“Summoned By Bells”

This project is based around Sir John Betjeman’s poem “Summoned By Bells” and involves a tour of churches. Eight churches have expressed an interest and we are working on an application to Arts Council England’s National Lottery Project Grants Fund. The core of the programme revolves around a couple of newly composed themes played by church bells over which members of the band will improvise – two trumpets and soprano sax
In addition to the improvisation with bells there will be music from folk songs to jazz and a few other idioms in between. Plus, poetry readings written by Betjeman, A.E.Houseman plus music by Henry Lowther “Bredon Hill” and two new commissions from the poet Max Hillman, set to music by Estelle Kokot.

Here is a taster of the music and poetry of Max Hillman and Estelle Kokot – “Echo Bell”.

The band  comprises myself plus Henry Lowther (trumpet), Diane McLoughlin (sax), Elaine Delmar (vocal) Alison Rayner (double bass) and Max Brittain (guitar)

The project involves a tour of churches. Each event will involve two days, a rehearsal at a suitable and convenient time and then an evening performance.

The project also has another aspect to it which is to proselytise the art of bell ringing and to encourage people to take up bell ringing especially among young people. This part of the project will be undertaken in collaboration with the Bell Captain and bell ringers of each church. Also youth choirs will also be involved.

At this stage I am asking for expressions of interest for June and July 2024 and I am happy to discuss the project in more detail. Please email me – chrishodgkins3@gmail.com to arrange a time for a phone call. If you wish to search for a suitable church near you, please go to: Dove’s Guide for Church Bell Ringers

Chris Hodgkins – “Summoned By Bells”

Chris Hodgkins (trumpet)

Chris Hodgkins Photograph

He was raised in Cardiff, and in 1974 co-founded the Welsh Jazz Festival. He was instrumental, four years later, in establishing the Welsh Jazz Society with David Greensmith. As a jazz trumpeter Chris joined the Icon Jazzmen when he was 18. As a professional trumpeter, Chris toured the UK and Europe with Johnny Bastable’s Chosen Six, Monty Sunshine, Route 66; appearing at the Sacramento Jazz Festival in the States with the Pete Allen Band, and made tours of Germany with the Chris Haskins Band.

The Chris Hodgkins Band made a name for itself supporting the likes of Buddy Tate, Humphrey Lyttelton, Kathy Stobart, Bud Freeman, Dick Carey, Harry South, Ronnie Ross, Billy Butterfield, Joe Temperley, Howard McGhee, Peanuts Hucko, Benny Waters and Wild Bill Davison who said “It is a hell of a good band”. The band made a number of television and radio appearances.

Chris relocated to London to play professionally. In 1985 he was appointed Director of Jazz Services the national organisation funded by Arts Council England to provide services in information, touring, education, communications and publishing to the UK jazz community. In 2005, Jazz Services won the Best Website category in the first Parliamentary Jazz Awards; Jazz Services received the 2008 Parliamentary Jazz Awards for Jazz UK as best jazz magazine. As Chair of the National Jazz Archive, Chris led the team that secured investment of £346,300 in the National Jazz Archive by the Heritage Lottery Fund in July 2011. In May 2012 Jazz Services again received the 2012 Parliamentary Jazz Awards for Jazz UK as best jazz magazine.

Chris retired from Jazz Services in May 2014.  Chris now takes to the road, the radio and the recording studio to focus on playing the music he loves.

Chris and his quartet recorded the album “Boswell’s London Journal”, a suite of 15 tunes co-composed by Chris Hodgkins and Eddie Harvey, Which received the Evening Standard CD of the week in 2009.

Chris presents two weekly programmes, “Jazz Then and Now” for Jazz London Radio and “Jazz Is” for Pure Jazz in New York

In July 2017 Chris was appointed by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Group to act as their Secretariat. The Group recently held the Parliamentary Jazz Awards at Pizza Express Live in Holborn, London in July 2023

Chris runs an Online Music Business Resource which recently published three new manuals and revised three manuals. A recent publication is: “Where do you want to be – a business planning manual for jazz music students and musicians. All resources are free to download from: www.chrishodgkins.co.uk

Chris completed a tour of the UK with Arts Council England funding with his International Quartet of Jinjoo Yoo (piano), Wayne Wilkinson (guitar) from the USA and Alison Rayner(bass). An album “Festooned With Trumpets” was released in May 2022.

Chris’s latest project was the “Salute To Humphrey Lyttelton” featuring a ten-piece band. The band completed a 17-date tour in November /December 2021 with the support of Arts Council England. The Album Salute To Humphrey Lyttelton was released in May 2022 and received a fours star review and Editors’ Choice in Jazz Wise.

Chris has rejoined the Pete Allen Band after 40 years and the band  recently recorded and  released an album celebrating Pete’s 45 years of running a professional jazz band.


Chris was awarded: 2002 BBC Radio 3’s Services to Jazz, the 2013 British Jazz Awards for Services to British Jazz, the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Services to Jazz 2015, Brecon Jazz Festival Services To Jazz 2022.






Elaine Delmar (vocal and actor)

“Truly defines the word class …”Humphrey Lyttelton, BBC Radio 2

Born in Hertfordshire, UK, Elaine was raised in a strong musical environment, her father being the renowned trumpeter Leslie ‘Jiver’ Hutchinson, a leading influence in the jazz and dance band movement in Britain from the 1930s onwards.

After initially studying classical piano, Elaine found a natural progression in singing and became a vocalist in her father’s own band at sixteen. It was soon apparent that her vocal talent and natural affinity with the stage would lead her to triumph in many areas of the entertainment world.

Elaine’s experience is indeed wide and diverse. Her first theatre appearance was in a revival of Finian’s Rainbow in the late 50’s at the New Shakespeare Theatre, Liverpool. She then became a member of a group called The Dominoes before starting her career on the London stage, appearing in Cowardy Custard at the Mermaid Theatre and No Strings at Her Majesty’s Theatre. Although best known for her later starring role in the musical Bubbling Brown Sugar at The Royalty Theatre, London, she also had notable success with Kern Goes To Hollywood, appearing in both the London and Broadway productions. Elaine also received critical acclaim as a straight actress for her role in A Map Of The World at the prestigious National Theatre. She has made many appearances on TV and radio and featured in Ken Russell’s film Mahler as the Bohemian Princess.

Elaine’s recording career began in the early 60’s when she recorded various albums for one of her early champions, producer Denis Preston of Lansdowne Records. The first was an EP titled A Swinging Chick featuring the wonderful talent of Victor Feldman. Amongst her other albums, Elaine has also released the highly-acclaimed Elaine Sings Wilder, a tribute to one of America’s lesser-known composers, Alec Wilder. This album has become something of a collector’s item. The pianist and musical director on this record was Colin Beaton, one of Elaine’s mentors and early musical influences. She later went on to make a double album for Denis Preston entitled Elaine Delmar and Friends featuring Tony Coe, Alan Branscombe, Eddie Thompson and Pat Smythe, another great influence on Elaine’s musical life.

Elaine’s more recent recordings ’Swonderful, Nobody Else But Me and

But Beautiful all feature Brian Dee, the much-respected jazz pianist and accompanist with whom Elaine worked for over 20 years. In 2013 Elaine received the APPJAC SPECIAL AWARD FOR JAZZ from Michael Connarty MP at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards at the House of Commons.

Elaine is equally at home whether entertaining a concert audience or performing in the more intimate cabaret/small theatre setting. For example, she has appeared in concert with Andy Williams (Free Trade Hall, Manchester) and Michel Legrand with the London Symphony Orchestra (Royal Albert Hall, London). In cabaret, her performances have included appearances at The Ritz Hotel, London, as well as on the QE2 and numerous other cruise liners around the globe. In recent years Elaine has been the star vocalist in such touring shows as Let’s Do It saluting the music of Cole Porter, and the musical celebration By George, It’s Gershwin.

Elaine’s popular appearances at the world-famous Ronnie Scott’s Club in London have shown her to be remarkably adaptable in a jazz setting, having worked here at different times with such jazz giants as Herb Ellis, Benny Carter and Stephane Grappelli. Her recent season and her live album at Ronnie Scott’s evidence a singer who remains in the prime of her performing life. By popular demand, she regularly headlines at the club.


Alison Rayner

Alison Rayner is an award-winning bassist and composer from the UK.

The 2019 recipient of an Ivor Novello Composer Award and runner-up ‘Double Bass’ player in the British Jazz Awards for both 2018 and 2019, Rayner has had an extensive career playing jazz and other contemporary styles since the mid-70s, recording and touring internationally with critically acclaimed Latin/jazz group The Guest Stars throughout the 80s.

Performing regularly throughout the UK and Europe, she leads ARQ, her contemporary jazz quintet, described as ‘a beautifully integrated band’ **** by Dave Gelly in the Observer. ARQ’s third ARQ album ‘Short Stories’ was released to critical acclaim late 2019, receiving extensive airplay and reaching #1 in the Amazon Jazz Chart. ARQ won ‘Ensemble of the Year’ in the prestigious 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and were shortlisted in the ‘Small Group’ category of the 2018 British Jazz Awards. Rayner’s compositions incorporate inspiration and musical ingredients from outside the world of jazz music, creating a broad palette of music that is ‘inventive, vibrantly colourful and unfailingly melodic, possessed of a strong sense of narrative and cinematic quality’ (the jazzmann.com). Rayner is a regular in the bands of guitarist Deirdre Cartwright, trumpeter Chris Hodgkins and vocalist Carol Grimes. She has played on around 30 albums and also co-runs Blow the Fuse, the artist development partnership in London since 1989, performing with artists such as American guitar legend Tal Farlow, New York jazz poet Jayne Cortez and British players Peter King and John Etheridge.


‘Purposeful, full-toned and melodic.’ The Observer

‘Playing bass with a big, beautiful bass sound that comes from the heart… characterized by individuality, spirit and a sense of freedom.’

Val Wilmer, author, As Serious as Your Life: The Story of the New Jazz

‘Beneath it all Rayner is dark and sonorous, like a Haden or Weber, able to make a rounded single note underwrite the band’s soaring’s.’ Jazz Wise

W: www.alisonrayner.com

F: https://www.facebook.com/alisonrayner.arq

T: https://twitter.com/alison_rayner

Henry Lowther (trumpet)

Henry Lowther was born in Leicester, England, in 1941. As a child, Henry learned cornet from his father and took private violin lessons before going on to study with Manoug Parakian at the Royal Academy of Music.

In the sixties, Henry was one of the first musicians on the British jazz scene to experiment with total free improvisation and also at this time began a musical relationship with Sir John Dankworth which lasted till the composer’s death in 2010. In 1967 he played on the now legendary Kenny Wheeler album, “Windmill Tilter”.

In 1969 Henry appeared at the famous Woodstock festival with the Keef Hartley Band.

Over the years Henry has worked in all areas of the British jazz scene and is one of only two or three trumpet players to have played lead trumpet for both Gil Evans and George Russell. He has also worked extensively as a studio and classical musician.

Currently, Henry composes and plays in the London Jazz Orchestra, leads his own band Still Waters, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. The new album from Henry Lowther’s Still Waters, “Can’t Believe, Won’t Believe” was released in February 2018.Henry is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music and at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in 2019 Henry was awarded the Special APPJAG Award

“Meltingly attractive solos, startling originality.” Chris Parker, Vortex  review.


Diane McLoughlin (sax)

Band leader, composer, saxophonist. Diane has had extensive experience playing in diverse musical genres. Her own group, The Casimir Connection, for which she composes, has had much critical acclaim. She is also currently playing and composing for the award winning ARQ (the Alison Rayner Quintet). Diane has also led many groups, including Giant Steppes, her 18-piece big band, which performed throughout Britain.


Max Brittain (guitar)

Max has performed in all the major UK concert venues and toured extensively throughout Europe, Scandinavia, the Middle East, Australia and New Zealand, in the company of such diverse talents as Michael Feinstein, Georgie Fame, Cleo Laine, Marian Montgomery, Vic Damone, Guy Mitchell,

Val Doonican, the Mantovani Orchestra, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra. His jazz career includes work with Humphrey Lyttelton, Terry Lightfoot, Jamie Cullum, Ronnie Scott and American jazz guitar giants Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis and Charlie Byrd. Max has appeared at the Brecon Jazz Festival, the Ealing Jazz Festival and in 2002 travelled to Nepal to take part in the first ever Kathmandu Jazz Festival. He has given many solo performances for the corporate sector, in the National Portrait Gallery, the Tate Galleries, Hampton Court Palace and other prestigious venues.

In 1990 he was invited to establish the electric guitar faculty at Eton College. He was senior visiting teacher in this department, which grew to around one hundred students. Max retired from this post in 2017 in order to concentrate on performing, composing and