about aaron

He was a revelation, playing an absolute blinder...Dizzy on Afro-Cuban grooves and furious when the beat gets hard-edged. But his piercing tone shines in any context
— Mike Butler, dyversemusic.com
Right click on the photos to download high-res versions

Right click on the photos to download high-res versions

At age 16, I turned down a career in airplanes to pursue a life in music, and joined Slithey Tove (now The Toves) the following year. I paid my way through a degree in music at Salford college working as a sound engineer. One night in 1994, I edged on stage with my sax, and within months I was playing in 12 bands. I joined the UK’s first touring samba group, Inner Sense Percussion, and toured Kazakstan, where we left country as national heroes. I started a Latin hiphop band called Nylon Jungle, and wrote the song Catfood the night before we played a headline slot at the Manchester Jazz festival in 1999. 

In 2003 I moved to London and very soon spent my life savings buying a baritone sax. That was the year that Amy Winehouse’s musical director called up and asked me to play it in her band. The first day's works was filming the Rehab video (which required miming for 17 hours!) I was with her as she became a household name, and spearheaded popular music's return to real music made by live musicians. We toured, recorded, and appeared on TV playing for Jools Holland, Sharon Osbourne, Charlotte Church, the Brits, and the BBC's Porchester Hall documentary.

A year later I got a horn section together and toured, recorded and did some TV with one  of the greatest voices in the UK, Beverley Knight. Prince asked Beverley to play a support slot at his 21-show residency at the O2 arena. We played two nights of that tour, where I was hugely influenced by Maceo Parker and Prince himself, whose mastery was inspiring. And when Prince hushed the rhythm section to better hear the riff I'd come up with during our jam session at the Indigo it was one of the highlights of my life!

2007 brought me together with the Stargazers and Rock and Roll Society. After many cups of tea and biscuits the Stargazers released Carry on Jiving - the first album for 25 years - in 2017. My contributions are Let’s Go! and Play My Game, and I wrote the melody on Tim Purkess’ Phantom’s Frolic.

 In 08 and 09 I was invited to be sax player in residence for the Belfast Jazz & Blues Festival, appearing with with Steve Cropper. I'd joined the Shez Raja Collective in 2009 and the following year we headlined the St Petersberg Jazz Festival.

Then I got together with illustrator Alastair Graham to make an instructional book The How of Sax, and founded the Cream Horns. We joined Patrick Alan’s weekly Motown Review in Piccadilly where I occasionally subbed as musical director. And we joined Funk Affair, the  monthly residency at Ronnie Scotts, where we were affectionately remembered as "The horn section with cream suits and the amazing dance moves."

Funk Affair led to a chance meeting with Michael Henderson. In 2013 the former bass player to Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis, asked me to be music director for his series of UK concerts. We played a sold out show at the Royal Festival Hall, earning a 4-star review by Mike Hobart in the Financial Times. 

That same year I found myself recording with Bob Geldof a few days after returning from a gig in New Delhi. Geldof's musical director pointed out that one of the tasks was extremely difficult but Bob announced, "Aaron can do it, he's just come back from India, he's great and he can do anything, give him a chance!" He was right and I nailed it on the first go.  

2014, joined Sheila Tracey's big band alongside Duncan Lamont Snr (BBC big band MD for Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles), Ronnie Hughes (trumpet soloist for Ted Heath), Barry Forgey and Bill Geldard (trombonists and prolific arrangers). We were featured in Len Goodman's Big Band Bonanza. 

April 2015 was my big introduction to Cuban music and dance with a residency at the Covent Garden Opera House with Carlos Acosta, Danza Contemporanea de Cuba and his mostly-Cuban band. Being amongst master Cuban musicians was a trip and such a huge learning experience.

photo credit - Bianca Florenza

photo credit - Bianca Florenza

Paul Michael from Cubania joined Aaron and the Argonauts, and we’ve been playing together since. We released a single Together Forever and an album Live and Direct, with a studio album in the pipeline. The band has enjoyed playing in London and around the UK. I’ve also had the incredible experience of playing the material abroad. The Brazilian Argonauts toured southern Brazil in 2018 and the Bombay Argonauts played our first show in Mumbai in early 2019.

In 2012 Sugaray Rayford called me to put a horn section together for shows in France. The combination worked perfectly and we’ve been playing around the world together since: Canada, India, Lithuania, Latvia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Holland, Austria, Liechtenstein, Switzerland, Luxembourg, France, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Ireland and the UK. Sugaray has released five critically acclaimed albums and received six nominations in the Blues Music Awards for B.B. King Entertainer (2x), Traditional Blues Male Artist, Soul Blues Album, Soul Blues Male Artist, and Instrumentalist - Vocals.

In 2018 I was asked to join Cliff Bennett and the Rebel Rousers. Cliff toured with the Beatles and shared their manager Brian Epstein. The Rebel Rousers featured tenor saxophonists Sid Phillips and Moss Groves. These roles now being played by Aaron and former James Hunter sax player Damian Hand. 

Discography

Photography

Obviously Seriously Gifted
— Nathaniel Townsley, drummer
Aaron has a very special feel, hearing him play touched my heart
— Richard, gospel producer
I can count my favourite sax players on the fingers of one hand. Aaron’s one of them
— Richard Sadler, bassist
Nearest to the American feel I’ve heard in London
— Matt Baker, double bassist
he’s anointed, he’s playing from the source
— Gospel artist J David Bratton
My all time fourth favourite sax player, after Michael Brecker, David Sanborn and James Morrisson
— Lynne Walker, saxophonist
Aaron’s a mother......
— Michael Henderson, bass player and singer