Jamie Fekete | Guitars
At his happiest after a long nap in an obscure suburb of North Birmingham, accompanied by a bible of cryptic crosswords, a regular supply of rather scary looking Hungarian meats and the sounds of a seasoned flamenco singer who smokes 60-a-day, Jamie’s life can only get better if nipping to a shady backstreet pool establishment to discuss the finer points of the darts or Douglas Adams characters. He has also been known to concoct a fine apple strudel in his time.
Squashing an English and Philosophy degree in between crosswords and the snooker, Jamie put his degree to good use, developing an admirable technique and ear for flamenco, accompanying dance classes and workshops in the Midlands alongside Ana Garcia and various visiting dancers.
Playing guitar since the tender age of ten, for which we can pin most of the blame on his Dad, Jamie also plays in the rhythm section of the much-admired bonkers Birmingham-based 15-piece band, The Destroyers. Recently, he performed for a run at The RSC, Stratford, for the production of Cardenio, whilst he has also been known to pull out a mandolin with annoying ease.
Enjoys .. a logical argument. Dislikes .. moving too much.
Sam Slater | Guitars
Afflicted by a mildly worrying obsession for following West Bromwich Albion to such sun-trap destinations as Scunthorpe, Middlesbrough and Wigan on a wet Tuesday night in late November, Sam does little to prove his sanity by taking equally strange voyages to distant corners of Eastern Europe on a lonely hunt for vegetarian food and real ale.
Somehow acquiring a degree in History in 2004 (although he does still owe £63.57 in library fines for hiding books on Mussolini), Sam was taught the guitar from the age 11 by composer and guitarist Bryan Lester, forming 33.3% of Trio Gitano with Jamie back in 2000. As well as an affinity for flamenco, he has long been keen on improvisation, Jazz and Indian music, also performing with the Indo-Jazz fusion group Marva, led by Tabla player Manveer Singh. He was recently awarded a Professional Development Award by the Musician’s Benevolent Fund to develop a collaboration with sitar player Roopa Panesar. Sam is also studying the arabic lute instrument, the Oud.
Enjoys .. Poland. Dislikes .. Wolverhampton; Tories.
Percy Pursglove | Double Bass, Trumpet
Aside from possessing the finest name in the Western Hemisphere, Percy is best known for spending 43% of his annual income in Starbucks, and once managing to consume 18 fried eggs, care of the Harvester’s much acclaimed ‘ham and as many eggs as you want’ deal.
Despite our blunt refusal to pay him doubling fees, Percy still insists on playing double bass and trumpet (and even the occasional cajon), although alas not at the same time.
A walking encyclopedia of upside-down jazz theory, he is in much demand for his highly regarded playing – from appearances with the likes of Elbow, Amy Winehouse, Jamie Cullum and the BBC Big Band, to a long list of stellar jazz names – John Hollenbeck, Hans Koller, Jim Mullen, The Ellington Orchestra at Birdland …
After graduating from Birmingham in 2004, ‘The Glove’ studied for a year in New York at the New School for Jazz, returning to our shores in 2006, now lecturing in jazz at Birmingham Conservatoire, tutoring at the Royal Academy of Music, and a first-call for various jazz workshops and big band teaching throughout the country. The UK coffee industry has never looked back.
Recently, Percy was featured on BBC Radio Three’s Jazz Line-Up; a featured soloist with the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Orchestra performing the Miles Davis/Gil Evans classic, Sketches of Spain, and also working on composition along with several international collaborations featuring saxophonist Jon Irabagon and trumpeter Peter Evans.
He co-directs the Harmonic Jazz Festival, and apparently even made a fleeting appearance in Inspector Morse many moons ago!
:: web – percypursglove.com
Holly Jones | Flute, Alto Flute
Having kept gourmet cake and biscuit makers in record profits for the past decade, Holly is best known for having smashed all current records on file in June 2007 for ‘most jaffa cakes consumed in a single rehearsal’. Not resting on her laurels, she enjoys beating her own record on a monthly basis.
After famously talking a hand-gliding instructor to a near-death experience somewhere above Greece at 1500ft (despite the fact he didn’t speak English), Holly was unanimously presented with the coveted-role of ‘keeping the driver awake en route from distant late night gigs’, a position she holds and excels in to this day.
Holly studied classical flute at Birmingham Consevertoire, where she developed her interest in cake, jazz and improvisation. Since her first year at music college, she was flautist for Svengali, a Midlands-based jazz funk-fusion band, taking in gigs at Ronnie Scotts with the likes of Guy Barker.
Since coming to Birmingham, Holly has performed and recorded with a number of fine bands and appeared on albums ranging from breakbeat through to indie-pop. In 2007, she headlined at the Fuerteventura Jazz Festival with ‘The Players Sextet,’ alongside top Midland ‘ex-pats’ Sam Pearce, Roger Perks and Steve Sherriff, and last year toured the UK with a group of Kosovan musicians and storytellers in a new commission from Ulfah Arts.
* Easily confused with …
Louis Robinson | Violin
Often found strolling around in nonchalant fashion three minutes before a gig in search of his violin and a pair of trousers that might fit, Louis will glide gracefully onto stage in the nick of time, only to discover he turned up two days late and forgot to put his trousers on after all.
Owner of a fine collection of hats, several tasteful flourescent shirts, a rather enigmatic beard and a curious habit of getting in to trouble with Mrs Louis, our much-loved fiddler also enjoys a good snooze, to the point of dropping off during one of our recent gigs, albeit in a piece he wasn’t playing on. It doesn’t say much for the entertainment value of the rest of us.
After many scratchy years of toil in the wilderness of mid-Wales, Louis attended Birmingham Conservatoire to study classical violin, where he developed an interest in folk, jazz and various world musics. After two years he swapped over to study composition, graduating in 2004, setting up an ensemble dedicated to playing the music of eastern Europe, the most excellent Destroyers, which he currently leads and writes for.
Last spotted cycling around Birmingham in rush hour on his phone being chased by the Police.
* Easily confused with …
Joelle Barker | Cajón, Riqq, Percussion
Despite since twigging she is a little partial to the occasional pint or two of Rum after gigs, we were very lucky to catch Joelle off-guard one afternoon and coerced her into joining the band in spring 2011.
Joelle plays a range of percussion and drums, specialising in world percussion, and is found all over the UK and Europe performing with many fine projects.
After graduating in Music from SOAS (University of London) in 2004, she couldn’t resist returning to the lure of the bright lights of the Birmingham homeland, and has since played across many genres with a wide range of fine musicians, including Yasmin Levy, Celloman, Ruby Turner, Attab Haddad, Manveer Singh’s Marva and our good friend Frank Moon.
She has played throughout the UK and internationally – from India, America, Poland and Finland to Glastonbury, Barbican, Bestival and Maidavale. Most recently, she worked with the excellent Oud player and composer Khyam Allami at the RSC’s controversial production of Marat Sade. She also stretches herself in all sorts of perculiar directions teaching dance and percussion workshops.
Joelle is endorsed by the Cooperman Drum Company.
* Easily confused with …
Tom Chapman :: Cajón | Percussion
Although playing less with the band in recent times due to his touring with folk quartet The UFQ, Tom joined our merry band in early 2009, after Cheltenham Jazz Festival Director Tony Dudley-Evans presented the opportunity for us to work together at the 2009 Festival. Months passed and we were unable to shake him off, disturbingy fitting in all too well with our alliance of crackpots.
Spending most of his time explaining how he has made a career out of banging a hollow box with a guitar string stuck inside, Tom’s cajón talents are rather splendid, prompting leading Cajón maker Paolo De Gregorio to send him a few for free. (Click here to find out a little more about the Cajón, in case you still think it looks like an upside-down speaker).
Graduating from Birmingham Conservatoire’s jazz degree course in 2006 with First Class Honours, Tom now plays predominently with the fine Birmingham-based folk ensemble, the Urban Folk Quartet. Folking aside, his jazz project, Found Objects, featured Percy on double bass and the brilliant Neil Yates on trumpet.
A little known fact to many, but the rumours are indeed true – Tom was the Gorilla emotionally drumming to his idol, Phil Collins, for the famous Cadbury’s Dairy Milk advert.
:: web – tomchapman.net
* Easily confused with …
Ana Garcia :: Flamenco Dance
Born in Valdepeñas, La Mancha (a very windy part of Spain where they’re all a bit unhinged), Ana is one of the eminent flamenco dancers and teachers in the UK (just don’t tell her she has a Brummie accent).
She began her dance studies at an early age, attending classes at her local dance school, before taking exams in Classical Ballet and Spanish dance at Malaga’s Conservatoire. Ana studied with some of the great names of Flamenco, such as Maria Magdalena, Ciro, Adrian Galia, Rafaela Carrasco, Belen Fernandez, Belen Maya and Eva La Yerbabuena in Madrid, Seville and Jerez.
Alongside Felipe de Algeciras, she founded the successful UK-based Flamenco dance company ‘Alma’ in 2002, featuring dancer Carmela Romero, guitarists Tito Heredia and Ramón Ruiz, and singers Jasmine Villalobos and La Leo.
More recently, Ana has collaborated with leading European director Calixto Bieito as a choreographer for the play La Celestina; worked at Montpellier Opera House, France, choreographing the dance of Salome in a ground-breaking twin production of both the Strauss and Mariotte versions of the opera; and also spent several months working on further dance and choreography on operatic productions in Germany.
* Easily confused with …
Bryan Lester :: Guru
Inventor of the piano and spiritual leader of music in the west, Bryan is a rather talented guitarist, pianist, composer, arranger, teacher, and purveyor of fine quality stews. We also think he’s about 142.
Currently working in composition-overdrive for a project for EMI with Sam, Jamie and old friend Dave Hewson, Bryan worked tirelessly with Trio Gitano between 2000-2005 as Musical Director, and continues to write and arrange for all instrumental shapes and sizes, with his great love for guitar and piano often taking him back to his first instruments.
The nifty-fingered Lester has arranged several of his works for TGC, whilst also working with the equally unhinged and talented accomplice Keith Cole in both performance and composition.
In his many hundreds of years on the planet, Bryan first studied at the Royal Northern College for Music, with his first professional work in a series of concerts with the Halle’ and the BBC Northern Symphony Orchestras under Sir John Barbirolli. He also toured as a guitarist and lutenist with the Northern Consort of singers.
His first performance as a guitarist/composer was in a concert with pianist John Ogden and the percussionist James Blades for the Manchester Institute of Contemporary Arts, and has since gone on to work as a recitalist worldwide, in concert, recording and on television and radio. He has also published a series of books on guitar technique, inspired by the didactic approach of Bartok’s ‘Mikrokosmos’ for piano, and was a senior lecturer in experimental music and music in film in Kent.
In the 1990′s, Bryan’s music was featured in the ‘Prestige de la Guitare’ concert series in Brussells, given by the Los Angeles Quartet, the Assad brothers and Eduardo Isaac, who also recorded Bryan’s Jazz Fugues for guitar.
In more recent years, until 2007, Bryan concentrated his energies in to The Birmingham Schools’ Guitar Ensemble, a group he founded and ran for young advanced players for over 20 years, nurturing many now-professional guitarists – indeed where Sam and Jamie first met in the mid 90′s. He was also commissioned by the Birmingham Music Service to compose a work for classical guitar ensemble in 2008. He now spends much of his time composing, eating Apple Strudel, and musing over new and challenging ingredients for his bewitching cauldron of stews.
Lluis Mather | Clarinet, Flute
On occasion, should Louis be busy platting his beard or Holly otherwise engaged in stock-taking the cake wing of her residence, we are very lucky to be able to feature the wonderful clarinet and flute of Lluis Mather. More soon, we hope!