Born: August 6, 1949 Primary Instrument: Guitar
Chris Flegg is based in St Albans, Herts and not only plays jazz guitar but is a singer songwriter on the acoustic and folk scene with three albums of original songs to date, the latest being The Sound Of Life. Previous jazz recordings include Moving On, an album of original pieces for jazz quartet, in which John Rees-Jones also features on bass. Chris mainly performs locally in St Albans with sax and bass in a jazz context or solo as a singer guitarist. He runs a monthly jazz jam session and enjoys charity busking in support of the British Heart Foundation.
Chris Flegg was born in Eastleigh, Hampshire which is situated five miles north of the coastal city of Southampton.
A self taught musician, like so many in the sixties, Chris learned to play guitar using
Bert Weedon’s “Play In A Day”. With his new found music knowledge, he set about honing his skills by playing the chart hits of the era in a local Hampshire group called ‘The Air Raiders’.
Following his education at Barton Peveril Grammar School he moved to London to study physics at Imperial College in South Kensington, taking with him an acoustic guitar traded for his much loved electric guitar. Once settled in this new environment, Chris made contact with other student musicians and explored the local music scene.
He did not have to look far as the ‘Troubadour Club’ was close by in the Earls Court district of West London. This now legendary venue situated at 265 Old Brompton Road first opened its doors in 1954 and is still going strong, now occupying numbers 263-267. From its early incarnation as a folk venue and ‘counter culture den of creativity’ it has withstood the test of time.
The Troubadours Famous Entrance DoorChris Flegg began singing at the Troubadour and swiftly progressed from floor spots to becoming co-resident with two of folk music’s unsung heroes, Martin Winsor and Redd Sullivan. At the same time he was learning the ropes of the London acoustic music scene by helping to run the Imperial College Folk Club.
Around this time Chris started writing songs and, encouraged by Redd Sullivan’s enthusiasm for jazz and blues, developed a keen interest in jazz which was enhanced by meeting guitarist Diz Disley (Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli) when Diz played at the Imperial College Folk Club.
Diz saw Chris play guitar and after the show invited him to come along to the Fiesta Club in the Fulham Road to see and meet guitarist Denny Wright (Stephane Grapelli and Lonnie Donegan). On this night he would witness the playing skills of a man who is credited as having quietly influenced a generation of guitar players.
Eventually things would turn full circle and at a later date Chris would end up occasionally playing for Diz Disley’s Band and alongside Denny Wright in The Steve Benbow Band.
Chris Flegg's first ‘sit in’ with a jazz band also occurred at the Troubadour when he played with the Eric Lister Band. Around this time UK folk and jazz had a close affinity with each other; you would often see the same audience attending the various individual shows, be they folk or jazz; the same applied to blues and skiffle.
During his time at Imperial College Chris was a contemporary of Brian May who went on to be the lead guitarist in the band Queen. Chris tried to get Brian to come to the Troubadour folk nights and get more involved with acoustic music but his efforts were in vain.
Whilst at Imperial College Chris performed in an acoustic band called Matrix, two guitars and tabla, plus girl singer, (the singer is still active as Annie Long, www.annielong.co.uk ), the band were influenced by John Renbourn’s Pentangle.
Chris made his first recording debut in 1969 on an EP titled “Reflections On A Good Year” shared with other Imperial College Folk Club performers. The track was “Three Legged Woman Blues”, a parody played in the style of Big Bill Broonzy: it’s out there somewhere! This song was later re-recorded for the album “Solo”. The EP vinyl recording (FEP 269) was recorded by Malcolm Jackson at the Rickmansworth studios of Jack Jackson the legendary band leader and radio presenter. The other tracks were by Paul Steer and Dick Henrywood, and Frank Ellis, fellow students at Imperial College.
His first radio broadcasts were as a member of the five piece folk group called Thamesis (1971 - 1974) when the group appeared on Capital Radio in a show hosted by Sarah Ward. The Thamesis line up included Jeanni Steel, Shirley Lucas, Martin Winsor, Redd Sullivan and Chris Flegg. The group played a variety of venues which memorably included the remand wing of South London’s Brixton Prison!
After five years spent at Imperial College, Chris found the jazz scene becoming a more rewarding interest and he started performing with a variety of London based groups and musicians ranging from ‘Hot Club’ style acoustic bands with violinists including Dick Powell and Mike Piggott to mainstream combos and even Dixieland bands such as Dick Laurie’s Elastic Band. He also spent a time playing in a Bix Beiderbecke influenced band called ‘Dix Six’ led by Richard Williams (Later -- Oscar winning animator -- ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’). There followed residencies in a succession of pub and club bands of varying genres which included working with Steve Benbow, Diz Disley and Denny Wright.
In 1980 he left London for Stevenage moving to nearby St Albans in 2000. The death of his wife Shirley (Shirley Lucas) to heart disease in 2002 after thirty years together brought about a number of lifestyle changes including a deeper involvement in music.
In rediscovering the acoustic music scene he became resident at the Windward Folk Club in St Albans alongside George Papavgeris, a prolific songwriter; this rekindled the need to write songs.
He recorded ‘Solo’ in 2004 a retrospective album including earlier compositions and then two albums of new original songs followed, ‘My Sweet Lady’ in 2005 and ‘Through The Window’ in 2006. He recently published an illustrated book of his own song lyrics covering new material.
His song ‘A Hill So High’ from the ‘My Sweet Lady’ album won second prize in the 2005 Maidenhead Folk Club song writing contest. ‘Things Just Might Not Get Better’ from the same album is now sung by Anthony John Clarke who included it in his recent covers album.
Brentford FCThis recording was played at the Brentford Football Ground after their relegation in 2007.
Chris also took up the saxophone and has featured the soprano sax on his recent albums, as well as playing tenor sax for George Papavgeris on his album ‘For My Next Trick’.
Currently Chris spends time developing his solo performing featuring his own song writing while continuing to play jazz guitar in his own trio ‘Mellowtone’ as well as in a Hot Club style trio led by violinist Peter Roby. He runs a monthly jazz jam session in St Albans at the Portland Arms.
If time and weather permit, you will also find him busking at weekends in St Albans in support of The British Heart Foundation. Chris also supports The Children’s Society by performing at their open air fundraising events in London and St Albans.
1. Slow Train
2. Song For Ray
3. All You Need Is Time
4. Almost Spring
5. Not One Of Buddy's Habits
6. What A Time To Go
7. Moving On
8. Every Shade Of Blue
Chris Flegg (g);
Martin Simons (ts, ss, t, h);
John Rees-Jones (b);
Rod Brown (d,pc)
Her Favourite Flower
1. Night And Day
2. I'm Going Home
3. Cat House
5. Our Love Is Here To Stay
6. Her Favourite Flower
7. A Day In The Life Of A Fool
8. The Girl From Ipanema
9. Body And Soul
10. Stella By Starlight
11. Round Midnight
12. When Sunny Gets Blue
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