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Geoff Eales
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GEOFF EALES is regarded as one of Europe's most inspirational jazz pianists and composers. Though he has been pro-active in a vast variety of musical situations throughout his long and distinguished career - accompanying pop stars, country singers, opera divas, blues artists and funk legends as well as working extensively on TV shows, commercials and film soundtracks - it is within the realm of jazz and improvised music and as a soloist in his own right that the full extent of Geoff's musical personality is revealed.

Jazz has been Geoff's burning passion ever since he was a young boy. And now the wheel has turned full-circle. After being a first-call London studio musician in the 80's and most of the 90's, Geoff has well and truly returned to his roots. During the last decade Geoff has inspired audiences throughout the world with the depth and intensity of his improvisations, a period which has spawned seven highly acclaimed albums as leader.

"Eales is a born improviser with an apparently unassuageable appetite for rhythmic and melodic exploration" - Chris Parker ( The Vortex Jazz Club )

Geoff's incredible musical journey began in the late 1950's in the South Wales Valleys. His father Horace, a well -known local dance band pianist, sowed the seeds for a life in music when he taught his son the 12 - bar blues at the age of eight. He also introduced the young Eales to the sounds of piano stylists Erroll Garner, George Shearing and Oscar Peterson as well as bop masters Bud Powell, Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Though his parents realized from the outset that jazz was Geoff's first love, they felt it imperative that he should broaden his musical horizons. Classical piano studies ensued which continued when he attended the local Grammar school - Lewis School for Boys, Pengam. He also took up the French Horn, played with the Glamorgan Youth Orchestra and a few years later the National Youth Orchestra of Wales.

At the age of eighteen Geoff won a place at Cardiff University to study music. Three years later he was awarded a B.Mus ( First Class Honours ), a year later a Masters Degree. When he enrolled on a Ph.D course in 1973, it seemed that he was destined to become a professor at some conservatoire or other. For his doctorate he wrote the epic "American Symphony", composed the most moving setting of Dylan Thomas's "In the Beginning" for Tenor, Horn and Piano and researched the works of the great American composer, Aaron Copland.

Geoff left university in 1975 but, instead of pursuing the expected academic career, suddenly embarked on a much more exciting and adventurous journey. He cruised the world on a luxury Greek ocean liner for a year as pianist in a Greek band. For four months he was based in New Orleans where he jammed with many American jazzmen such as Buddy Tate, Jimmy McPartland, Earl Warren and Major Holley, swapping notes with that excellent mainstream pianist and fellow Welshman, Dill Jones. University life was soon becoming a distant memory as Geoff revelled in the hurly burly of the jazz world.

In 1977 Geoff moved to London, joining the leading society band of the day - Joe Loss. A year later he was offered the piano chair in the BBC Big Band. The Big Band Special Radio Sessions were particularly fruitful for developing Geoff's potential as a jazz improviser. He remained at the BBC for four and a half years, working with some of the best arrangers in the business including Nelson Riddle, Billy May and Bob Farnon. By the time he had left the organisation he had been featured in well over a thousand broadcasts.

After the BBC years Geoff quickly became one of the most sought-after pianists and musical directors on the London session scene. He was the technical musical advisor for the 1984 American TV mini series "Ellis Island" starring Richard Burton and Faye Dunaway and musical associate and principal arranger on the Wayne Sleep/ Bonnie Langford/ Arlene Phillips dance spectacular - "The Hot Shoe Show". For fifteen years Geoff enjoyed a highly successful career as a "jobbing" musician, working with a huge array of conductors, composers and singers - Henry Mancini, Lalo Schifrin, Jerry Goldsmith, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Rosemary Clooney, Adelaide Hall, Tammy Wynette, Shirley Bassey, Andy Williams, Kiri TeKanawa, Jose Carreras. The list goes on and on.

He could have easily continued along the well-trodden path of a top class studio musician for many years to come. But this wasn't enough for Geoff. As the last Millenium was drawing to a close, he felt an inner need to return to his roots and to the music that so inspired him in his formative years - Jazz. The release of his first album as leader in 1999, "Mountains of Fire", represented a new beginning for this vastly experienced and eclectic musician. It received rave reviews and encouraged him to dig deeper into his musical psyche. In 2001 Geoff released his second solo album, "Red Letter Days", to great critical acclaim. A year later the emotionally charged "Facing the Muse" hit the racks. In 2004 he threw caution to the wind when he released his first completely solo piano album, "Synergy", on the enterprising Basho label.

During the last few years Geoff has performed at some of the world's leading jazz clubs including the Blue Note Clubs in Osaka and Fukuoka, New York's Birdland, the Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, Louisville's Jazz Factory and London's Ronnie Scott's. He has also played at major festivals including Belgrade, Zagreb, Cork, Brecon, Edinburgh, Grimsby, Marlborough and Henley.

The concept of the interactive modern jazz piano trio which originated with the great Bill Evans is very close to Geoff's heart. For the last seven years Geoff's regular partners in his own trio have been the brilliant ex- Nucleus/Soft Machine bassist Roy Babbington and the dynamic and ubiquitous drummer Mark Fletcher. To mark the 25th anniversary of Bill Evans's death in 2005, Geoff and the trio toured "Remembering Bill", performing in 25 venues throughout the UK, supported by the Arts Council of England. It began with a gala concert at London's South Bank in front of a capacity audience.

In 2006 the Geoff Eales Trio underwent a 30-date Nationwide tour to promote their CD, "The Homecoming" which was launched at Pizza Express Dean Street in front of a packed house.

Geoff's tribute album "Jazz Piano Legends" (a celebration of the work of 16 of the world's greatest keyboard players from Scott Joplin to Herbie Hancock) was released in April 2007 and launched at a sell-out concert at London's Purcell Room.

In October 2007 Geoff released the solo piano album "Epicentre" (33 Records) at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho. The concert also featured his new 5-piece band "Worldwind" with Michael Coates on saxes and Carl Orr on guitar. At the end of the month Geoff toured the Balkans in a series of solo concerts which included performances at the Zagreb and Belgrade Jazz Festivals.

Geoff Eales
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