FEATURE/ PREVIEW: Benefit gig for Dave Wickins at the 606 Club (Sunday 1st May, lunchtime)

Dave Wickins
Drummer Dave Wickins was recently diagnosed with prostate cancer, affecting his ability to work. With a swift demonstration of esprit de corps, a benefit has been organised(+), to be held at the 606 Club in Chelsea on Sunday the 1st of May at 1:30pm. Artists giving their services include Pete Churchill, Steve Watts, Liam Noble, Malcolm Earle Smith, Lee Goodall, Geoff Simkins, Dave Cliff, Alison Rayner, Deirdre Cartwright, Buster Birch, Julian Nicholas, Julian Siegel, Martin Speake, Chris Batchelor, John Parricelli, Oren Marshall, Simon Purcell, and Dave himslf…. As they look forward to the gig, a number of musicians have offered their plaudits, memories and good wishes to Dave (*): Kirk Lightsey: Dave is one of my very best friends in the world, one of my favourite drummers and favourite people. For him to be going through this…boy. I mean, I knew his family, I knew his father, I’ve known Dave for 25 years, 30 years now or maybe more. We made a record – “If You’re Not Having Fun By Now”- and we toured together all over Wales & England, Dave was organising all this stuff. Something that makes Dave special is his set-up –the way he sets his drums up, it isn’t normal. He does it by sound, listening to the overtones of the music, sounds of the instruments that are playing. He’s the only guy I know that sets his drums up like that. …and he’s a very kind, brilliant person, with a big heart, big knowledge of music and the world. One of my very best friends. Steve Watts: Dave Wickins: fantastic individual drummer, master administrator, diplomat (yes it’s true, I’ve witnessed it on many occasions) and loyal friend. I met Dave in the early 80s when I first began to play jazz. He put up with my fumblings and never once complained. Several years later I was asked to join the teaching staff on the Glamorgan jazz summer school which was run by Dave and Simon Purcell at the time. I had done very little teaching back then and Dave and Simon were both incredibly supportive and encouraging. I’ll always be very grateful for the opportunity they gave me, which had a profound effect on my future path. The Jazz summer school, now renamed “The original jazz summer school”, and still directed by Dave, has been a highlight of every year since then. I’m also really grateful to Dave for the incredible musical experiences I’ve had playing with him over the years. Especially with Kirk Lightsey/Joe Lee Wilson and with Pete Churchill and Bobby Wellins. Thanks for your fantastically individual playing and your loyal friendship Dave. I’m looking forward to many more years of good times to come. Liam Noble: Dave’s playing has been an indispensable part of my musical life, with an amazing sense of colour and swing. He has also been a great friend over the years and I know he has been a great teacher to many musicians now active on the London jazz scene. Dave Whitford: I first met Dave playing with Liam Noble and Bobby Wellins around 12 years ago at the 606. As well as many delightful nights playing as a quartet in the intervening years this initial encounter also gave birth to a trio led by Liam Noble. Playing with Dave in the trio or as a part of the Bobby Wellins quartet have given me some of the most enjoyable, rewarding and exciting musical moments of my playing career. Dave’s a wonderful guy and fantastic drummer who always brings his wit, sensitivity, creativity and love of the music to the band stand. Simon Purcell: My old mate, colleague and musical companion Dave Wickins has been in the wars recently so now’s the time to repay his generosity. For decades Dave has been a special presence in the UK jazz community through his long-term association with Kirk Lightsey, Liam Noble and Bobby Wellins. A major figure in UK jazz education, Dave regenerated the Barry Summer School and has established a deeply musical approach to the learning of the drum-kit within formal jazz education. He’s also a great cook and has the best shuffle-beat I have played with (of course, learnt from his one-time mentor Philly-Joe Jones)! Dave Cliff: Dave Wickins is a highly individual small group drummer, a good loyal friend, plus he has done a great job of running the Welsh jazz summer school for the last 25 years. Keep on drumming Dave! Buster Birch: (+)  – organizer of the benefit gig It’s very hard for me to sum up in a few words what an influence Dave Wickins has had on me over the nearly 20 years that I have known him, as a musician, a teacher and a friend. I first met him at the Glamorgan Jazz Summer School in 1998, that he and Simon Purcell ran together, and I was blown away by his drumming. His musicality, feel, touch and taste on the kit was, and still is, incredible. It puzzles me why his great talent is not more widely appreciated by the general public, although it does not surprise me that he holds the drum chair for some of the very best jazz musicians in the UK as well as great visiting American artists. The musicians know. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that Dave is a very humble, down to earth and generous guy and is just as passionate about teaching music as he is playing it. As well as running summer schools for 30+ years, he has spent many years teaching the über talented students at Trinity Conservatoire as well as working in his local comprehensive and coaching some of the less fortunate youngsters there. His social awareness and sense of community is one of the things that makes him the man and artist that he is. We talk on the phone every week and have had many long conversations about a great many things, not just music, and I have learned so much from him. However, I have to say that despite his best efforts, his other great love (football) has yet to make any sense to me! BIOGRAPHICAL NOTE: Dave Wickins has been an indelible part of the UK jazz scene since the 1980’s, both as a musician and a music educator of considerable pedigree. Mentored by the legendary “Philly Joe” Jones (Miles, Coltrane, Evans), Dave established himself as a sought-after player, working most notably with American pianist Kirk Lightsey & his trio as well as beloved Scottish saxophonist Bobby Wellins and British pianist Liam Noble. His parallel career as Tutor and Course Director (along with Simon Purcell and then Buster Birch) of the former Barry Summer School – now known as “The Original UK Jazz Summer School” – began in the 1980’s and has continued to the school’s present location at the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama. Dave is currently also on the faculty at the Trinity Laban Conservatoire.  (*) These plaudits for Dave Wickins have been collected together by Laura Thorne of the 606 Club. Sunday 1st May 1:30pm  606 Club Chelsea 90 Lots Road London Sw10 0qd   Bookings and Information: 020 7352 5953 or 606 Club – (bookings advised)

2 replies »

  1. The very best to Dave. I had this affliction several years ago and Dave should take heart from the fact that these days it is an entirely recoverable condition.

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