I was born in 1956 and educated in and around London, moving to Devon in 1981. I started learning the piano and the clarinet as a boy, not adding the saxophone until in my twenties. Music was always my first love and obsession but, typically a Gemini, I've dipped into other wildly diverse careers along the way.
I studied clarinet with Stuart Allen and John McCaw and later with Stephen Pierce at the London College of Music in Great Malborough Street. While at Chiswick Music Centre my jazz tutors included Alan Wakeman, Stan Sulzmann, Harry Beckett, Don Rendell and other great British players. While a student I took classes with Howard Riley at the Guildhall School of Music and with Phil Wachsmann at the City Literary Institute.
These latter tutors encouraged and informed my love of avant-garde and totally improvised music. I was a founding member of The London Musicians Collective and the Alternative Music Orchestra. I was as happy playing alongside Tony Oxley (my favourite drummer!) as playing Brahms.
After studying music I heeded my parents advice and took up a career in 'the city' as a broker at Lloyds of London. I had a great time for four years but I was very unhappy not being able to devote myself to music. I quit and moved to Salcombe in Devon which had always been an important place for me. I quickly became involved with a life and a community that I truly loved. For three years I worked for Edward Hannaford,
a boat builder who had always been a hero of mine (and subject of my composition "No.6 Boatstore"). I became one of the town's retained firemen for ten years (ending up in charge of the station) and had many odd-jobs while building up a private music teaching practice and getting involved with the West Country gig scene. This led to forming my own jazz groups and freelancing as an instrumentalist.
Around 1992 I formed "The Complete DBs" with Kevin Sanders, Dhevdhas Nair and Sean Wilmott. This band was formed to play our original compositions. Of course we couldn't get gigs for love nor money and I retreated to more acoustic line-ups playing standards. At least that kept the friends playing together and thankfully the original concept has now been reborn as "The Limbic System". I started the Limbic
System Music Ltd. company to take care of the band's cd releases and business.
I am agreed to release improv albums on Leo Records. I am a member of the fierce free-improv group Conspiracy Of Equals, leader of The Levellers' horn section and a cornerstone of Rev Hammer's bands and recordings. I feature in Rev's epic folk/rock-opera "Freeborn John". I play for the latin/salsa/fusion band "Mas Bajo", Sam Richards' various bands (which
include occasional Sun Ra tribute nights), The Lewis Riley Big Band and I am a committee member of the Totnes Jazz Collective.
I have a project studio at home where I record myself, whoever I may invite and those who wish to pay. I am the house engineer for Leo Records, specialising in digital audio editing and audio restoration. Leo Feigin kindly dubs me "Harry The Magician"! I have engineered and produced albums for Red Dispersion (Slam CD 272), Helen Bradshaw, Edward Hannaford and demos for numerous local bands. I
collaborate a great deal with composer/bass player/sculptor/film maker and friend Marcus Vergette, playing/engineering/producing soundtracks and pieces for his many projects. I have made many oral history field recordings of local people for the Salcombe Maritime Museum.
Sometimes I can't believe that I am fortunate enough to live with my beloved wife Bobbi, an artist from Los Angeles, in our favourite place, have such close friends, go sailing AND be able to play music to my hearts content. I'm reminded of the Talking Heads lyric: "How did I get here?"
In the beginning
Grew up in a household full of music in what is now extreme South London.
Studied piano and theory of music as a boy.
Discovered Jimi Hendrix, Cream, Stravinsky, Aaron Copland, John Coltrane and Salcombe thanks to mum, bro. and the BBC.
Studied clarinet with Stuart Allen and John McCaw.
Listened to the radio (mostly BBC) and "Live Evil" by Miles Davis a lot. I mean a lot.
Attended as many gigs/concerts of all genres of contemporary music as possible.
Kicked out of a minor public school and finished 'A' level music at Chiswick Music Centre where jazz tutors included Alan Wakeman, Stan Sulzmann, Harry Beckett and Don Rendell.
1st Clarinet, Chiswick Symphony Orchestra.
Attended London College Of Music. Studied clarinet with Stephen Pierce, friend for life.
ALCM and LLCM diplomas.
Studied at Guildhall with Howard Riley and at the City Literary Institute with Phil Wachsmann.
Founding member of The London Musicians Collective and the Alternative Music Orchestra.
Played in various line-ups with Phil Wachsmann and Tony Oxley.
Became an Aviation and Marine broker at Lloyds of London.
Quit working in the city and returned to music.
Moved to Salcombe. Worked for Edward Hannaford, a boat builder and friend for life, while building up music teaching and gigging.
Taught clarinet privately, also at Kingsbridge and Dartmouth Comprehensives and Torquay Grammar Schools.
Director of Saturday Music School at Kingsbridge Adult Education Centre.
Worked for composer and bandleader Chris Gibbons.
Founder member of The Rhythm Machine band.
Gigged a lot. Got married. Got divorced. Gigged a lot.
Formed 'The Complete Dbs', led trios, quartets etc..
Started playing a 17 year summer residency at Dusters Restaurant in Salcombe.
Married Bobbi Smith, an artist from LA.
Invited to join the Totnes Jazz Collective.
Started to work with Phil Johnstone, Robert Plant's MD, co-writer and keyboard player.
Appeared as featured artist on Westcountry TV, Radio Devon, Gemini Radio and South Hams Radio.
Freelanced on BBC TV; programme syndicated worldwide.
Appeared on Rev Hammer's "Freeborn John" album, produced by Phil Johnstone.
Worked in many free improvisation ensembles with Sam Richards.
Appeared on albums by The Levellers, Jeff Hooper, Ingrid Wu, Sam Richards and Darryl Way.
2000 - 2007
Formed 'Limbic System' to play my compositions and released "The Limbic System" album.
Appeared on Rev Hammer's 'Spitting Feathers' and 'Freeborn John' albums, produced by Phil Johnstone.
Digital audio engineer for Leo Records.
Co-founder of Mas Bajo, latin/salsa/fusion band.
Co-founder of 'A Conspiracy Of Equals', a loose collaboration between Zaum, The Bird Architects and myself.
Leo Feigin of Leo Records asks me to produce an album of my music per annum to be released on Leo Records.
Produced 'A Conspiracy Of Equals' album
'A Conspiracy Of Equals' free improvisation album released by Leo Records.
'Freeborn John Live!' performances at The Beautiful Days festival with Rev, Phil, Maddy Prior, The Levellers, New Model Army and thousands of beautiful people.
'Freeborn John Live!' album and DVD edition released.
Film soundtrack creation and audio engineering for Marcus Vergette's various projects.
Founding member of "The Fabulous Good Time Party Boys", a band led by Phil Johnstone.
Performances of "The Fabulous Good Time Party Boys" at The Beautiful Days Festival 2006 & 2007.
Produced "Red Dispersion" album for Aaron Standon (SLAM CD272)
Produced "Did Cupid Die?" album by Helen Bradshaw (LIMBIC CD 301)
Asked to lead horn section for The Levellers. Perform with them at The Beautiful Days Festival.
February: Freeborn John UK tour
March: The Levellers Beautiful Nights tour.