After twenty-five years in the music business playing everything from jazz to reggae, latin to soul, pop to hip-hop, in every kind of venue from the sublime to the ridiculous, in every corner of the globe, I am now embarking on my latest musical adventure, Distant Routes, a crystalisation of my influences and experiences gathered along the way.
This project combines sonic soundscapes with driving rhythms fusing jazz with latin, african and funk elements, presenting forward-thinking original compositions drawing on my many influences.
But how did I get to this point? Born in multi-cultural London to a Trinidadian father and English mother I always saw myself as a citizen of the world. The musical backdrop to my childhood combined the reggae and calypso albums of my father and the Chopin and Debussy of my mother. At the same time the punk explosion was going on, providing excitement, promoting individuality and freedom from the rules; while spending hour after hour improvising at the piano.
Everything changed in my teens when I discovered Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock sparking a quest for jazz knowledge. A new wave of British jazz talent was emerging, spearheaded by musicians such as Julian Joseph and Courtney Pine. Little did I imagine that I would be playing in Courtney's band many years later.
At 17, I wound up playing keyboards for a band that was on a thirty date tour supporting Aswad, one of the UK's premier reggae bands. With practically no gig experience I found myself playing in huge arenas in front of thousands of people. Standing in the wings feeling the thunderous bass lines and majestic horns of Aswad I knew that this was what I wanted to do with my life.
I threw myself into London's diverse music scene, attending as many jam sessions as I could. This musical apprenticeship honed my piano skills and led to lasting relationships in both jazz circles, and in funk, soul and hip-hop, including exciting and experimental work with rapper Maxi Jazz, of Faithless fame, with whom I co-wrote an album. One thing led to another and before I knew it I had a musical career.
Joining Courtney Pine's band gave me an opportunity to travel the world and play the kinds of gigs I had previously only dreamt of. Performing at the St Lucia Jazz Festival with the stage overlooking the sun setting over the Caribbean sea. What more can a musician ask for? Or opening up for my piano hero Herbie Hancock at the Vienne jazz festival in a vast Roman amphitheatre. Supporting other legendary artists such as Wayne Shorter and Marcus Miller. Playing at The Blue Note in Tokyo for entranced audiences hanging on to every note.
I was also privileged to perform with world music pioneers Osibisa at the North Sea Jazz Festival in Cape Town and enjoyed spine-tingling sessions with Hugh Masekela and Jazz Jamaica. And little did I know as a ten-year-old complaining on a radio talk show about the proliferation of disco at the expense of prog rock, that in years to come I would be touring with disco icons Sister Sledge, Rose Royce and Womack and Womack as well as playing with UK soul stars Beverley Knight and Mica Paris. I also played in Tom Jones' band on a host of prime time TV shows.
With so many rich and diverse musical experiences there has been no shortage of inspiration for my own compositions. I released my debut album Long Distance in 2006, an eclectic mix of jazz, funk and global fusion, laying the foundations for subsequent explorations. I wrote the score for several theatre productions and created the soundtrack for an independent feature film, That Samba Thing, collaborating with legendary samba artist Martinho da Vila at his studio in Rio de Janeiro with some of Brazil's leading musicians, a jaw-dropping masterclass!
Having travelled the world as a musician, from Rio to Beijing, Tokyo to Accra, Bangkok to Bogota, Manilla to Jamaica, playing with inspiring artists and covering styles across the musical spectrum, there are more albums to be made, more gigs to be played and unlimited musical landscapes to explore. Distant Routes has been created to provide a vehicle for this ongoing adventure.