Drawing: Jamie Cullum

Autographed drawing of jazz musician Jamie Cullum

Popular British jazz musician Jamie Cullum paid for the production of his first album, ‘Heard It All Before’ with £480 out of his own pocket in 1999. His second album ‘Pointless Nostalgic’ became a best-seller. It’s success grabbed the attention of the mainstream broadcasters, including Michael Parkinson, who invited him to make his first television appearance. As a result, Universal beat Sony in a bidding war, offering him a £1million, three album contract.

His first CD album under their label, ‘Twentysomething’ (2003), a mixture of standards, originals and adaptions sold over 2 million units. While primarily a jazz musician, the mostly self-taught 40 year-old is often regarded as a ‘crossover’ artist, incorporating a wide range of styles and his jazz compositions are heavily influenced by contemporary popular music. He has played at all the major festivals, including Montreal, Montreal, New Orleans and Glastonbury, winning numerous awards Including the British Jazz Rising Star accolade and collecting the Artist of the Year at both the BBC Jazz and Jazz FM Awards. He has also been nominated for three Brit Awards, a Grammy for ‘Twentysomething’ and a Best Original Song Golden Globe Award for Clint Eastwood’s 2008 film GRAN TORINO.

Since 2010 Jamie has presented a weekly evening jazz show on BBC 2 Radio, which is broadcast from its studios in Wogan House, where he signed my sketch for me last year.

Sketch: The late, great Johnny Dankworth

Johnny Dankworth

I had the privilege of meeting British musical legend Johnny Dankworth and his wife Cleo Laine when they visited my hometown of Invercargill in southern New Zealand in 1994. I drew this black biro sketch, which he really liked, and he happily signed it for me. I gave him the original.

Knighted in 2006, Sir John Phillip William Dankworth was considered a pioneer of modern jazz and leading composer of film music. A superb instrumentalist, Johnny was one of the first British musicians to witness and then to explore the new avant-garde style of jazz, bebop, that emerged from New York after the Second World War.

He established The Stables at Wavendon, a charity that has provided education and opportunity for generations of young musicians. He also instigated the Jazz Course at the Royal Academy of Music, an area of study common in such institutions now, but highly  controversial in classical circles at the time. As Johnny put it, “to say that jazz was divided about the validity and desirability of bebop would be seriously understating the case. It would be like saying that Americans were a tiny bit cross with the Japanese after Pearl Harbour”.

Sir John passed away in 2010 aged 82. His final appearance on the stage was a solo performance for the London Jazz Festival at the Royal Albert Hall in December 2009, playing his sax form a wheelchair.