Bio

Nigel began writing music at school while learning trumpet. At summer schools run by his later friend Eddie Harvey, Nigel studied big band arranging, and was soon devouring every book and score he could find, with Don Sebesky's "The Contemporary Arranger" competing for attention with Piston's "Orchestration". His efforts were soon rewarded by Bill Ashton's invitation to write several arrangements for the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

Nigel's work in recording studios began at SSL in Kidlington, and the Performing Arts Technology Studios at Surrey University. He played lead trumpet on projects with Berklee alumnus and composer-laureate of Northern Ireland Brian Irvine, and was a regular member of the section in the Pete Cater big band in the early 1990s. Nigel went on to play and write for various ensembles at London's main venues, Ronnie Scott's, 606, Pizza Express, the Vortex and 100 club, arranging music mostly in the popular genres for an array of performers. He widened his compass to write for larger orchestral ensembles by long hours studying in the BBC music library, and over the shoulder of Pete Moore, who had directed the final United Artists sessions with Bing Crosby towards the end of the 1970s. Gordon Rose, musical director at the London Palladium, become a mentor at this time, passing on the writer's rigour that he had learned as a pupil of Edmund Rubbra, and in the London Jazz Orchestra directed by Bill Russo in the 1960s.

Nigel recorded his first album, After a Journey, in 2003, augmenting the big band pallette with strings and woodwinds to establish the beginnings of a personal style. Bigger Pictures, his 2008 release on Cala Records, featured leading UK artists Claire Martin, Jacqui Hicks, Derek Watkins, Martin Shaw, John Horler, Julian Jackson, Sam Mayne, Chris Dagley, Jay Craig and Dave Ital. Reviewing the album, renowned composer Mike Gibbs credited Nigel's "finely honed pen and ear" and “captivating" music.

In contrasting work, Nigel has written solo works for piano and chamber music. The Brass Quintet No.1 (Four Miniatures) was a South Bank commission performed at the Purcell Room by Mardi Brass, later released on their CD Something New, receiving futher performances at the Festsaal Hall in Minneapolis. The Brass Quintet No.2 (Five Elegies) is a homage to lost musical friends.

The Bigger Pictures album generated invitations to write for the BBC Big Band and Soho Jazz Festival. Arrangements for soloists and string quartet were commissioned by the Soho Strings Festival, directed by Frank Griffith.

 

The Psych! big band in Los Angeles and the Blue Nitrous big band in New York City feature Nigel's work regularly in their repertoires. In New York Nigel directed a showcase of work, sharing the stage with Jimmy Owens, sideman of Dizzy Gillespie and Charles Mingus. Chick Corea's sideman Steve Wilson was featured on Nigel's original Is This a Rainbow. An arrangement of Pat Metheny's Always and Forever, specially written by Nigel for two-time Grammy winner Roy Hargrove, was performed by Roy at the 9/11 commemorative event held in that year. This led to the publishing in the US of various pieces by Really Good Music LLC, with Nigel's ballad September  chosen as a challenging test piece for examinations in NY State. In a feature article in Jazzwise Magazine, Nigel spoke of receiving a letter of recognition from Don Sebesky, whose book had so inspired him in his teens. Nigel now delivers several workshops of his own each year in composition and arranging as a visiting tutor at Goldsmiths College and Morley College in London.


Nigel's most cherished musical relationship was with Neil Richardson. An unrivalled maestro of the BBC Radio "A" Orchestra, Neil was the "finest string writer in Europe" according to Robert Farnon. A student of Herbert Howells and a chorister of Benjamin Britten, Neil greatly developed Nigel's voice as a writer. The conductor's batons used by Neil on his BBC broadcasts were given to Nigel by his widow Christine. “I knew that no one would appreciate them as much as you” she said. She was right.

 

After writing arrangements for the London Cello Orchestra's tour of South Korea, Nigel returned to the studio with Ian Shaw and Vanessa Haynes to record his third studio album, Beautiful City for Cala records.