Sebastian Scotney reports:
The much-admired drummer and educator Dave Wickins passed away last night.
We published appreciations of Dave from Liam Noble, Kirk Lightsey, Steve Watts, Simon Purcell and Buster Birch as a preview for a benefit gig when his battle against prostate cancer was in its early stages in 2016. HERE.
Simon Purcell said at the time: “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)!”
And one former pupil at Trinity Laban, New York-based drummer Douglas Marriner, wrote recently “Dave Wickins has one of the truly great touches on the instrument, ever. A master of the brushes. A life-changing teacher and generous mentor to generations of musicians in the UK.”
There was a Celebration of the Musical World of Dave Wickins at the Vortex in May, organised by Julian Nicholas and Buster Birch. (REPORT)
In this podcast interview from 2017 Dave Wickins talked to Sebastian about his “lessons” with Philly Joe Jones, and about playing with Bobby Wellins, Kirk Lightsey and Liam Noble
This is enormously sad news. Many of us were lucky to enjoy Dave’s playing around Brighton for several years; he was an extraordinarily gifted musician, and generally a nice guy, with a great sense of humour. That he was able to share his talents playing in some legendary bands, and in jazz education was also a gift.
Dave was my musical hero, just as he was to many of the thousands of drummers like me that he taught throughout his life. I know I wasn’t alone in enjoying a special and very personal relationship with Dave, something so many of his students felt due to his incredibly warm, loving and sincere nature. He had a unique and particularly special approach to music and the drums; a style that was virtuosic, always beautifully appropriate and yet not at all cliché. So many of his band-mates and students remarked on his outstanding musicality. This was something he heavily encouraged as a teacher and for which audiences across the world will continue to benefit from via the generations of drummers he taught. My favourite albums from his discography would include Brubeck (Noble), If you’re not having fun by now (Lightsey) and The bad and the beautiful (Churchill). Stamford Bridge will also miss a committed regular! Rest in Peace Dave. Thank you for such wonderful lessons, for the experiences you gave me at your gigs and for being such a noble and great man to aspire to be like outside of music. I will really miss you. Tom
So sad to hear this news. Dave was a truly great musician and lovely man. His contribution on “Brubeck” was one of the reasons the album received 5 stars in the Guardian from John Fordham
who described the album as a “tour de force”. He had that ability to be sublimely subtle and irresistibly watchable at the same time. RIP
I was in Dave’s Drum Improv class at Parkshot College for three years. I learnt about being a musical drummer, rather than concentrating on rudiments & technique. And to watch him play,close-up, was always a pleasure. And….. he was a very likable guy. Peter Robinson