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Kevin Figes is a British saxophonist, flutist, bandleader and composer, based in Bristol.
|Occupation(s)||Performer, composer, tutor|
|Instruments||Alto and baritone saxophone; Flute and alto flute|
|Labels||Pig Records, Edition Records|
Figes began playing the saxophone in 1986 at the age of 22, studying with Elton Dean in London. In the early 1990s, he moved to Bristol and began playing with Keith Tippett's Seedbed Orchestra. Turning professional he formed his own jazz quartet, writing and playing local gigs. In 1993, he won a touring award which took the band to London and Birmingham. In 1997, the band won a second jazz services touring award and Lottery award to produce a CD for which he wrote a new batch of tunes. Alongside these achievements he studied classical saxophone under Will Gregory and took grade 8 and then a diploma from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
From 1996 to 1999, he played, wrote and later managed the contemporary big band, Ultrasound, producing two CDs and playing in Queen Elizabeth Hall (London), Bracknell and Plymouth Festivals. From 1998 to 2003, he played with Brazilian music combo Sirius B, recording two CDs and touring; including The Jazz Cafe (London), Montreux Jazz Festival, and many other major European venues. In 2001, with guidance from his teacher Tim Garland, he attended the Guildhall postgraduate jazz diploma year. During the course he was asked to join Keith Tippett's big band, Tapestry, for tours of Canada and Portugal, and in 2004 a Norwich festival performance with the Apollo saxophone quartet and the BBC Singers, broadcast on BBC Radio 3. After the course in London he reformed his quartet, wrote some new material and began playing in venues around the country, including the Glastonbury Festival. He was also busy on the local Bristol scene with pianist Jim Blomfield (Septimbre and Latin Perspective) and Andy Hague (Big Band and Silverado). As well as jazz, Figes' passion's include Brazilian music, playing mainly flute with Quarteto Bossa.
Highlights of 2007Edit
Quartet gigs in Abergavenny, Cardiff, London (606), Sherbourne, Stratford-upon-Avon, Swindon, Bristol (Be-Bop and The Old Duke) and Glastonbury Festival including a live radio 3 broadcast. Other highlights were playing with John Critchinson, the big bands of Dave Stapleton and Andy Hague and performing a great new piece by Keith Tippett in the Colston Hall, Bristol. The year ended with recording a new quartet CD with Jim Blomfield, Riaan Vosloo and Tim Giles.
Highlights of 2008Edit
Playing with the Dave Stapleton Quintet at the Pizza Express (London) and Cheltenham and Coventry jazz festivals. The CD being released on Edition records and receiving good reviews. Forming the 'Groovy Thing' with Mike Willox and playing at the Coronation Tap and The Old Duke, Bristol. Quartet gigs at Glastonbury and Swanage festivals. Performing Messian's 'Quartet for the end of time' with Jim Blomfield and the Emerald Ensemble at the Colston Hall. An excellent weekend workshop for talented young players at the Wiltshire music centre with Keith Tippett.
Highlights of 2009Edit
Performance in Cardiff with Keith Tippett's Octet, Quartet gigs in Stratford, London and Coronation Tap (Bristol). First performance in Bristol of 'Resonation' a 15 piece big band for which Kevin wrote and arranged 3 pieces. A jazz services tour for the quartet which included Cardiff, Swansea, Bristol, Birmingham, Swindon, London (606), Sherborne and Teignmouth. Recording a Quarteto Bossa CD. Teaching at Dartington Summer school with Keith and Julie Tippett. Playing at Bristol Harbourside festival with the 'Groovy Thing' and at Brecon festival with 'Sixtet' (a Welsh supergroup!) and Sirius B. Sitting on the 'live music now' panel. Pontypool jazz festival with Sixtet. 'Resonation' performing at the opening of Colston Hall foyer. First gigs at Ian Storror's future Inn (Groovy Thing, Silverado) Quartet at Pizza Express, London. Latin Perspective at Teignmouth festival. First Quartet gigs in Colston Hall foyer. And finally recording a new album in London with Jim, Riaan and Tim.
Highlights of 2010Edit
Jamming with Helele at the Coronation Tap and the St Paul's Festival. Quartet gigs in Stratford and the 'Corri Tap'. Guesting with GBH big band at the Wiltshire music centre and St George's. Cafe jazz Cardiff, Be-Bop Club and The Bell in Bath with the quartet. Having a lesson with Iain Ballamy. Mingus band at Future Inns. 'Resonation' at The Cube, Bristol. Quartet at Future Inns, 606 and Rose and Crown, London. Birmingham Symphony Hall and Sherborne jazz club. The Old Duke festival with 'Groovy Thing'. Cardiff Harbourside festival with 'new' Sirius B.
Highlights of 2011Edit
The new Quartet CD Hometime was released early 2011 on Pig Records and received good reviews and airplay. The Quartet also did a jazz services tour in support in the summer. In the early part of the year Kevin played on Keith Tippett's "From Granite To Wind" with the Octet, this was released on the iconic Ogun Records later in the year to good reviews. 2011 also saw the formation of a new band, 'Four Sided Triangle'. The band did a few gigs before going into the recording studio to record an album due out early 2012. It was a real pleasure for Kevin to work with Dan Moore (Fender Rhodes), Mike Outram (Guitar) and Daisy Palmer (Drums), and quite a challenge to come up with an albums worth of material. The band will be touring next year whilst preparing for another studio recording!
Quotes on Figes musicEdit
- "Figes is a gutsy but thoughtful saxophonist and a skilful composer... Overall, a lively, absorbing and attractively varied set from a fine band that should, given the evidence provided by this album, really deliver the goods live" - Vortex jazz CD review
- "One of the most interesting emerging talents on the UK jazz scene" - Jazzwise
- "This is poised, distinctive music" - Jazz UK
- "It's this combination of rich writing with an outstanding band that gives Figes's solo LP such distinction" - Independent on Sunday
- "Compelling Bristol-based altoist Figes mixes up old school bop with a contemporary attack and edgy harmony" - Time Out
- Kevin Figes Quartet - Circular Motion - (Edition Records, 2008)
- Kevin Figes Quartet - Hometime - 2011
- Kevin Figes Quartet - 4 Sided Triangle' - (Pig Records, 2012)
- Kevin Figes Quartet - Tables And Chairs - (Pig, 2013)
- Kevin Figes Quartet - Changing Times - (Pig, 2020)
- plus guest appearances