Described by the late Humphrey Lyttelton as "formidable," Simon Spillett is a British jazz saxophonist who leads his own quartet featuring John Critchinson (piano), Alec Dankworth (bass) and Clark Tracey (drums). He has won several awards for his music, including the tenor saxophone category of the British Jazz Awards (2011), Jazz Journal magazine's Critic's Choice CD of the Year (2009) Rising Star in the BBC Jazz Awards (2007) and most recently the Services to British Jazz Award in the 2016 British Jazz Awards. Other celebrated jazz leaders and bands with whom he has worked have included Sir John Dankworth, Stan Tracey, Peter King and The Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra. He has recorded three albums, Introducing Simon Spillett (Woodville Records, 2007), Sienna Red (Woodville Records, 2008) and Square One (Gearbox Records, 2013), all of which have received highly favourable reviews in both the specialist and national press. His festival, concert and club appearances across the UK have included sold-out gigs at Ronnie Scott's and the Brecon Jazz Festival and he has broadcast on BBC Radio 3's Jazz-Line Up with his own band. In 2016, Simon was appointed to the board of patrons of The Jazz Centre UK, alongside Sir Michael Parkinson, Dame Cleo Laine, Jools Holland and Van Morrison.
Steve began studying the clarinet at the age of 10, first with Cyril Chapman (clarinetist with the Royal Philharmonia Orchestra) and later with Colin Courtney (clarinet professor at the Royal College of Music). He was a member of the Bromley Symphony Orchestra from ages 14 to 18 playing anything from Haydn and Mozart to Stravinsky and Shostakovich. At 16 he took up the saxophone with a pile of Charlie Parker 78’s as his main guide and inspiration. He completed an Earth Sciences degree at Leeds University before deciding to become a professional musician.
He was a key member of Loose Tubes (the highly acclaimed 21 piece jazz orchestra that became the focal point of the British jazz renaissance of the 80s). During this time, he was closely associated with the London African and Latin American scenes, playing with bands such as Taxi Pata Pata (a top Zairean Soukous outfit) , Bosco D’Olivera’s Grupo Folia and Roberto Pla’s Latin Jazz Ensemble. His own projects included Orchestra Rafiki, co-led by long-time associate Chris Batchelor and featuring Kenyan Nyatiti player Ayub Ogada and Ghanaian drummer Nana Appiah, and also the Pigs Head Sons, another Buckley/Batchelor collaboration. He toured and recorded with Ashley Slater’s Microgroove, Norman Cook’s Beats International and the contemporary classical ensemble Jeremy Peyton-Jones’ Regular Music.
He has played and recorded with several Django Bates’ projects including The Third Policeman, Human Chain and Delightful Precipice.
His continued connections with African music led him to travel to Ghana to work with The Pan African Orchestra and with Kakatsitsi in the UK. He has also played and recorded with Massukos from Mozambique.
Steve’s main area of work has always been within the contemporary jazz scene, playing and recording with artists such as John Taylor, Julian Arguelles, Steve Arguelles, Eddie Parker, Iain Ballamy, Steve Noble, Billy Jenkins, Huw Warren, Christine Tobin, Phil Robson, Colin Towns, Seb Roachford, Mark Lockheart, Mike Outram, Joseph Jarman, Jonathan Joseph, Mark Sanders, Kit Downes and Leroy Jenkins. Steve’s close association with Chris Batchelor has continued with projects such as the internationally acclaimed Big Air, featuring Myra Melford, Jim Black and Oren Marshall. In 2006 Steve and Chris received the BBC Jazz on 3 award for best new work with “Ten Tall Tales”.
More recently he has played and recorded with the legendary South African pianist Tete Mbambisa and also with the newly re-united Loose Tubes.
Amy, from near Penzance, is a multi award-winning flautist, clarinettist and saxophonist now based in Northamptonshire. Voted winner of the Miscellaneous Category in the 2015 British Jazz Awards, and the Rising Star Category in the British Jazz Awards in both 2009 and 2011, Amy has earned an enviable reputation throughout not only the UK but also abroad. She has worked in prestigious venues and festivals all over the UK and across Europe and has become known on the jazz circuit as a charismatic performer. In 2011 she became the first woman in history to join the Big Chris Barber Band and spent four years touring with them throughout some of the most prestigious venues in Europe. Amy currently leads several bands which feature some of the most exciting musicians on the jazz scene. She also regularly makes guest appearances with other highly acclaimed ensembles and internationally celebrated orchestras.
Richard studied clarinet at the Royal College of Music, and is self taught on saxophone. He formed his own quartet and big band while still at college and quickly became a familiar figure on the London jazz scene, playing with a wide range of artists from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra to the Ink Spots. Richard has worked with many of the established big bands such as the Glenn Miller Orchestra (UK), the Ross Mitchell Band, the London Swing Orchestra and the Nelson Riddle Orchestra (UK). In the late 1990s Richard became a more regular name in the vintage jazz fraternity playing regularly with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra, Harry Strutter's Hot Rhythm Orchestra and the Charleston Chasers. Richard became a regular member of the Big Chris Barber Band in 2004, leaving at the end of 2014 to focus on his own career.