A ‘HUGELY respected’ jazz musician and much loved bandleader from south Cumbria has died, aged 76.

Legendary trumpet player Les Bull passed away at his home in Stainton, near Kendal.

Born and brought up in Barrow, Mr Bull graduated in jazz through the famous Furness Jazz CollegeSeven.

As a young man he worked as a professional musician in London before returning to the North, where he and his many musician friends formed the original Kendal Jazz Club and ran the now legendary Kendal Pop Festivals.

Through traditional jazz he became friends with famous band leaders including Alex Welch, Acker Bilk, Kenny Ball and Ronny Scott, and in recent years often travelled down to London to play with many of them at Lords Cricket Ground.

He was best known recently for the popular Les Bull Festival Jazz Band, which played at venues across the UK, recorded an album, and even toured South Africa.

After playing with the band for around 17 years Mr Bull retired in December 2011 due to family reasons.

But he had recently resurrected the popular six-piece as The Les Bull Band, writing in October 2014, “Eventually, I thought the public had enjoyed their peace and quiet for long enough, so I asked an old chum and wizard keyboard player Pete Major if he fancied playing some Jazz.”

Mr Major, who first met Mr Bull through Kendal Jazz Club almost 50 years ago, said: “He was an exceptionally good musician and an extremely good band leader – often the two don’t necessarily go together.”

As well as his musical career Mr Bull also set up and ran Westmorland Glass with his brother, before selling the business and retiring several years ago.

Mr Major said: “He had some heartache in his life - he lost his second wife 12 years ago to cancer, and around 11 months ago his third wife died after 10 years of marriage.”

Speaking to the Gazette after reforming his band last year, Mr Bull said: “As a traditional jazz band, we’re a dying breed.

“It’s just happy, joyful music – it appeals to the older generation but we have noticed a few younger faces in the audience, which is an encouraging sign.”

Mr Bull’s family have paid tribute to him describing him as “Loving father to Steve, Lucy and Philippa, proud grandfather, greatly respected musician and loved by many.”

The funeral will be held on Monday (1.30pm) at Crosscrake Church.