James Allsopp

James Allsopp is a multi-instrumentalist and composer whose genre busting quintet “Fraud” exploded on to the Jazz scene in 2005 to instant critical acclaim. Their Cheltenham Jazz festival gig of 2006, as part of the Jerwood Rising Stars programme, was voted one of the gigs of the year by Jazzwise magazine, and they have since gone on to record a special session for BBC Radio 3’s “Jazz on 3” programme and have won both the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation 2008 and the Ronnie Scott Award for best New Act 2007. Fraud’s Debut album received many critical plaudits including being described as “the future of improvised music” by Jazzwise Magazine and “what the term cutting edge was meant for” by the Guardians John Fordham.

As well as Fraud James writes for his new trio “The Golden Age of Steam” which features his Fraud collaborator Tim Giles alongside Hammond organ wunderkind Kit Downes. They performed at this years Cheltenham Jazz festival, continuing the relationship with Jerwood Rising Stars and a recording of their gig is due to be broadcast on “Jazz on 3” in September. They have recently completed a debut album of brand new Allsopp compositions, which further blur the line between contemporary classical music, electronics and the full spectrum of Jazz improvisation from the blues all the way to the extremities of the avant garde. The Album is due for release at the end of 2009 on the Babel Label.

Allsopp’s compositions combine highly complex rhythmic and harmonic structures with a use of unusual sounds and orchestrations to allow for a seemingly infinite range of improvisational possibilities. He favors seamless transitions that blur the lines between compositional rigor and improvisational freedom juxtaposed with abrupt changes in direction and approach. His music has an enormous dynamic range from the thunderous to the whispering, which invites us into a strange dream world whose constantly shifting boundaries defy complacency.

As an improviser James has recently recorded an album of solo saxophone improvisations which explore the territory of spontaneous composition. These pieces fuse James’s complex and highly individual harmonic and rhythmic languages with an exploration of extended techniques and effects. The album is due to be released on the “Quartz” contemporary classical music label in October 2009.

As a sideman James has played in the UK and all over Europe and the U.S.A with many musicians including The Brian Irvine Ensemble (various European tours and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C), Polar Bear (UK and European gigs and a BBC World Service Broadcast), David Axelrod (Royal Featival Hall), Joe Morris, The F-IRE collective Big Band, Richard Fairhurst(Cheltenham Jazz Featival, BBC Jazz Award for best New Work 2003, Jerusalem Jazz Festival 2004), Ingrid Laubrock (Cheltenham Jazz Featival, Kings Place), Paul Dunmall, Dylan Bates, Stan Sultzmann and Graham Collier (Purcell Room, C.B.S.O Centre) amongst others. He has also been a featured soloist with the Ulster Orchestra in “His Marvelous Medicine”, a piece by composer Brian Irvine. In May 2006 he performed the world premiere of “Shore”, by composer Dave Meric, a piece for dancers, saxophone and choir.

Projects (as leader)

  • The music is sometimes labyrinthine, sometimes eerily sparse, incorporating seismic riffs, limping marches and intricately woven contrapuntal textures into a multi coloured world of improvised sound.

Projects (as sideman)

  • Featuring some of the most exciting and dynamic young musicians from the London jazz, classical and improvised-music scenes, the project aims to fuse chamber and orchestral palettes and shapes with the vibrant energy of cutting-edge jazz.
  • Mirror is an engaging collaboration between some of London’s most distinctive performers, interpreting and reworking compositions by keyboardist Dan Nicholls.