Dave Stapleton

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Biography of Dave Stapleton

Dave Stapleton is a singular young artist and has been recently described by the Guardian as having “produced one of the success stories of UK jazz over the past year’. Since graduating in 2002 from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with a degree in classical piano Dave has recorded six albums as a leader and has won critical acclaim for each album from the Guardian, Observer, Jazzwise, and Independent on Sunday. Dave’s industriousness and imagination has seen him write for and record with a variety of ensembles over the past few years.

In 2004 he formed his quintet (Dave Stapleton Quintet – DSQ), which provides the main outlet for his music. Since its formation they have released two highly acclaimed albums ‘When Life Was In Black and White’ and ‘The House Always Wins’ and seen them perform throughout Europe and the UK including the Budapest, Cork, Zagreb, Belgrade, London, Brecon and Cheltenham Jazz Festivals, the latter as part of the Jerwood Jazz Generation.

In 2005, Dave teamed up with Deri Roberts and recorded ‘The Conway Suite’. Devised as a project for church organ and saxophone, it includes music that crosses the boundaries between classical, jazz and contemporary minimalism. BBC Radio 3’s 'Mixing It' compared it to the Jan Garbarek and Hilliard Ensemble recordings and the Independent on Sunday awarded it a four star review. In 2008 Dave collaborated with award-winning composer and pianist Matthew Bourne which saw them release a highly acclaimed album called ‘Dismantling the Waterfall’. Featuring seventeen episodic tracks all linked by a seventeen line poem by Julie Tippetts, it was described by Jazzwise as “a fine collaboration between two of the UK’s most exciting young pianists”.

As a musician there’s a strength and virility to his playing, matched by an innate capacity for tenderness and reflection. As a composer, he draws upon a formidable grasp of Jazz, Classical and World styles, yet transforms these raw materials into something richly personal. His music touches on the language of contemporary classical music and jazz and has powerful riffs, melodic hooks and intriguing and surprising turns of phrase.

Dave’s beautifully evocative music and his multi-functional approach to the business of music led to him being accepted onto the second edition of the prestigious Jerwood/PRS Foundation ‘Take Five’ Initiative produced by the international music producers Serious. ‘Take Five’ is designed to give some of the UK’s most talented young jazz musicians the unique opportunity to take ‘time out’ to develop their craft.

In Oct 2006 Dave signed an exclusive worldwide creative admin publishing deal with Westbury Music Ltd and in June 2008 was nominated for a 2008 Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Composers recognising his abilities and acknowledging his potential as a composer.

In 2004 he co-formed his own label called Red Eye Music which saw him release four of his own albums as well as producing the legendary live recording of the Keith Tippett Tapestry Orchestra ‘Live at Le Mans’. In Feb 2008 Dave founded a new jazz and contemporary music record label, called Edition Records to provide a platform for emerging and established artists and has since seen him produce records for Bourne Davis Kane, Paula Gardiner and Kevin Figes.

Since 2004 Dave has also written a number of scores for animations and short films including Pellegrina for the S4C short animation and The Outsider, which won ‘The Best Welsh Film Award’ at the Cardiff Film Festival.

In Nov 2008 Dave will be releasing a new project called ‘Catching Sunlight’, a major new work commissioned by the Lunar Saxophone Quartet, written for trumpet, piano, bass, drums and saxophone quartet.

General Press quotes:

“Dave Stapleton is a real find for British Jazz…a young musician of real maturity and vision…it’s the breadth of his talent that’s most encouraging. He writes exceptionally well drawing on his classical training as well as jazz and he’s hungry to explore the possibilities of free improvisation…There’s something refreshingly unstuffy about Dave Stapleton’s sources of inspiration. There’s Jarrett and Hancock, of course, Dave Holland and Joshua Redman but also the American Minimalists like Phillip Glass, Steve Reich and Terry Riley”.Jazzwise

"Stapleton is one of the most refreshing, sophisticated and intelligent young jazz composers working today. Innovative, infectious and utterly compelling, the future of new British jazz is in safe hands". The Western Mail

On When Life Was In Black and White:
"Dave Stapleton's quintet performed tunes from their current CD, 'When Life Was In Black and White'. Allowing his European classical background to shine through in compositions of arresting melodic continuity, his band succeeded not so much through individual voices, but by the strength of their collective musical personality." The Observer

“Idiosyncratically powerful reappraisal of both post-bop and free-jazz” The Guardian

“ECM-ish, filmic originals from distinctive Cardiff-based pianist as heard on his excellent recent album, 'When Life Was Black And White'”. Time Out

"Stapleton is one of the most refreshing, sophisticated and intelligent young jazz composers working today. Innovative, infectious and utterly compelling, the future of new British jazz is in safe hands". The Western Mail

“This music is vital and fresh…full of powerful riffs, melodic hooks and intriguing and surprising turns of phrase…this is up there with the Barkers, Sheppards and Baptistes of the UK scene”. Jazzwise

On The House Always Wins:
"...hooks that could hardly be more accessible but which none the less avoid any formulaic references...quality and fiery, fearless soloists...A real UK jazz relevation." The Guardain (4 Stars ****)

"There's some excellent thematic writing here...stays in the memory long after the record has finished". Jazzwise(4 stars ****)

"know how to build a groove...bold and catchy compositions" BBC Radio 3 'Jazz on 3'

"Fiery, blusey...A cracking band...Fast establishing a formidable rep...whether in acoustic or proggy Fender Rhodes there's a steely strength" The Independent on Sunday

"Deft melodies and hard hitting grooves make his music genuinely kick-ass". Timeout

On The Conway Suite:

“Don’t let anyone tell you that there isn’t any interesting music scenes’ happening in Wales. There is definitely something interesting happening around Dave Stapleton. The Conway Suite reminds me of that Hilliard Ensemble and Jan Garbarek album ‘Officium’ but not as self consciously ecclesiastical and I actually prefer it for that reason”. ‘Mixing It’, BBC Radio 3

“Were this a Jan Garbarek album, it would sell by the cartload. The combination of organ and saxophone favourably recalls John Surman’s Proverbs & Songs. The music feels as if it’s swirling around you and has an almost tactile quality, it’s so rich in texture. Quite charming and quite moving”. Jazzwise

… with Terry Riley-type drones leading into late-Coltrane wails, creating a satisfying natural sense of space and place…what’s more striking is the strong, spiritual feeling of the slowly unfolding form”. Independent On Sunday

For more information:


Explorations, Full Circle (Red Eye Music, 2004)
The Conway Suite, Dave Stapleton & Deri Roberts (Red Eye Music, 2005)
When Life Was In Black & White, Dave Stapleton Quintet (Red Eye Music, 2005)
The House Always Wins, Dave Stapleton Quintet (Red Eye Music, 2007)

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