Huw Warren

Huw Warren

Huw Warren

Last updated: 19 November 2008

Since the late 1980s Huw Warren has established a name as a sensitive and versatile jazz musician, blending rich melodies with unpredictable minimalism, and exploring the boundaries of rhythm and improvisation. His music ranges across jazz improvisation to modern classical to folk.

Originally from Gower and now based in Gwynedd, he started out studying piano and cello. As a teenager he played in south Wales' working men's clubs, and went on to study at Goldsmiths College and Guildhall School of Music.

In 1988 he co-founded the jazz ensemble Perfect Houseplants. He has since recorded several albums for the Babel label, and worked with numerous artists. He has spent more than a decade as folk diva June Tabor's musical director and pianist, and has featured on film scores by Stephen Warbeck and Michael Gibbs. In 2006 he collaborated on the film Gower Boy, an exploration of the Gower Peninsula.

His other projects have involved guitarist John Parricelli, violinist Mark Feldman, bassist Peter Herbert and fellow pianist Joanna McGregor. He has also played regularly with Christine Tobin, Kenny Wheeler, Billy Jenkins and The Fun Horns, and has received a writing commission for the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and Choir.

In 2005 he won the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation. He has also been shortlisted for the 2006 Arts Foundation fellowship in jazz composition.

His first CD in his own name, Barrel Organ (Far From Home), was based on 1930s photos of urban and rural life. The 2001 follow-up, Infinite Riches in a Little Room, was inspired by heroes as diverse as Elizabethan composer John Dowland, Brazilian maverick Hermeto Pascoal and bebop supremo Charlie Parker.

Following a 2005 collaboration on Songs Of Praise, Huw completed a project with Welsh singer Lleuwen Steffen, God Only Knows (Duw a Wyr), exploring Hymns of the 1904-5 Welsh revival and performed with saxophonist Mark Lockheart.

His commissions include Riot (for Piano Circus), Steamboat Bill Jnr (a new score for the classic Buster Keaton movie), New Folk Songs (for Perfect Houseplants and Pamela Thorby), Lullaby Exit Bear (for the RSC), and music for a new production of Jean Cocteau's Monologues at the Lyric theatre in London.

He worked on a major multimedia work for children's choir and chamber ensemble Railway Mania, which was first performed in November 2004 by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and East Ayrshire youth Choir.

He has also written for the ABRSM jazz syllabus, Tango Siempre, Ensemble Plus, The Koch Ensemble, The Palladian Ensemble, The Renga Ensemble, the Gwynedd and Mon Youth Jazz Band, and has co-written a reconstruction Mass with Perfect Houseplants and The Orlando Consort (Extempore 2).

In 2007 he accepted a commission to be artistic director of the new Jazzin' Llangollen festival.

Key works

  • Huw Warren, Duw A Wyr

    Duw A Wyr, with Lleuwen Steffan (2006)

    A project with Welsh singer Lleuwen Steffen, exploring Hymns of the 1904-5 Welsh revival and performed with saxophonist Mark Lockheart.
  • Huw Warren, Hundreds Of Things A Boy Can Make

    Hundreds Of Things A Boy Can Make (2004)

    Huw Warren's third album for Babel, released in 2004 features New York virtuoso violinist Mark Feldman and Austrian bassist Peter Herbert.
  • Huw Warren, Barrel Organ (Far From Home)

    Barrel Organ (Far From Home) (1999)

    His first CD in his own name, Barrel Organ (Far From Home), was based on 1930s photos of urban and rural life.

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