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Guitarist, Composer, Bandleader




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s a boy, Billy Jenkins (b.1956, Bromley, Kent) was a parish church chorister and sang in occasional choirs at St. Paul's and Westminster Abbey. As a teenager toured and recorded for legendary record label boss Clive Davis 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 every day.

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 three times for a Paul Hamlyn Award - 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! 

From 1995 he performed live with his Blues Collective, solo, or duo with fellow guitarist Steve Morrison in Here Is The Blues! He also appeared as 'Billy the Aviator' in Tom Bancroft's award winning musical children's show 'Kidsamonium'. 

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.

Two recent album releases were selected by Mojo Magazine as a 'Top Ten Underground Album Of The Year' in both 2014 and 2015.

In 2016, his album 'True Love Collection' (released in 1998) was voted by BBC and Jazz FM presenters, jazz musicians, critics and journalists as one of the '50 Greatest Ever Jazz Albums'.  

Having spend seven years (2008 -14) creating and conducting humanist funerals in SE London, he has returned to researching, composing, writing and recording - but his hyperacusis (over-sensitivity to sound), tinnitus and various other proudly borne 'industrially related' minor, but chronic, physical and psychological issues severely limit his music making.  

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

'The wayward 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 and consumerism.'
                                                                    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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