Jazz saxophonist and composer, Iain Ballamy, talks about improvisation and the difference between playing improvised music and through-composed music. For him, the collaborative aspect of working with other musicians is essential and he talks about how he chooses to work with other musicians who have a strong basis of self-belief and confidence.

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Saxophonist and composer Iain Ballamy is internationally recognised as an original, freethinking and uncompromising musician. His work is eclectic, contemporary and un-encumbered by formality and tradition.

Transcending musical genres and forging strong and ongoing relationships with musicians around the globe, notably Scandinavia, Iain has worked with many of the cutting-edge figures of today’s contemporary Jazz scene.

The group Food which he co-formed with drummer, composer and electronics wizard Thomas Stronen is now signed to ECM records. They celebrated their seventh release in November 2012, featuring Christian Fennesz, Nils Petter Molvaer, Eivind Aarset and Prakash Sontakke.

Ballamy leads the Anorak quartet featuring Gareth Williams on piano and continues to tour and record with the virtuoso Norwegian button accordionist Stian Carstensen as a duo known as The Little Radio.

The trio Quercus, which Ballamy co-leads with pianist Huw Warren, features the legendary folk singer June Tabor. Quercus released their first CD for ECM in March 2013.

Highlights of a career spanning nearly 30 years include working with Loose Tubes, Bill Bruford’s Earthworks, Hermeto Pascoal, Django Bates, Kenny Werner, Gil Evans, George Coleman, The Karnataka college of percussion, John Taylor, Ian Shaw, Claire Martin, The Britten Sinfonia, Gay Dad, Everything but the Girl, Guy Chambers, Mike Gibbs, Carla Bley, John Dankworth, and many more.

Ballamy is Professor at The Royal Academy of Music, Leeds College of Music, Guildhall School of Music and Drama, and the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff.

“Iain Ballamy emerged from the Loose Tubes stable with an entirely unfashionable saxophone sound (he didn’t sound like John Coltrane) based on scurrying, low-register, clarinet-like figures, a delicate tone and an urgent, but sparingly used upper register wail. He doesn’t sound like anyone else on the British scene.”

John Fordham, The Guardian

“A major international voice.”

Chris Parker, The Times