Raph Clarkson.

Summer 2015 – Spitalfields, ETO, WSP, London Jazz Fest…

What a wonderful summer it’s been so far! I’ve been lucky enough to work on an exciting mixture of creative community projects as well as some really fun performing work. My adventure as a Spitalfields Music trainee music leader is coming to a close, following a project at Phoenix School in Bow working with young autistic children, and the inspiring Sam Chaplin and Abimaro Gunnell leading. Outstanding creative musicians in their own right, they led a joyful project exploring ‘journeys in our imagination’. What a pleasure it was to assist them, with a chance to hone my gospel-soul-groove based keys playing! More recently I’ve just completed a project designed and delivered by trainee leaders – myself, vocalist Amy Doyley and cellist Miriam Wakeling. We’ve been exploring pirates with a lovely year 3 class at St Mathias school in Brick Lane – specifically a pirate seeking forgiveness!

I’ve also had the opportunity to work on two outstanding English Touring Opera community projects – one an opera created with and by a group of older people suffering from early onset dementia, their carers and their partners, in the stunning surroundings of Dulwich Picture Gallery; the other, an opera created with and by a group of Lambeth schoolchildren from four different primaries, performed at the OvalHouse Theatre, called ‘Sting in the Tale’, based on Aesop’s fables.. Enormous thanks to Tim Yealland, who does incredible work putting all these projects together and directing them for ETO, and Llewellyn Ap Myrddin, Rachel Leach (composers) Tim Burke (musical director and arranger), Sue Moore, Abigail Gostick (vocalists) and RN Prakash (Miridangam) – a marvellous range of very talented practitioners who were a pleasure to work with.

Playing wise I’ve been lucky to play with some excellent Salsa bands – Roberto Pla’s Latin Ensemble, and Manteca – as well as continuing to get my ska on (as much as an awkward dancer like me can) with The Dualers. Tickets available for our show at the Indigo 02 in November! I also really enjoyed a short tour playing with WorldService Project, sharing the bill with experimental rockers Schnellertollermeier from Switzerland. WSP will be recording our third album in September before undertaking a trip to China in October.

I can also reveal that my ensemble The Dissolute Society are performing at the Vortex for the London Jazz Festival on 22nd November, with the legendary John Taylor guesting on piano. You can already order tickets! Here… I’m already very excited about this. Hope to see you there!

WSP/Stedwin tour + The Dissolute Society debut + Spitalfields Takeover Spring Festival

I’ve just returned from a wonderful week in France and Luxembourg with the brilliant STEDWIN, who we (WorldService Project) were touring with for four shows. The highlight was the AJMI club in Avignon, a stunning venue in a stunning city. It’s an exciting time for WSP as we build towards the recording of a third album in the summer – lots of new material to get stuck in to! We’ll be taking some of it to Edinburgh and Glasgow next month, appearing at the HIDDEN DOOR festival.

WSP+Stedwin post gig in Luxembourg:


WSP+Stedwin Post Gig...

It’s been an exciting time for me personally as well in terms of creative projects – The Dissolute Society had its debut gig at the Vortex back in February, and you can hear some of the results on the new soundcloud page – check out this ‘teaser’, a sort of summary of everything that you would have heard at the gig. I’m now working on sorting gigs for the band as we work towards the recording of an album next year, so watch this space!

Some great pictures taken by Jake Walker at the gig:

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Finally, my time working as a Trainee Music Leader for Spitalfields Music continues to give me the most incredible and humbling of experiences. Back in March I spent two weeks in the completely inspiring surroundings of The Cherry Trees school, in which we worked with students to produce an original takeover festival of music, dance and art. This residency was part of Spitalfields’ Takeover Spring Festival, where three different schools work with artists and animateurs to create original art and music, literally ‘taking over’ their whole school space for a day, with an audience comprising the school community and members of the public. Cherry Trees is an amazing place, a school for boys with emotional, social and behavioural difficulties, and it was a real honour to work there and see how the power of music and the creative arts can transform and inspire young people in such circumstances. Something for our present and future government to take serious note of.

More information on the Spitalfields Takeover Festival and upcoming activities (including a very good-looking summer festival programme) here: http://www.spitalfieldsmusic.org.uk

Here’s me wearing a terrifying costume (!) and facepaint, decorating the playground floor and also performing as a street musician at The Cherry Trees festival day. More pictures here. This was an experience that I will never forget…

Spitalfields Music Spring Takeover.

Spitalfields Music Spring Takeover.


Dissolute Society + RCPlus Trio debut gig + more

The first part of 2015 has been a blast!

I had an incredible time at the Calvert Trust centre next to Exmoor, assisting on creative music workshops for adults with a range of disabilities, coordinated by an amazing charity, Share Music Southwest. It’s hands down one of the best things I’ve ever been involved in.

I’ve loved working with Merton children on creative responses to Stravinsky’s ‘The Soldier’s Tale’ – you can see some of that work here. It was a pleasure to work as a BeCreative Music workshop leader alongside Olivia Carruthers from the excellent Teach-It-Thru-Drama team – the childrens’ dramatic and musical ideas were quite something for minds so young!

I was also really lucky to join the excellent Laura Jurd for two gigs as part of her Human Spirit tour, launching her second album of the same name. As always, she’s written some deeply soulful, passionate, lyrical, beautiful music. Check out this review from our gig in Brighton – I’m down as the usual (and brilliant) trombonist, Colm O’Hara, who I was depping for that night.

I also had a wonderful experience headlining an exciting triple-bill of UK bands at Ronnie Scott’s on the 10th of February, with WorldService Project. Again, another lovely review from Jazzwise which I think reflects one of the best gigs we’ve ever done – a new album is on the cards, and we played a few new tunes that will probably feature on that. Obligatory bowler hat worn by me (below):


Finally, I have the debut gig of two new ensembles I’ve put together coming up on Tuesday 24th of February. First, the RCPlus Trio featuring Joshua Idehen of the up-and-coming Benin City. Freely improvised grooves from myself on trombone and electronics, Corrie Dick on drums and Phil Merriman on keys, with Josh freestyling and doing his thing. I can’t wait…

And secondly, The Dissolute Society, a project that features my own words and music that reflect on my life experiences, including family, grief, friendship and hope. It’s a mixture of contemporary improv, jazz, contemporary classical, spoken word and groove, and I’m so glad to finally get it out there! I’ll be joined on this gig (contrary to the Vortex listing) by Fini Bearman on vocals, Laura Jurd on trumpet, Naomi Burrell on violin, Gustav Clarkson on viola, Francesca Ter-Berg on cello, Phil Merriman on keys, and Simon Roth on drums. You can discover more details and book tickets here. Pictures and music from that gig will follow – of course, would be wonderful to see you there!

Welcome to my website!

It’s here for me to share with you all the different sorts of things I do as a musician – have a look/listen around, and enjoy.

2014 was a great year for me which included joining ska/reggae act The Dualers, continuing to work with WorldService Project towards our third album, and putting in motion my own project The Dissolute Society which will be performing its debut gig in February 2015 at the Vortex Jazz Club. Workshop leading has been a real thrill too, with BeCreative Music going from strength to strength – we’ll soon be working with children to produce creative responses to Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale – and I have also really enjoyed my journey thus far as a Spitalfields Trainee Music Leader. High hopes for many exciting projects in 2015… watch this space!