Alan Wakeman

Born : October 13th, 1947 - London
Past Bands : Paul Lytton Quartet (1968), Alan Wakeman Trio (1970), Graham Collier Music (1970-72), Gilgamesh (1972-73), Johnny Dankworth (1973-74), Mike Westbrook Band (1974-), Alan Wakeman Trio (1975), Soft Machine (1976)

A Short Bio:

Alan Wakeman is best known to Canterbury music fans for his short stint with Soft Machine in 1976, documented on the studio album Softs, but has enjoyed a long and fruitful career on the British jazz scene, particularly with Graham Collier and Mike Westbrook. He was also an original member of Alan Gowen's Gilgamesh, but left long before any recordings were made.

Wakeman picked up the clarinet at age 14, and while still as school joined a trad band whose pianist was none other than his cousin Rick, later a superstar with Yes and under his own name. After changing to alto sax at 16, he got to know Mike Westbrook when the up and coming bandleader came to his school to teach art for a year while Wakeman was in the 6th form. He soon decided to become a professional musician, and left school at 18 to study at the London College of Music.

In 1966, Wakeman took up tenor sax, which became his main instrument along with the soprano. He soon became involved with the London jazz scene through his acquaintance with free jazz drummer Paul Lytton, whom he'd met when both were in the London Youth Jazz Association (which he joined after he was heard by Pat Evans). He joined Lytton's quartet for six months, playing every Wednesday night at a club in Tottenham Court Road. Later he and Lytton formed various bands together, from duo to large line-ups.

After leading his own trio in 1970 (with Harry Miller on bass), he joined Graham Collier Music, replacing Stan Sulzmann. This lasted for two years and two albums, "Songs For My Father" and "Mosaics", featuring such contemporaries as Harry Beckett, Phil Lee and Geoff Castle. Prior to rejoining Mike Westbrook's band in late 1974, he toured with Johnny Dankworth. Wakeman's debut with Westbrook was on 1975's "Citadel/Room 615", and their collaboration continued with "Love Dream & Variations" (1975), "Bright As Fire" (1980), "The Paris Album" (1981) etc.

In 1975, Wakeman played briefly with pianist Brian Miller's group Impulse. It was then that he came to the attention of John Marshall, Soft Machine 's drummer, who attended a gig by this band at the Chestnut's Club. Wakeman was considered as a possible replacement for the departing Allan Holdsworth, but it would be another year before he actually joined Soft Machine, this time stepping in for Mike Ratledge. Meanwhile, Wakeman formed another trio with Nigel Tickler on bass and John Snow on drums.

Wakeman was in Soft Machine from February to July 1976. It wasn't a particularly heavy touring period after the peak in the band's live activity the previous year. His role in the band was to play Karl Jenkins' saxophone parts after the latter decided to concentrate on keyboards. This line-up was documented on the "Softs" album, recorded during the spring of that year. Wakeman left when he was offered a retainer as a member of David Essex's band, which implied that it was now impossible for him to work elsewhere.

Since then, Wakeman has kept working occasionally with Westbrook, while keeping busy with commercial work, notably in musicals.