Derek’s musical journey started with piano, aged 6, followed by saxophone, aged 13, having been inspired by hearing the NDO tenor saxophonist, Gary Cox, play The Pink Panther.
He joined Stockport School’s Stagesound which, having won Music for Youth, led to performances in the Schools Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. The sax section of Stagesound formed an early version of Sax Appeal and went on to win the small band category of the National Festival of Music for Youth.
In 1982, Derek graduated from Salford University with a degree in electro-acoustics and, moving to London, worked for the BBC’s sound department. In London, he met trombonist Mark Bassey, trumpeter Kevin Robinson and trombonist Ashley Slater, joined NYJO and subsequently reformed Sax Appeal with alumni Jamie Talbot, Dave Bishop, Pete Hurt and Simon Hale included in the line-up. They became a busy touring band, and eventually became part of Barbara Thompson’s Big Band – Moving Parts – for whom Derek wrote Two’s Company, later becoming Mekambo Triangle. He also formed a partnership with the US tenor saxophonist Spike Robinson, forming the Young Lions, Old Tigers Band.
Since the late 1980s, Derek has established a successful solo career, performing at many jazz clubs throughout the UK and touring with, among others, Matt Bianco’s vocalist Basia, and Suzi Quatro. In 2000, he appeared in the top five of no less than five different categories in the British Jazz Awards and decided to go part-time at the BBC. He eventually left in 2003 to concentrate fully on his performing and recording careers, establishing Clowns Pocket Recording Studio – one of the leading jazz studios in the UK.
Derek has been a member of Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra since 2004, has led Sax Appeal for over thirty years, fronts the funk/fusion band Protect the Beat, and is a member of the Ronnie Scott’s Blues Explosion.