I have loved music for almost as long as I can remember. Neither my parents nor my grandparents were musicians but as a young child I used to enjoy exploring their record collections and many of the sounds that seeped in to my subconscious during those years were what I later came to understand as characteristic of jazz music.

Like most teenagers I was into the same music as my contemporaries which at that time was at the start of the glam-rock era so I was into bands like Slade and T-Rex. However I was strongly drawn to the sound of the saxophone. A particular favourite of mine were Roy Wood’s ‘Wizzard’ band which always featured lot’s of sax and some very eclectic ‘B’ sides and album tracks such as Bend Over Beethoven, The Carlsberg Special, Rob Roy’s Nightmare, Meet Me At The Jailhouse and Buffalo Station / Get On Down To Memphis to name but a few!

It was round about this time that I started playing the clarinet and alto sax and became interested in exploring the music that influenced these musicians. I began to work my way back through the music of the 60’s, 50’s and 40’s to the dawn of the swing era until I got back to traditional jazz.. I rapidly came to the conclusion that whilst there were some elements of the music that appealed to me, the collective approach to improvisation I found too ‘busy’ for my ears!!

Then one Saturday morning I entered the record department of ‘Boots’ in Watford. In the ‘reduced’ section there was an album with a very appealing picture of a sax on the front, for only 50 pence! It was by a band called Supersax; sounded like it could be right up my street! So without further ado I handed over my 50 pence! It was their debut album ‘Supersax Plays Bird’ and the first track was Charlie Parker’s “Koko” arranged for five saxes in harmony. I had never heard anything like it in my life! I could hear there was a real logic to the music but my ears couldn’t understand the sounds I was hearing. It really grabbed my attention as did all of the other tracks on the album but especially, Moose The Mooche and Parker’s Mood. Over the coming months I must have played that album a thousand times, until I could sing along with every note of every track! It was that album more than any other that opened my ears to the music and really gave me the jazz bug! I also have to mention that at that time I also purchased what I consider to be one of the greatest jazz albums ever, Phil Woods’ “Live At The Showboat”, all great tracks but I especially love A Sleepin’ Bee, I’m Late, Little Niles, Bye Bye Baby and High Clouds.

A few years later I found myself at university where I met some other musicians who introduced me to the British jazz scene. Between us we established the University Jazz Society and arranged gigs with many great musicians such as Stan Tracey, Georgie Fame, Barbara Thompson and Allan Holdsworth.

These were the sounds that inspired my love of jazz music and if you haven’t come across them before I hope they will inspire you also!

I have listened to much jazz over the years. Some of my favourites (in no particular order) are: Charlie Parker, Stan Getz, Stan Tracey, Tubby Hayes, Bobby Wellins, Stacey Kent, Keith Jarrett, John Dankworth, Cleo Laine, Esperanza Spalding, Lee Morgan, Peter King, Nancy Wilson, Blossom Dearie, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, Ella Fitzgerald, Diana Krall, Sting and Paquito D’Rivera amongst (many) others.

I particularly feel that, above all, jazz should be melodic. There’s a time and a place for focusing on other attributes of the music but in my opinion it is the melodic content of the music that initially attracts listeners. That is what I try to focus on when putting together a set for a performance. I have lost count of the number of times someone has said to me ” I don’t like jazz, but I like what you do”!

If you would like to explore the possibility of hiring one of the bands I am play with for an event then please call me for a chat. Please see Small Band Bookings and Big Band Bookings for more information.