Winner of the 2011 British Jazz Award for Tenor Saxophone, Simon Spillett is recognised as one of the most distinctive saxophonists on the current UK jazz scene, appearing at famed venues such as Ronnie Scott's club in London and at major jazz festivals from Birmingham to Brecon, recording critically celebrated albums and broadcasting with his own band on BBC Radio 3.
His press reviews include high praise from respected jazz observers; "Formidable" (Humphrey Lyttelton, BBC Radio 2), "Phenomenal...other players gulp when they hear him" (Dave Gelly, The Observer) and "He is to Bebop what Harry Allen and Scott Hamilton are to Mainstream" (Steve Voce, Jazz Journal).
The Simon Spillett Quartet includes British jazz royalty; pianist John Critchinson was a member of Ronnie Scott's band for eighteen years, whilst bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Clark Tracey are the heirs to two of the most respected
"Jacqui is the best we have." Digby Fairweather "Jacqui Hicks is one of those rarities, a great singer and a consummate musician." Bruce Adams
"Be it the most romantic ballad, hard swinging standard, or the raunchiest blues, Jacqui knows how to put any song across. She is world class." Paul Lacey - Back To Basie Orchestra
"Jacqui Hicks is not only a fine singer, but a consummate musician also with a genuine feeling for the music." Brian Dee
"....not only a great vocalist but a singer who is a complete musician as well." Bill Sharpe - Shakatak
A classically trained clarinettist, Jacqui Hicks studied saxophone & flute on the jazz course at Leeds College of Music and started singing during her three years there. She continued her education, still as a saxophone player, on the one year post-graduate jazz course at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama. Shortly after leaving the Guildhall Jacqui joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra as their vocalist and spent the next four years touring and also recording with them - including the vocal album Looking Forward Looking Back.
Since 1993 Jacqui has worked with the jazz/funk band Shakatak, both as backing vocalist and sax player. She's toured Europe and Eastern Europe, South Africa, the Far East & Japan numerous times with them and also appears on their albums Let The Piano Play, View From The City, Under Your Spell, Blue Savannah, Beautiful Day and the MOBO nominated Live At Ronnie Scotts.
Additionally, she sings three tracks of Shakatak drummer, Roger Odell's Beatifik album The Blue Window, released in 2000 and makes a guest appearance on a new compilation album called Smooth Solos - Shakatak & Friends.
Jacqui has also worked with the Latin/Pop band Matt Bianco touring Japan, Indonesia & Europe with them and appears on their albums Gran Via, Another Time:Another Place and a re-working of their greatest hits ; A Collection.
She is a featured vocalist on Paprika Soul's 2002 album Into The Light, including the single Too Much Love Makin', a track that also appears on the JazzFM CD Venice Beach.
Under her own name she released the album Spellbound back in 2000 which was well received by the critics :
"...a beautifully crafted and controlled performance. A fine debut indeed." Jazz Review
"...a singer of warmth, poise and intelligence whose smoky voice is a pleasure to listen to." Yorkshire Post
As a session singer Jacqui has recorded songs for Hal David & John Cacavas, Duncan Lamont, Brian Dee and Johnny Keating, among others. She's worked on several soundtracks including the films Tomb Raider II and Veronica Guerin and appeared in a couple of Radio 4 plays for the BBC. She is currently appearing up and down the country with Paul Lacey's Back To Basie Orchestra.
Born in the US Virgin Islands and raised in New York, Grammy-winning US jazz saxophone giant Jean Toussaint began his international career as a member of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers in 1982.
After four and a half years in the band alongside Terence Blanchard, Donald Harrison, Lonnie Plaxico and Mulgrew Miller, he settled in London, quickly becoming a key figure in British jazz.
Toussaint has maintained a considerable presence as bandleader in Europe, especially in Britain and France, and worked in the groups of Americans such as McCoy Tyner, Max Roach, Cedar Walton, Gil Evans and Jeff 'Tain' Watts.
Colin Oxley studied at the Guildhall School, graduating in 1990. In that same year he won 'Best Soloist' in the National Big Band Competition and has gone on to pursue a highly successful musical career.
As a long standing member of Stacey Kent's