Teenager takes his band to top all-dayer

Cody Teenage pianist Cody Lee is taking his new band to their biggest gig so far... at a high profile all-dayer.

After just one previous public show, his trio, the Retro Boys, are now preparing to perform in front of several hundred discerning rock'n'roll fans at the Jive Aces' Big Jive All-Dayer in Worthing.

Joining Cody on stage at the Worthing Assembly Hall on March 1st will be Seb Hyatt, 15, on drums, and Dan Laurie, 15, on double bass.

Cody, 16, has been playing piano since he was eight and says he became 'hooked' on boogie woogie.   "I was partly influenced by the blues music my dad listened to.   I started learning to play by ear and by studying tuition DVDs for adults.   From this I began learning to play blues and then I found boogie woogie. I was hooked!   I started having lessons with the amazing Big John Carter and I haven't looked back.   Since then I've added rock'n'roll, jive and swing, and I'm now studying jazz."


Cody first performed in public at a charity event at an Essex police club in October 2006 and says it was a life-changing experience.

Cody with Jools Holland
Cody meets Jools Holland
"Initially I was very nervous as there were over 300 people there, but the response I got from the audience was amazing and encouraged me to continue.   I will never forget the feeling I got when I finished playing and received a standing ovation, it was from that moment that I realised that I wanted to make music and performance my life.

"I have many musical influences, including Ray Charles, Fats Domino, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard, Chuck Berry, Oscar Peterson, Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra...   I could go on forever.   But my real musical heroes are David Bennett Cohen, Big John Carter, George 'Kid' Tiddiman, King Pleasure & The Biscuit Boys, and of course the Jive Aces who have encouraged me, influenced me and enabled me to be where I am now.

"I first met the Jive Aces when I was playing boogie woogie at a charity event in Covent Garden when I was about 10.   A few months later I met them again at a festival in Regents Park.   They watched my performance and were full of encouragement.   They invited me to their Summertime Swing event (the next day) and I've been doing guest spots with them ever since!

"When I was 13 they invited me on tour to the Derry Jazz Festival (that's where their pianist Vince showed me how to do the splits in mid-air while playing the piano!).   Jools Holland was staying at the same hotel and on returning from his own gig, he actually stopped and watched me play!   I can't remember what he said exactly but he was very encouraging and I felt honoured!"

'Best weekend of my life'

Things went to another level when Cody got the chance to stand in with the Jive Aces on tour in Belgium while regular keyboard man Vince Hurley attended his sister's wedding.

Cody in Belgium, pic by Remy F
Cody with the Jive Aces in Belgium - Photo: Remy F
Cody said: "I was really surprised when the Jive Aces asked me to stand in for Vince Hurley for their tour to Belgium and flattered that they had such confidence in me at 16.   I spent a lot of time preparing for the gig and had to learn around 25 new songs in a few weeks.   It was challenging but well worth the effort.   I was going to experience what it would be like playing in the UK's top jive and swing band!

"As well as performing and learning about sound engineering and setting up of all the equipment, I had the best weekend of my life and learned a lot about what it really meant, to be part of a professional band.   There is no doubt in my mind that I want to be doing the same as them one day.

"Learning music by ear has always come naturally to me, I see it as a process of trial and error until I can play what I hear.   However as I've progressed I have studied theory, learned to read and write music and learned to play other instruments.   It's been hard fitting everything in recently as I've been studying for my GCSEs, but once I've finished I'll definitely be focusing 100% on my music!"

Jive Aces front man Ian Clarkson said: "We met Cody when he was only 10 and he was an amazing player then.   He's now 16 years old, as tall as me and his voice has broken into a Jerry Lee Lewis range which goes nicely with his playing.   So by the time Cody hits the Big Jive stage, he will be a very confident young boogie boy who will carry this music on through the 21st century."

If it jumps, jives, bops or strolls we want to know about it.   Email or call 07833 703189.