“I first met Jim Mullen when I went to see him playing with Morrissey-Mullen on many occasions throughout the 1980s, often with my friend Larry Smart – a visual artist who had known Jim for many years. I was recording with former Morrissey-Mullen band members John McKenzie and Tony Beard from 1981 onwards, and I also became friends with Morrissey-Mullen vocalist Noel McCalla around 1982, and with keyboardist Pete Jacobsen later in that decade. I remained a ‘nodding acquaintance’ with Jim until 1998, when I met him at a Jimmy Smith gig at the Jazz Cafe. I asked Jim to give me a jazz guitar lesson and Jim duly obliged, but after the first lesson, he confessed that he was not really a guitar teacher, so he didn’t want to charge me money for lessons. Instead, he suggested that I simply watch and listen to him playing while recording an album of solo jazz guitar pieces – as I was a recording engineer with my own home studio. This worked out perfectly! Jim got his solo album recorded – and I got one of the best musical mentors I could have wished for! Then we started to record and write music together and we released two albums of what started out as duets, which I overdubbed bass and drums onto – courtesy of bassists John McKenzie and Winston Blissett, and drummers Blair Cunningham and Graham Dean. Jim has also played guitar on many of my arrangements of popular songs and standards.” – Mike Collins
Born in Glasgow, Scotland on November 26, 1945, Jim Mullen began his musical life aged 8 playing “Tea-chest bass” in the neighbourhood skiffle group. He got his first guitar the same year, and when an older friend introduced him to jazz, he was hooked. After playing with many local groups, Jim formed a group with Malcolm “Molly” Duncan and Roger Ball (later of the Average White Band) and they worked throughout Scotland playing Coltrane tunes and originals before Jim moved to London in 1969.
In London, Jim first joined Pete Brown‘s group and recorded two albums before joining Brian Auger for three albums. He then made one album each with Vinegar Joe and Kokomo before meeting sax player Dick Morrissey in 1975. This was the start of a 15-year association during which Morrissey-Mullen became one of Britain’s hottest jazz-funk bands. Seven albums later, at the end of the 1980’s, the band broke up and Jim went on to pursue his first-love – jazz.
Since then, Jim has recorded several albums with his own group, three albums with jazz vocalist Claire Martin and made numerous guest appearances with others. As the UK’s leading jazz guitarist since the early 90’s, Jim regularly gigs and tours in the UK and overseas leading his own bands and as a sideman with visiting U.S. artists such as Terry Callier, Mose Allison, Weldon Irvine, Percy Sledge, Teddy Edwards, Plas Johnson, Jimmy Witherspoon, Jimmy Smith and Gene Harris. He is winner of “Best Guitar” in the British Telecom jazz awards (1994 and 1996). Jim was also voted “Best Guitar” in the Post Office Jazz Awards 2000.
More recently, Jim has been recording and touring with “Citrus Sun” – ‘Bluey’ Maunick’s ‘other’ band – which is a tribute to Donald Byrd’s 70’s funk. He is also recording and gigging with Zoe Francis – who he likes so much he had to marry her!
© 2016 Mike Collins