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Iain Ballamy (born 20 February 1964) is a British composer, soprano, alto and tenor saxophone player.

Iain Ballamy
Iain Ballamy.jpg
Background information
Born (1964-02-20) 20 February 1964 (age 55)
Guildford, Surrey, UK
Occupation(s)Musician, composer
InstrumentsSoprano, alto and tenor saxophones
Years active1980s–present
LabelsBasho, Rune Grammofon, Editions EG, Feral, B&W Music
Associated actsAnorak, Balloon Man, ACME, Food for Quartet, The Little Radio, Loose Tubes, Bill Bruford's Earthworks, Django Bates' Human Chain, Delightful Precipice, Billy Jenkins' Voice of God


Ballamy was born in Guildford, Surrey, and educated at George Abbot School, Guildford, from 1975 to 1980. He then studied Musical Instrument Technology from 1980 to 1982 at Merton College. He took piano lessons from age of 6 to 14.

He discovered saxophone in 1978 with three lessons and his first professional gig was in 1980. He played Ronnie Scotts as Iain Ballamy Quartet at age 20. He was a founding member of Loose Tubes in 1984. First recording with Billy Jenkins 1985 and first solo album, Balloon Man, 1988.

During his career he has performed or recorded with a wide range of musicians including Gil Evans, Hermeto Pascoal, New York Composers Orchestra, Carla Bley, Dewey Redman, George Coleman, London Sinfonietta, Françios Jeanneau, Daniel Humair, Mike Gibbs, Randy Weston, Karnataka College of Percussion, Sax Assault, Jazz Train, Freebop, Nishat Khan, R.A.Ramamani, T.A.S. Mani, Clare Martin, Human Chain, Dr. L. Subramaniam, Tom Robinson, Charlie Watts Orchestra, Jeremy Stacey, Randy Weston, Joanna MacGregor, Delightful Precipice, Bill Bruford, Django Bates, Mark Wingfield, Jane Chapman, Bryan Ferry, Everything But The Girl, Food, Food for Quartet, Loose Tubes, Oxcentrics, Ian Shaw, Slim Gaillard, Ultramarine, Ashley Slater, Hungry Ants, Ronnie Scott, Gordon Beck, Britten Sinfonia, and Gay Dad.

In 1999, Ballamy founded the record label Feral Records in partnership with graphic artist and filmmaker Dave McKean.

In 2005 he composed the musical score for the movie MirrorMask. He will also compose the score for Luna, which is also directed by Dave Mckean.

Ballamy is an agony uncle for Jazz UK Magazine with his column "In the Saxophonists Chair".


As leaderEdit

As co-leaderEdit

With Food (Ballamy & Thomas Strønen)
With Quercus (trio including June Tabor and Huw Warren)
  • Quercus (2013, ECM Records)
  • Nightfall (2017, ECM Records)

As sidemanEdit

With Loose Tubes

With Billy Jenkins

  • Greenwich (1985)
  • Uncommerciality Vol 1 (1986)
  • Scratches of Spain (1987)
  • Motorway At Night (1988)
  • Jazz Cafe Concerts Vol 1 (1989)
  • Jazz Cafe Concerts Vol 2 (1989)
  • True Love Collection (1999)
  • First Aural Art Exhibition (2006)

With Bill Bruford's Earthworks

With Django Bates

With Ian Shaw

With Ray Russell

  • Childscape (1987)
  • A Table Near The Band
  • At Montreux Jazz Festival

With others


  • Music With No Name (1996) – All Men Amen (Ultramarine Remix)
  • Melt 2000 Vol 2
  • Plaza with Iva Bittova



Group historyEdit

British Council toursEdit

Romania 1985, Morocco 1995, China 1997, Senegal 1997, India 1996 and 1998, Lithuania 1998, and Colombia 1998.


Jazz 606, Meltdown, The Tube, Bergerac, Illuminations, Stay Lucky, Right to Reply, Wogan, Ronnie Corbett Show.


Film sessionsEdit


2003 – 2004 Dance Ranjabiati Sircar/SAMPAD, SANKALPAM.


Out There, Riverside Studios


External linksEdit