LEARN FROM AN OUTSTANDING FACULTY OF TEACHERS WHOSE EXPERIENCE COVERS THE BREADTH OF CONTEMPORARY JAZZ PRACTICE

Our Jazz Department has produced an outstanding array of versatile, creative and highly employable jazz musicians since its foundation in 1987.

'As well as receiving an incredibly high-quality education, I’ve developed great friendships with some of the best jazz musicians of our age in the country'
Undergraduate student

We support students to find their unique creative voice, which will speak equally across performance, improvisation and composition. We do this through full and varied undergraduate and postgraduate courses that cover many aspects and forms of jazz and its meeting points with other genres.

We foster an encouraging environment in which to learn and experiment with this extremely broad art form, equipping you with all the skills you’ll need as a working musician. Thanks to the scale, focus and personal approach of our training, students get frequent performance opportunities. Our regular ensemble projects and annual Jazz Festival offer students the chance to work intensively with some of the finest jazz players and composers in the world.

Dave Holland and Chris Potter with the Academy Big Band

Dave Holland and Chris Potter with the Academy Big Band

Stan Sulzmann directs the Academy Big Band

06 October 2020
Black and white image of Stan Sulzmann

Academy Big Band

22 November 2020
Image of Academy Big Band in practice

Olivia Chaney

Graduated 2004
Voice (Jazz)

Olivia Chaney

Graduated 2004

Voice (Jazz)

Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney has appeared on BBC Two’s Later…with Jools Holland, CBS This Morning; performed live sessions on KCRW’s Morning becomes Eclectic, BBC Radio 1 with Gilles Peterson and BBC Radio 2 with Mark Radcliffe; and in 2019 was nominated BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year. Her second solo album, Shelter, released on Nonesuch Records in 2018 and made with New York-based producer Thomas Bartlett was met with critical acclaim, being called ‘a big, beautiful new record’ (Mojo, Albums of the Year ★★★★), ‘rare beauty’ (The Sunday Times) and ‘an elegant, luminous album’ (the Observer).

Born in Florence, Chaney grew up in Oxford, studying composition, piano and voice. Early influences include Bert Jansch, Mozart, medieval plainchant, Prince, Billie Holiday, Henry Purcell and Joni Mitchell. At 14, Chaney won a joint-first piano and voice scholarship to Chetham's School of Music, where she focused on classical repertoire. She then went on to attend the Royal Academy of Music, also on scholarship, where, as an improviser and songwriter, she spent much of her time experimenting and collaborating beyond boundaries of any one genre. On graduating, Chaney taught herself guitar and Indian harmonium, and began performing regularly as an eclectic soloist. She has worked as an actress and singer/multi-instrumentalist at Shakespeare's Globe theatre, been choreographed by Cathy Marston (former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House) and her rendition of the French folk song, Auprès de ma blonde, was chosen for the closing credits of legendary director André Téchiné’s 2017 film, Nos années folles.

Chaney has performed around the world in venues and festivals including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Glastonbury Festival, Sydney Festival and Newport Folk Festival. She has collaborated with artists including Kronos Quartet, Bryce Dessner, Katia and Marielle Labèque, The Decemberists, Shirley Collins, Eliza Carthy and Jon Hopkins. She has sung support and live backing vocals for the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Bruce Hornsby, Jarvis Cocker, Robert Plant, Ben Folds, Patty Griffin and Richard Thompson.

Photo by Rich Gilligan

Olivia Chaney

Meet
our alunni

Trish Clowes

Graduated 2007
Saxophone

Trish Clowes

Graduated 2007

Saxophone

Saxophonist and composer Trish Clowes has been described as ‘an improviser to be reckoned with’ (Downbeat Magazine) and ‘one of the most agile and original jugglers of improv and adventurous composition to have appeared in the UK in recent times’ (the Guardian). A BASCA British Composer Award winner and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Clowes works in a variety of settings and has received critical acclaim for all of her album releases.

Clowes’s band, My Iris (with Chris Montague, Ross Stanley and James Maddren), has toured worldwide and been hailed as ‘the jazz of the future’ (Augsburger Allgemeine). She has appeared either with her band or as a soloist at the Barbican, Toronto Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Celtic Connections (with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra), Women in (e)motion Festival and National Opera House (Ireland), and made broadcasts for BBC Two Proms Extra, BBC Radio 3 and Radio Bremen. In 2019, Clowes premiered Joe Cutler’s saxophone concerto, Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii, with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Recent commissions include writing for the London Sinfonietta (a Sinfonietta Short for solo bass, and their Sound Out projects), BBC Concert Orchestra (BBC Radio 3) and Onyx Brass.

Born in 1984, Clowes was raised in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and moved to London in 2003 to study at the Royal Academy of Music, notably with saxophonist Iain Ballamy and composer Pete Churchill. Clowes was later honoured as an Associate of the Academy in 2013. She is currently finishing her studies as a PhD candidate at Birmingham City University with a STEAM scholarship. Alongside her work as a performer and composer, Clowes has been curating her own new music project, Emulsion, since 2012, through which she has commissioned 17 new works. She is also passionate about her roles as professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and ambassador for the charity Donate4Refugees.

Photo by Rose Hendry

Trish Clowes

Jacob Collier

Graduated 2018
Jazz

Jacob Collier

Graduated 2018

Jazz

It is not often one encounters an imagination with the depth and prolificacy of Jacob Collier’s. Born in 1994, the London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is dubbed by many as one of the most innovative musicians of his generation. In 2012, Collier’s self-made YouTube videos achieved legendary status in the music world, attracting the praise of such luminaries as Herbie Hancock, David Crosby, Steve Vai and Quincy Jones, who manages Collier to this day. His debut album, In My Room, crafted entirely in his room at home, went on to win two Grammys. His success has led to musical collaborators and fans including the likes of Coldplay, Ty Dolla $ign, Tori Kelly, Daniel Caesar, H.E.R., Charlie Puth, Kehlani, Jessie Reyez and Finneas, among others.

In January 2018, Collier began designing and creating a recording project on an unprecedented scale: a quadruple album called Djesse comprising 50 songs divided between four volumes, with each operating within a separate musical universe of sound, style and genre. Scattered across the four volumes are 30-plus collaborators from across every facet of the music world. Djesse Volumes 1 and 2 both have earned him a Grammy each, meaning that Collier has never lost a Grammy in a category he’s been nominated in.

Jacob Collier

Kit Downes

Graduated 2009
Jazz

Kit Downes

Graduated 2009

Jazz

Kit Downes is a BBC Jazz Award winning, Mercury Music Award nominated, solo recording artist for ECM Records. He has toured the world playing piano, church organ and harmonium with his own bands ('ENEMY', 'Troyka', 'Elt' and 'Vyamanikal') as well as artists such as Squarepusher, Thomas Strønen, Aidan O'Rourke and Django Bates. He has written commissions for Cheltenham Music Festival, London Contemporary Orchestra, Stavanger Konserthus, ReWire Festival, Scottish Ensemble, Cologne Philharmonie, BBC Radio 3 and the Wellcome Trust, as well as collaborating with film-makers, video game developers and classical composers.

Kit Downes

Rob Luft

Graduated 2016
Jazz

Rob Luft

Graduated 2016

Jazz

Rob Luft is an award-winning jazz guitarist from London whose virtuosity has been compared to that of six-string legends John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Paco De Lucia. For performances with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2015, The Times said he was destined ‘to achieve great things in the future’. He was subsequently the recipient of the 2016 Kenny Wheeler Prize from the Royal Academy of Music and received second prize in the 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival. His debut album, Riser, was released on Edition Records in 2017 to widespread critical acclaim from the European jazz media; John Fordham wrote in The Guardian a ‘very sophisticated debut, but given Luft’s old-soul achievements since his early teens, we should have heard it coming’.

On the back of the success of his first album, Luft was nominated for a string of awards – Breakthrough Act in the 2018 Jazz FM Awards, Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2019 Jazz FM Awards. In May 2019 he was selected as BBC New Generation Jazz Artist 2019-2021, an accolade granted to ‘some of the world’s most exceptional young musicians’. His eagerly-awaited second album on Edition Records, Life is the Dancer, was released in April 2020 to critical acclaim, with Chris May at All About Jazz describing it as ‘balm for the soul’ and ‘a garden of heavenly delights’.

Concert highlights for Luft are performances with Django Bates, Arve Henriksen, Loose Tubes and Dinosaur, Laura Jurd’s jazz/rock quartet. As well as leading his own quintet, Luft collaboratively runs several other projects, including a duo with the Albanian jazz singer and ECM recording artist Elina Duni, a mainstream jazz quartet with Dave O’Higgins and the tango quintet Deco Ensemble. He is also a regular member of some of London’s finest modern jazz groups, such as Byron Wallen’s Four Corners, Eddie Parker’s Airborn and the Chris Batchelor/Steve Buckley quintet. His playing has been documented on a wide variety of albums over the past five years, and he appears on the Sweet Sister Suite by Tommy Smith’s Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO); Liane Carroll’s album Seaside (Linn Records); two albums from Italian drum virtuoso Enzo Zirilli on Milanese label UR Records, Zirobop and Ten to Late; and the latest release from Misha Mullov-Abbado on Edition Records Cross-Platform Interchange.

Rob Luft

Find out more about the career paths of some of our former students

Olivia Chaney

Graduated 2004
Voice (Jazz)

Olivia Chaney

Graduated 2004

Voice (Jazz)

Grammy-nominated singer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Olivia Chaney has appeared on BBC Two’s Later…with Jools Holland, CBS This Morning; performed live sessions on KCRW’s Morning becomes Eclectic, BBC Radio 1 with Gilles Peterson and BBC Radio 2 with Mark Radcliffe; and in 2019 was nominated BBC Radio 2 Folk Singer of the Year. Her second solo album, Shelter, released on Nonesuch Records in 2018 and made with New York-based producer Thomas Bartlett was met with critical acclaim, being called ‘a big, beautiful new record’ (Mojo, Albums of the Year ★★★★), ‘rare beauty’ (The Sunday Times) and ‘an elegant, luminous album’ (the Observer).

Born in Florence, Chaney grew up in Oxford, studying composition, piano and voice. Early influences include Bert Jansch, Mozart, medieval plainchant, Prince, Billie Holiday, Henry Purcell and Joni Mitchell. At 14, Chaney won a joint-first piano and voice scholarship to Chetham's School of Music, where she focused on classical repertoire. She then went on to attend the Royal Academy of Music, also on scholarship, where, as an improviser and songwriter, she spent much of her time experimenting and collaborating beyond boundaries of any one genre. On graduating, Chaney taught herself guitar and Indian harmonium, and began performing regularly as an eclectic soloist. She has worked as an actress and singer/multi-instrumentalist at Shakespeare's Globe theatre, been choreographed by Cathy Marston (former Associate Artist of the Royal Opera House) and her rendition of the French folk song, Auprès de ma blonde, was chosen for the closing credits of legendary director André Téchiné’s 2017 film, Nos années folles.

Chaney has performed around the world in venues and festivals including the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Glastonbury Festival, Sydney Festival and Newport Folk Festival. She has collaborated with artists including Kronos Quartet, Bryce Dessner, Katia and Marielle Labèque, The Decemberists, Shirley Collins, Eliza Carthy and Jon Hopkins. She has sung support and live backing vocals for the likes of Sharon Van Etten, Bruce Hornsby, Jarvis Cocker, Robert Plant, Ben Folds, Patty Griffin and Richard Thompson.

Photo by Rich Gilligan

Olivia Chaney

Trish Clowes

Graduated 2007
Saxophone

Trish Clowes

Graduated 2007

Saxophone

Saxophonist and composer Trish Clowes has been described as ‘an improviser to be reckoned with’ (Downbeat Magazine) and ‘one of the most agile and original jugglers of improv and adventurous composition to have appeared in the UK in recent times’ (the Guardian). A BASCA British Composer Award winner and former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist, Clowes works in a variety of settings and has received critical acclaim for all of her album releases.

Clowes’s band, My Iris (with Chris Montague, Ross Stanley and James Maddren), has toured worldwide and been hailed as ‘the jazz of the future’ (Augsburger Allgemeine). She has appeared either with her band or as a soloist at the Barbican, Toronto Jazz Festival, Rochester International Jazz Festival, Royal Festival Hall, Wigmore Hall, Celtic Connections (with BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra), Women in (e)motion Festival and National Opera House (Ireland), and made broadcasts for BBC Two Proms Extra, BBC Radio 3 and Radio Bremen. In 2019, Clowes premiered Joe Cutler’s saxophone concerto, Hawaii Hawaii Hawaii, with the BBC Concert Orchestra. Recent commissions include writing for the London Sinfonietta (a Sinfonietta Short for solo bass, and their Sound Out projects), BBC Concert Orchestra (BBC Radio 3) and Onyx Brass.

Born in 1984, Clowes was raised in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, and moved to London in 2003 to study at the Royal Academy of Music, notably with saxophonist Iain Ballamy and composer Pete Churchill. Clowes was later honoured as an Associate of the Academy in 2013. She is currently finishing her studies as a PhD candidate at Birmingham City University with a STEAM scholarship. Alongside her work as a performer and composer, Clowes has been curating her own new music project, Emulsion, since 2012, through which she has commissioned 17 new works. She is also passionate about her roles as professor at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and ambassador for the charity Donate4Refugees.

Photo by Rose Hendry

Trish Clowes

Jacob Collier

Graduated 2018
Jazz

Jacob Collier

Graduated 2018

Jazz

It is not often one encounters an imagination with the depth and prolificacy of Jacob Collier’s. Born in 1994, the London-based singer and multi-instrumentalist is dubbed by many as one of the most innovative musicians of his generation. In 2012, Collier’s self-made YouTube videos achieved legendary status in the music world, attracting the praise of such luminaries as Herbie Hancock, David Crosby, Steve Vai and Quincy Jones, who manages Collier to this day. His debut album, In My Room, crafted entirely in his room at home, went on to win two Grammys. His success has led to musical collaborators and fans including the likes of Coldplay, Ty Dolla $ign, Tori Kelly, Daniel Caesar, H.E.R., Charlie Puth, Kehlani, Jessie Reyez and Finneas, among others.

In January 2018, Collier began designing and creating a recording project on an unprecedented scale: a quadruple album called Djesse comprising 50 songs divided between four volumes, with each operating within a separate musical universe of sound, style and genre. Scattered across the four volumes are 30-plus collaborators from across every facet of the music world. Djesse Volumes 1 and 2 both have earned him a Grammy each, meaning that Collier has never lost a Grammy in a category he’s been nominated in.

Jacob Collier

Kit Downes

Graduated 2009
Jazz

Kit Downes

Graduated 2009

Jazz

Kit Downes is a BBC Jazz Award winning, Mercury Music Award nominated, solo recording artist for ECM Records. He has toured the world playing piano, church organ and harmonium with his own bands ('ENEMY', 'Troyka', 'Elt' and 'Vyamanikal') as well as artists such as Squarepusher, Thomas Strønen, Aidan O'Rourke and Django Bates. He has written commissions for Cheltenham Music Festival, London Contemporary Orchestra, Stavanger Konserthus, ReWire Festival, Scottish Ensemble, Cologne Philharmonie, BBC Radio 3 and the Wellcome Trust, as well as collaborating with film-makers, video game developers and classical composers.

Kit Downes

Ashley Henry

Graduated 2016
Jazz

Ashley Henry

Graduated 2016

Jazz

South London-born Ashley Henry is one of a new generation of musicians who have been raised with a wide range of influences. His album debut Beautiful Vinyl Hunter saw him nominated by Cerys Matthews for BBC 6 Music’s Album of the Year, only the second jazz album to do so. The album won Jazz Japan's Album of the Year and Henry is France’s Jazz Magazine New Jazz Artist of the Year.

Henry graduated from Royal Academy of Music in 2016, going on to perform with Jason Marsalis, Terence Blanchard and Jean Toussaint, the latter featuring on Henry’s record, Easter EP. At the age of just 25, Henry was commissioned as guest resident Musical Director for both Jazz Café and Ronnie Scott's, and won the Jazz FM Live Experience Award. In 2018/2019, he toured with Christine and the Queens and supported Loyle Carner’s 2019 tour.

His live performances have gained outstanding reviews, including a sold-out standing-room-only show as part of the 2019 EFG London Jazz Festival and he featured in BBC Music Introducing at New York's Winter Jazzfest, curated by Gilles Peterson.

Ashley Henry

Rob Luft

Graduated 2016
Jazz

Rob Luft

Graduated 2016

Jazz

Rob Luft is an award-winning jazz guitarist from London whose virtuosity has been compared to that of six-string legends John McLaughlin, Al Di Meola and Paco De Lucia. For performances with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in 2015, The Times said he was destined ‘to achieve great things in the future’. He was subsequently the recipient of the 2016 Kenny Wheeler Prize from the Royal Academy of Music and received second prize in the 2016 Montreux Jazz Guitar Competition at the Montreux Jazz Festival. His debut album, Riser, was released on Edition Records in 2017 to widespread critical acclaim from the European jazz media; John Fordham wrote in The Guardian a ‘very sophisticated debut, but given Luft’s old-soul achievements since his early teens, we should have heard it coming’.

On the back of the success of his first album, Luft was nominated for a string of awards – Breakthrough Act in the 2018 Jazz FM Awards, Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2019 Jazz FM Awards. In May 2019 he was selected as BBC New Generation Jazz Artist 2019-2021, an accolade granted to ‘some of the world’s most exceptional young musicians’. His eagerly-awaited second album on Edition Records, Life is the Dancer, was released in April 2020 to critical acclaim, with Chris May at All About Jazz describing it as ‘balm for the soul’ and ‘a garden of heavenly delights’.

Concert highlights for Luft are performances with Django Bates, Arve Henriksen, Loose Tubes and Dinosaur, Laura Jurd’s jazz/rock quartet. As well as leading his own quintet, Luft collaboratively runs several other projects, including a duo with the Albanian jazz singer and ECM recording artist Elina Duni, a mainstream jazz quartet with Dave O’Higgins and the tango quintet Deco Ensemble. He is also a regular member of some of London’s finest modern jazz groups, such as Byron Wallen’s Four Corners, Eddie Parker’s Airborn and the Chris Batchelor/Steve Buckley quintet. His playing has been documented on a wide variety of albums over the past five years, and he appears on the Sweet Sister Suite by Tommy Smith’s Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO); Liane Carroll’s album Seaside (Linn Records); two albums from Italian drum virtuoso Enzo Zirilli on Milanese label UR Records, Zirobop and Ten to Late; and the latest release from Misha Mullov-Abbado on Edition Records Cross-Platform Interchange.

Rob Luft