Simon Spillett looks at the prospects for the gigging musician as Lockdown begins to ease Lockdown Muse Picture the scene. It’s June 2021 and two musicians bump into each other in the street. One is a modestly talented semi-professional whose performance prospects generally extend no further than the odd pub gig. The other is […]
About Simon Spillett
Simon Richard Spillett (born Chesham, Buckinghamshire, November 4, 1974) is a multi-award winning English jazz tenor saxophonist.
He has won the BBC Jazz Awards Rising Star (2007), Jazz Journal's Critics' Choice album of the Year (2009), the British Jazz Awards Top Tenor Saxophonist (2011), the Services to British Jazz award (2016).
In 2017, he was leading his own quartet featuring pianist John Critchinson, bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Clark Tracey, as well as appearing with bands led by other leaders including the Ronnie Scott's Jazz Orchestra. He also works as a guest soloist at jazz venues across the UK. (Following Critchinson's death, Robin Aspland joined the quartet on piano.) His many club and festival appearances include sold-out gigs at Ronnie Scott's and The Brecon Jazz Festival, and he has made several appearances leading his own group on BBC Radio Three.
Leading British jazz figures with whom he has worked include Sir John Dankworth, Stan Tracey, Peter King, Liane Carroll, Tina May, John Etheridge, Guy Barker, Alan Barnes and Bobby Wellins. American musicians with whom he has worked include Jon Hendricks, Kurt Elling, Bobby Shew and Monica Mancini.
Spillett's biography of saxophonist Tubby Hayes - The Long Shadow Of The Little Giant (Equinox, 2015) - has been widely praised as one of the finest jazz biographies to have been published in recent years.
Since 2016 he has contributed a regular monthly column to Jazz Journal, mixing humorous reflections on his experiences as a musician with observations about famous historical jazz figures and reportage on the current UK jazz circuit.
He is well regarded for his on-stage presentation skills, which combine dry humour, anecdotes about jazz history and self-deprecating wit. He has also acted as a compere at several jazz festivals and appears in the anchor interview role in the 2015 documentary film, Tubby Hayes: A Man In A Hurry.
In October 2016, Spillett was appointed as a Patron of the Jazz Centre UK, joining fellow patrons Sir Michael Parkinson, Dame Cleo Laine, Van Morrison, Paul Jones (of Manfred Mann) and Jools Holland.