Please note: the opinions expressed below are solely those of the reviewers who wrote them. I don't particularly share these views. They are included here for the benefit of promoters looking for material to use in publicity, etc. SS
SIMON SPILLETT ON GIGS...
"Kicking off with Down Home...the quartet showed immediately what the audience could expect - a hard driving attack full of fluency and swing, using the compositions as vehicles on which the soloists could stretch...all introduced by Spillett's laconic wit.
Matthew Wright, Jazzwise, review of Simon Spillett Quartet at The Spice of Life, Soho
"Spillett, sharp suit and narrow tie, comes equipped with a full set of droll on-liners, in the best Ronnie Scott tradition. [His] ever-evolving repertoire featured classic compositions of Victor Feldman, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Tubby Hayes, Jimmy Heath...sassy heads and driving swinging solos, offset with some lovely ballads, in an intimate setting, low ceiling, appreciative listeners and diners, maybe a hundred in all."
London Jazz Collector, review of the Simon Spillett Quartet, The Oval Tavern, Croydon
"...full of anecdotes about [Tubby] Hayes, putting each song into context with wisecracks a la Ronnie Scott...Spillett wasted no time in demonstrating his impeccable credentials with frenetic yet totally controlled Hard Bop playing... a bebop masterclass."
Chaz Brooks, review of Simon Spillett Quartet at Guildford Institute
"...with such talent on the stage the event had to generate some musical fireworks...and it did! The capacity audience were completely enthralled with the standard of musicianship...the music was so well played and exciting in a way that transported me as if in a time warp to the 1960s in Ronnie Scott's..."
Review of Simon Spillett Quartet at the National Jazz Archive
"Dressed in a sober grey suit, the only clue that Simon Spillett wasn't a solicitor dropping in for a pint after a late night at the office was the red laces in immaculate black shoes – and the well-travelled sax slung round his neck. Simon's style is bebop...In the hands of lesser players, it can very easily sound like a frantic and bewildering blur of notes – difficult to engage with but impossible to ignore. Simon is in a league of his own though – a true master musician who can certainly play at an unimaginable and jaw-dropping speed (and as a tenor-player myself, my jaw really did drop!) but who does it with such imagination and fluency that it's impossible not to be engaged. The man's mind must run at hyper-speed to create and control such a flowing rush of notes that can still be so intense, inventive and coherent."
Bill Gibbon, review of guest appearance at the Bedford Street Bar, Leamington Spa
"...a musically satisfying concert that went a long way towards laying to rest the suggestion from some quarters that Simon's 'just' a speed merchant...His wonderfully burnished tone, the thoughtful exploration of the swinging song selection that formed today's programme demonstrated that Simon is developing into an extremely mature and iconoclastic tenor stylist."
Jerry Storer, review of Simon Spillett Trio at Chelmsford Jazz Club
"...the Simon Spillett Quartet was the pick of the concerts on offer...[playing a] set which was nothing short of sensational. As a tenor player in his own right Spillett is top drawer. A Pint of Bitter and Cherokee were superb..."
Russell Corbett, review of the 2016 Gateshead International Jazz Festival
"...an extraordinary player, blisteringly fast and roundly focused."
The Jazz Breakfast, review of Simon Spillett Quartet, Jazz Goes Mod, Lichfield
"Simon Spillett is a phenomenal tenor player. 'Powerful' comes most readily to mind, but that adjective could also be applied to high-volume, raw-toned speed merchants. But Spillett is a master musician, not a one-trick showman, and there wasn't a number in which some of the finer potential of the tenor saxophone didn't appear. His combination of speed and articulation are amazing; the long, improvisatory lines were wondrous to follow - and never lost to smeared notes or squawks; and his range of tone colour and command of the instrument's nuances were not left to the occasional ballad. His entire performance was an object lesson in what it means for a musician to play 'powerfully.' In New York, you would pay serious money to enjoy a single set of music of this quality — and on the night, you would have searched high and low to find its equal."
The Whitman Review, Simon Spillett Quartet at Wakefield Jazz
"This is a band that puts its heart into its work. Simon inhabits his horn. There are times when you cannot see the fingers moving. The really interesting thing is that at that speed, the ideas flowed coherently, even including some quotes. That is one quick musical mind. One more thing, he presents the material with humour and a clear knowledge. Refreshing."
Dave Lyons, review of Simon Spillett Quartet at Fleece Jazz, Leavenheath
"Firing off with Royal Ascot, he played with remarkable speed, clarity and technique. His powerful approach got the nod from Brian Case, a writer in the audience well known for his liking of hard-edged tenor players Dexter Gordon, Johnny Griffin and co - praise indeed."
Matthew Wright, Jazzwise, review of Simon Spillett Quartet at Foyles, London Jazz Festival
"...he is in top form. From the Mexican Green album comes Dedication to Joy. It reverberates through the room and the audience is completely taken. An amazing composition, performed stunningly by Spillett."
Erminia Yardley, review of Simon Spillett Quartet at Ronnie Scott's club
"It Could Happen To You was taken at a breakneck tempo, with Spillett's astonishing tenor technique displayed in all its glory. For fully five minutes he dazzled us with a wide-ranging solo that literally took the breath away. And that was just for openers!"
Julia Price, review of Simon Spillett Trio at Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham
"...a smoothly powerful tone, which confidently handles the melodic bends in a strong flowing river-rush of notes....more pertinent tonight is the Hayes-like charisma and capacity to entertain he adds to playing which is more personal than a mere tribute, but has a strength, facility and happy lust for life the man he's honouring would surely approve."
Nick Hasted, Jazzwise, review of Simon Spillett Quartet at The Verdict, Brighton
[He] fairly roared along, with no chord change left unexplored and a variety of inventive phrases located and played at fast tempo; nowhere as easy to do as he made it sound....no note is wasted or seemingly superfluous; the way he constructs solos everything sounds right and proper..."
Derek Ansell, Newbury Weekly News, review of guest appearance at South Hill Park, Bracknell
"Simon Spillett never fails to impress. With a technique that outstrips most of his contemporaries (with each hearing he appears to add an extra hundred notes per phrase). And yet, these aren't mere hip arpeggios but meaningful use of the tools at his command. He is a walking, living, Jazz Courier with Tubby's technique and Ronnie's laconic sense of humour."
"Simon Spillett resplendent in a black winter beard looked more like a suited gladiator than a jazz frontman. With an air of Crixus about him he was combative in both technique and speed. His microphone patter has a dark humour that matched his hirsute appearance...his delivery as quick as jelly sliding off a plate. You caught a handful of notes in your mitts before it slid through your fingers, he was so rapid."
"Well dressed, sharp and intelligent, Spillett is a highly capable saxophonist with chops to burn. He's a highly popular performer who's done much to keep [Tubby] Hayes' music in the public eye while simultaneously carving out a niche for himself. This set in the company of three highly experienced musicians ensured that the standard of music on this final day of the festival remained resolutely high"
"Simon's celebration of Tubby Hayes was lovely. Simon's banter was extremely funny and he certainly knew how to play his audience. His variety of playing was engaging: some sharp playing but also some breathy delivery and a wide vibrato (this was apparent on Souriya). The marvellous aspect of the evening was the melodic quality of the playing."
"The much-lauded saxophonist and jazz authority, Simon Spillett, brought his tenor sax to the Prince on a cold March night to an audience of jazz fans and socialising diners and drinkers. In a programme sensibly tailored for this setup, the theme was ‘standards’, with a sprinkling of ballads and refreshing tempo changes. Three Jimmy Van Heusen compositions, two by Jerome Kern and a Cole Porter number framed the course of the evening, but the attacking be-bop style generally associated with this axe man was never far away. A satisfied audience, and I think the musicians, too, enjoyed their trip to the sticks."
Keith Brain, review of guest appearance, The Prince of Wales, Shrivenham, Oxon
"An evening that positively bristled with high-octane, swinging jazz, executed with a fiery passion and proving that this is indeed the music he does best. An interesting mix of ballad/jazz standards was on the agenda, the music firmly rooted in the classic sound of British jazz in the 1950's and 60's. The opener Secret Love was taken at a breakneck pace and a lively rendition of In The Still Of The Night, which I am sure if Cole Porter had heard, he would have changed the title immediately – nothing still about it! – prompting Simon to say, 'I don’t think we had many casualties.' It wasn’t all fire and brimstone; Simon proved he could do the sensitive with a lovely interpretation of Yesterday I Heard the Rain. This was an evening of unpretentious swinging jazz – four excellent musicians enjoying themselves every bit as much as the audience. The finale just had to be Ray Noble’s Cherokee, the stunning tempo leaving both audience and players quite breathless."
"Simon's playing was strong and assured, and, maturing rapidly from his earlier days, showed considerable variation in texture. The ballads were played with warmth and sensitivity and the warhorses had enough power, invention and hard swing to please any enthusiast. If it occasionally sounded like the Spillett and [Clark] Tracey show, well, these two are obviously musically compatible and their togetherness helped add an extra sparkle to a thoroughly satisfying night of jazz."
Derek Ansell, Newbury Weekly News, review of guest appearance at the Progress Theatre, Reading
"Wonderful! Wonderful! - a apt opener, for this is what this evening surely was. Spillett soared throught he changes of the old Johnny Mathis number at Tempo de Lick! It was a performance that was truly formidable. My heart was pounding and this was only the first number! This was like a gig by the old Jazz Couriers - Tubby Hayes inspired tenor and Ronnie Scott inspired jokes. But what about Pint of Bitter? This, for me, was possibly the tenorman's best solo of the night. This is working on the assumption that it is possible to rate such high calibre solos in the first place!"
"One of the giants currently on the British jazz scene, Spillett was our guest at the Hare and Hounds for this gig in our 18th year. He never disappoints with his high octane and wonderful playing on tenor sax. To end the set, they finished with the evergreen Cherokee, with Simon playing sheets of arpeggios and storming choruses and the rest of the band swinging like the clappers. With the crowd wanting more, so ended a wonderful evening of contemporary jazz played by first class musicians and all for the price of a raffle ticket!"
Paul Burnett-Kirk, review of guest appearance at The Hare and Hounds, Worthing
SIMON SPILLETT ON RECORD...
"Spillett doesn't shake you by the hand so much as grab you by the throat..."
Brian Morton, The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings
"Those of us who have caught him....have been left blinking in disbelief. It's not only his mastery of the tenor saxophone, phenomenal though that is, but the absolute conviction of his playing that is so impressive."
Dave Gelly, The Sunday Observer
"He's stood old head and young shoulders above many of his contemporaries as a live performer for several years...gets five stars for knowing how to play jazz when so many of his generation think they can but they can't."
Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine
"It's a great joy to discover Simon Spillett! He is to Bebop what Harry Allen and Scott Hamilton are to Mainstream."
Steve Voce, Jazz Journal
"An extraordinarily talented tenor player..."
Tony Hall, Jazzwise
"A bruising, scruff-of-the-neck hard bopper, he has examined and absorbed all the greats...generates huge excitement, passion and swagger."
Chris Ingham, MOJO
"...has the Getzian knack of alternating between an affecting earnestness and steeliness as required on slower material..."
Chris Parker, Jazz Review