Two Piano Jazz Concert
Please note: Info provided by the Event Organiser
Steve Melling was brought up in Preston, Lancashire, UK and began classical piano lessons at age 9 but began to teach himself jazz at around 11 years old. The first time he actually spoke to what he thought of as ‘real’ or ‘professional’ jazz musicians was when he asked the members of the legendary Stan Tracey’s quartet to autograph one of their vinyl albums at a gig in Preston in 1976 when he was 17. Without knowing it Steve would meet and work with these musicians; Stan, Art Themen, Bryan Spring and Dave Green later in his career and always learn from the experiences.
Steve studied at Goldsmiths’ College in London, joining the National Youth Jazz Orchestra around that time. He began playing professionally in the late 1970s, touring with Harry Beckett and Elton Dean, and in 1986 received the first Pat Smythe Memorial Trust Award, presented to him by the late Ronnie Scott.
Steve has also worked with a number of American jazz luminaries most notably Elvin Jones’ Jazz Machine, Phil Woods and Benny Golson. The 1990s were a very busy time for Steve. He appeared regularly at Ronnie Scott’s with his trio and with Alan Skidmore, Claire Martin and Peter King and recorded albums with them. In 1996, Steve recorded his own album ‘Trio Duo Solo’ for the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz House label. Other recordings in this period include ‘East To West’, and ‘After the Rain’ with Alan Skidmore and Colin Towns’ Mask Symphonic with members of the London Symphony Orchestra. He was also commissioned at this time by the Appleby Jazz Festival and wrote and directed a set for an 11-piece group. From 1996-98 he was Professor of Jazz Piano at London’s Royal College of Music.
"Terrific pianist and singer. Assured and full of surprises." – ★★★★ Dave Gelly, The Observer
"She's a jazz pianist and she's a jazz singer, and does both with feeling and flair."★★★★ Nigel Jarrett, Jazz Journal
"Kirkland expands her original creativity. Inspired, fluent piano." ★★★★ Ian Mann, The JazzMann
"Kirkland impresses on every level. Superb. Recommended." ★★★★ Matt Ruddick, Kind of Jazz
"Convincing, zestful, swinging. A refreshing tribute to pianists like herself: Diana Krall, Eliane Elias, Nina Simone" ★★★ Jazzwise
"Wow. WOW! A cracker - and brilliantly delivered." – Linley Hamilton, BBC Radio
“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 13 tour dates featuring Wendy Kirkland
Accrington-born jazz pianist and composer who now works with all the leading figures on the jazz scene
See Steve Melling tour dates
Chesterfield Library Theatre
- New Beetwell Street
- S40 1QN