About the Sextet
"This is quite simply the best British band in years"
Steve Voce, Gramophone Jazz
"A seriously good band containing six of Britain's finest jazz musicians, regardless of age or style"
Dave Gelly, Observer
"The future of jazz is safe with guys like this around"
Barry Witherden, BBC Music Magazine
I've been running this band for about twelve years
now. The combination of two saxes, trumpet and
rhythm section is a fairly classic one in jazz and
has appeared many times in the last fifty odd
years. It creates a lot of possibilities for an
As a writer, I am basically trying to come up with
material that will be fun to play, and to create a
strong mood that will communicate itself well to
an audience, perhaps even a non-jazz audience. I
feel my best compositions are the ones that create
and sustain a mood well.
If you're going to have a band, it seems to me
you've got to have original material, otherwise
you just end up sounding like a lot of other
groups. I also feel it's important to keep adding
to the repertoire so that it doesn't get stale. I
therefore feel obliged to try to keep coming up
with new pieces to play. About eighty percent of
our repertoire is original, and the rest consists
of "standards" from the great American songbook
which I have arranged for the band. The great
standards have a timeless quality although I hope
that our interpretations sound fresh and
In style, the sextet certainly resembles many of
the great small bands of the 50s and 60s, such as
those of Horace Silver and Art Blakey. We take
inspiration from the past, but we are not trying
to replicate it, merely to add in a small way to
the music for which we have the deepest respect
I strongly believe that jazz has to swing. To me,
this is what gives the music that beautiful human
quality which attracted most of us to jazz in the
first place. We play some Latin American style
pieces and some funky things too, but the heart
and soul of the band will always be straight-ahead
swing. If it isn't swinging at least some of the
time, I really don't feel it's jazz.
I'm also trying to avoid some of the egotism that
has beset the music since the 60s. I want a band
that sounds like a band, not just a collection of
soloists, and so we tend to keep the improvised
solos fairly short, and punctuated with backing
riffs. After all these years, the band is
certainly sounding pretty tight.
In general, I am trying to put back into the music
some of the things that I feel have got lost over
the years : melody, swing, and the idea that a
band should not be just a battleground of egos.
Above all, I maintain that jazz should be fun to
listen to as well as to perform.
Tenor saxman Steve graduated with first class honours from the Royal
Academy in 1995, having studied with Stan Sulzmann and Dave Liebman,
amongst others. He was a member of NYJO for four years and has also
played with Buddy Greco, Pee Wee Ellis, the BBC Big Band, and the New
York Voices. He is a regular member of Pete Cater's band.
Sensational trumpeter Martin has played with Stan Tracey, John
Dankworth, Dick Morrissey and Natalie Cole. He has also toured
extensively with pop group Jamiroquai. Martin is also an excellent jazz
pianist and teacher.
Since his recent graduation from the Guildhall School of Music, Leon has
been making a huge reputation for himself as a pianist on the London
scene. A relatively new addition to the band, he also plays with
Christian Brewer and Damon Brown. His playing shows the influence of
players as diverse as Wynton Kelly, Bobby Timmons and Bill Evans.
Internationally admired double bassist Malcolm is a former member of
Cleo Laine and John Dankworth's band. Now he has his own trio, Acoustic
Triangle, with Tim Garland and Gwilym Simcock. He has played with
numerous star musicians such as George Benson, Clark Terry, Johnny
Griffin, George Shearing, Lee Konitz and Sting.
Born in Huddersfield in 1973, drummer Matt came to London in 1999 and
has worked with Barry Harris, Herb Geller, Scott Hamilton, Stacey Kent
and Ken Peplowski amonst others. He was a member of Ray Gelato's band
until 2010, and regularly appears with Nigel Price's award winning organ