a boy, Billy Jenkins (b.1956, Bromley, Kent) sang in occasional choirs at
St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey, toured and recorded for legendary record
label boss Clive Davis as a teenager with art rock band Burlesque (1972-77),
performed as a young adult with 'alternative musical comedy' duo Trimmer
& Jenkins (1979-82) and drummer Ginger Baker before founding (in 1981)
the VOGC (the Voice of God Collective - 'The voice of the people is
the voice of God' [attrib. Plato and others] - to which BJ adds, '...and
the religion is music!' ).
Since then he
has produced a large body of over 40 recorded albums including 'Scratches
of Spain', 'Motorway At Night', 'Entertainment USA' and 'Music For Two Cassette
Machines'. Some of his recordings are about his SE London environs and include
'Sounds Like Bromley', 'Greenwich', 'Still Sounds Like Bromley' and 'Suburbia'.
From 1983 - 93 he lived and worked at Wood Wharf Rehearsal Studios
in Greenwich, where he welcomed an average of 26.6 musicians through the doors
Projects have included recording
and performing with The Fun Horns of Berlin, improvised musical boxing Big
Fights, Music For Low Strung Guitar, directing Anglo-Belgium and London Meets
Vienna ensembles, improvising to film, collaborating in words and music with
Ian McMillan, Ben Watson, Kate Pullinger a.o., composing and performing
with The Gogomagogs, compositions for six guitars, 'The Drum Machine Plays
The Battlemarch Of Consumerism' for
six drumkits, curating the Vortex World Cup Jazz Ball and sporadic festival
and club appearances on the continent and UK.
Member of the Arts Council of England Improvised Touring panel from
1993 - 98.
He has been nominated
for a Paul Hamlyn Award three times - in 2008, 2010 and 2011.
In education he was Visiting Tutor in Guitar Techniques at Lewisham
F.E.College (1990-96), guest lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music '95, Guest
big band director at Middlesex University '96. Ensemble Masterclasses at
the International Summeracademy Freie Kunstschule, Berlin '97. 'Moving On'
music workshops with Andy Sheppard a.o., Belfast '99. Musical Director and
workshop leader for Greenwich Young People's Jazz Orchestra, Blackheath 2000.
School Workshops with the Pied Piper Project, Yorkshire, March 2001. Visiting
Artist on the Jazz Faculty at Trinity College of Music (2001-2) and at the
Royal Academy of Music from 2002 to 2009.
In 2002 he created
and presented over forty live two hour Sunday lunchtime radio shows
in London on Resonance 104.4FM, entitled 'One Way Single Parent Family Favourites'.
For 2006/07, ‘Billy Jenkins' Songs Of Praise' was created especially
for a short UK tour in his 50th year, with instrumentation and personnel capable
of merging the myriad strands of Jenkins' musical and performing career into
a fast flowing spontaneous and joyous celebration of humanist music making.
Songs of Praise, indeed!
Since 1995 he
has preferred performing live with his Blues Collective, solo, or duo with
fellow guitarist Steve Morrison in Here Is The Blues!, and has also appeared
as 'Billy the Aviator' in Tom Bancroft's award winning musical children's
At the 2010 London Jazz Festival, he performed with the BBC Big
Band playing his music arranged by long time VOGC saxophonist Iain Ballamy
but since then, he has ceased travelling and performing due to the demands
of creating and conducting humanist funerals.
Billy Jenkins Selected Press Comments
'He mixes elements
of the blues with the spirit of punk rock all beautifully gift wrapped with
the joy of jazz...'
Claire Martin Jazz Line Up BBC R3
master of the woebegone' Rob Adams Glasgow Herald
Only one in
20,000 English bluesmen inhabits a recognisable reality. Step forward
Billy Jenkins, anarcho guitarmeister and arch-demythologiser. Pure genius'.
Mike Butler City Life
'American readers will
be baffled by him; but he is, along with the Princess Royal and Walthamstow
dog stadium, one of our national treasures.'
Penguin Guide To Jazz On CD
'His humour surely springs
from a deeply moralistic, even puritanical stance, and surely the adjectives
normally applied to Jenkins - such as 'zany' and 'quirky' - actually diminish
what in reality constitutes a serious and savagely satirical attack on commercialism
Trevor Hodgett Jazzwise
'Billy Jenkins has the
priceless ability to merge serious music-making with absolute lunacy, and
make the one feed off the creative energy of the other'.
Kenny Mathieson The Scotsman
'Next to Jenkins, chroniclers
of modern Britain such as Pulp seem like feckless dilettanti' Richard
Cook New Statesman
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