‘Astute, fluent writing, acute perception, detailed knowledge of the fifties and sixties and, above all, love for the music as a critical friend.’ - Jazz Views
The late, great, British jazz polymath Humphrey Lyttelton once described Simon Spillett as ‘formidable’. That was in 2007 when he was appraising Simon’s multi-award-winning saxophone-playing skills (BBC Jazz Awards 2007, British Jazz Awards 2011, Jazz Journal album of the year 2008). Had Lyttelton been around today he might have just as easily appended this description to one of his subject’s other talents, that of writing. He may have even recognised a kindred spirit; a musician whose keen observational skills and characterful turn of phrase find natural expression on the written page.
Indeed, over the last decade or so, Spillett has emerged not only as a fine performer, popular at Ronnie Scott’s club and at festivals and clubs throughout the UK, but also as one of the music’s great chroniclers.
In this capacity he’s penned the definitive biography of English saxophone legend Tubby Hayes (‘The Long Shadow of The Little Giant’, Equinox Publishing, 2015), booklet notes for more than one hundred and fifty albums, a well-regarded column in ‘Jazz Journal’ and numerous online and magazine articles for publications including ‘Jazzwise’, ‘Jazz Rag’ and ‘Record Collector.’
Widely acknowledged as the leading expert on British modern jazz from the 1950s to the 1970s (‘the world’s leading Tubbyologist’ is another handle given him by a fellow jazz scribe), in 2016 he was awarded ‘Services to British Jazz’ in the British Jazz Awards in recognition of his methodical research in documenting and promoting his subject.
Following on from his highly popular posts on all manner of jazz-related matters on Social Media (one commentator has called his work ‘the Facebook equivalent of the Third Programme’) his blog promises to be both entertaining and educational, tying together needlepoint historic fact, personal reflections and incisive wit.