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JOHN WILLIAMS –
BARITONE SAXOPHONE, recorder COMPOSER

John Williams

JOHN WILLIAMS –
BARITONE SAXOPHONE, recorder COMPOSER

A Shropshire based musician with an International reputation John Williams’ first important professional engagement was as leader of the resident Big band at London’s legendary Marquee club where, from 1962 – 4, he made his mark both as an inventive Baritone saxophonist and innovative Composer.

From 1966 – 8 he was musical director for Harlech Television and, in 1969, he directed the ‘Eloise Sound Orchestra’ which accompanied Paul and Barry Ryan on a European tour.  During the 70’s he accompanied a wide range of artists including O.C. Smith, Gladys Knight, Brenda Lee, Keith Emerson and the Three Degrees.  As a player he also worked and recorded with the Canadian pianist Oscar Peterson and some of the more adventurous U.K. musicians including Keith Tippett, Barry Guy, Norma Winstone, Mike Westbrook and Graham Collier.  He was also a member of the all star U.K. band which, in 1972, made the first complete recording of Duke Ellington’s famous 1943 suite ‘Black Brown and Beige’, for the Decca label. 

Recent projects include a recording by John’s 12 piece jazz/classical ensemble New Perspectives of specially commissioned jazz songs based on A. E. Housman’s poetry.  ‘Five Housman settings and other jazz works’ [Spotlite SPJ CD 559] was selected by the Sunday Times as ‘the outstanding British jazz release of 1996’.  Presences of Jazz,a collaboration with poet Roger Garfitt, was launched in 1999 with the assistance of the Arts Council’s Music and Literature departments.Released in 2000 John Williams’ Baritone Band’ [Spotlite SPJ CD564] is described in a Jazz U.K. review as ‘a true celebration of the way the once ponderous baritone has been liberated’.  John’s fourth Spotlite album ‘Tenorama’ [SPJ CD 572] was released in May 2003 and, the following year, he was commissioned by  the English Serenata to write the music for a new show ‘From Dunkirk to ‘D’ day’ which was premiered at the 2004 Bromsgrove Festival.  In July 2006 John and the Bingham String Quartet gave the first performance of Dick Walter’s ‘Excursions for Baritone Saxophone & String Quartet’ which received a 5* review in the Birmingham Post.

A career in jazz and a major figure on the British jazz scene – leader of the resident Big Band at London’s legendary Marquee Club, a member of the band which recorded Ellington’s ‘Black,Brown and Beige’ suite, Music Director for Harlech television together with excursions accompanying pop stars and playing for  West End shows.

A creator of ambitious and innovative jazz projects – an 18 piece band featured on Radio 3 broadcasts, composer of ‘Out of Focus’ – a piece for Baritone Saxophone and Chamber Orchestra. His Jazz and Poetry programme has toured the U.K. with great success. Highly acclaimed C.D.s recorded with his various bands have been showcases for his  inventive compositions and John’s group – New Perspectives – comprising jazz septet and classical wind quintet is now a significant force on the contemporary music scene.

 

 
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