Arnie Somogyi

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Biography of Arnie Somogyi

One of the UK's outstanding bass talents - musician, bandleader, composer, presenter, and music lecturer - Arnie Somogyi is much-in-demand among leading US & European musicians. Featured on over 30 top albums and filmtracks, he has recently been playing with Eddie Henderson, Chris Botti, r&B singer Omar and on the new CD from ex-Verve frontman Richard Ashcroft.

Arnie first took up the violin at the age of 5. By the time he was 14 he was playing bass guitar. Five years later, while studying for an English degree at Bristol University, he blew his first student grant cheque on a double bass and started playing with Portishead's Adrian Utley and later with Tommy Chase. He's never quite recovered.

An accomplished musician, band leader, composer, jazz tutor, and broadcaster, his big bass sound has featured on over 20 albums including Urban Species, Galliano, Clark Tracey, Claire Martin, Tim Whitehead, Jean Toussaint, Alan Skidmore, international R&B singer Omar and Juliet Robert's 'Beneath the Surface'.

He 's worked with most leading British and international jazz musicians from Steve Grossman, James Moody, Bobby Hutcherson, Annie Ross, to Art Farmer, Joey Calderazzo, Randy Brecker and Bud Shank.

He played on the soundtrack to Minghella's film 'The Talented Mr Ripley' and Michael Caine's 'Blue Ice', and his music has featured on BBC Radio stations 1,2,3 and 4, Jazz FM, BBC2 TV's 'Jazz 606' series,  and ITV drama 'Shine on Harvey Moon'.

Mainly self-taught, Arnie studied jazz at London's Guildhall  School of Music with Jeff Clyne, and now teaches as a visiting tutor at Birmingham Conservatoire and at the Guildhall, The Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College.

He has also made two BBC Radio 4 documentaries - Cool Roots -  a musical journey back to trace his ancestral roots - and 'Package Peculiar', a travelogue of visits to Draculaland in Transylvania and Stalinworld in Lithuania.  

Still much in demand as a featured bassist, his first album as band leader and composer, 'Cold Cherry Soup' was launched at Ronnie Scott's Club in Soho in 2001 to widespread critical acclaim and was chosen as BBC Music Magazine's Jazz Pick of the Month. In May 2003 he created and hosted the highly successful Hungary Jazz Festival in Soho, incorporating top jazz musicians from both the UK and Hungary .

In 2004 he formed IMPROVOKATION - a ten-piece Anglo-Hungarian band combining leading improvisers from both folk and jazz worlds. Launched at the Cheltenham International Festival the band headlined at Ronnie Scott’s for a week and then toured the regions to enthusiastic audiences. Improvokation’s debut CD, ‘Star Mountain Sessions’ was the Observer CD of the week and received extensive radio play. In November 2004 the band appeared as part of the London Jazz Festival.

Recently Arnie has been working with Richard Ashcroft on the singer’s current charted album “Keys to the World”.

His latest band - Ambulance - features the exciting and innovative talents of three of the UK’s leading, up-and-coming, young musicians - prodigious saxophonist Paul Booth, evocative pianist Tim Lapthorn and dynamic drummer Dave Smith.

Self-styled “specialists in musical accident and insurgency”, the band first created a stir at its launch in November 2004 at Ronnie Scott’s Club in Soho, later returning to similar acclaim in July 2005 opposite American vocalist Diane Schuur, and catching the eye of The Guardian’s John Fordham.

“UK Bass virtuoso Arnie Somogyi’s contemporary quartet:
engagingly fresh ... full-bodied ... subtle ... creative collective.”

In 2006 the band has also been awarded the first ever jazz development residency at the prestigious Snape Maltings venue and music centre in Aldeburgh, Suffolk. The band is rapidly building a whole new repertoire of original material - and heading out on tour around venues across the UK later this year.

The debut Ambulance EP - Worthless Originals - gives just a hint of what’s to come, combining high energy delivery with compellingly inventive and lyrical ideas.

Improvokation press quotes:

‘Some of the most unusual and stimulating music likely to be played this year - in any field’ Chris Parker, Jazz at Ronnie Scott’s

‘Rhythmic energy, great variety of tone and texture, and enormous charm...It work’s brilliantly’ Dave Gelly, The Observer

‘Masterful’ - The Independent

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