Biography

The London Jazz Orchestra Vortex Sessions, at 28 years old, is London’s longest jazz residency. The band seems to go from strength to strength, attracting London’s top players and writers from Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor in the early days to the exciting current lineup featured in the band today.

Musicians

Alcyona Mick

Alcyona Mick

Alcyona started playing piano at the age of three. She has been performing internationally for many years working regularly with Anglo/Egyptian singer Natacha Atlas, and has performed extensively in France in recent years. She is a member of the London Jazz Orchestra, Tori Freestone/Alcyona Mick Duo, Eddie Parker's Debussy Mirrored ensemble,  Bachar Zarkan Ensemble, Josephine Davies’ ‘Orenda’ trio w Brigitte Beraha, Merit Ariane ‘Moonlarking’, Noel Langley’s ‘Edentide’, John Warren nonet, Paul Clarvis/Stuart Hall trio, Samy Bishai quartet. She has performed in Turkey for TRT music series with many Turkish artists, and worked with a wide array of other musicians including Yazz Ahmed, Mircan Kaya, Jerry Dammers Spatial aka Orchestra, Ibrahim Maalouf, Macadi Nahhas, Zoe Rahman and many more. 

As a composer she has a Master's in Composing music for film from the National Film and Television school. She has written and produced music for many independent short films, documentaries, animation and silent cinema. She has released four albums: 'Around the Sun' (Audio-b) under her own name, 'Blink' (Loop) and 'Twice' (Babel) with Blink and guest cellist Vincent Courtois, and ‘Criss Cross’ with saxophonist Tori Freestone (Whirlwind Recordings). She also writes for the London Jazz Orchestra and an electronica project with violinist Samy Bishai.

"world class ingenuity" — the Guardian 

"Alcyona Mick is an unusual powerhouse of a talent" — MOJO

https://www.alcyonamick.com

Alcyona Mick playing the grand piano at Monsegur Festival

MONSEGUR FESTIVAL, JEAN PAUL PASSERON PHOTOS

Mick Foster

Mick Foster playing the baritone saxaphone

Mick Foster

Mick Foster is a saxophonist, clarinettist and composer who is particularly noted as a specialist in the baritone saxophone.  He studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London and has since worked extensively in the fields of jazz, commercial and classical music.  He has appeared with many ensembles which include the big bands of John Dankworth, Stan Sulzmann and Mike Garrick, the Back to Basie Orchestra, The Humphrey Lyttelton Band, Ginger Baker’s Air Force and The London Philharmonic Orchestra.  He has also worked with  Cleo Laine, Jacqui Dankworth, Trudy Kerr, Mark Lockheart, Guy Barker, Digby Fairweather, Swing Out Sister, The BBC Concert Orchestra, English National Opera and The Syd Lawrence Orchestra.  Mick has recorded three albums under his own name and is in demand as a session musician, having played for many film and TV soundtracks. 

As a composer Mick has written for various ensembles which include the London Jazz Orchestra, Quartz Saxophone Quartet, Docklands Sinfonia and Onyx Brass.  His music has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3; some of his pieces are published by Saxtet Publications and are included on both the ABRSM and Trinity College London exams syllabuses.

"Foster himself is a bright, imaginative soloist who exploits his instrument’s grainy, fruity charms perfectly, and his choice of material is impeccable. If you like your jazz warm, tasteful and elegant, without grandstanding [...] this is for you."
— Chris Parker, London Jazz Blogspot, (Four Views)

https://www.mickfoster.org.uk

Henry Lowther

Henry Lowther

Henry was born in Leicester, England, in 1941. As a child he learned cornet from his father and took private violin lessons before going on to study with Manoug Parakian at the Royal Academy of Music. 

His first interest in playing jazz was sparked by hearing a recording of Sonny Rollins. He then resumed brass playing on trumpet. 

In the sixties Henry was one of the first musicians on the British jazz scene to experiment with total free improvisation and also at this time began a musical relationship with Sir John Dankworth which lasted till the composer’s death in 2010. In 1967 he played on the now legendary Ken Wheeler album, “Windmill Tilter”. 

In 1969 Henry appeared at the famous Woodstock festival with the Keef Hartley band. 

Over the years Henry has worked in all areas of the British jazz scene and is one of only two or three trumpet players to have played lead trumpet for both Gil Evans and George Russell. He has also worked extensively as a studio and classical musician. 

Currently Henry composes for and plays in the London Jazz Orchestra, leads his own band Still Waters, and is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music. 

In 2017 Henry played on two tours. First with the Julian Siegel Jazz Orchestra and then with Mike Gibb’s 80th Birthday Tour. He was nominated for a Parliamentary Jazz Award in the Services to Jazz category.

 

Henry Lowther playing trumpet

Paul Clarvis

Paul Clarvis profile photo

By Deborahedawson - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47701192

Paul Clarvis

Born in Enfield, Clarvis was the late Leonard Bernstein's preferred percussionist in London and featured as a soloist on the last night of the Proms in 1996 in a concerto for saxophone and drum kit by Sir Harrison Birtwhistle. In 1998 he was chairman of the Percussion judges for the BBC Young Musician of the Year and together with Sonia Slany he started Villagelife Records. 

Clarvis also helped Rick Smith with the drum arrangement for the London Olympics 2012 opening, writing Dame Evelyn Glennie's part and together with Smith, assisted in the training of the ceremony's 1000 drummers.

Clarvis has worked with a number of notable musicians: Mick Jagger, Nina Simone, Stevie Wonder, Steve Swallow, Sir Harrison Birtwhistle, Sir John Dankworth to Sir Paul McCartney, John Taylor and Moondog, Gordon Beck, Bryan Ferry and Elton John. He has recorded with Marc Ribot, Sam Rivers, Richard Thompson, The Orb, John Adams, Michael Nyman, Loreena McKennitt, Mark Anthony Turnage and Michel Legrand as well as his own band Orquestra Mahatma. 

He regularly holds gigs with Mose Allison and has also played with Nina Simone, Herbie Hancock and Ravi Shankar.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Clarvis

Stuart Hall

Stuart Hall

If you'd like to know more about Stuart, his long association with the LJO or enquire about his arrangements for the band, come and find him at one of our gigs.

Photo of a guitar

Martin Speake

Martin Speake profile photo

Martin Speake

Martin studied classical saxophone at Trinity College of Music. At that time there were no jazz courses in London, but he met some future jazz musicians at the college, including pianist Simon Purcell, saxophonist Mark Lockheart and the members of saxophone quartet Itchy Fingers who were studying at the Royal Academy of Music. He toured Europe, South America, Africa and the USA with Itchy Fingers appearing at major jazz festivals and playing on their first two CDs Quark (Virgin Records) and Teranga (Venture). In 1986 they won the Schlitz Young Jazz Musicians of the Year Award, which was televised by the BBC. 

In 1988, he left the group to develop his own projects, which have been many and diverse, and establish himself as a composer and improviser. Martin is as comfortable playing personal interpretations of the music of Charlie Parker with his quartet, free improvising with drummer Mark Sanders, playing standard ballads in duet with Ethan Iverson and Indian music with Dharambir Singh and Sarvar Sabri. 

He has recorded 23 cds under his own name of diverse projects including the internationally acclaimed ECM release Change Of Heart with Paul Motian, Bobo Stenson and Mick Hutton and Intention (Ubuntu Records) in 2018 with Ethan Iverson, Fred Thomas and James Maddren. 

He started his own record label Pumpkin in 2007 and has released 9 cds so far. SPARK is an improvised duo with drummer/percussionist Mark Sanders, TWO NOT ONE a duo with guitarist Colin Oxley playing standard songs. Two albums with Barry Green, Dave Green and Jeff Williams entitled GENERATIONS and LIVE AT RIVERHOUSE. ALWAYS A FIRST TIME featuring Mike Outram and Jeff Williams in 2013 and in 2014 SOUND CLOUDS with improvising classical pianist Douglas Finch and THE QUIET MIND with Mark Sanders and Oren Marshall. Recent releases are ZEPHYR with violinist, violist, singer Faith Brackenbury, DUOS FOR TRIO Music of Bela Bartok with Matthew Forbes and Phelan Burgoyne.

"Martin Speake is one of the most interesting and rewarding alto saxophonists now playing jazz on any continent." 
— Thomas Conrad, Jazz Times

www.martinspeake.com