30 November - Jim Mullen

A legend of the British jazz scene for several decades and still one of the finest guitarists in Europe today. Jim is an artist of such quality and depth that throughout all of his many successful collaborations over the years his signature sound has been a big part of what made all of them so great. In conjunction with saxophonist and longtime collaborator Dick Morrissey, guitarist Jim Mullen spearheaded the British jazz-fusion movement of the 1970s. Born November 26, 1945 in Glasgow, Scotland, Mullen acquired his first guitar at age eight, soon after discovering jazz through an older friend. Jim relocated to London in 1969, joined Pete Brown's Piblokto!, and then signed on with Brian Auger's Oblivion Express, cementing his credentials in the nascent jazz-rock culture. Stints with Vinegar Joe and Kokomo followed, and in the early 1970s he also collaborated with Duncan and Ball in their blue-eyed funk unit the Average White Band. Via the AWB, Mullen met Morrissey, a veteran of the much-respected jazz-rock vehicle If. In 1977, they teamed as a duo for Up, embracing everything from bop to pop to funk and found favour with listeners on both sides of the jazz-rock dyad via acclaimed efforts such as 1979's Cape Wrath. In all, Morrissey and Mullen co-headlined six albums. Morrissey and Mullen finally split following 1988's Happy Hour, and Mullen went on to work with vocalist Claire Martin. He also headlined a series of LPs including Rule of Thumb and Soundbites. An in-demand sideman, Mullen backed American giants including Mose Allison, Jimmy Smith, and Terry Callier. The last several years have seen Jim continue to work all over the UK with his critically acclaimed organ trio, with which he has released several CDs. 

28 December - Malcolm Earle Smith & Geoff Simkins

Malcolm Earle-Smith has been well established on the London Jazz scene for over 20 years. After graduating from the Guildhall School of Music in 1989, he joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. Since then, he has gone on to work with a variety of jazz and pop artists including Kenny Baker, Jack Parnell, Digby Fairweather, Henry Lowther, Frank Griffith, Martin Speake, Martha Reeves and Ronnie Spector. Malcolm has also recorded and toured extensively with Bryan Ferry and appears on two of his albums: As Time Goes By (1999), and more recently, The Jazz Age (2012). In 2008-9 Malcolm appeared at Shakespeare's Globe  as onstage trombonist in Che Walker's play The Frontline. He has has released two albums under his own name: Lyric Trombone (Malcolm Earle-Smith Quartet 1996), and Things are looking up  (2008), on which he features as trombonist, vocalist and composer. More recentlyMalcolm is a regular member of the award winning Basin Street Brawlersas well as fronting two of his own groupsNevada Street Four - a group specialising in jazz of the 20s and 30s, featuring four-part vocals, and Three-Way Stretch  a contemporary trio in which he plays alongside Liam Noble (piano) and Dave Wickins (drums) which draws on a variety of repertoire and jazz styles. Malcolm is also a committed and well respected teacher. At present he is senior lecturer in jazz at Trinitylaban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, and Professor of Jazz Trombone at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.

Geoff has been playing jazz since his early teens and has been a professional musician since 1977. He is featured on many recordings, the most recent of which is “Conversations” with Dave Cliff and Simon Woolf, and issued on Symbol Records, as is the much praised CD Don’t Ask’ with Nikki Iles, Simon Woolf and Martin France. He has appeared many times on BBC radio’s Jazz Club and Jazz Parade and was the subject of a documentary made by TVS.

He often works with American musicians who are visiting this country and over the years has played with such luminaries as Art Farmer, Bobby Shew, Al Cohn, Tal Farlow, Slide Hampton, Warren Vache, Al Grey, Kenny Davern, Bill Berry, Al Casey, Howard Alden, Ruby Braff, Bill Coleman and  Conte Candoli. Recently Geoff has toured with guitarist Howard Alden and recorded a quartet CD with him. Geoff is also a highly respected teacher. As well as running the very successful improvisation classes at the Centre For Continuing Education at the University of Sussex, he is a regular tutor at The Original UK Jazz Summer School and a visiting saxophone tutor at Trinity College of Music, The Royal Academy of Music, The Royal Welsh College of Music, The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and Chichester College. He has also been a tutor at the Czech Jazz Summer School and appeared at clubs in Prague and on Czech Television. 

“World class.......simply wonderful”  Digby Fairweather, Radio 3

“Combines a witty turn of phrase with a rare lyricism....displays complete command of this demanding idiom…….One of Britain’s finest and most inventive alto saxophonists”  Dave Gelly in The Observer

“A master of the art of improvisation” Jazz UK

18 January - Jo Fooks

Jo Fooks, born in Edinburgh, began learning the saxophone at 15. In 1992 she won 'The Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year'. Inspired and encouraged by local Edinburgh musicians, Jo went on to study saxophone at the Guildhall School of music in London (1995-99). She also studied at the Berklee School of music in Boston after receiving a full fee scholarship for the summer jazz programme. After recording her debut album "Here and Now!", the legendary British trumpeter Humphrey Lyttelton invited her to join his eight-piece band. With whom she toured and performed in some of the most amazing theatres and venues in Britain. Humphs fun filled and melodic approach to music was to be a huge influence. And through performing in his band Jo also recorded and worked with Acker Bilk and played alongside Tina May, Joe Temperley, Scott Hamilton, Elkie Brooks,and many others. Jo's other influences include Illinois Jacquet, Sonny Rollins, Dexter Gorden, Cannonball Adderley and Bill Evans. Her mellow tone is often compared to Stan Getz and Zoot Simms.