Wendy Kirkland


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Chesterfield Jazz presents Chris Gumbley's tribute to Phil Woods

Please note: Info provided by the Event Organiser

Chris Gumbley studied clarinet, piano and composition at Huddersfield School of Music before pursuing a freelance career in music.

He started off doing various casual jobs. These were often jobs he was ill-equipped for, and included stacking the shelves at Kwik Save supermarket, labouring on a building site, and strawberry picking.
However, he was lucky enough to get offered a teaching post at Stoke-on-Trent College almost straight away, which he did for around 13 years, and a residency playing saxophone in a function band ironically called the New Sound, which he could only stand for two years.

Chris GumbleyDuring that time he played professionally in many contexts, which included touring with The Temptations & Four Tops (’03 & ’05), The Pasadena Roof Orchestra and The Charleston Chasers, as well as stints with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, English Chamber Orchestra, BBC Big Band, Fat Chops, and the Berkley Salon Ensemble, as well as theatre work, classical recitals, courses and jazz gigs.
In 1993 he joined Saxtet, the Birmingham-based sax quintet, playing alongside Nigel Wood, Karen Street, Andy Tweed and Adrian Kelley. This led to the recording of the album Safer Sax and a new post teaching saxophone at Birmingham Conservatoire, which Chris held for the next 14 years.
Chris did a brief spell hosting the radio show, Jazzbeat, on BBC Radio Stoke, while his jazz club Gumbles, in Stafford, has been going since 1987, attracting leading players from Britain and overseas.
Chris is now an ABRSM examiner, which has made him into something of a globe-trotter. Recent examining tours have included trips to Canada, Borneo, China, New Zealand, Australia, Kenya, Tanzania, New York, Greece, Italy and Portugal.
Current playing projects include Tribute to Cannonball, working alongside Neil Yates (trumpet), his son Dan Nicholls (piano), Tom Hill (bass) and Carl Hemmingsley (drums). The band features arrangements made famous by the great Cannonball Adderley Quintet of the late 50s and early 60s.
The recently-formed Fascinating Rhythm features new and exciting arrangements of American Songbook classics. The quartet, which includes Sara Colman (vocals), Ben Markland (bass) and Al Gurr (piano), has had success in introducing jazz to new audiences.
Chris studied composition with Richard Steinitz at Huddersfield School of Music and his composition Chorale and Variations for Saxophone Quartet was written for his final degree recital in 1979.
Following a dormant spell, he started writing again in the mid 1990s during his time with Saxtet. Since then, Boosey & Hawkes, Saxtet Publications, Spartan Press and Brasswind Publications have all published his music, much of which has found its way onto national exam syllabuses. Cool School and 15 Crazy Jazz Studies have been the most successful books so far.

Chris’s writing is born out of a jazz mentality, which manifests itself in the seemingly unending desire to tamper with what’s gone before. The music itself has a certain immediacy, with its keen melodic sense and quirky jazz-based rhythms and harmonic twists leading others to describe it as having strong ‘muso appeal’.

It is therefore hoped that teachers will get as much pleasure out of the music as their students. Please note this event has been cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns. Chris will be returning to the club later in the year.

Wendy Kirkland

Wendy Kirkland appearing at this event

“Proper jazz piano, excellent band. A very classy debut” – Dave Gelly, The Observer "Refreshing tribute to pianist singers like herself: Diana Krall, Nina Simone, Eliane Elias" - Jazzwise "Mellow and stylish" - Clive Davis, The Sunday Times "One of the great unsung heroines of British jazz. The lucid warmth of her singing is accompanied by her highly accomplished piano playing." The JazzMann "This first recording could just mark the beginning of much deserved recognition." Alan Barnes "Wendy is proof that great musicians are alive and kicking all around the UK and that they don’t have to be products of our music colleges to create high quality, entertaining music." Jim Mullen "I’ve had the pleasure of playing music with Wendy & Pat a few times & their relaxed attitude & superb musicianship means I always look forward to the next time!" Roger Beaujolais   Wendy's musical career began at age 8, when she started taking piano lessons. She won a scholarship to have all her lessons paid for by Derbyshire Music, and continued to take her ABRSM piano grades. Switching to jazz in her late teens, Wendy continued her playing career as a dance class pianist, accompanist to singers and as a keyboardist in club bands. After being persuaded to sing by a great friend and guitarist, Bill McCreath, Wendy learned to reach people who are perhaps turned off by instrumental jazz, as she learnt to communicate with the audience through the songs. Wendy's voice has been likened to Blossom Dearie with hints of Diana Krall. Her influences range from Nat King Cole, Sarah Vaughan and Ella Fitzgerald through Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly to Chick Corea, Eliane Elias and Michel Petrucciani. Current projects include Piano Divas, a tribute to the female pianist singers of jazz; hammond organ jazz outfit Organik Fource featuring Pat Sprakes on guitar and guest saxophonist; Organik Trio Goes To The Movies and The Organik Cookbook celebrating the early soul-jazz albums of George Benson. Wendy is married to jazz guitarist and bass player Pat Sprakes. They met by chance on a gig and have been making music together ever since.

See Wendy Kirkland tour dates

Pat Sprakes

Pat Sprakes appearing at this event

UK established jazz guitarist who cut his teeth working with Tony Kofi in the 1990s. He was selected by Darius Brubeck to perform as part of his quartet based on a live performance. He performed for US superstar guitarist Robben Ford around the same time. Since then, Pat has been working with artists such as Wendy Kirkland, Alan Barnes, Jim Mullen, Karen Sharp, Nigel Price and has performed at clubs and festivals throughout the UK such as Brecon, Cheltenham, Edinburgh, Pershore, Marsden, and more.

See Pat Sprakes tour dates

Chris Gumbley

Bop and post-bop saxophonist who also runs the jazz at Ty's Jazz Bar, Birmingham.

See Chris Gumbley tour dates

Chesterfield Jazz Club

  • Mullen Suite, The Olde House
  • Loundsley Green Road
  • Chesterfield
  • S40 4RN