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Photo of John Randall

Photo courtesy of John Randall © Garry Corbett

Drummer John Randall grew up at Maldon in Essex. Both he and his brother were fascinated by drums from an early age after seeing a Dixieland jazz band busking in their local town. For Christmas a year later, their very generous parents gave them a drum kit to share: 'We lived in a very small terrace house,' John recalls, 'and fortunately our parents and neighbours were very tolerant! We both played around on the drum kit, but my brother was the main one who was interested at the time. Then, when I was eight years old, I changed schools and had to choose an instrument to have lessons on - so I chose the drums. My teacher was Chrisy Lee, we got on well and I took it from there....'

'When I went to secondary school (the Plume School in Maldon) I had some very supportive music teachers who let me play drums in the school bands. There was no jazz education though, and my interest in jazz developed through my own listening. I mainly played in soul and rock bands at the time.

When John was sixteen, he joined the Essex Youth Jazz Orchestra. 'This was my first proper education in jazz,' continues John. 'The great saxophone player Martin Hathaway who ran EYJO was both very knowledgeable and encouraging of people who were keen to learn. I would credit him as a major influence in my eventually deciding to study music at degree level'.

Before making the decision to go to music college, John took time out and worked as a sailing instructor in Greece for two years as well as windsurfing full time in Cape Town for 6 months. 'I still have gigs In Greece every year, and I still love the outdoors and sports such as sailing, windsurfing, cycling, swimming, etc.'

After four years taking a BMus (Hons) Jazz degree, John came out of Birmingham Conservatoire with a first. During his degree course he also spent a good deal of time on composition. 'There was a focus on composition as well as playing and I have pursued composition with growing enthusiasm in the later two years of the course. It was a great course, lots of encouragement and space to tailor-in your own projects. After my third year recital, Clark Tracey, one of the external examiners offered me a record deal with his record label, Ten To Ten Records, which gave me the encouragement to take my composition more seriously. In the fourth year, I focused nearly all my time on running my band, organising gigs, and writing and recording the album. The album is being mixed in September 2008 and will be released in October'.

2008 was a very successful year for John and his band. In April they won the Dave Holland Jazz Ensemble Award and had the honour of performing at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. John's compositions won him the John Mayer Memorial Award for Composition and in July, John was awarded a Yamaha-Classic FM scholarship for outstanding jazz musicians. At the end of November 2008, John and his Quintet were given a further award - the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, and John went on to release his first album Insomnia which you can sample if you click here.

John and the band continue to play, and in 2009 they recorded an EP which should hopefully be released during 2010 together with videos of the session.

John is also planning to pursue his other interest in science and engineering and to develop a career in that field. If he is as successful as he has been with music, he should do well.

Ask John about his jazz influences and the list is long: Miles Davis, Brian Blade, Wayne Shorter, Dave Binney, Tony Williams, Vijay Iyer, Philly Jo Jones, Magic Malik, Nasheet Waits, Jim Black, Freddie Hubbard, Charlie Parker.... 'and there are lots from outside jazz as well, I like a lot of different music.'

Photo of John Randall Band

Photo courtesy of John Randall © Garry Corbett

People who regularly play in John's band are: Mike Fletcher (alto saxophone/flute); Phil Robson (guitar); Chris Montague (guitar); George Fogel (keyboards), Dan Nicholls (keyboards) and Tom Farmer (bass). Find out more about John and the band on John's website at www.johnrandallmusic.com or by clicking here.

© John Randall and Ian Maund 2008-2015

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