FRANKLY SPEAKING ABOUT Derek Watkins
Derek Watkins was simply one of the finest trumpet players of his generation anywhere in the world and it all started in the Spring Gardens Brass Band in Reading, where his dad Ted was the conductor. Derek was the fourth generation of cornet players in the family and must have grown up surrounded by the sound of music. Ted Watkins also ran the dance band in the Majestic Ballroom in Reading and Derek was introduced to the world of the big band at the tender age of thirteen, and in no time at all was leading the section.What I loved most about Derek though was not his undoubted ability as a high octane high register lead trumpet, but his ability to play a tune with such simplicity and lack of artifice that it all made absolute sense, now that’s something that few great musicians are blessed with.
It all came to fruition in his time with the James Last Orchestra when he travelled the world as lead trumpet and featured soloist, and played to an audience of millions. He was respected and loved by everyone who knew him and worked with him, as Dizzie Gillespie once said, “in the world of the lead trumpet, Derek Watkins is Mr. Lead”. Now that’s praise.
Join me talking about Derek in this edition of Frankly Speaking."
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