Ed Barker

Ed BarkerEd began his musical studies on the piano at the age of seven, only starting clarinet lessons after hearing Acker Bilk playing Stranger on the Shore.

In 2001 and 2003, Ed was awarded Diplomas by the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music (ABRSM) for his clarinet and piano playing and he went on to perform George Gershwin’s Rhapsody In Blue in a series of concerts around the UK with Chris Jeans and the Ransome Brass Band – playing both the clarinet and piano solos.

Ed graduated from the University of Nottingham in 2006 with a Law Degree and was invited to play alto sax with NYJO, taking over the lead alto chair in 2009 and touring the UK until January 2010, when he performed his final gig with the band at Ronnie Scott’s.

On leaving NYJO, Ed wrote and published a book with legendary saxophonist and NYJO alumnus Nigel Hitchcock, called The Solos of Nigel Hitchcock. In 2012 he toured with George Michael as the featured saxophone soloist, being introduced by George to tens of thousands of people each night to play the tenor solo on the 1993 hit Cowboys And Angels.

After this tour, Ed was invited by American saxophonist Dave Koz to play aboard the Royal Caribbean: Navigator of the Seas for a Dave Koz and Friends At Sea cruise around the Mediterranean, which gave him the opportunity to get to know and play with some of the world’s biggest names in jazz, smooth jazz and popular music – Dave Koz, of course, Gerald Albright, one of Ed’s early inspirations on the saxophone, and the late Ricky Lawson, Michael Jackson’s drummer.

Ed began recording his debut album, Simple Truth, in 2012. It features original compositions, arrangements and some co-writes with Richard Niles, the renowned Los Angeles-based song writer, producer and guitarist. The album showcases Ed’s favourite musicians from New York, LA and London and features on vocals fellow NYJO alumnus, BBC Strictly Come Dancing’s Lance Ellington. Simple Truth was launched on 9th January 2014 at a sold-out Pizza Express Jazz Club, with Nigel Hitchcock guesting and Lance being persuaded to play trombone for probably the first time since leaving NYJO

Simple Truth has since gone down a storm in the UK and the States, with Ed achieving increasing recognition both in London and Los Angeles – a track from the album, When You Smile, got to number 1 in the Independent Mainstream Network (the independent US pop charts), being played more than 25,000 times around the US.

An interesting fact about Ed is that, all the time he was in NYJO, working on his first album, doing his live shows and playing for pop legend George Michael, he was also pursuing an alternative career as a Parliamentary Adviser for a British MP, working in the House of Commons.

When Ed decided to leave to concentrate on his music, Michael Connarty MP, Chairman of the UK Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, opined: “Parliament has lost a promising young politician, but the world has gained a rare musical talent who will contribute so much to our musical pleasure in his career”. The Prime Minister also offered Ed his own very best wishes for the future.