Classic 1960s John Dankworth Session now available on CD

From Amazon:

The late John Dankworth (1927-2010) made a string of recordings in the 1960s that have since come to be regarded as some of the finest British jazz albums of their time. This release excavates two albums and presents them remastered from the original tapes. 1963’s literary-inspired jazz suite ‘What the Dickens!’ saw Dankworth painting musical portraits of several of Charles Dickens’ best-known characters. And with a band containing a wealth of world-class players – the sax section alone consisted of Ronnie Scott, Tubby Hayes, Pete King, Dick Morrissey and Bobby Wellins – the jazz on offer here is of the highest order. Dankworth turns in some truly inspired compositions, enabling the entire suite to gel into a coherent whole, and the result is one of the most satisfying albums in his extensive discography.

Track listing: WHAT THE DICKENS! (1963) Prologue, Weller Never Did, Little Nell, The Infant Phenomenon, Demndest Little Fascinator, Dotheboys Hall, Ghosts, David and the Bloaters, Please Sir I Want Some More, The Artful Dodger, Waiting for Something to Turn Up, Dodson and Fogg, The Pickwick Club, Sergeant Buzfuz, Finale /

OFF DUTY! (1969) Ja-Da, Off Duty!, Little Brown Jig, Sophisticated Lady, African Waltz, Bernie’s Tune, Skyliner, Basin Street Blues, To Emma, Don’t Get A round Much Anymore, Song of India, Holloway House

You can buy the CD now at Amazon for £9.99 (price correct at the time of posting this article.


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Bobby nominated for top British Jazz Award

We are delighted to announce that Bobby has been nominated for a British Jazz Award in the category of Tenor Sax.

The winner will be announced at the awards presentation at the Concorde Club, Eastleigh on Monday October 22nd (start time tbc).

Details of the venue including directions can be found at

We hope that Bobby will continue his success, having won the UK Parliamentary Jazz Awards as Jazz Musician of the Year in May 2012.

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Birds of Brazil re-released by HEP records

Bobby’s CD, Birds of Brazil, recorded in 1989 and long unavailable has been re-released by HEP records.

We’ve spotted it on Ebay here but it will be available through other stockists too.

The CD features the late Pete Jacobsen, Kenny Wheeler, Spike Wells, Ken Baldock, Chris Karan  plus a string quartet and is a wonderfully atmospheric suite of pieces.

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New CD Release – Whole Lotta Tony

One of Bobby’s earliest recordings – on Tony Crombie’s “Whole Lotta Tony” – has been released for the first time ever on CD.

You can buy the recording here on Amazon:  Whole Lotta Tony

Recorded in 1961, this is essential listening from a seminal period in British Jazz, and features the rarely recorded Harold McNair, fellow Scot Tommy Whittle and Gordon Beck on piano.

You’ll find more info on the recording in the Discography page.


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Bobby Wellins guests with Tim Lapthorn Trio – 18th November

Bobby returns to Peterborough Jazz Club as guest to Tim Lapthorn’s Trio.

“Tim Lapthorn is one of the most emotional piano players in Europe. His album ‘Natural Language’ is a thing of great beauty”. Ian Shaw

“Lapthorn can really execute some tough and virtuosic shapes and ideas. I’ve watched him run through solos on a tune in a studio situation and they’ve all been different and ambitious, even electrifying at times. In short, the guy can play”. Richard Cook, Jazz Review

Jazz at The Bakehouse, Great Northern Hotel

Doors  7.30pm
Concert  8pm


Phone: 07761 726343

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BBC Jazz Library – Featuring Bobby Wellins

Today’s excellent edition of Jazz Library featured Alyn Shipton talking to Bobby Wellins about his career of over 50 years and discussing some of his finest recordings, from his Dankworth big band sessions through his time with Stan Tracey to his more recent quartet sessions, with mentions of Pete Jacobsen, Spike Wells, Ronnie Scott, Jimmy Knepper and Claire Martin along the way.

The interview is a very warm one, recorded last week at the Oxford Jazz Festival2011, and opens with Alyn introducing Bobby as “one of my favourite saxophonists in all of jazz – and I mean not just in the UK, not just Europe but everywhere in the world”.

You can listed to the programme until 7th May 2011, here.

You can read about the tracks played here: and if you’d like to buy any of then you you can read about how to do so here:








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Review: Peter King – Flying High (A Jazz Life and Beyond)

When I was in London last weekend I went into Foyles’ bookshop and picked up the last copy remaining on the shelves of of Peter King’s new autobiography Flying High – A Jazz Life and Beyond. Given that Peter King had been giving a talk on it the previous evening, it is perhaps understandable that there were few left. If those who purchased the other copies of the book had high hopes then they can’t have been disappointed.

Peter King, Aberdeen 2005

Peter King, Aberdeen 2005 (c) Ian Watt

Peter King has written an excellent autobiography:  frank and honest, with considerable self-awareness and insight into what drives him. It describes with great candour the life of a man who left school with few qualifications, yet obvious intelligence, and who rose to the top of his field in only a few short years.

When still an early  teenager, Peter found that his parents wouldn’t buy him a clarinet (having seen him abandon his piano and violin lessons).  So, being keen modeller, he decided to make himself one, such was his obsession with the instrument. Both that obsessiveness, and rejection of barriers that would see others quit,  emerge as strong themes throughout the book, as does his nervousness which he found a debilitating condition in many situations – not least when travelling by air, sea or road.

Once turned on to the recordings of Charlie Parker, King switched to alto and learned it obsessively. In only a few short years he had become such a mature player that he was asked to play at the opening of Ronnie Scott’s new club while still aged only 19! While we see today some great young players one should remember that he was essentially self-taught, with no access to play-along CDs or modern jazz theory books.

From then on Pete became immersed in the British modern jazz world, not only playing with the top UK names of the day but also meeting or playing with the cream of the US musicians. These include Bud Powell, Ben Webster, Phily Joe Jones, Paul Gonsalvez, Stan Getz, Jimmy Witherspoon, Red Rodney  many more big names. Pete provides many amusing and original anecdotes about several of them, often from first-hand experience.

While not immediately a drug user he slowly developed a drugs habit which lasted several decades and took a considerable effort to end. His account of this, the debilitating and destructive effect it had on both relationships and work pulls no punches but isn’t used to shock – merely to place events in context and to explain his mental state and motivation which drove him to certain actions.

As the sixties gave way to the seventies the jazz scene really contracted and the ability for a musician to support himself financially through playing the music he loved became much more difficult, resulting in his having to play in pit orchestras, on soundtrack recordings and backing pop musicians. Having considered Peter a star of British jazz, and assumed that such stardom would bring financial rewards, I quite amazed and saddened to learn just how poorly paid he and his colleagues were throughout their careers. On several occasions he draws attention to how poorly the arts are supported in the UK.

The eighties saw something of a resurgence but it appears that only the young black guys were able to get the contracts from the big labels. Peter did get some recognition in wider circles, was able to travel more and ultimately became friends with not only Bird’s widow Chan and her daughter Kim Parker, but also got blow to two of Bird’s horns. The first was the famous Grafton plastic alto that Bird played at Massey Hall concert but also the King Super 20 which Chan kept by her bedside. I knew that Peter played the Grafton when it sold at Christies auction house for £95,000 in 1994 but didn’t know that he was invited to play it again in Kansas City when it was put in the museum there by the mayor who’d bid for it.

Beyond jazz, Peter’s two other passions come through strongly: aero-modelling and classical music. It is clear that his ability to study by himself, rather than through formal education and apply that knowledge has helped him to great achievements in both fields.

There are so many interesting facts and recollections in this book that it really is a ‘must-read’ for anyone interested in learning at first-hand what it meant to be a professional jazz musician in the latter half of the 20th century.

There are few great jazz autobiographies that I can think of.  Certainly Charles Mingus’ Beneath The Underdog. Art Pepper’s Straight Life  and Anita O’Day’s High Times – Hard Times spring to mind.

This new book stands up there with the best of them!

(c) Ian Watt 2011

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Jazz Photos – A great-looking new book

I spotted the a review of Herb Snitzer’s new book Glorious Days and Nights: A Jazz Memoir in the Wall Street Journal.

According to WSJ:

“Working in New York between 1957 and 1964, the photographer Herb Snitzer witnessed a transition in jazz. The big bands had already given way to smaller groups, but now the music was growing more experimental. Once everyone went to big halls and danced; now aficionados sat through sets in small clubs. In 1960, Snitzer took a picture of Dizzy Gillespie backstage at a Louis Armstrong show. Stylish in a houndstooth suit, the bebop trumpeter laughs with Trummy Young and Billy Kyle, resplendent in tuxedos: the new fella having a smoke with two mainstays of Armstrong’s swinging All-Stars. But bop was giving way, too. An image, taken at the moodyVillage Gate in 1961, epitomizes the new age as John Coltrane (launched in a Gillespie band) and Eric Dolphy perform over the backing of two bassists. Jazz was looking inward. 


“You see it in photo after photo: the joyous performing of Armstrong and Velma Middleton and Ray Nance is replaced by the intense stares of Ornette Coleman and Sonny Payne and the inner storms evident in Thelonious Monk’s face. Some era. Some photos.”

Amazon describe it in this way.

“This is a stunning collection of iconic images and anecdotes from renowned jazz photographer Herb Snitzer. Glorious Days and Nights is a personal account of the 50 year career of renowned jazz photographer Herb Snitzer. A photojournalist for Life, Look, and Fortune, and associate editor of the influential jazz magazine Metronome, Snitzer plied his trade during a period of political, racial, and social strife. But throughout the demonstrations, civil and racial unrest, what remained constant for him was jazz. In Glorious Days and Nights, Snitzer recalls what it was like to go on the road with these musicians. His reflections run the gamut from serious meditations on his development as a photographer working with musicians already of great stature to more conversational recollections of casual moments spent having fun with the jazz artists many of whom became close friends – all accompanied some of the most iconic jazz images ever seen.” 

Now you can buy the book in the UK from Amazon Herb Snitzer – Glorious Days and Nights: A Jazz Memoir.

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Where to buy Bobby’s CDs

We frequently get asked where Bobby’s CDs are available to buy.

In addition to Trio Record’ Website (where Bobby’s most recent releases are available) you can also buy an extensive selection of CDs (and some classic second-hand albums) from Amazon.

You can use the rotating carousel below – or click on the individual links beneath that.

The following albums are available on Amazon’s UK site. Hover over each link for more information or click on them to be taken to the correct page on Amazon.

And two long-deleted classic vinyl albums now only available second-hand.

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Peter King’s Autobiography now published

Peter King,  as many fans will remember, was just a teenager when he played the opening night at Ronnie Scott’s new jazz club in Gerrard Street, London in 1959.

He has remained one of the great British saxophonists for the last 50+ years, and is someone that Bobby has played with in many settings including the orchestras of Tubby Hayes, John Dankworth and Charlie Watts.

Now Peter has just published his autobiography: Flying High: A Jazz Life and Beyond.

According to Amazon’s description: “Peter King’s book ranks among the great jazz autobiographies. One of the world’s leading alto saxophonists, he tells his story with searing honesty, revealing the obsessions and motivations that have driven him and the dilemmas of surviving as a top creative musician in an often inhospitable world. With cool, unsparing self-analysis, he describes the difficulties that accompanied his brilliant career for many years. Internationally recognised as a jazz star, he has performed and recorded with a galaxy of musical legends, many of them his close friends. Among those vividly recalled in this book are Bud Powell, Ray Charles, Anita O’Day, Elvin Jones, Max Roach, Hampton Hawes, Al Haig, Philly Joe Jones, Zoot Sims, Jimmy Witherspoon, Dakota Staton, Red Rodney, Jon Hendricks, Tony Bennett and Marlene Dietrich. But while the story here centres on Peter King’s life in jazz it shows other important sides of him too: his ambitions and achievements in classical composing, his interests outside music (he is a leading figure and writer in the aero-modelling world) and, above all, the treasured personal relationships that have sustained him through a turbulent life. “Flying High” tells of an exhilarating high altitude journey, in the jazz world and beyond.”

It sounds like a must-read book!

PS I’ve just discovered that the album Bebop Live – Part 1 which I used to own on vinyl is now available on CD. Not only did it have it has a stellar cast of British musicians including Ken Baldock, Bobby’s former sideman, on bass and Peter King on alto but it also had the great US bebop giant  Al Haig on piano. The full line-up is:

Al Haig (piano), Peter King (alto saxophone), Art Themen (soprano & tenor saxes), Kenny Baldock (bass), Allan Ganley  (drums).

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