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Neil Maya

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Biography of Neil Maya

The Neil Maya Quartet is one of the Southwest’s most exciting and talented bands, whose aim is to find fresh, new sounds within the wide scope of jazz whilst staying accessible to the public at large. As well as playing innovative re-workings of jazz standards and material by other composers, the band also plays its own compositions.

The Neil Maya Quartet is often rooted in the sounds of the cool jazz movement of the 50’s and 60’s, but loves playing other styles such as funk, samba, African and even folk rock. The quartet is always striving to find different ways to deliver jazz and although the soloing aspect is central to its approach, in a similar way to classical compositions, its music often tells a story which takes you on a journey across a wide and rich emotional landscape. The quartet’s music is crisp, colourful, sassy, smooth, atmospheric, intricate, cool, very imaginative and always highly entertaining!

The Neil Maya Quartet was set up by Neil Maya and Tom Unwin in 2001, and since then the quartet has been delighting audiences with top level modern and contemporary jazz at many of the main jazz venues in the Southwest and beyond.

The quartet is led by Neil Maya on saxes. As a teenager Neil trained as a clarinettist at the Royal College of Music. He took up the sax when he was fifteen and got the jazz bug soon after. He has since studied jazz sax with a number of eminent players including Jean Toussaint and Richard Ingham. Neil moved to Devon in 2001. As well as playing with the quartet and taking freelance work, Neil now plays in a number of function bands. He also teaches instrumental music, runs a big band, and runs jazz workshops.

Tom Unwin is a highly accomplished pianist, composer and bandleader who is much sought after in the Southwest, where he has based himself since the early 90's. He has played with players such as Mark Nightingale, Scott Stroman, Jacqueline Dankworth and Pee Wee Ellis. Tom has also become heavily involved in composing over the last few years, including works for TV and film.

Marcus Vergette has been a professional double bass player for the past twenty years, playing with names such as Bryan Spring, Courtney Pine, Scott Hamilton and Mornington Lockett. He has been featured on Radio 3's jazz programme as well as composing comissions for contemporary dance. He also runs his own jazz club in Okehampton.

Nick Carter graduated on drums from Leeds College of Music in 1995 and then went on the road as a professional musician, before permanently settling in Cornwall in 2001. Nick now plays with many notable jazz outfits in the Southwest, including the Milverton/Dale Quartet, Louise Parker and the Neil Maya Quartet, and also two superb function bands. He has also played with names such as Alan Barnes, Lee Gibson and Derek Nash.

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