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Bob Jackson and Jazz

When not working as an academic, Bob Jackson plays jazz trombone and sings blues and jazz songs. He works as a freelance musician in the English Midlands and also occasionally plays jazz while out doing lectures in Europe, (with the Rasmus Sand trio in Stavanger, Norway and the Swingcats in Karlstad, Sweden).

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(Spicy Jazz: Bruce Turner, Tony Pipkin, Sam Price, Bob Jackson, Cork and Fork, Leamington, October 1989)

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(Spicy Jazz broadcasting at the Town and Country Show at Stoneleigh on 26th August 1990: John Nicholls drums, Zoltan Sagi tenor sax, Tony Pipkin trumpet, Sam Price bass, Bob Jackson trombone and Roger Heeley piano)

For 25 years he led Spicy Jazz, a ‘mainstream’ style band, for most of the time featuring saxophonist Zoltan Sagi and trumpeter Tony Pipkin. The band backed many of Britain’s leading mainstream jazz musicians, including the great Humphrey Lyttelton.

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(Humphrey Lyttelton, trumpet, Bob Jackson, trombone Cork and Fork, Leamington Spa 30 November 1990)

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(Humphrey Lyttelton after receiving his Honorary Warwick DLitt at Coventry Cathedral in 1987 with Professors Bob Jackson and Don Locke)

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(Spicy Jazz: Roy Williams and Bob Jackson duet on trombones, with Zoltan Sagi, Tony Pipkin, Cork and Fork, Leamington, 17 July 1992)

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(Roy Williams and Bob Jackson, Cork and Fork, Leamington, 17 July 1992)

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(Spicy Jazz, Eathorpe Park Hotel, late 1990s. l to r Dave Scott pno, Bob Jackson trb, John Nicholls dms, Tony Pipkin tpt, Steve Kershaw bs, Zoltan Sagi, alto sax)

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(Mel Thorpe, Tony Pipkin, Bob Jackson, Geoff Hull (bs), University of Warwick, Summer Graduation, Airport Lounge, around 2000)

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Bob Jackson guesting with the Rasmus Sand trio, University of Stavanger, June 2007. Rasmus Sand (piano), Knud Knudsen (bass), Tomi Haukland (drums), Bob Jackson (trombone)

Zoltan Sagi joined the renowned Big Chris Barber Band in July 2008 as a full time professional. After two and a half years touring, Zoltan left Chris Barber in summer 2011 to work as a freelance, including with Spicy Jazz, who have re-formed for occasional gigs. Spicy Jazz are increasingly popular on the University conference circuit, playing at the British Educational Research Association conference at Warwick in September 2010, the conference for the Centre for Research on Nationalism, Ethnicity and Multiculturalism (CRONEM) at the University of Surrey in June 2011 and at the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Education conference at the University of Warwick in July 2011 (photos below)

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(Bob Jackson, Tony Pipkin and Zoltan Sagi wth the Roger Heeley trio playing at the BERA conference University of Warwick, 3 September 2010)

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Spicy Jazz at the AHRC/ESRC Religion and Society Programme Religion and Education Conference Monday 25th July 2011, Scarman Conference Centre, University of Warwick.

(l to r) Roger Heeley (pno), Bob Jackson (trom, voc), Roy Dutton (dms), Zoltan Sagi (tnr sax), Steve Kershaw (bs)

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Spicy Jazz playing at the Criterion Theatre, Coventry, 16 June 2012. Bob Jackson, trombone; Tony Pipkin, trumpet; Zoltan Sagi, tenor sax (not shown, Mike Kemp, piano; Steve Kershaw, bass; Roy Dutton, drums)

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Bob Jackson guesting with the SwingCats (http://www.swingcats.se/), University of Karlstad, Sweden, December 13, 2012. Leif Jellvert (cornet), Knut Nilsson (drums), Bob Jackson (vocal and trombone), Bosse Waernhoff (bass), Kurt Bertrandsson (clarinet, leader), Göran de Frumerie (piano)

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Spicy Jazz 'Jazz at the Church' concert at St Nicholas Church, Kenilworth, 4 May 2013 (l to r), Bob Jackson (vocal, trombone), Roger Heeley (piano) Dave Leithead (trumpet), Steve Kershaw (bass), Zoltan Sagi (clarinet) + Roy Dutton (drums).

 

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Spicy Jazz at Leamington Tennis Club 18 May 2013 (l to r), Mike Kemp (piano), Steve Kershaw (bass), Bob Jackson (trombone), Zoltan Sagi (tenor sax), Roy Dutton (drums).

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Spicy Jazz trio at the opening of the Treehouse Bookshop, Kenilworth, 26 July 2013. Left to right Bob Jackson (trombone and vocal), Steve Kershaw (bass), Zoltan Sagi (tenor saxophone)

Spicy Jazz in Leamington Spa, 8 March 2014

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(Roger Heeley pno, Steve Kershaw bs, Roy Dutton dms, Bob Jackson trombone, Dave Leithead trumpet, Zoltan Sagi tenor sax)

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(Bob Jackson trombone, Steve Kershaw bass, Dave Leithead trumpet)

Spicy Jazz at Banbury Sailing Club, 15 March 2014

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(Roger Heeley pno, Bob Jackson trom, Roy Dutton dms, Dave Leithead tpt)

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(Steve Kershaw bs, Zoltan Sagi clt)

Spicy Jazz at Banbury Sailing Club, 27 September 2014

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Recordings

During its history, Spicy Jazz made 3 recordings. The sleeve notes, reproduced below, give an indication of the band’s history and repertoire.

All Spice’ Sleeve Note

'All Spice' catches Spicy Jazz at a live broadcast for BBC CWR, recorded at the Town and Country Show at Stoneleigh on 26th August 1990. 1990 was a particularly busy year for the band. We had a regular Friday spot at the Cork and Fork bar at Leamington's Regent Hotel. Roy Williams, Britain's top mainstream jazz trombonist, had guested with us in January, while baritone saxophonist John Barnes appeared twice with the band in March. The great discovery for the Cork and Fork audience was Janusz Carmello, the wonderful Polish trumpet player, who appeared with the band in June, while veteran trumpeter Alan Elsdon guested in July. Then there was Leamington's first ever jazz weekend, finishing with a concert at the Spa Centre on 15th July with Spicy Jazz backing Roy Williams, alto sax star Bruce Turner, Alan Elsdon and Janusz Carmello. Bruce Turner appeared again with the band in early November, but the highlight of the year was the appearance of Humphrey Lyttelton on 30th November as star guest with the band at the Cork and Fork. Two years earlier, I had proposed Humph for an honorary doctorate from the University of Warwick for his contribution to jazz through performance, writing and broadcasting. The University was enlightened enough to confer the degree, and Humph came to receive it 40 years after forming his first professional band. So it was especially pleasurable to have Humph with us at the Cork and Fork, with the packed audience of regulars, but also including a contingent from Warwick University with the then Vice Chancellor, Clark Brundin.

The broadcast was an interesting challenge. We did it in the open air in front of a live audience, so there could be no retakes. Radio CWR kindly supplied us with a digital recording of the broadcast, used to compile this CD. The compere was so intrusive, however, that his voice had to be edited out at the end of each track. On Honeysuckle Rose, you can hear him interrupt the tune to remind listeners that Tony Pipkin is on trumpet! The band's line-up at the time included the fine pianist Roger Heeley and highly popular bass player Sam Price. The rest of the band is Zoltan Sagi (reeds), Tony Pipkin (trumpet and flugel horn), Bob Jackson (trombone and vocals), and John Nicholls (drums). The tunes were regulars from our repertoire at the time. Sadly, Sam Price became ill with cancer later in the year, and died in 1991. The band dedicates this CD version of 'All Spice' to Sam's memory.

Bob Jackson

All Spice tracks

Hindustan
Love is Just Around the Corner
I’ve Found a New Baby
Tin Roof Blues
If I Had You
St Louis Blues
Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea
I’ve Got Rhythm
Just Squeeze Me
I Want a Little Girl
Honeysuckle Rose
Georgia on My Mind
Roll ’em Pete
 
Bob Jackson trombone/vocal
Zoltan Sagi reeds
Tony Pipkin trumpet/flugel horn
Roger Heeley piano
Sam Price bass
John Nicholls drums
 
‘Cool Spice’ Sleeve Note
 
Spicy Jazz is a versatile Midlands-based jazz band. Formed in 1981, the six piece band includes the front line of Tony Pipkin (trumpet and flugel horn), Zoltan Sagi (soprano, alto and tenor saxophones and clarinet) and Bob Jackson (trombone and vocals); Dave Scott or Roger Heeley have filled the piano slot, Sam Price, Geoff Hull or Steve Kershaw (double bass) and John Nicholls (drums). Cool Spice is the band's second album, (the rhythm section is Scott, Hull and Nicholls) Led by trombonist Bob Jackson, Spicy Jazz plays a wide repertoire drawn from different periods of jazz. Whatever the source of the music, Spicy Jazz has its own distinctive style and sound. All the arrangements on Cool Spice are by Zoltan Sagi. Cool Spice includes the music of Duke Ellington ('What Am I Here For?' 'Do Nothing Till You Hear From Me'), Johnny Hodges ('The Hare', 'Peaches'), Benny Goodman ('Hop, Skip and Jump') and Sir Charles Thompson ('Robin's Nest'). Cool Spice also has tunes from more 'modern' sources such as Miles Davis's 'Four', Duke Jordan's 'Flight to Jordan', Benny Golson's 'Blues March' and Jon Eardley's 'Chasin' the Bimpt'. Zoltan Sagi keeps up his Hungarian connection with an arrangement of Sergio Mihanovich's 'Sometime Ago', while the ballad mood is set by 'The Midnight Sun Will Never Set' by Quincy Jones. Spicy Jazz specialises in reviving some of the compositions of outstanding British jazz musicians, and Sandy Brown's 'African Queen' (track 1) and Al Fairweather's 'The Card' (the final track) are featured on Cool Spice. Django Reinhardt's 'Autumn Dream' and Shorty Baker's 'Hang on There' make up the set.

Spicy Jazz has been a favourite at jazz festivals such as Bude, Coventry and West Wales, and has accompanied some of Britain's top jazz stars. Spicy Jazz has worked with trumpeters Humphrey Lyttelton, Digby Fairweather, Janusz Carmello, Alan Elsdon, Colin Smith and Bruce Adams; trombonists Roy Williams and Ephie Resnick (late of the Woody Herman band); and saxophonists Bruce Turner, John Barnes, Al Gay and Don Weller. The band has also been accompanist to Irish jazz singer Melanie O'Reilly and singer/guitarist Angela Christian.

From the mid '80s to the mid '90s, Spicy Jazz played at Leamington's legendary 'Cork and Fork', and moved to the Eathorpe Park Hotel until 2000. The band then moved on to Coventry City Football Club's Sports Connexion.

Bob Jackson trombone/vocal
Zoltan Sagi reeds
Tony Pipkin trumpet/flugel horn
Dave Scott piano
Geoff Hull bass
John Nicholls drums
 
Coming of Age Inside Sleeve Note
 
Coming of Age is Spicy Jazz's third album, and celebrates 21 years since the band's formation in 1981. The band hasn't had very many changes in personnel in that time so has retained its distinctive sound, partly shaped by Zoltan Sagi's arrangements. We have had the pleasure of backing some of Britain's best solo performers over the years including Roy Williams, John Barnes, Bruce Turner, Janusz Carmello, Don Weller and the great Humphrey Lyttelton. We are very grateful to Humph for taking time out from his busy schedule of broadcasting and touring (or was it a dictation session with Samantha?) to write a comment about the album.

Go Ghana is one of Sandy Brown's tunes, written to celebrate the independence of Ghana, and reflecting the Scottish clarinettist's interest in West African music. The band likes to perform some of the rarely played tunes written by Britain's best jazz musicians, and this is one of them. Moten's Swing is based on the chords of You're Driving Me Crazy, and was co-written by the bass player Benny Moten, one of Count Basie's early employers. I sing on Louis Jordan's Is You Is or Is You Ain't My Baby? which was a treat to do with Zoltan's arrangement and fine alto solo behind me. Louis Armstrong's Struttin' With Some Barbecue features Zoltan and me, largely because Tony Pipkin was still trying to find the studio when it was recorded! Louis' up tempo stomp is translated into a bossa nova in this impromptu version. When people accuse us of 'playing modern', we usually respond by playing Maple Leaf Rag, since it was written by Scott Joplin in 1897. Zoltan Sagi adapted Sandy Brown's arrangement of this one. Scales is another neglected Sandy Brown number, originally recorded on the McJazz album in 1956. Zoltan arranged On Green Dolphin Street, which features some of his own fluent tenor playing, with swinging support from John Nicholls on drums, Dave Scott on piano and Steve Kershaw on bass. I do the vocal on Fats Waller's Keeping Out of Mischief Now, which has a chorus backed by solo bass from Steve Kershaw, and a lovely flugel solo from Tony. The engineer couldn't resist dubbing both takes of the vocal on to part of the track! What's I'm Gotcha, another Sagi arrangement, is one of Johnny Hodges' wonderful small group blues numbers. If you know what the title means, do let us know! In his later years, Bruce Turner was a regular guest with Spicy Jazz. Toddington Toddle is our tribute to Bruce. It is his musical comment on the rush hour crawl through his home village in Bedfordshire. As far as we know, Zoltan is the only person to have arranged this number, reminiscent of Humph's Bad Penny Blues. We like to play ballads. Three of them are linked together here to form a medley of solos. I play George Gershwin's Summertime, Zoltan plays tenor on Johnny Green's Body and Soul and Tony plays flugel on Quincy Jones' The Midnight Sun Will Never Set. Brian Lemon is a fine and underrated British jazz pianist and composer. Wall Street Lament is a highly original up-tempo blues by Brian, which we thought deserved more exposure. I take the trombone lead and Steve Kershaw's bass opens and solos on Charlie Mingus's Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting, a 6/8 blues, full of Gospel feeling, which rounds off the album. We hope you enjoy the music.

Bob Jackson

Coming of Age CD note – Humphrey Lyttelton

In the States, they call them territory bands, in Britain, local bands. Both terms, if not exactly derogatory, do less than justice to the role that such bands as Spicy Jazz play on the jazz stage.

So-called 'name' bands make their regular sorties from the capital into towns and cities across the country. They are able to do so because, in all these areas there are bands, many of them long-standing and professional enough to have become local institutions, which keep the scene alive week in, week out.

This they do with a readiness to explore the repertoire and experiment with instrumentation not shown by some travel-weary big names. A glance down the order of play on this CD will show that Spicy Jazz, with a repertoire ranging from ragtime to contemporary -- and acknowledging along the way the undervalued composing talents of the great Sandy Brown -- is a perfect example. No concessions have to be made to their semi-professional status. They are a fine band and I'm proud that, as a guest soloist, I have had an association with them in the past.

Happy Coming-of-Age!

Humphrey Lyttelton