Since being tipped for the top by Jazzwise magazine, Sue Richardson’s career has gone from strength to strength. Her most recent album, Too Cool, The Life & Music of Chet Baker, cemented her position in the jazz world – gaining four and five star reviews in the jazz press as well as internationally and sell out gigs at Ronnie Scott’s. It was also in The Sunday Times 100 Best Records of The Year 2013 - “The trumpeter and singer Sue Richardson’s homage to Chet Baker brings the boy wonder back to life”.
“Sue Richardson’s trumpet playing catches [Baker’s] combination of delicacy and strength, and her singing has something of his candid simplicity. She even writes the kind of tunes that he might have invented.” 4* review in The Observer“I kid you not, you closed your eyes, you were listening to Chet Baker. A remarkable young woman.” Richard Wheatly, Jazz FM
In 2012 Sue worked in Paris with French singer Mina Agossi and Archie Shepp on the blues project ‘Red Eyes’. Archie, on hearing Sue’s playing for the first time, commented “She can sure growl!”Recently Sue has been performing with Ian Shaw (she guested on his current album dedicated to the work of Fran Landesman) and they performed a sold-out duo show of jazz standards bringing together all elements of their talents.
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.
Head of Jazz at the Royal Academy of Music, Nick Smart is an internationally renowned jazz educator, trumpeter and musical director who has given guest masterclasses and performances around the world. In 2013 he was the winner of the prestigious Parliamentary Award for Jazz Education. In the UK he is recognised as one of the leading musicians on the London jazz scene, where as well as being in regular demand as a sideman to players of all generations, he continues to record and tour with his own projects.
In 2005 Nick released his debut album “Remembering Nick Drake” to critical acclaim. The album featured Smart’s arrangements of Nick Drake’s music played by an all star line-up including John Parricelli, Paul Clarvis, Christine Tobin and Stan Sulzmann amongst others. It was described by Straight No Chaser magazine as “…a future classic because it really captures all that is best about British jazz….” and by John Fordham in Jazz UK as “…fascinating music devoted to a fascinating inspiration.” In December 2008 Nick released his highly praised trio album “Remembering Louis Armstrong” featuring Hans Koller and Paul Clarvis. His latest band, Nick Smart’s Trogon, merges contemporary jazz sounds with Afro Cuban concepts and is due for release on Babel Records in November 2013.
His versatility as a trumpet player has allowed him to perform alongside many international jazz stars including George Russell, Bob Brookmeyer, John Hollenbeck, the New York Voices, Mike Gibbs and Dave Douglas, as well as most of the leading names on the UK jazz scene. Amongst other things Nick is currently a member of the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, in a new quartet from saxophonist Stan Sulzmann and just recorded for the new album of vocalist Christine Tobin in her interpretations of Leonard Cohen songs. As an acclaimed musical director of large ensembles, Nick conducts the Stan Sulzmann Big Band (Neon Orchestra) and the Troyka large ensemble, “Troykestra”. He also performs internationally as the regular soloist with the James Taylor Quartet.
Byron Wallen was born July 1969 in London, England while the Apollo 11 crew were on their way to the moon. Raised in a musical family, as a small child Byron studied classical piano. He also played euphonium but then switched to trumpet, studying with Peter Ruderforth in London and with Jimmy Owens, Donald Byrd and Jon Faddis in New York in the mid to late 80s. In 1992, Wallen graduated from Sussex University with a degree in psychology, philosophy and mathematics.
He played trumpet in various contexts and through into the early 00s was heard with jazz and pop artists, sometimes on record. Among these artists and bands are George Benson, Charles Earland, Chaka Khan, Ingrid Laubrock, Ronnie Laws, Hugh Masekela, Courtney Pine, Lonnie Liston Smith, Style Council, Jean Toussaint, and Cleveland Watkiss. In 1992, Wallen formed Sound Advice touring the UK and playing in Syria in 1996 and the Czech Republic in 1997. The band also appeared at the North Sea Jazz Festival, gaining critical and audience acclaim.
His compositions include Live, with Sheron Wray's dance company, Langston Hughes Suite, The Trumpet Kings, and Tarot Suite, an extended work of 22 movements, written for a 10-piece band. In 2003, Wallen won the BBC's Innovation In Jazz award for his third album Indigo.
In 1995 Wallen played in South Africa, recording with Airto Moreira and Moses Moseleku. A documentary film, Travelling, traces his 1998 trip to Uganda. In 2001 he appeared at the Harare Jazz festival in Zimbabwe and at South Africa's ARTS Alive Earth Summit festival in 2002.
He has also visited East Africa, Morocco, Nigeria, Indonesia and Belize (his parents' homeland). On tour Wallen works with local musicians, developing new ideas for his performances and compositions.
In the UK and during his overseas tours, Wallen has taught in schools; he also lectures and gives private lessons at London's Trinity College and Royal Academy. Wallen's performing, composing and teaching skills combine to make him a leading figure among the new wave of creative jazz musicians centred upon London.