ECM recording artist Iain Ballamy is internationally recognised as a saxophonist and composer. He has been described variously as urbane, original, melodic, freethinking and uncompromising.

Listed in the BBC’s publication ‘100 Jazz Greats’ between Count Basie and Chet Baker his work is contemporary with both strong jazz and classical references and yet un-encumbered by formality and tradition.

Over 3 decades spent transcending musical genres and stereotypes and gradually forging strong and ongoing relationships with musicians around the globe, Ballamy has worked with many cutting-edge figures of today’s contemporary jazz scene.

Ballamy was presented with the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation in 2001 and was the first jazz musician to receive the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Foundation award in 2007. ‘Food’, a group co-formed with drummer, composer and electronics wizard Thomas Stronen, released three albums for ECM records.

‘Quercus’ the award-winning trio featuring legendary folk singer June Tabor with Ballamy and pianist Huw Warren released ‘Nightfall’ their second album for ECM in spring 2017.

As a composer, Ballamy has written soundtracks for two films directed by Dave McKean: ‘Luna’ and ‘Mirrormask’, the latter produced and released worldwide by the Jim Henson Company.

As a soloist Ballamy performed ‘Concerto for Stan Getz’ by Richard Rodney Bennett with the BBC Concert Orchestra has premiered 2 contemporary tenor saxophone concertos by Gary Carpenter (2018) and Luke Styles (2022) with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and BBC National orchestra of Wales both broadcast live on Radio 3.

Commissioned pieces for the London Sinfonietta, Apollo Saxophone Quartet, Gerard McCrystal and Craig Ogden, harpsichordist Jane Chapman and pianist Joanna MacGregor form part of Ballamy’s diverse catalogue of works.

Career highlights include playing with Loose Tubes, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, Hermeto Pascoal, Django Bates, Kenny Werner, Gil Evans, George Coleman, Cedar Walton, The Karnataka College of Percussion, John Taylor, Ian Shaw, Claire Martin, The Britten Sinfonia, Gay Dad, Everything but the Girl, Mike Gibbs, Carla Bley, John Dankworth etc.

As an educator, Ballamy currently is saxophone professor at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and The Royal Academy of Music who awarded him Hon ARAM in 2014.

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[photo credit: Lisa Wormsley]

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