What is this simple little website all about? Not touting for business. No magnified selfie.
The fact is that, during 50 or so years in the music business, I have gone to the trouble of recording many gigs. For years, I used to lug a ghetto blaster around (as if the drum kit was not enough) to capture the proceedings “for posterior” (as I used to put it) on cassette provided the others agreed (which they did 99% of the time).
Now I want to gradually upload “inheritance tracks” to allow this rare music which only I and a handful of colleagues have hitherto heard TO BE LISTENED TO BY A WIDER AUDIENCE, ANYBODY WHO MIGHT ENJOY IT. There’ll be details and explanatory blurb to accompany. I’m aiming to put up different tracks every week. Hope it’ll work!
Does “Jazz is my religion” sound strange coming from a priest?
Maybe - but it’s true. Jazz has fed my soul throughout my life. I can’t begin to describe the joy and fulfilment it has brought me.
But what I can tell you is the story of how it happened.
It started in school with Louis Armstrong and Glenn Miller. At 13, I discovered the weird thrill of Be-Bop via a little Dizzy Gillespie E.P.
I started playing drums in a school band modelled (very badly) on an Ellington small group. The leader tried and failed to sound like Johnny Hodges…….
At university I got by academically but dreamed most of the time of being a jazz musician. I got to play with big names guesting from London like Joe Harriott, Jimmy Witherspoon, Tony Coe and - who knew where this would lead? - Bobby Wellins.
When I graduated, my dream came true. I was invited at the age of 22 (thanks to bassist Ron Matthewson) to join the top quartet in the country, that of Tubby Hayes. Working with Tubby meant that his rhythm section was chosen to tour in 1969 with Roland Kirk and in 1970 with Stan Getz. Working with Tubby also led me to join Ronnie Scott’s sextet and Humphrey Lyttleton’s band. Stints at Ronnie’s club in the early 70s gave me the chance to accompany the likes of Johnny Griffin, James Moody, Zoot Sims, Sonny Stitt, Art Farmer, Cedar Walton and Blossom Dearie.
When Tubby died, Ronnie disbanded and I got the sack from Humph, I found myself doing commercial pop sessions to earn a living. So I decided to go for a less boring day job and qualified as a solicitor.
But jazz wouldn’t go away. In 1977, I started playing regularly with my soulmate Bobby Wellins and continued to do so right up to his death in 2016. To borrow Dizzy’s phrase about Bird, Bobby was the other half of my heart-beat. During the 1980s, I was also a member of the Peter King Quintet.
In the early 1990s, I answered an unexpected and challenging call to the priesthood much to the baffled amusement of my friends.
Ah but once again, jazz wouldn’t go away and, since the millennium, I have worked and recorded with Alan Barnes, Simon Spillett and Art Themen among others. I also assemble a piano trio for occasional concerts. For this I have been lucky enough to obtain the services of Liam Noble, Gwilym Simcock, Barry Green and Mark Edwards along the way.
I’m now in my 73rd year but hope to keep active behind the drums for some time to come...
• As an afterthought, and bearing in mind that I have spent a lot of my time since 1996 in the pulpit as a priest as well as behind the drum kit as a musician, I have added a section to the website where, if anybody ever wanted to, they could read the text of sermons I have preached and am preaching... An optional extra which atheist jazz aficionados can steer clear of!
Cover Page Photo: David Forman
A selection from Spikes discography:
TUBBY HAYES quartet Live at the Hopbine Gearbox lp GB 1532
TUBBY HAYES big band Rumpus cd Savage Solweig SS003-CD
TUBBY HAYES England’s late jazz great IAJRC CD-1019 (on 2 tracks)
TUBBY HAYES The orchestra Fontana lp 6309002
TUBBY HAYES 200% proof cd Master Mix CHECD 00105
HARRY SOUTH The Songbook cd R&B 040 (On 2 tracks)
TUBBY HAYES Live 1969Harlequin lp HQ3006;cd hqcd05(+ 3 tracks)
BLOSSOM DEARIE That’s just the way I want to be Fontana lp 6309015
TUBBY HAYES Rare live recordings1954-73 cd ACTR9042(on 1 track 1970)
NDR HAMBURG JAZZ WORKSHOP (Bob Cornford 6tet)NDR lp 0654 094
IAN HAMER sextet Acropolis cd Jasmine JASCD 641
TUBBY HAYES quartet Invitation cd Acrobat ACMCD 4391
DARYL RUNSWICK The jazz years PFCD 167/168 (on 7 tracks)
VOSSA JAZZ cd VJ 96 002-2 (On 1 track with Dexter Gordon)
BOBBY WELLINS quartet live – Jubilation Vortex lp VS1
BOBBY WELLINS quartet Dreams are free Vortex lp VS2
DARYL RUNSWICK quartet Playdreaming cd ASC CD 172
BOBBY WELLINS Birds of Brazil cds Sungai BW11/Hep Jazz CD 2097
PETER KING New beginnings Spotlite lp SPJ 520
PETER KING East 34thStreet Spotlite lp SPJ 524;cd Spotlite CD 424
BOBBY WELLINS Erco makes light work lp TAA4851;cd Hep Jazz 2070
SPIKE ROBINSON London reprise lp Capri 44360
PETER KING quintet 90% of 1% live in Oxford Spotlite lp SPJ 5291987
BJARNE NEREM More than you know lp Gemini GMLP56; cd GMCD56
MARIA VIANA Just friends cd Timeless JC11017 (on 5 tracks)
MIKE PYNE trio Live at Ronnie Scott’s cds TOCJ 66023/SPJ 561
BOBBY WELLINS/CLAIRE MARTIN Nomad cd Hot House HHCD 1008
JOHN HORLER Gentle piece cd Spotlite SPJ-CD 542
JOE ROBINSON quartet Without a song cd Vivid VRCD 101-1
BOBBY WELLINS quartet Fun cd Jazzizit JITCD 04342005
BOBBY WELLINS quartet When the sun comes out cd TRIO TR572
STAN ROBINSON quartet Ourselves cd Turret Records
THE THREE TENORS at the Appleby Jazz Festival cd TRIO TR579
ALAN BARNES quartet Blessing in disguise cd Woodville WVCD 111
SPIKE WELLS trio with Gwilym Simcock Reverence cd Audio-B ABCD 5021
SIMON SPILLETT Sienna Red cd Woodville WVCD 120
DON WELLER/BOBBY WELLINS 9 songs cd Trio TR577
GREG ABATE/ALAN BARNES Birds of a feather cd Woodville WWCD 123
BOBBY WELLINS quartet Snapshot cd Trio TR580
GARY KAVANAGH/BOBBY WELLINS quintet Joy Spring cd Trio TR582
MARK EDWARDS Swing gospel jazz orchestra cd ICC 12790
JOHN HORLER quartet Not a cloud in the sky cd Diving Duck DDR 011
T.SEABROOK’S MILESTONES A different kind of blue cd TSMCBCDS 2011
T.SEABROOK’S MILESTONES Sketches of Miles cd TSM CBCD4