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Ruby Wood


Ruby Wood

© Photo courtesy of Ruby Wood


When jazz vocalist Ruby Wood sings, people stop and listen. Commenting on BBC Radio 2's 'The Best of Jazz' in November 2006, Humphrey Lyttelton said of Ruby: 'I always sit up in my chair when I hear someone who has an individual quality. I like the way it gives a new slant on a very old song. She is very much singing it in her own way.'

Ruby Wood was born in West Yorkshire in 1986. Her parents love jazz and chose her name from the Thelonius Monk classic Ruby, My Dear, and so she was exposed to a wide variety of different musical styles from an early age.

'I have been singing for about six years', Ruby says, 'but my interest in music developed much earlier when I took up the steel pan when I was seven. I joined a steel band from Huddersfield called North Stars Steel Orchestra, one of Europe's oldest steel bands. The steel band taught me so much. I learnt and played a variety of different music ranging from traditional West Indian Soca to Classical music and through to Jazz. Playing with the band gave me a great number of opportunities to play, events such as the Trinidad and Notting Hill Carnivals as well as a UK tour with Dennis Rollins, taking in sellouts at the Brecon and Ruby WoodCheltenham Jazz Festivals.'

'Some people may not see playing steel pan as being a conventional music education, but I have so much to thank it for! It has given me good timing, culture, a strong insight into the foundation of music and the industry that surrounds me, and my 'music ear' from which my singing benefits now.'



© Photo courtesy of Ruby Wood


Ruby studied music to GCSE level at school, and then went on to study music at 'A' Level. 'This is when my interest in jazz became more noticeable. I started to buy jazz CDs and go to jazz gigs. I attended a few summer jazz workshops held at the oldest jazz conservatoire in the country, Leeds College of Music, where we were taught by the fabulous Tina May, Lee Gibson and Nicky Allen, and I knew then that I would love to go on and read Jazz Studies there.'

Ruby graduated from Leeds College of Music in July 2008 with a BA degree. 'My three years at LCM have been wonderful! I studied singing under Louise Gibbs and Kari Bleivik. I have met so many interesting people, both teachers and other students, and the knowledge I have gained throughout the years has been priceless. Teachers encouraged students to go out and gig and to set up ensembles, so I did. I have been involved in quite a selection of bands during my time at college from various jazz ensembles and a vocal accapella choir to fronting a drum and bass band.'

'Now my main projects include writing and performing in a hiphop/jazz band called Extra Curricular, writing and performing with acoustic guitarist Noah Burton, working with double bassist Jenni Malloy, gigging with my jazz quintet featuring Piero Tucci, Stuart McDonald, Jenni Malloy and Chris Sykes, and with my function band, Dirty Boy Massive.'

Leaving College, Ruby is about to embark on life as a professional musician. Winning a Yamaha/Classic FM jazz scholarship for outstanding musicians in July came as a great start. The Yamaha-Classic FM Jazz Scholarship Programme gives financial assistance, performance and recording opportunities to young jazz musicians nominated by the Heads of Jazz at six of the UK's leading conservatoires and universities.

'It came as a great surprise', says Ruby, 'and it couldn't have come at a better time for me. I met lots of interesting and influential people at the Awards event in London and I am recording a track with the other award winners to be featured on a CD to be distributed by Jazzwise magazine.'

When she played at the 606 Club, for one of her numbers, John Coltrane's Africa, she introduced a beatboxer friend to join the band. The result was unusual and really impressive. Fortunately the number was recorded for the cover CD, although the beatbox percussion is less effective in the recording than it was hearing it live.


Listen to Ruby and Africa.




'I love music and will always be hungry to learn from all styles of music from all cultures. I am very lucky to live in a multi-cultural town like Huddersfield and to be close to cities with great music scenes such as Leeds and Manchester.'

Since writing the above I lost touch with Ruby. Leeds College of Music caught up with her more recently and spoke to her about her current work with the Submotion Orchestra - click here.

Here is Ruby singing Prism with the Submotion Orchestra from their 2018 release Kites.





© Sandy Brown Jazz 2008-2020


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