Geoff Eales

Geoff Eales

Geoff Eales

Last updated: 19 November 2008

Throughout a long and distinguished career, Geoff Eales has worked with pop stars, country singers, opera divas and funk legends, and has played on countless soundtracks, TV shows and jingles. He has also composed chamber works, symphonies and concertos and has performed as a featured soloist with symphony orchestras.

Hailing from Aberbargoed in the south Wales valleys, his musical journey began at the age of eight, in the late 1950s. His father Horace, pianist in a well-known local dance band, taught him to play the 12-bar blues. He was also introduced to piano masters Erroll Garner, George Shearing and Oscar Peterson, as well as Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie.

Although his love for jazz was clear, Geoff's parents encouraged him to study classical piano and the French horn. He played the latter with the Glamorgan Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

At the age of 18 he won a place at Cardiff University to study music, where he achieved a first and a masters degree. He enrolled on a Ph.D course in 1973 and was awarded his doctorate in 1975.

Instead of remaining in academia, Geoff spent a year cruising the world and playing piano with a band on a Greek ocean liner. He was based for four months in New Orleans and jammed with many great jazzmen including Buddy Tate, Jimmy McPartland, Earl Warren and Major Holley.

In 1977 he moved to London, joining Joe Loss' band. The following year he became the pianist in the BBC Big Band, where he remained for over four years. While there he honed his improvisational skills and featured in more than 1,000 broadcasts.

His experience made him a sought-after session pianist and musical director. For 15 years he worked with an array of conductors, composers and singers including Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Goldsmith, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rosemary Clooney, Adelaide Hall, Tammy Wynette, Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams, Kiri TeKanawa and Jose Carreras.

Despite being in much demand, by the end of the 1990s he felt the need to return to jazz. His first album as a band leader, 1999's Mountains Of Fire, was critically acclaimed, as was its follow-up, 2001's Red Letter Days.

Facing The Muse was released in 2002, and Synergy, his first completely solo piano album, came out on the Basho label in 2004.

Geoff Eales has performed at leading jazz clubs and festivals around the world. In recent years he has worked in a trio with former Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington and drummer Mark Fletcher. In 2005 they toured the UK with Remembering Bill, a celebration of the life and music of Bill Evans, and the following year released their CD The Homecoming.

April 2007 saw the release of Jazz Piano Legends, a celebration of 16 of the world's greatest keyboard players. Then in spring 2009, The Geoff Eales Trio released Master Of The Game on Edition Records.

Key works

  • Master Of The Game cover

    Master Of The Game (2009)

    The latest album released through the Edition Records label.
  • Jazz Piano Legends album cover

    Jazz Piano Legends (2007)

    A showcase album released in 2007 on Jaz2creative.
  • The Homecoming album cover

    The Homecoming (2006)

    Eales returns to the trio format for this 2006 collection.
  • Synergy album cover

    Synergy (2004)

    Piano-based jazz gets a welcome airing on this 2004 album.

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