Steve Berry

Jazz and Improvisation
Photo of Steve Berry

Biographical Info

An early childhood in Shropshire filled Steve’s ears with hymns and sacred music, growing up in a deeply religious family. After a brief (and enforced) flirtation with violin, Steve then abandoned Music in his early teens to concentrate on train-spotting and wondering why girls were not interested in him at all. In his later teens, he managed to escape the monastic compound of his family long enough to discover Rock & Roll, and the guitar.So he became a singer-songwriter and a surprisingly clueless self-taught guitarist.

A chance encounter with Jazz saxophonist Stuart Spiers in 1976 changed everything. Improvisation, learning to hear, imagine and create music became a lifetime’s obsession.Erroneously embarking upon a Fine Art degree, Steve was offered a gap year away from the course after his second year, his Professors opining that “We think you might be a Musician”. Taking up double bass and moving to London in 1979, Steve undertook one year of Post-Graduate study at the Guildhall School of Music (in 1983), then went on to be a founder member of the 21-piece “Loose Tubes”, a larger than life big band that sought to stray beyond the conventional boundaries usually associated with such ensembles. The success of that band created an impetus that went on to seed many opportunities for Steve, both as a player, composer and increasingly as an educator (latterly at RNCM, LIPA & Chetham’s).

Technically Steve is now on his 37th gap year. It seems those Professors were onto something… Collaborators past and present have included – Many of the spin-off units from Loose Tubes (principally with Mark Lockheart, & Django Bates), Lew Tabakin, Art Farmer, John Surman, Les Chisnall, Mike Walker, Kathryn Tickell, June Tabor, Huw Warren, Tim Whitehead, Mike & Kate Westbrook, Peter Fairclough, Mike Hall, Nikki Iles, Dagmar Krause, Ute Lemper and latterly in bands alongside his eldest two children, saxophonist Dan Berry and singer Jessica Berry.

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