Roy Sainsbury

Roy Sainsbury – Jazz Guitarist


Roy Sainsbury  his musical career began in the 1960s. He had his 1st lessons with Jack Toogood who, through his appearances on Gordon Frank’s radio show “Swingalong,” became a very well known guitarist in Britain. Roy comes from a musical family and from his very early days he wanted to play the guitar. His godfather was a semi-professional guitarist who first gave him the opportunity of hearing recordings of Barney Kessel, Johnny Smith and also the Ray Ellington quartet, who always featured very good guitarists. During the time he was growing up in Bristol he was exposed to many kinds of music. His father was a drummer and bandleader, and there was always music playing in the house. Roy grew up to the sounds of musicians such as Count Basie, Fats Waller and Coleman Hawkins. The 1st big band he ever saw was when his father took him to see the Count Basie band when they gave a concert in Bristol. It evidently made a huge impression, as his first love is the big band sound. It was only in later life that he realized the influence that these musicians had on his own playing.  Roy has performed with several bands at some of the most prodigious jazz clubs in Britain, including Ronnie Scott‘s in London’s Soho. The Roy Sainsbury Trio, with vocalist Jane Christie, performed there in concert to celebrate the life of Britain’s top jazz guitarist of the day, Ike Isaacs. He was certainly in good company as he shared the billing with such illustrious guitarists as Martin Taylor, Trefor Owen, Adrian Ingram, Judd Proctor and the Cedric West Guitar Ensemble.

Roy has his own very individual style and particular harmonic ideas. He uses very full melodic chords which, to my ears, owe more than a passing nod to Barney Kessel, who has always been an inspiration to him. I can imagine how excited Roy was to meet him after listening to his recordings for many years.

The opportunity came about when Maurice Summerfield arranged for Barney to hold jazz clinics in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Roy and Barney immediately established a very good rapport and met up whenever he visited the U.K. Roy found him very witty, charming, positive and philosophical, as well as being inspirational not only in his music but in his outlook on life. Roy not only performed in front of Barney but they also played together and exchanged ideas during late night jam sessions. Barney was totally self-effacing and not above asking questions about certain techniques Roy used in his own playing.

Roy was very influenced by the early recordings of Julie London when she recorded her 2 celebrated albums: “Julie is Her Name,” with the legendary accompaniment by Barney Kessel on the 1st album, and by Howard Roberts on the second. Another featured Al Viola as solo guitar accompanist recorded in Julies home


Roy continues playing, he strives for perfection with the two most important components: melody and swing. He feels extremely fortunate in being able to play the sort of music he loves to play with the fine musicians he works with.

Ron Chapman – Jazz Guitarist and Writer