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Interviews - Jazz artists

Here you can read more than 300 separate interviews with a range of jazz artists plus a number of related tributes and contemporary reviews. We have included a brief biography of each artist as background.

Many of the interviews with visiting American and British jazz musicians by Les Tomkins (see below) recorded between 1963 and 1987 for Crescendo magazine are included. Most of the other interviews are by jazz trumpeter Ron Simmonds, who set up and operated the Jazz Professional website for many years (this site is maintained by the National Jazz Archive but is no longer updated).

The interview transcripts and profiles are arranged alphabetically. You can explore them using the search facility at the top of the page, or by simply scrolling through the index of items below.

 

Les Tomkins (1930–2020)

Les Tomkins was born on 31 October 1930 and was a journalist, singer and jazz aficionado.

Les started a Monday-night jazz club in Sutton in south London, in 1950, where many British jazz stars performed. He was secretary of the Contemporary Jazz Society between 1957 and 1960.

Les Tomkins sitting and smilingDuring this time he began interviewing jazz musicians in his club. This included interviews of well known American artists visiting the UK, which he continued doing at Ronnie Scott’s Club during the 1960s. Some of these interviews were published by the weekly music newspaper Melody Maker. Between 1961 and 1962 he freelanced as a contributor to Jazz News. In 1962 Tomkins began an association with Crescendo magazine, which lasted more than 20 years.

By 1966 Les was Crescendo’s editor and art editor and from 1970 he continued as a freelance editor, contributor, and art director to the magazine.

Over the years Tomkins recorded, and published, over 1000 interviews with jazz musicians. The interviews were recorded over a period of some 30 years and were transcribed by Les himself.

You can listen to an interview with Les Tomkins recorded as part of National Jazz Archive’s Intergenerational Jazz Reminiscence project in 2018. Les Tomkins died on 26 April 2020.

 

 

We have three unique collections that are based on personal interviews and provide the basis of our oral jazz history archive.

 

 

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