Frank Evans – Jazz Guitarist 1930-2007
Jazz guitarist, Frank Evans, died on February 6th 2007 at the age of 76. A former member of Tubby Hayes Quartet, Frank performed and recorded most often as a solo guitarist. Since the mid-60s, Frank generally shunned the London scene, preferring to operate from his home in Bristol. He took up the guitar at the age of 11 and learned his craft, without formal tuition, through a lengthy apprenticeship in jazz clubs, ballrooms and restaurants around the world.
Frank Evans‘ debut album was recorded at a concert in 1968 with Tubby Hayes and Tony Coe (’77 Records, Doug Dobell). After further albums on the ‘Saydisc’ label, Frank set up his own label ‘Blue Bag’ to release his solo album ‘Noctuary‘ (BB101) Although today countless musicians have set up their own label and are able to distribute their music digitally, this was an unusual move at the time. “I was fed up with being mucked about by record companies and that whole hassle of the music business. Someone in London said I’d be lucky to sell 500 altogether. But I sold 500 in the first two weeks.” Frank said at the time. The album went on to top the UK jazz charts.
He made hundreds of appearances on BBC and ITV television, including the ‘Michael Parkinson Show’ several times and his own ITV programme ‘Frank Evans and Friends’ featuring guests, Georgie Fame and Marion Williams. He wrote scores for film and television, particularly for BBC’s ‘World About Us’ series. His earliest influence was Django Reinhardt, but other favourites were Jim Hall, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery and Laurindo Almeida, with whom he recorded an album on the ‘Blue Bag’ label.
In recent years, with his health declining, Frank’s performances became rarer and much anticipated, particularly in his beloved West Country. Died Feb 6th 2007
The Frank Evans Trio
Frank Evans, guitar; Peter Ind, bass; Jackie Dougan, drums
This terrific set comes from a session recorded at the Students Union Hall at Bristol University in 1966. Tubby plays with the Les Condon Quartet and there are contributions also from The Tony Coe Quintet and The Frank Evans Trio. This recording was previously released in 1967 and preserves the original notes by Charles Fox.
 Jeep Is Jumpin’
 Blues We Played Last Night
Frank’s first recording was in 1966, where he shared the stage at Bristol University with the Tubby Hayes Quintet and the Tony Coe Quintet. For his ‘trio’ set, he borrowed Coe’s bassist, Peter Ind and drummer, Jackie Dougan. Frank was well known for his recordings ‘Noctuary’ and ‘Soirée’ and a range of guitar instruction literature and books, amongst the most notable being Great Jazz Standards Arranged For Guitar. what better way for him to be remembered than by his music?
With JOHN DONEGAN – Pianist
Now one of the elder statesmen of British Jazz, Cork’s John Donegan is sure to deliver a highly polished performance, one full of technical fluency and lyrical excellence – always a notable hallmark of his much-in-demand style. John carried out his Classical training at the Municipal School of Music in Cork. His father was a strong influence in introduced him to Blues and American Folk Music in his teens. From there John developed an interest in Trad Jazz and then progressed to Modern Jazz. He also played in the Orchestra pit in the Opera House in Cork for variety shows which gave him a great insight in to all types of music.
In 1979 he was on the move again – to London and quickly became involved in regular residencies like Langans Brasserie and other restaurants and clubs including Pizza Express. In 1989, another job move, this time to Bristol and again fund a lively Jazz scene there. John had a regular partnership with Guitarist Frank Evans, who sadly died in 2007.
Frank shared an affinity with the music of his namesake Bill Evans as does Sid Jacobs the American guitarist.
– Everybody digs Bill Evans
Once saw Frank play at a sort of jazz/rock mixed bill at a large venue in Bristol (Anson Room). This was an unusual gig for him to play, anyway, and most of the audience were students. I think Frank was a bit concerned about it as they were coming on after a fairly loud electric band. Anyway, Frank decided to take the bull by the horns and really put the hammer down. I’m pretty sure Ian Hobbs was on drums. The band swung like hell and Frank was really ripping out the solos and riffs as if his life depended on it. The audience went berserk and several encores were called for. I think even Frank was surprised at himself, but he seemed very happy at the response, and I’m sure a large Remy Martin was deemed necessary after all that. The point is that Frank was very broad-minded and could play way out of the box that he tends to get put in, but only if he wanted to. What a great man he was.
I was playing clubs parties and variety shows but wanted to play better that led me to top jazz player Frank Evans, he taught me about the guitar and how to read music. – Alan Britten
“Mark Twain Suite” by Bristol guitarist Frank Evans (1969)
Blue Bag Records, 2 Tower Villas, College Rd, Westbury On Trym, Bristol BS9 3EH
“Noctuary” (Blue Bag BB101) by our own Frank Evans. This is the 3rd Evans album I have received for review and it is the best so far; recorded late one night in Bristol it captures the intimate ‘after hours’ atmosphere and Contains some beautiful music in the shape of Thad Jones’s A child is born, Stephen Sondheim’s Send in the Clowns and Monk’s ‘Round about midnight. This is on Evans’ own label..
George Benson was appearing at the Colston Hall Bristol one day and decided to jam with Frank who was appearing at the Dragonara Hotel near the Centre. After these two guitarists thrilled the crowd Benson said that he knew who was the Master and it wasn’t him. George felt that Franks fingers were much quicker and more fluent than his own. What a compliment and how different would Franks future have been if he had not refused to fly or travel far from home. It is a tribute to a fine British jazz guitarist .
Further to our correspondence about Jack Toogood, I have just seen your article about Frank Evans. I knew him very well in Bristol. In actual fact I took him with me on one of my tours to Germany, At the time I was Drummer to Tessie O’Shea, She wanted me to form a Jazz group – as she was very fond of modern music—strange to say! I am very sad to see that Frank passed away. He was a great player with a good sense of humour. Best Wishes. Don Hunter
“Frank Evans is a fascinating musician, never does bow to popular taste or to be more accurate, pop taste. To use a well-worn cliche-Evans is a musician’s musician. The excitement is there, but is subtle music. One of his idols was Bill Evans.This is after dinner hours late music. Guaranteed to bring romance to the end of the day “….Derrick Stewart-Baxter
….we popped round Jonny’s shop , which was near the docks, (now located in Clevedon Terrace). It was a small shop…the store front had windows of wood dust on them…wood necks, bodies, guitar moulds, etc. It seemed like the aisles were packed with odds and ends, Jonny greeted us with a cup of tea as Frank began to sit at a chair, holding the raw guitar, feeling the neck, giving Jonny ideas, etc. At that time, there was a “student internship” of a young bloke, dark hair, medium build, nicely mannered. We stayed probably about 30 min. I sold Marshall Amplification so the topic of conversation shifted between guitars and amps. Looking back to 1984, it was a great year to see the completion of by Jonny Kincade.
A self-taught luthier, runs his one-person operation from his workshop in central Bristol, attracting UK and International customers.
18 Clevedon Terrace
Bristol BS6 5TX
+44 (0) 117 924 3279
Jazz Guitarist, Jazz Guitar, Jazz Recordings, Jazz Arrangements, Guitar Tablature,
A Book of Twenty Two Great Jazz Standards. Ballade
the first 5 bars from Frank’s arrangement of Autumn Leaves: