John Picard

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One of the most boisterous spirits on the landscape of traditional jazz in England, this trombonist was something of a child prodigy. He began taking piano lessons at the age of seven, but gives himself…
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One of the most boisterous spirits on the landscape of traditional jazz in England, this trombonist was something of a child prodigy. He began taking piano lessons at the age of seven, but gives himself credit as his own trombone teacher. His professional career began following his military service, with recording credits beginning in the early '50s with the bands of Cy Laurie and Humphrey Lyttelton, the latter gig running until 1961. Picard made his debut recordings as a leader in 1955. In the early '60s, he also collaborated with fine clarinetist Tony Coe, with whom he led a quintet until sometime in 1965. In the ensuing decades, he dragged his big horn into more popular forms of music, where he found welcome acceptance. His activities in the '70s included recording with Brian Lemon, playing with the London Jazz Big Band, and a stint in the band Rocket 88 involving Rolling Stones alumni pianist Ian Stewart and actual Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts. This led to further projects with Watts when the dapper drummer was not busy puttering around his country estate. In 1985, Picard joined the merry crew known as the Charlie Watts Big Band, loving swing madly as it grooves to sometimes four different drum beats at once. Running parallel to this series of high profile but less challenging music has been his own low key but solid series of projects under his own name, usually playing progressive jazz and inevitably working in the back rooms of small pubs. Coe continued playing with his old friend in these groups along with trumpeter Colin Smith. A live recording released of Jazz Tete a Tete, a group co-led by Coe and drummer Tubby Hayes, is an enjoyable document of this aspect of the British jazz scene and features several relaxed and fluent trombone solos. Picard's son is tenor saxophonist Simon Picard, who has carried the family musical torch forward into the realm of avant-garde improvisation, playing in the same sorts of settings for even less money.