Great Spirit Biographies
GREAT SPIRIT's nine-piece line-up comprises an impressive selection of some of Europe's best jazz musicians - all world-class players, many of whom are bandleaders in their own right.
JARI PERKIOMAKI Special guest from Finland - Please click here
ED JONES (tenor sax/ bass clarinet) is one of Britain's most exciting and inspired saxophonists, whose talents have led to a wide range of international collaborations, cutting across musical boundaries, including US heavyweights George Benson, Dianne Reeves, Horace Silver, Jimmy Witherspoon, Lonnie Smith and Joe Sample. In Britain Ed has worked with John Stevens, Dick Heckstall-Smith, District Six, Jason Rebello, Evan Parker, Don Weller, Claire Martin and Byron Wallen. As an in-demand session musician, he has worked with Chaka Khan, Headhunters, Omar, Earth Wind & Fire, Bootsy Collins and Incognito (with whom he arranged, toured and recorded). He also acted as musical director for the Blue Note jazz/hip hop crew US 3 world tour, and is a heavily featured soloist on several of their albums.
Ed has toured the UK and European club and festival circuit with his own band, including a 1992 British Council tour of Italy, and an acclaimed 21-date UK tour in 1997 coinciding with the CD release 'Out Here' (ASC, 1997). His many festival appearances have included Rome (Europa Festival 92), Montreux (93 & 96), Hamburg (93 & 95), Umbria (94), Nice (94 & 96), Stockholm (97) and Helsinki (98). The Ed Jones Quintet toured Finland in 1998 and 1999, brought about by an ongoing collaboration with award-winning Finnish trumpeter Mika Mylläri, which was a great success. Ed recently appeared on the Channel 4 TV series 'Jazz Heroes'.
TONY KOFI (baritone sax) was born in Nottingham to West African parents and in 1988 won a scholarship to Berklee College of Music, where he studied with Billy Pierce, Donald Byrd, Ernie Watts and Ralph Moore, subsequently playing with Branford Marsalis, Billy Higgins and Eddie Henderson. Upon his return to Britain he moved to London, joining the Jazz Warriors in 1990 and Gary Crosby's Nu Troup in 1991. From 1993 to 1996 he toured the world with Blue Note recording artists US 3, and also toured the USA with UB40. Tony has also has played with Lonnie Smith, Jazz Jamaica, Courtney Pine, Julian Joseph Big Band, Claude Deppa's Horns Unlimited, Julian Arguelles, Byron Wallen's Indigo, the Grand Union Orchestra and Lucky Ranku's African All-Stars.
In 2003 Tony appeared at the London Jazz Festival, performing all 70 compositions by Thelonious Monk as part of the Monk Liberation Front project. In 2004 he signed with Proper Records, releasing an album of Monk tunes 'All is Know' with pianist Jonathan Gee (voted 'Best Album' in the BBC Jazz Awards 2005), and touring in Italy and the UK. is quartet were also voted 'Best Ensemble" in the 2005 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. He is also much in demand as a sideman with visiting US artists, performing on recent tours with Roy Ayers Big Band, Andrew Hill's Anglo-American Big Band, the David Murray Big Band, Sam Rivers and as the replacement for Oliver Lake in the World Saxophone Quartet.
DICK PEARCE is best known as the trumpeter with Ronnie Scott's quintet and sextet from1980 to1992. After joining the London Youth Jazz Orchestra (later NYJO) aged 16, his first professional engagement was with the Graham Collier Sextet in 1971. He subsequently played in the bands of Don Rendall, Michael Garrick, Dudu Pukwana, Mike Osborne, Keith Tippett, Norma Winstone, Mike Westbrook and others. His own quartet with pianist John Donaldson released the CD 'Big Hit' in 1995 (FMR), containing five Pearce originals, and are regularly featured at Ronnie Scott's in London.
As one of Britain's most highly regarded trumpeters, Dick appears frequently at jazz clubs across the UK and further afield, touring Russia in 2002 and 2005 with local rhythm sections. He is currently also working with Stan Tracey, the Don Weller Big Band, Pete King, Alan Barnes, and many others.
ROGER BEAUJOLAIS started playing vibraphone at the age of 24 and is completely self-taught. He was a founder member of The Chevalier Brothers, touring extensively in Europe, the USA and Japan in the 1980s, and playing at numerous jazz festivals including Montreux and the North Sea. In 1989 he formed the Latin/jazz group The Beaujolais Band which released two albums on the Acid Jazz label. Two years later his funk/jazz group Vibraphonic came into being, releasing two albums on Acid Jazz and two on the US Hollywood label the second album selling over 20,000 copies worldwide.
In 1999 he founded the StayTuned record label, releasing amongst others two albums of standards and originals by his own jazz quintet with saxophonist Mark Lockheart and pianist Robin Aspland, 'For Old Times' (1999) and 'I'll See You Tonight' (2003). Roger has also worked with the Tony Remy Band, The Jazz Percussion Quartet, Grupo X, Mark Nevin, and with saxophonist Theo Travis, with whom he jointly released the quartet album 'Berlin Vibe' (Symbol, 2001), featuring two German musicians, Stefan Weeka (bass) and Bjorn Lucker (drums).
LEON STENNING was born in Sydney, Australia in 1976 and started playing guitar at the age of 7. He studied jazz at the New South Wales Conservatorium of Music and moved to London in 2000. Leon is a member of the band Reel People, who have toured extensively in Europe and Asia since the release of theirt LP 'Second Guess'. They've also remixed Earth, Wind and Fire and composed for Kyoto Jazz Massive under the direction of Mike Patto, visiting Japan for the second time in 2005. Leon has also appeared in London as a sideman with Dill Katz, Nathan Haines and Elastic Life, a collaborative project with drummer Dave DeRose.
CHRIS DODD was born in Sheffield, England in 1976. A multi-instrumentalist by the age of 14, Chris' bass playing soon came to the fore. Whilst still at school he had a number of original compositions published and became one of the youngest members of the PRS. At 16 he moved to London to study at the BRIT Performing Arts School where he won a scholarship to the Berklee School of Music, Boston USA.
Chris has had some chart success in the last few years, writing and producing with artistes such as Jamiroquai keyboard player Toby Smith. Releases include Will Young, Jamie Scott, Tamyra Gray, Mani Hoffman, Lady K and others. He has played double bass, electric bass and drums in many different areas of music, from his free jazz sessions on Paul Dunmall's 'Dark Clouds Gathering', to the very funky 70s feel of '1999' or 'Synkronized' in JK's Jamiroquai. Other artists he has appeared with in clubs and concert halls around the world include Dick Pearce, Julian Joseph, Jazztronik, Lynden David Hall, John Etheridge, Wynton Marsalis, Gary Burton, Behki Mseleku, Julian Stringle, Jim Mullen, Tony Levin, Tim Whitehead, Benet McLean, Donald Braden, Anthony Kerr, Dominic Ashworth, Pete Jacobson, Don Weller, Sax Appeal, Atlantic Soul Machine and Cameron Pierre.
DAVE SMITH is one of the finest young drummers on the British jazz scene. Drawing on a wide range of influences from West African percussion to classic jazz drumming, his explosive style and musical sensitivity allows him the versatility to play in many musical environments. Since graduating from the Guildhall Dave has worked with musicians such as Peter King, Liam Noble, Stan Sultzman, Eddie Henderson, and in creative music projects such as Arnie Somogyi's Ambulance, the Jonathan Bratoeff Quintet (F-ire Collective) and Outhouse (LOOP Collective).
Dave's involvement with West African music began in The Gambia in 2002, when he attended an ECCO International cultural course. Since then he has made three return trips to research the Wolof drumming tradition. As well as setting up collaborative projects between Gambian and jazz musicians, he now leads a Wolof group, giving workshops in schools and performing for ceremonies within London's Wolof community.
TIM RICHARDS' first encounter with a piano was at the age of 8 in a dentist's waiting room. After classical piano lessons he taught himself jazz and blues from the age of 14, after seeing Thelonious Monk and Otis Spann on TV. Since forming the long-lived modern jazz quartet SPIRIT LEVEL in Bristol in 1979, he has performed his compositions at jazz clubs and festivals in almost every European country. Tim expanded SPIRIT LEVEL to a nine-piece in 1999, renaming it GREAT SPIRIT and recording a first CD with an all-star line-up that included Denys Baptist, Gilad Atzmon and Tony Kofi.
Tim has released over ten albums under his own name, including two with Austrian saxman Sigi Finkel and two trio albums. His playing has been described thus: "A unique mixture formed from his admiration of both the expansive, robust playing of McCoy Tyner and the luminous delicacy of Abdullah Ibrahim." THE TIMES
TIm is also one of Britain's best-known jazz educators, a contributor to the Associated Board's jazz piano syllabus, and the author of the acclaimed tutors IMPROVISING BLUES PIANO and EXPLORING JAZZ PIANO, published by Schott & Co (1997 and 2005, both with CDs).
For a more complete biography of Tim Richards click here