Tony Kinsey at Watermill Jazz, Dorking
Photo credit: Brian O’Connor/ Images of Jazz

In this, the third of year-end lists, our writers name some musicians of the year – (there is a separate list for musicians under 35 years of age): 

Tony Kinsey

The drummer/ composer/ bandleader born in 1927 and still going strong, is worthy of acknowledging through sheer durability, the fact that the playing still hold up is a bonus. On of the last of an era. Photographed here leading his quarte at the Watermill Jazz Club, Dorking, Surrey, in April. (Brian O’Connor)

Mike Westbrook

Mike Westbrook, who turns 80 next year, still regularly emerges from his home in the West country with astonishing music. Wonderful to hear the Westbrook Blake again at the Bath Festival. Almost better still to hear a new extended work for big band, A Bigger Show, a few weeks later in Bristol. And there’s now a double live CD of the same music. The show goes on.(Jon Turney) 


Never mind over 35, I think most of The Printmakers may be over 50 (no, not you James Maddren), but with the release of their CD Westerly earlier this year (link to review) they’ve at last made a mark with a recording as well as with glowing memories of gigs. (Mike Collins)

Thomas Stronen

Thomas Stronen’s activities with both Food and Time Is A Blind Guide, both groups recording albums for ECM showed the importance of this Norwegian composer/drummer. (Tony Dudley-Evans)

Paul Dunmall

Paul Dunmall showed that he is one of the world’s finest improvisers in tours with fellow saxophonist Tobias Delius and with The Deep Whole Trio with Paul Rogers and Mark Sanders. (Tony Dudley-Evans)

Clark Tracey and the Herts Jazz Fest team. L-R: Sylvia Tracey, Stephen Hyde,
William Kear, Hollie Stephens, Mike O’Brien, Ben Tracey, Pete Marshall
Photo credit: Melody McLaren

Clark Tracey
In his role as Artistic Director of Herts Jazz, Clark Tracey has led both the club and its annual Festival (celebrating its fifth year, run by the small but energetic team from strength to strength.  He ended the year by winning the British Jazz Awards best drummer accolade whilst growing his quintet featuring rising stars Harry Bolt, Henry Armburg Jennings, Chris Maddock, Daniel Casimir. (Melody McLaren)

Mark Lockheart

A consistently satisfying, creative jazz saxophonist of our generation, Mark Lockheart’s name and signature saxophone voice – producing those especially delicious, heartwarming tenor tones and phrases – has appeared regularly, during 2015, across album recordings (including The Printmakers’ Westerly, Polar Bear’s Same As You, Malija’s The Day I Had Everything) and gig listings. British contemporary jazz should be (and is) proud of its current buoyancy – and Mark is without doubt an established, feel-good instrumentalist/composer who continues to be one of its most exciting and distinguished torch-bearers. (Adrian Pallant)

Sun Ra and Henry Grimes

So many great players out there – and The Sun Ra Arkestra (REVIEW) is packed with them (around eleven at last count) – from leader Marshall Allen (91 yrs young!) to the heavyweight saxes of Danny Ray Thompson and Knoel Scott, they are the music – its no tribute band, you know you are in the presence of true originals who live and breath Ra’s music. They can change style and mood at the drop of a hat and swing like hell! Allen also played with the formidable bassist Henry Grimes, now at 80 in the Magic Science Quartet (REVIEW), who blazed away, mining improvised gems, well after midnight. (Geoff Winston)

Mark Sanders at White Cube
Drawing by Geoff Winston © 2015. All Rights Reserved

Mark Sanders. 

Mark Sanders can make any group in which he plays sound great. (Oliver Weindling)

Pinski Zoo

It was wonderful to have them back, especially in the welcoming ambience of the Polish Jazz Café Posk, as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. (REVIEW) Anarchic funk (Ornette Coleman-esque), thundering grooves and plaintive Eastern European themes lit up with Jaz Kopinski’s searing sax and Wojtek Konikiewicz’s moody piano. Best of all was their sense of camaraderie and love of the music. (Alison Bentley)

Brian Blain’s selection

– Almost everyone from Loose Tubes generation like Tim Whitehead, Mark Lockheart and Django  Bates himself.
Winston Clifford, Steve Brown two amazing time players.
Art Themen and Bobby Wellins – making a mockery of age by continuing to produce astonishing creativity
Carol Grimes – really unique; been singing outside the box longer than anyone-good band too with Dorian Ford Neville Malcolm Annie Whitehead and Winston Clifford
– And of course the mighty Jim Mullen too easily overlooked because of his ubiquity over many years- his performances with Zoe Francis revealing a tender side we didn’t fully realise he had. (Brian Blain)

Patrick Hadfield’s selection

Zoe Rahman: I’ve seen Zoe play three gigs this year, two with Courtney Pine, but best of all was her solo show at Glasgow Jazz Festival.

Enrico Rava produced an exceptional CD, Wild Dance, growling, engaging trumpet.

Maria Schneider released one of the records of the the year, “Thomson Fields”, and played in the UK for the first time in a while. Her next visit can’t come quickly enough: her band were just superb.

John Taylor. His playing at Glasgow Jazz Festival was just sublime. Sorely missed. (Patrick Hadfield)

Percy Pursgove. Photo credit: Jo Hornsby/THSH Birmingham

Percy Pursglove x 2

Percy Pursglove – after years of sterling work in the engine rooms of bands here and in Europe, the Birmingham-based trumpeter and double bassist, as comfortable playing free with Evan Parker as he is in a Hot Club band, is beginning to be noticed on the upper decks of jazz. His composition Far Reaching Dreams Of Mortal Souls needs to be more widely heard. (Peter Bacon)

When Percy Pursglove popped up at the Kenny Wheeler celebration at London Jazz Festival, on trumpet in a compelling short set with Evan Parker’s Foxes Fox (review), I was beginning to lose track of the different ensembles and locations in which I’d seen him in 2015.He is a frequent visitor to Bristol most often playing (bass and trumpet) in Andy Sheppard ensembles. He impressed in Julian Arguelles’ Septet at the Cheltenham Festival (review) and has been out and about with his own projects. No matter the style or context, he’s always made a mark. (Mike Collins)


A week after this piece was published, it emerged – and Percy Pursglove also confirmed – that he was in fact born in June 1981. We were thus six months early in placing him in this category of Musicians of the Year. No reputations have been damaged by this error, for which we nonetheless apologise. 

Categories: miscellaneous

3 replies »

  1. Not forgetting Henry Lowther and Stan Sulzmann, still as active on the Local jazz scene as they were when I was living and working in London from 1969 to 1975!

  2. Damn! I seem to have sent my 2016 nomination for Percy Pursglove a year early. Apologies – my fault entirely. – Peter Bacon

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