Roy Babbington

Born : July 8th, 1940 - Kempton (England)
Past Bands : Mike Gibbs Band, Keith Tippett Group, Delivery, Symbiosis, Centipede, Ovary Lodge, Nucleus, Solid Gold Cadillac, Soft Machine, Barbara Thompson's Jabula, Stan Tracey Groups...
Current Activity : jazz sessions & gigs

A Short Bio:

A professional jazz musician since 1958 (!), Roy Babbington was very involved in the progressive music movement, and the Canterbury scene in particular, between the late 60's and mid 70's, playing in bands like Delivery, Nucleus and Soft Machine, as well as many informal jazz or jazz-rock ensembles.

Babbington taught himself the bass as a teenager, and played clubs and ballrooms in his hometown until moving to London in 1969. He soon joined the band Delivery, led by pianist Steve Miller and also including guitarist Phil Miller, drummer Pip Pyle and sax player Lol Coxhill. With Delivery, he regularly played upstairs at the famous Ronnie Scott's club, getting to know the main exponents of the then-burgeoning London jazz scene.

Soon he started gigging with Mike Gibbs' and Keith Tippett's jazz bands at Ronnie Scott's, and working extensively as a session musician. This in turn led to guest appearances with Soft Machine - he played on the albums Fourth (1971) and 5 (1972) - and gigs with saxophonist Gary Windo's occasional band Symbiosis, and Tippett's 50-piece orchestra Centipede.

In May 1971, Delivery folded after one album, A Fools Meeting (1970), recorded with (and credited to) singer Carol Grimes. Babbington then joined Ian Carr's jazz-rock band Nucleus, whose line-up at the time featured Karl Jenkins, John Marshall and Dave MacRae. Unfortunately, his first year in Nucleus is not documented on disc, and he is only featured on the albums Bella Donna (1972) - released as a solo Ian Carr album - and Labyrinth (1973), none of which feature his future Soft Machine colleagues.

As a parallel to his activities with Nucleus, which were interrupted during the first half of 1972 due to management problems, Babbington also worked with Keith Tippett's Ovary Lodge and Mike Westbrook's Solid Gold Cadillac. In May 1973, he left Nucleus and joined Soft Machine, which now included his ex-Nucleus cohorts Jenkins and Marshall.

Joining Soft Machine was a dramatic change for Babbington as he would from then on play almost exclusively bass guitar, an instrument he'd long had prejudices against. In spite of these initial misgivings, he turned out to be perfect for the job, and stayed in the band for three albums - Seven (1973), Bundles (1975) and Softs (1976) - and countless international tours. While in the band, he continued to gig with visiting American jazz musicians and played for several productions at the National Theater.

After leaving Soft Machine in July 1976, Babbington resumed his former career as double bass player, recording with Harry Beckett and Graham Collier among others, although he still played electric music occasionally, notably with saxophonist Barbara Thompson's jazz-rock groups Jubiaba and Paraphernalia, alongside Peter Lemer or Trevor Tomkins. Since the early 80's, he has performed regularly with pianist Stan Tracey in various configurations, and until recently with the BBC Radio Orchestra.

In the Summer of 2008 he depped for Hugh Hopper in the Soft Machine Legacy for two dates in Spain, which brought him together with John Etheridge and John Marshall since his departure from the Softs some 32 years previously. They played a trio set the following December at Hopper's benefit gig at London's 100 Club.