Piano Plus - Music for Every Occasion

Some of the Musicians

Brian Humpherson – Piano  

Brian has held a lifelong interest in jazz and popular music, playing piano with a number of professional and semi-professional musicians. Early in his teaching career he gained experience as  musical director to local choirs and Operatic Societies as well working as a conductor for the Leicestershire School of Music. Following retirement from his position as Director of Music and Performing Arts at Guthlaxton Specialist Arts College, he now engages in a variety of freelance activities, as an examiner for Trinity College, moderator for Arts Award and teacher trainer. A keen singer, he has sung with many local choirs and until his recent retirement was musical director of Broom Leys Choral Society, a post he held for 29 years. At present he is the conductor of 2nd Wind, a concert band based in Leicester. Brian was awarded an MBE in recognition of his services to music education in Leicestershire.

Don Blakeson - Trumpet  

Don studied trumpet at the Royal College of Music before embarking on a professional career in which he played with many of the major London orchestras. He held permanent posts in the English National Opera Orchestra, the BBC Radio Orchestra and BBC Big Band. As a freelance musician he was in great demand for TV, film and recording sessions. He was appointed as Vice- Principal of the Leicestershire School of Music, and conducted the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra in many prestigious concerts at home and abroad. He has conducted many of the top Brass Bands in the country, and has also acted as musical director for local ensembles and operatic societies. He retired in 1997 to concentrate on writing and playing jazz.   

 Martin Slipp - Bass  

Martin studied trombone at the Royal Northern College of Music, and began his musical career as a freelance musician in Manchester and Liverpool. A former member of the Leicestershire Schools Symphony Orchestra, he returned to Leicestershire as a brass teacher and conductor. He became Director of Bands for the Leicestershire School of Music, now Leicestershire Arts in Education, and for many years was principal conductor of the Symphonic Wind Band. More recently he studied at the Birmingham Conservatoire, completing a post-graduate degree in Composition. His interest in Jazz prompted him to take up the Double Bass, and he now plays with a variety of local jazz groups.       

  
Dougie Wright - Drums  

Dougie was one of the most successful session musicians on the London scene during the 1950s and 1960s, playing on more than 70 Top Twenty Hits including 50 No.1 records. He began his professional career as a member of the John Barry Seven, and went on to work with some of the most famous artists of the era, including  Cilla Black, Tom Jones, Cliff Richard , Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Adam Faith, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Dusty Springfield,  Jeff Beck and many others. Television work included the 60s Pop programme ‘Ready Steady Go’ and the Michael Parkinson Show. Dougie continues to be musically active, writing, arranging and recording for a variety of projects, including his most recent CD which features Dougie’s individual interpretation of some of his most popular hits.    

Chris Wright - Saxophone  

Chris began his musical career as a freelance musician in London, playing saxes, clarinet, flute and bass guitar. During this time he played with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), worked in the house bands of several West End Theatres, developing his taste for jazz in various  ensembles. He toured for a couple of years with NYJO before moving to Monaco as a member of the house band at the Casino De Monte Carlo. Whilst there he supported many well-known artists, including Stevie Wonder, Whitney Houston, Kid Creole and the Coconuts, Kool And The Gang, Bob Monkhouse, Liza Minelli, Sammy Davis Jr. and Barry White. He then returned to Leicestershire, and for many years has performed in local jazz ensembles, big bands and soul/pop bands. His first love is jazz, and he currently writes and arranges for a number of local groups.  
  
 Nicole van de Kuinder - Vocals   

After training as a classical opera singer in Darmstadt, Germany, Nicole returned to her native Amsterdam to continue her interest in singing jazz. She was soon in great demand by a number of Dutch Jazz Groups, and renowned for her vocal improvising skills. She sang with small groups and Big Bands, and also enjoyed singing ‘a capella’ arrangements.. Engagements to perform in TV commercials and radio broadcasts soon followed, and she participated in the North Sea Jazz Festival. Since coming to live in the UK, she has been much in demand as a guest singer throughout the Midlands, with her vast knowledge standard songs, bossa’s, ballads and repertoire associated with the Great American Songbook.   

Vic Poole - Drums

Vic has played every type of occasion including appearances at Ronnie Scott's Club, to a world tour on the S.S. Canberra, Hotel Dinner Dances, Clubs and Restaurants. He was the regular drummer in the funky 70’s 12 piece Jazz Orchestra - Juve Essence. Vic also plays full percussion in a modern Function Band. Classically trained by the great Bobby Orr, his style is intuitive and exciting. Since relocating from London, Vic has been running his own jazz trio, bringing together a number of the region's most talented and experienced musicians. He performs regularly at venues across Derbyshire and Leicestershire.