Chris Bowden

On Ninja Tune

Chris Bowden - BIOGRAPHY

Let's face it, despite all its history, the myths and legends that surround its most famous exponents, the black and white photos, the recordings, the movies, even, the saxophone wasn't most contemporary music-makers idea of fun in the early nineties.

Chris Bowden could easily have stayed one of the unsung backroom musicians of the British scene - a fine sax player, a talented and knowledgeable arranger and composer. He could have been a straight-up UK jazz man playing in tiny clubs to 30 or 40 devotees, as credible as fuck.

He chose neither route.

Chris Bowden chose to make 'jazz' that was as contemporary and relevant as sampled, sequenced music. He chose to ignore obscurity, but to give Kenny G the finger, too. In 1996 he released 'Time Capsule' (Soul Jazz) to immense critical acclaim and general appreciation. Space jazz with the rigour of a classicist, by turns forbidding and kitsch, a superb mood piece rather than just a succession of tunes, it established that Bowden was a huge talent in his own right.

Of course many people (mainly the people he had worked with, or those who read record sleeve credits carefully) already knew that. Bowden had started his professional career in the heart of the acid jazz boom playing sessions and shows for Talking Loud's K-Creative. He had continued to work Simon Richmond (Palm Skin Productions) on Mo' Wax. He had also contributed arrangements and playing for Jessica Lauren (Soul Jazz) and Jhelisa Anderson (Dorado), contributing a disctintiveness to all these projects that would only be recognised as his in retrospect.

After 'Time Capsule' came out, he also played a large part in helping 4Hero develop the more organic, jazz-soul take on drum & bass that made up the first half of their "2 Pages" album. He wrote the music, arranged the strings and played sax on their "Hero" single, performing with them at live shows too. Also Chris MD'd and performed for American jazz legends James Mason, who was touring music from his Rhythm of Life album, and Doug Karn, with a set compiled from his Black Jazz Records catalogue.

He has also worked as a session musician for Basement Jaxx and, perhaps most pertinent here, played in The Herbaliser live band for the last three years. It was through The Herbaliser that Bowden came into contact with Ninja Tune and began working on the material we are now releasing (the 12" Beautiful Nasty produced, incidentally, by Jake Wherry). A direct development from his work on 'Time Capsule', the new material perhaps has a looser, funkier feel, but still showcases his excellent playing and exemplary, instantly-recognisable way with a string arrangement.

As for live appearances, his band may have slimmed down from Time Capsule's twelve-piece, but his current trio (who blew the roof off Ronnie Scott's at Ninja's 10 year celebrations last autumn) is set to cause serious tremors wherever they play.

Chris Bowden has chosen his own path. Follow it now.

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