b. Colin Thomas Purbrook, 6 February 1936, Seaford, Sussex, England, d. 5 February 1999, London, England. A highly active and gifted pianist, Purbrook took up the instrument at the age of six. He later learned to play trombone and bass while studying at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge. His career hit its stride in the late 50s when he played with Sandy Brown’s band, joining as a bass player but later switching to piano. During the next few years he worked with a succession of leading musicians, confidently moving from traditional jazz, with Kenny Ball, to modern, with Tubby Hayes, Ronnie Scott and others. In the early 60s he often worked with Tony Coe and he also played in the band led by Don Rendell and Ian Carr, recording with them on 1964’s Columbia Records’ session, Shades Of Blue.
He showed his adaptability and broad musicianship by playing bass with the Dudley Moore trio, and leading the accompanying trio for the satirical show Beyond The Fringe. Purbrook also led his own small bands for club and radio work, appeared on television and in films, and during the 70s and 80s was a stalwart accompanist for many of the American jazz artists who visited the UK, among them Benny Carter and Buddy Tate. He also led an all-star octet featuring drummer Phil Seamen. His skills were also in demand in the theatre and he served as musical director for several shows, including Bubbling Brown Sugar and One Mo’ Time. He continued his dual role of accompanist and leader into the 90s, working clubs and festivals throughout the UK. A stylish and sensitive player when in a supporting role, Purbrook’s solos were filled with invention and great drive. He contributed immeasurably to numerous recordings by many artists.