@ the Pizza Express Jazz Club
8 January 2010
Click an image to enlarge.
Soweto Kinch biography
Born in London, England on 10 January 1978 to a Barbadian father
and British-Jamaican mother, Soweto Kinch is one of the most exciting
and versatile young musicians to hit the British jazz scene in recent
He first became interested in music at the tender age of eight,
playing clarinet at primary school. He quickly developed a fondness
for the alto saxophone and was given his first instrument when he
was nine. After meeting Wynton Marsalis four years later he discovered
and became passionate about jazz, first concentrating on piano and
later, in his teens, focusing on alto saxophone.
His family had a strong artistic influence on him, his father being
a playwright and his mother an actress. Having such a theatrical
background exposed him to performance and meant that he was often
surrounded by musicians and other artists such as jazz tap dancer
Will Gaines and percussionist/bebop vocalist Frank Holder.
Kinch is essentially a self-taught musician who has supplemented
his musical education by gathering information from books and transcribing
jazz recordings. He has also been fortunate to attract the attention
of two of the most important jazz luminaries in Britain, saxophonist
Courtney Pine OBE and double bassist Gary Crosby, both of whom are
now key mentors. In addition to the alto saxophone, Kinch plays
soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, and piano.
He also raps and is competent on the computer, using sequencers
such as Cubase, Logic Audio, and Sibelius.
Kinch made the practical decision to become a full time musician
fairly recently. Graduating from Oxford University in 1999 with
a BA in Modern History, he was set to pursue a career in journalism
or to undertake post-graduate studies. However, the offer of a place
within the core band of Tomorrow's Warriors (the development programme
established by Gary Crosby in 1991 to nurture and develop talented
young jazz musicians) and with Crosby's professional bands, Jazz
Jamaica and Nu Troop persuaded him to choose music as a career path.
Kinch’s musical influences are as broad as they are diverse.
He particularly admires Sonny Rollins for his innovative style and
successful appropriation of West Indian music within the jazz canon.
Most recently, Kinch has been influenced by baroque and early classical
music due to an interest he has in the 17th and 18th century black
population of Britain. He is keen to reconstruct the African and
classical influences that this community would have had.
Kinch made his first appearance on record in October 2001 as a member
of the internationally acclaimed Jazz Jamaica All Stars, a 20-piece
big band blending jazz with reggae, ska and other Caribbean rhythms.
In July 2002, Kinch won the inaugural White Foundation International
Saxophone Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival. Hot on the
heels of this major award, Kinch picked up the prestigious BBC Radio
Jazz Award for Rising Star 2002 and, as a member of Jazz Jamaica
All Stars, shared in the glory of the BBC Radio award for Best Band
Kinch is pursuing an interest in Theatre. He completed a commission
with NITRO Black Theatre Cooperative in November 2001 for whom he
composed a score for ‘Slamdunk’ (performed at The Contact
Theatre, Manchester). Similarly, he composed the score for a production
in Birmingham, ‘Its Just A Name’ produced by Nu Century
Arts (April 2002) and written by his father Don Kinch.
Kinch’s debut album “Conversations With The Unseen”
was released in 2003. The album won a Mercury Music Prize for An
Album Of The Year and earned him the MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act
2003. Kinch was also announced as the winner of the Peter Whittingham
Award for Innovative Jazz Project the same year.In 2004, Kinch continued
international touring and picked up BBC Radio Jazz Awards for Best
Band and Best Instrumentalist.
Yet another prestigious award came in November 2004, with Kinch
winning the Urban Music Award for Best Jazz Act. All categories
of these awards were nominated and voted for online by the public
and Kinch received a record number of votes!