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A Short Bio:
Infinitely creative and effortlessly professional, James Brian Gordon 'Jimmy' Hastings' musical contributions to the Canterbury scene have been a constant source of delight for lovers of the genre ever since his flute solo on "Love Song With Flute" on the very first Caravan album, in 1968. Jimmy is of course Pye Hastings' brother - the Caravan leader being Jimmy's youngest brother out of a family of five children, of whom Jimmy was the eldest.
Hastings' father was an accomplished pianist, and the young Jimmy learned piano from age 3. Although born in Aberdeen, Jimmy Hastings spent his early childhood in India, returning to Scotland at age 8, when the family settled in Banffshire. As a teenager he played many dance gigs on piano, then at 16 he took up alto sax, and subsequently clarinet (at 18) and tenor sax (at 21). He played local gigs on alto sax, clarinet and paino accordion, before moving South in 1959. After spending 15 months in Canterbury, he became based in London.
In the early 1960s, Hastings did seven world cruises aboard the Southern Cross liner. In 1963-64 he was in trumpeter Ronnie Caryl's band, touring in France, Jersey and London. Then he joined Jack Honeyborn's band, and backed Reg Brooks at the Top Rank Ballroom in Croydon. Later he freelanced in London and spent two years in the Ken MacKintosh Orchestra. He was also in the BBC Radio Orchestra from the summer of 1969 to October 1973. During the 1970s he played in occasional big bands led by Dave Hancock, Les Semons and Tony Kinsey, with whom he also did quartet work. He also worked in a band accompanying Frank Sinatra, and in various West End shows such as 'Cats', 'A Chorus Line', 'West Side Story' and 'Starlight Express'. Parallel to this career he has also taught at the Royal Academy of Music and the London College of Music.
As for his career in the 'Canterbury' scene, Hastings first came to prominence alongside brother Pye, as the officious 'fifth member' of Caravan, appearing on all their early albums (up to Blind Dog At St. Dunstan's), and occasionally on stage and at radio sessions. He continued his Canterbury connections on Hatfield and the North's The Rotters' Club (and several gigs), Soft Machine's Third and Fourth and all three National Health albums, as well as also recording with the likes of Bryan Ferry and Chris Squire (Yes). In 1986, he recorded the excellent Point Of Intersection album along with pianist John Horler.
These days Jimmy Hastings is much in demand as a freelance player, leads his own jazz quintet (featuring Horler) who have a residency at the Bull's Head in Barnes once a month, and is also kept busy teaching saxophone at the London College of Music. On top of this he was a full-time member of the reformed Caravan in the early 1990s, playing concerts in the UK and Italy. Between 1991-93, he was also an occasional member of Richard Sinclair's Caravan Of Dreams, playing on both the Caravan Of Dreams (1992) and R.S.V.P. (1994) albums, and guesting on Todd Dillingham's Wilde Canterbury Dream (1992). He also toured with Peter Bardens and Andy Ward's all-star band Mirage in December 1994.
While no longer a full member of Caravan, he still takes part in the band's albums and, occasionally, concerts. He played, as brilliantly as ever, on Caravan's The Battle Of Hastings (1995), All Over You (1996) and The Unauthorized Breakfest Item (2003); he also joined Caravan on its UK tour of October/November 1996 (depping for the unavailable Geoff Richardson), and at the annual Astoria gig on October 30th, 1998. He took part in the band's 35th Anniversary concert in London in November 2003. Recent activities also include a European tour with the Phil Collins Big Band, and a guest appearance - among other veteran British jazzmen - on Radiohead's album ("Amnesiac"), as well as the latter's televised concert for the Jools Holland Show in 2001.
This profile is adapted from the one written in 1991 by Mick Dillingham for the Richard Sinclair newsletter. Hats off to Mick!