Great Spirit

"Jazz supergroup whose passion proves inspirational"

Tim Richards' nine-piece band was formed in 1999 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of one of Britain's best and most enduring jazz groups - SPIRIT LEVEL. The line-up comprises an impressive selection of London's most dynamic jazz musicians, world-class players, many of whom are bandleaders in their own right.

Fourth UK tour Oct/Nov 2006

This autumn GREAT SPIRIT embark on their fourth UK tour, with support from the PRS FOUNDATION for New Music and JAZZ SERVICES Ltd.

Tour dates are 21 October - 4 November 2006.
For details, see the
GIGS page.

On this tour, GREAT SPIRIT will be joined by one of Finland's top jazz musicians, Jari Perkiomaki (alto/soprano sax), head of the jazz department at Helsinki's prestigious Sibelius Academy.

View Jari's biography



The band will feature material from their latest CD Epistrophy, out now on 33 Records (33Jazz120).

"Immediately accessible, wide-ranging album... as infectiously enjoyable as it is carefully constructed and programmed... blues and post-bop jazz, tinged with funk, African and Latin influences... powerful, earthy, dramatic music... a judiciously balanced band in top form."

Track listing and more press reviews

GREAT SPIRIT aims to show that contemporary jazz is vibrantly alive in the C21st, and that it can appeal to a broad cross-section of people of all ages and cultures.

Touring line-up will be:

Jari Perkiomaki - alto/soprano sax
Ed Jones - tenor sax/bass clarinet
Tony Kofi - baritone sax
Dick Pearce - trumpet
Roger Beaujolais - vibes
Leon Stenning - guitar
Chris Dodd - bass/electric bass
Dave Smith - drums
Tim Richards - piano/keyboards

To view individual photos of these musicians,
click on the PHOTOS button.
For biographies, click here.



"Great Spirit showcases Richards' talents as a jazz composer, with robust tunes that stick in the mind... ingenious ensemble writing... each piece has a twist that takes it out of the ordinary. An impassioned and beautifully wrought piano/soprano saxophone duet with Jason Yarde."
John L Walters - THE GUARDIAN
(review of JAZZ CAFE gig, April 2005)

"Contagious rhythmic energy... makes you want to do heroic deeds like climb Everest or swim the Atlantic... Not a dull moment from beginning to end."

Purchase GREAT SPIRIT CDs by sending a cheque payable to:
Tim Richards, 111a Bovill Road, LONDON SE23 1EL.
Epistrophy 33Jazz120 - £12
Price includes post and packing.
See below for details of first CD.

You can also pay by credit card (secure transaction) at
Both CDs are also available by mail order on the net via

Distributed in the UK by NEW NOTE.
Dealers - please order via PINNACLE (01689-873144).


Previous tours and line-ups


Musicians featured in past GREAT SPIRIT gigs and recordings include such names as Pete King, Chris Biscoe, Jason Yarde, Dave Blackmore, Denys Baptiste, Gilad Atzmon, Julian Siegal, Patrick Clahar, Byron Wallen, Dave Colton, Steve McKenna, Tom Herbert, Jerome Davies, Davide Mantovani, Cheryl Alleyne, Dave Ohm and Seb Rochford.

To view previous tour schedules and line-ups,
click here


Reviews of February 2001 tour

"Young drummer Seb Rochford... may just be the coolest-looking drummer in jazz right now, and judging from his astounding solo, he may also be a genius."

"Time stood still during the band's post hard-bop excursions, during which they steamed and soared as if there were no tomorrow, drawing gasps of amazement from some sections
of the audience..."

"Richards' ensemble writing... was drenched in the blues. The funky numbers sounded sleazy, with
Dave Colton's guitar bringing George Clinton's Funkadelic irresistibly to mind."

"During 'Up The Creek' the brass & woodwind were mischievous and anarchic, taking it in turns to gang up on each other, while Tom Herbert's bass solo had all the swagger of a tom-cat patrolling his neighbourhood."
James Griffiths - The GUARDIAN

"Tony Kofi... the most incisive baritone sound I've heard on baritone sax.... A most impressive concert."

"Suite for the Shed... a shrewd mix of the light, dancing energy of a Miles Davis group of the late 1950s and the earthy heads-down drive of an Art Blakey band."

"A fine arrangement of Thelonious Monk's Epistrophy that effectively bookended some powerful soloing."
John Fordham - The Guardian 



Great Spirit / Best of Spirit Level - Double CD - 33 JAZZ051


First CD

To co-incide with the bands' first UK tour in 1999 a double CD was released on the 33 RECORDS label, Suite for the Shed/ Best of Spirit Level (33Jazz051)

"Attractive ensemble writing... infectious grooves... powerful soloing..."
Kennie Mathieson - JAZZWISE Magazine
(4 stars - an outstanding release)

Track listing and more press reviews

Available from



The Commission

The GREAT SPIRIT CD features Richards' 60-minute composition Suite for The Shed which was commissioned in 1998 by THE SHED , a small arts centre in Brawby, near Malton, North Yorkshire, where SPIRIT LEVEL had been the first jazz artists to perform.

"Britain's liveliest venue"
BBC Radio 4

Funding was provided by Yorkshire Arts, and the work was premiered at York University on 22 October 1999 - the first date of GREAT SPIRIT's UK tour.

"Passion, groove and grit."
John Lewis - TIME OUT

THE SHED is a registered trademark
© Simon Thackray 1999.


The music tells the story of a journey through fantastic landscapes - partly imaginary and partly inspired by travels in wilderness areas of Yorkshire, Scotland and abroad - exciting, thought-provoking and accessible modern jazz with contemporary, blues, funk and African influences.

"An impressive new full-length work."

"Summons up the bluesy flavour of mid-period Charles Mingus."
Phil Johnson - The INDEPENDENT

"It's heartening to hear music of this quality from this side of the water."
Mark Gilbert - JAZZ REVIEW



As well as the nine-piece band playing Suite for the Shed, this package on 33 RECORDS includes a bonus Best of SPIRIT LEVEL CD, a compilation of 15 tracks from the band's first five albums.

It features fine playing from saxophonists Paul Dunmall and Jerry Underwood, trumpeters Dave Holdsworth and Jack Walrath, and many others.

New York (ex-Mingus) trumpeter Walrath toured with SPIRIT LEVEL in 1986 and 87, recording the acclaimed Killer Bunnies LP, which was given 4 stars by Downbeat Magazine.


Five tracks from this long deleted album are included in this compilation, and were described as "barely short of sensational" by writer Stuart Nicholson in his 4-star JAZZWISE review.

For more information and reviews of the Best of Spirit Level CD, please see the SPIRIT LEVEL page.



Reviews of 'Suite for the Shed' from 1999-2000

"A very fine example of British writing by a veteran of the modern UK scene."
Mark Gilbert - JAZZ REVIEW

"High-powered nine-piece... the arrangements are crisp and well-organised. The Suite shows the typical British jazz pro in a pretty good light..."
Jack Massarik - CD of the week

"Richards has endured and matured into a gifted composer and arranger. The compositional dexterity was matched by some superb soloing..."

"Richard's arrangements briskly set melodies and rhythms spinning, and the front line chase each other all over the place. The pace is fast
and the writing tight..."
CITY LIFE Manchester


"The bluesy riff-packed drive of an Art Blakey group..."
John Fordham - The GUARDIAN

"Suite for the Shed... a showcase of the talent at hand... an enlightening set of excursions...and a meditative finale that really swings."
Mike Bradley - THE TIMES

"The nonet is animated by a funky swing and splendid ensemble interplay... It's really the ensemble's ability to evolve a funky groove at any tempo that makes Suite for the Shed so enjoyable."
CADENCE Magazine (USA)

"It was outstanding - a tremendous asset to the British jazz scene."