Art Themen’s New Directions Quintet

Friday 2 June at 7.30pm

Art Themen’s New Directions Quintet photo by Bob Hewson
  • Art Themen soprano and tenor saxes
  • Steve Fishwick trumpet and flugelhorn
  • Gareth Williams keyboard
  • Arnie Somogyi bass
  • Winston Clifford drums

Art Themen, described by jazz writer Dave Gelly as, ‘One of the tiny handful of undeniably perfect jazz musicians’ , formed his New Directions Quintet to showcase some of the lesser known gems from the repertoire of such major jazz composers as Thelonious Monk.

Art was born in Manchester, where he was involved with the traditional jazz scene in the late 1950s as a self-taught musician. In 1958 he began his medical studies at Cambridge University, going on in 1961 to complete his studies in London, and qualifying in 1964. He specialised in orthopaedic medicine, eventually becoming a consultant.

Art started playing jazz with the Cambridge University Jazz Group – with bandmates Dick Heckstall-Smith and Dave Gelly – and then in London playing with blues musicians Jack Bruce and Alexis Korner. He went on to play with such English luminaries as Michael Garrick, Ian Carr and Graham Collier. He fronted the Stan Tracey quartet for 20 years from 1976.  Key influences are Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon.

He is a busy and sought after musician who nowadays is most often seen on stage with many of the best of Britain’s top jazz players such as Alan Barnes, John Donaldson, John Critchinson, Dave Newton, Georgie Fame, Don Weller, Mornington Lockett, among many others. Art is a player who is known for his originality and individual style. A consummate performer and one of the UK’s top jazz saxophonists, he plays in large and small venues throughout the UK and worldwide and is a regular feature on many top jazz festivals.

Art will be joined by four outstanding musicians. Steve Fishwick, who lists the great Kenny Dorham amongst his influences, is widely considered to be one of the best jazz trumpeters to come from the UK and is rapidly gaining a global reputation thanks to his flawless technique and his beautifully flowing, harmonically rich improvisations.

Gareth William’s virtuosic displays on piano, and multi-instrumental talents on guitar and vocals, have dazzled audiences and critics on both sides of the Atlantic. ‘A jewel of a player … spinning out luminous introductions and codas’ –Jazziz magazine (USA).

Bassist Arnie Somogyi has played on over 50 albums, including four as a leader, and has worked, recorded and performed with many of the world’s leading jazz musicians including James Moody, Bobby Hutcherson, Eddie Henderson, Scott Hamilton, Art Farmer, Herb Ellis and The Mingus Big Band. Leading the band Jump Monk is amongst his many current projects.

Winston Clifford, voted second in the 2016 British Jazz Awards, is one of the most in demand drummers on the UK jazz scene. His playing is free from the usual restraints of stylistic expectations and a true reflection of listening and responding ‘in the moment’

Photo by  Bob Hewson


Jazz at Progress is presented in association with Jazz in Reading.