British Jazz has been thriving since its emergence shortly after the end of World War 1. Influenced by American Jazz, UK artists strived to stamp their own personality to create a unique music scene that goes from strength to strength. We take a look at the top British jazz artists who dominate the UK jazz and blues scene.
Claire Martin is affectionately known as the first women of British jazz, a title that she is proud to live up to today.
Claire started singing from a young age and accomplished her dream of singing in Ronnie Scott’s legendary jazz club in Soho.
She has gone on to produce seventeen albums and is now collaborating with The Montpellier Cello Quartet, an exciting project indeed.
Martin Speake is one of the greatest British saxophonists of all time and has enjoyed a successful career since he first came onto the jazz scene in the 80s.
After many collaborations with big names, like Simon Purcell and Mark Lockheart, he released a solo album, ‘Hullabaloo’ in 2002, which drew on traditional jazz influences from America and Europe.
Tommy Smith is one of the leading jazz performers and composers on the UK jazz scene.
Tenor saxophonist Smith hails from Scotland and is an internationally recognised soloist and bandleader he has worked with the likes of Chick Corea and Edwin Morgan.
Now part of the Tommy Smith American Quartet, he plays great group swings and grooves with creative hard-core jazz inspired by the blues.
Those new to jazz will love the traditional themes explored and the creative edge that brings his music into this century.
Ray Gelato Giants
Just as the name suggests the Ray Gelato Giants are fun, flirty and fantastic! Influenced by the likes of Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davies, then later Louis Primas and Louis Jordan, Ray picked up the saxophone in 1979 and has he has not put it down since.
Ray has toured many clubs and pubs, put on large outdoor performances and TV shows as well as producing numerous albums and singles.
Influencing many jazz and blues artists over their years of performing, this band is definitely part of the British jazz cannon.
McCormack and Yarde Duo
This suave duo is making big waves in the world of UK jazz and beyond, with their experimental music that is full of creativity but loyal to traditional jazz music.
Made up of pianist Andrew McCormack and saxophonist Jason Yarde, who have been playing together since the 90’s, the duo have just releases their second album Places and Other Spaces to much acclaim.
Empirical are a breath of fresh air on the UK jazz scene with their eclectic albums and vibrant live performances.
The line-up has changed over the years and now consists of Nathaniel Facey (saxophone), Lewis Wright (vibraphone), Tom Farmer (double Bass) and Shaney Forbes (Drums).
They have won many awards, including a MOBO in 2010 and are now in the studio making their 5th album that is sure to be as creative as ever.