC Concert Orchestra, celebrating the music of Billie Holiday / Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn / Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Dusty Springfield / Jazz Royalty to celebrate the Wedding of William and Kate.
Barker was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2015 New Year Honours for services to jazz He was awarded the BASCA/PRS Gold Badge in 2013.
Alan Skidmore (sax)
Alan Skidmore began his professional career at 16 and toured with comedian Tony Hancock early on. In the mid to late 1960s, he worked with John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Ronnie Scott’s group. In the 1970s, he was part of Keith Tippett’s jazz fusion big band project Centipede and worked – among others – with Soft Machine, The Nice, Graham Collier, Brotherhood of Breath, Mike Gibbs, Elton Dean, Kate Bush and Curved Air. Since then he has played with many blues and jazz musicians, including Chick Corea, Alexis Korner, Georgie Fame, and the Van Morrison band. In 1977 he was in Lala Kovačev’s avant-garde jazz quartet European Jazz Consensus with Gerd Dudek and Adelhard Roidinger. The group released two albums the same year entitled Four for Slavia and Morning Rise.
His first album under his own name was 1969’s Once Upon a Time. On this and his other albums, there’s and audible John Coltrane influence, especially on his 1988 album Tribute to ’trane, and 1998’s After the Rain, orchestral settings of tunes that had been recorded (and some of them written) by Coltrane. In 1973, he co-founded the all-saxophone ensemble S.O.S. with John Surman and Mike Osborne. At the end of the apartheid regime he went to South Africa to record with musicians from the percussion group Amampondo, including pianist Simpiwe Matole, playing modern jazz over a texture of African percussion and chants.
Anthony Kerr (vibes)
Anthony Kerr is regarded by many as the most exciting vibraphone player in jazz today. 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, Mike Westbrook, Peter King and Norma Winstone. He was voted best instrumentalist in the 1994 British Jazz Awards and has also won nominations in the ’Rising Star’ category in 1995, 1996 and 1998. First Cry, his debut album for which he composed the music and collaborated with singer / lyricist Jacqui Dankworth, was hailed as ’a remarkable leap in the dark’ by the Observer and reached number three in the Virgin Jazz Charts. His second album, Now Hear This, which was recorded live at Ronnie Scott’s Club, was released in 1997. He also currently works as a session musician, and has been commissioned to write for television and radio.
James Powell (drums)
While many musicians are likely to claim that they could have been famous, here is one who could have been Fame itself. Some performers who have undergone name changes also use the stage surname for their children; had British blues keyboardist and singer Georgie Fame done that, James Powell would have been ‘James Fame’ and his brother Tristan Powell would have been ‘Tristan Fame’. The Fame name was originally concocted in the early ’60s by rock and roll manager Larry Parnes, who as a rule altered the names of all his clients, fully believing that the music business had no place for such normalcy as the name Clive Powell. Both sons have been involved in musical projects with the latter artist, presumably calling him something like ‘Dad’ rather than ‘Georgie’ or ‘Clive’. Drummer James Powell and guitarist Tristan Powell have worked with their father in his Georgie Fame Trio since the ’90s, appearing on several superb collections, including Three Line Whip and Walking Wounded.
Tristan Powell (guitar)
He began his career at 19 as an engineer at EMI’s Abbey Rd Studios during the transition from analogue to digital formats. He has worked with many iconic artists in classical, jazz and pop and has been ’the sound’ behind platinum-selling and Mercury-nominated albums. Artists include Pink Floyd, Van Morrison and Bill Wyman of the Rolling Stones. He has also been the ’go to’ for digital re-mastering of 50’s/60’s classic recordings.
Tristan was recently technical and music curator for the Mayfair club Loulou’s at 5 Hertford Street and is a regular guitarist in the Grammy-nominated band World Party and lifetime member of Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames, touring internationally as a musician or live sound engineer and in some cases, both… at the same time!
Alec Dankworth (bass)
Alec Dankworth’s earliest musical influences came from his parents: vocalist Cleo Laine and saxophonist / composer John Dankworth. The house was a constant hive of musical activity, with rehearsals and performances in the Stables Theatre next door and music camps in the fields below. Their large record collection covered all sorts of genres from jazz and classical to pop and rock. Alec listened to any vinyl record with an interesting cover, including Sonny Rollins The Bridge, still a personal favourite to this day. The Dankworths often performed as a family; in 1980 Alec joined the Cleo Laine/John Dankworth quintet, touring the USA, Australia and Europe, and in the ’90s Alec co-led the Alec and John Dankworth Generation Band, which combined British jazz musicians from two generations. In 2001, Alec worked once again with his parents, and in 2009 with sister Jacqui Dankworth.
These days Alec’s daughter Emily Dankworth is also continuing the family tradition by performing with Alec’s World Spirit group.
Career highlights: In Alec’s professional career he has worked with an array of musicians that reflect his love of music from all genres. In the ’80s he worked with Tommy Chase, The Clark Tracey Quintet, Jean Toussaint, Michael Garrick, Stephanne Grappelli, Tommy Smith, and Alan Barnes. He also made a duet recording with Nigel Kennedy of Duke Ellington’s Black, Brown and Beige suite and toured the UK performing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. In 1995, Alec joined the Van Morrison group touring Europe and America and recording three albums, including The Healing Game. In 1997, he moved to New York, where he performed with the Duke Ellington Orchestra, and had a residency at Birdland. A year later Alec joined The Dave Brubeck Quartet, performing Quartet, Pops and Choral concerts including the New Orleans Jazz Festival, Carnegie Hall. He was voted ’Best Bass Player’ in the 1995 and 1997 British Jazz Awards. Over this decade, he also worked with Julian Joseph, Peter King, Guy Barker, Martin Taylor, Dave O’Higgins, and Abdullah Ibrahim. Since 2001, in addition to performing with his own groups, Alec has worked with the Tony Coe Trio and Alan Barnes, and more recently, the John Critchinson Trio, Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames, Chris Garrick, the Steve Waterman Trio and the Zoe Rahman Trio, with drummer Gene Calderazzo. In 2012 Alec joined Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, featuring Pee Wee Ellis. The group toured the US and Europe in 2013, and in 2014 recorded an album Why? Over the years Alec has recorded with Buddy de Franco, John Williams, James Galway and the London Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed with Mose Allison, Guy Barker, Eddie Daniels, Billy Eckstine, Georgie Fame, Stephanne Grappelli, Johnny Griffin, Pete King, Abdullah Ibrahim, Julian Joseph, Marian McPartland, David Murray, Anita O’Day, Dave O’Higgins, Courtney Pine, George Shearing, Tommy Smith, Clark Terry, Lew Tabakin, Stan Tracey, Mel Torme, and the Royal Ballet. He has played at world-class venues including Carnegie Hall, the Hollywood Bowl, the Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall. Alec also teaches at the Guildhall School of Music Summer School.
The Alec Dankworth Groups: In 2002, The Alec Dankworth Trio was formed – an acoustic trio performing an eclectic mixture of originals and standards by composers ranging from Dave Brubeck to Abdullah Ibrahim. It featured Phil Robson on guitar and Julian Arguelles on saxes. In 2006, the trio was expanded into a new incarnation, Spanish Accents, which now features Catalan drummer Demi Garcia, saxophonist Mark Lockheart and violinist Chris Garrick. In 2013, Alec formed his World Spirit group, featuring Brandon Allen on saxes, Paul Clarvis on percussion, and Emily Dankworth on vocals. World Spirit explores melodies from Africa, South America and other continents from a jazz perspective. He also leads The Million Dollar Band, performing the big band music of John Dankworth.
The Blue Flames Residencies, recordings and performances
1962-1965– landed three-year residency as house band at Flamingo Club, Soho
1963 – recorded first album Live at the Flamingo – Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo
1965-1967 – No.1 UK Singles hit with Yeh Yeh, Getaway and The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde
1965 – Only UK band invited to perform with the Tamla Motown review featuring Motown
royalty like The Supremes, Steve Wonder, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles and Martha Reeves and the Vandellas.
1966 – Release of album Sweet Thing
1966 – Fames signs as solo artist with CBS
1974 – Blue Flames reformed
2000 – early 2000s – new Blue Flames line-up announced, including Fame’s sons, Tristran and James
2016 – Georgie Fame and The Last Blue Flames release CD Swan Songs.