Simon Spillett

Award Winning Saxophonist

What made you decide to become a jazz musician?

Probably exposure to the records in my Dad's collection when I was a child.

Why did you choose the tenor saxophone?

To me, it's the jazz instrument. Although I started on alto and sometimes play soprano, I still prefer the tenor.

Who are your favourite saxophonists?

That's a very hard question to answer. I've been most inspired by John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Stan Getz and Tubby Hayes, but there are many other saxophonists I enjoy listening to. And not just saxophonists, obviously.

Which saxophone, mouthpiece and reeds do you use?

Selmer or Cannonball saxes, Otto Link mouthpieces and Rico reeds.

Can you name your favourite albums?

There are so many I like - however I'd pick Stan Getz' Sweet Rain, Sonny Rollins' Newk's Time, John Coltrane's Crescent and Tubby Hayes' Mexican Green as those that have had the biggest impact on me.

Will you be recording any more albums?

I really don't like recording so therefore I have no plans to record again. Unfortunately, if you choose not to record certain quarters of the business - jazz critics mainly, but some promoters too - no longer take you seriously. As much as I admire those musicians who regularly release albums, and who are comfortable doing that, it's really not for me. My three albums prove this point, I think.

Do you have any thoughts on You Tube?

I have very mixed feelings regarding You Tube. Whilst I can see its value for allowing those who can't make it to gigs to check out a musicians playing, the fact that many of its submissions are filmed without the players agreement (and sometimes knowledge), without even a cursory question about whether the players mind, makes it very hard to regulate. Therefore a musician operating these days often has very little say in what gets put before the public. There are also other issues concerning recording/sound quality. My own experiences with You Tube have been, sad to say, mostly unhappy ones.

Are there any musical experiences from your career that stand out?

I've had some wonderful experiences playing music, but I think one of the very best memories must be working at Ronnie Scott's with the legendary Jon Hendricks, a truly amazing man both on and off the bandstand.

You've won several awards over the past few years. How does winning these effect your career?

When I won the BBC Rising Star back in 2007, Martin Drew said "Congratulations! You'll never work again!" He was only half-joking. I had the quietest year ever following that. Awards are nice and they help with certain bits of publicity but they're largely cosmetic. I recently won one for being The Most Vicarious Jazzman in the UK. Or something like that.

Which artists playing today inspire you?

Along with the musicians in my band I'd also name Peter King and Alan Skidmore, two esteemed veterans of the profession who always knock me out.

What are your musical goals?

To eventually come up with something that I can be proud of.

You write about jazz as well as play gigs. Which do you prefer?

I enjoy both in different ways. Writing is an outlet for what I've learned about jazz history - I love researching the stories of the music and its great figures. Playing brings different emotions and requires a more 'in the moment' mindset. I try to balance the two.