Alan Wakeman


Biography Alan Wakeman



Alan Wakeman
Born in 1947, Alan studied music at the London College of Music while having private tuition on clarinet and saxophone with Charles Chapman.

He first came to the attention of the jazz world playing with the London (later the 'National') Youth Jazz Orchestra. There he met, and consequently played with, drummer Paul Lytton and his Quartet, an association that proved to be a great influence.

His first radio jazz broadcast was with the Dave Holdsworth Quartet, playing alongside Paul Lytton. The first of many subsequent trios he formed was with Harry Miller and Paul Lytton.

Subsequently, he played, recorded and toured with Graham Collier, John Dankworth, Mike Westbrook, Don Rendell, Soft Machine, Stan Tracey, Michael Garrick, and the London Jazz Composers' orchestra.

Alan Skidmore
a world-class musician experienced in a myriad of musical environments and disciplines, is renowned both as a soloist and as a section player on films, radio and television. The list of international artists with whom he has performed and recorded reads like a “Who’s Who” of contemporary music and includes Georgie Fame, John Mayall, Elvin Jones, Eric Clapton, Clark Terry, Stan Tracey, Van Morrison, Charlie Watts, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Joe Henderson, Weather Report and Dexter Gordon!

Art Themen
b. Arthur Edward George Themen, 26 November 1939, Manchester, England. A self-taught musician, Themen played tenor saxophone with a university jazz band while studying medicine at Cambridge. After qualifying as a doctor, he moved to London and in the early 60s played in several blues and R&B bands and also worked in the backing groups for numerous pop sessions. During this period he worked with Alexis Korner, Phil Seamen, Dick Heckstall-Smith, Rod Stewart, Joe Cocker and Long John Baldry. In the late 60s and early 70s his musical direction shifted towards jazz and he played with Barbara Thompson, Michael Garrick, Henry Lowther and Graham Collier. In 1974 he began a long and particularly fruitful association with Stan Tracey, which continued into the 90s. He has also accompanied numerous visiting US jazzmen, including Al Haig, Red Rodney, George Coleman and Nat Adderley. A highly individual playing style marks Themen’s performances and had he chosen to adopt music as a full-time career he would have doubtless been an international artist of considerable stature. That he has achieved his present high standing in the jazz world while at the same time pursuing his medical career as a consultant surgeon, is testimony to his remarkable gifts.

Mike Osborne
UK alto saxophonist Mike Osborne came up in the British scene just as it was escaping the shackles of America through the work of players like Joe Harriott and Stan Tracey. Osborne’s main influence was American alto saxophonist Jackie McLean. His first recordings sessions were as part of the horn section of Mike Westbrook's Big Band, recording on Celebration (Deram, 1967) and Release (Deram, 1968). He then went on to be part of the bands and on the first albums of his Westbrook partner, baritone/soprano saxophonist John Surman. The late '60s found him on sessions led by drummer Selwyn Lissack and bandleader Mike Gibbs. Osborne recorded his debut album, Outback, in 1970 for the obscure British label Turtle, a quintet session with the multi-national quintet of trumpeter Harold Beckett, pianist Chris McGregor, bassist Harry Miller and drummer Louis Moholo. The following decade saw him performing and recording with Beckett, saxophonist Alan Skidmore, rock guitarist Mike Cooper, vocalist Norma Winstone and becoming a fixture in McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath big band, along with continuing work with Surman and Westbrook. His second album was a sextet session, Shapes, for FMR, recorded in 1972 with Miller, Moholo, Skidmore, Surman and American bassist Earl Freeman but not released until 1995. Other credits during this period included a wonderful duo with the much older Tracey, participation in bassist Barry Guy's first iteration of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra on Ode (Incus 1972) and trumpeter Kenny Wheeler's large ensemble album Song For Someone (Incus, 1972). The early partnerships with Miller/Moholo and Surman/Skidmore led to Osborne's most visible projects during the later part of the '70s: Osborne's own trio, which made a pair of albums for Miller's Ogun label (1974's Bordercrossing and 1975's All Night Long); and S.O.S., the all-horn trio that only made one eponymous Ogun album during its short existence. The later '70s were marked by membership in Miller's Isipingo band, Brotherhood of Breath, another duo album with Tracey and a quintet album, Marcel's Muse (Ogun, 1977) with Miller, trumpeter Mark Charig, electric guitarist Jeff, and drummer Peter Nykyruj. Unfortunately this period also included increasing mental instability, spurred on by drug use, which made Osborne increasingly paranoid about his abilities and led to less performing. By the early '80s, Osborne had left London and music behind to resettle in his native Hereford, where he lived under care until his death in 2007 of lung cancer.

Henry Lowther
was born in Leicester, England, in 1941. His first musical experiences were through his father, who gave him cornet tuition, and with the local Salvation Army band. In his teenage years he developed an interest in classical music and studied violin, eventually entering the Royal Academy of Music at the age of 18 to study with the highly respected violinist Manoug Parikian. Shortly after this Henry became interested in jazz after listening to Indian music and, after being inspired by hearing a recording of Sonny Rollins, resumed brass playing on trumpet. During the sixties Henry was one of the first musicians on the British jazz scene to experiment with total free improvisation, notably with the famous Cream bassist, Jack Bruce, and with Lyn Dobson and John Hiseman. He was a member of the original and seminal Mike Westbrook band (which included Mike Osborne and John Surman) and also in 1967 Henry joined the John Dankworth Orchestra, the beginning of an association that was to last almost 45 years. This was the band that recorded the now legendary Kenny Wheeler album, “Windmill Tilter”, and also Dankworth’s Million Dollar Collection which also featured Henry playing violin. In the sixties Henry worked on the rock scene with Manfred Mann and John Mayall, and also with Keef Hartley, with whom he appeared at the famous and legendary Woodstock festival in 1969.

Over the last 50 years Henry’s work on the British jazz scene reads like a “Who’s Who”. He has played regularly with, amongst many others, Gordon Beck, Michael Garrick, Graham Collier, Mike Gibbs, Pete King, Loose Tubes, John Surman, John Taylor, Stan Tracey and Kenny Wheeler. Over the years Henry has toured widely with various artists and bands in Europe, Canada, India, Japan, Finland, the former Soviet Union, Bermuda, Kuwait and the USA. Tours in recent years have included those with the Berlin Contemporary Jazz Orchestra, John Harle, Rolling Stones’s drummer Charlie Watts and His Tentet, the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, the New York Composers Orchestra, the Hamburg NDR band and Hermeto Pascoal. He is one of only two or three players in the world to have had the honour of playing lead trumpet with both Gil Evans and George Russell. In 2000 Henry took part in the “Schuller at 75” concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall with the distinguished composer Gunther Schuller and the London Sinfonietta.

Henry’s musical breadth is confirmed by his frequent engagements as a classical player with major symphony orchestras and ensembles, including the London Brass Virtuosi, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, Germany’s Ensemble Moderne and the Matrix Ensemble. Until its demise Henry was for five years the solo flugelhorn player with the strings of the BBC Radio Orchestra, and as a session musician has recorded with Bing Crosby, George Harrison, Elton John, Henry Mancini, Paul McCartney, Van Morrison, Sir Simon Rattle, Nelson Riddle and Talk Talk, amongst many others.

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