Denys Baptiste

Denys Baptiste
MOBO and Mercury award-winning UK saxophonist Denys Baptiste has a colossal talent - based on a powerful technique and an ability to improvise fluently and effortlessly across a wide range of musical styles.

From the moment he joined the London jazz circuit, Denys displayed extraordinary talent, energy and commitment. Spotted by veteran Jazz Warriors double bassist, Gary Crosby at the bassist’s regular Tomorrow’s Warriors jam sessions, Denys was immediately invited to join Crosby’s new band, Nu Troop. Since then, Denys has soared in his development as a soloist and bandleader, earning enormous respect from his peers.

Over the years, Denys has evolved into what the Time Magazine describes as “the icon of British jazz”, with a most distinctive and immediately recognisable sound. A much sought after soloist, Denys has played/recorded with some of the biggest names in jazz and other genres including McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Ernest Ranglin, Bheki Mseleku, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Michael Bowie, Courtney Pine, Manu Dibango, Gary Crosby, Steve Williamson, Julian Joseph, Jason Rebello, Martin Taylor, Lonnie Plaxico, Ralph Moore, Billy Higgins, Jerry Dammers, Sean Oliver, Jean Carne, Marlena Shaw, Noel McCoy, Juliet Roberts, Incognito, Jazz Jamaica, and others of distinction.

Denys is an amazingly versatile musician and, although his roots are steeped in the jazz tradition, he incorporates ideas from other musical forms and popular culture, producing a repertoire which is contemporary, multi-layered and highly accessible. He is also an enormously talented composer/arranger, whose brilliant compositions have already earned him immense critical acclaim.

Be Where You Are – his 1999 debut album on independent jazz label, Dune Records – earned him a Mercury Music Prize for An Album Of The Year and a MOBO award for Best Jazz Act. He followed this in 2001 with his second album, Alternating Currents (Dune Records DUNECD05) also receiving great critical acclaim.

2003 saw the release of his third, and perhaps most ambitious, recording/touring project to date: Let Freedom Ring! (Dune Records DUNECD010), an inspirational, uplifting suite combining contemporary jazz, gospel, blues, and Afro-Cuban music with extracts of the epic poem, Mental Fight by Booker Prize winning author, Ben Okri who narrates on this piece. Commissioned by the Cheltenham Jazz Festival/Jerwood Foundation, Let Freedom Ring! Commemorated the 40th anniversary of the historic ‘I Have A Dream’ oration by American black civil rights activist, Dr Martin Luther King and was nominated for Best Album and Best New Work in the BBC Jazz Awards, for Best Jazz Act in the MOBO (Music Of Black Origin) Awards, and Best Album in the UK Parliamentary Jazz Awards.


2023 will see Denys join The Andrew McCormack Trio as a special guest for a series of live shows in 2023, recapturing some of the magic of Denys' epic "Let Freedom Ring" project and his ‘Be where you are’ albums.


Career | Shows | News

  • Cheltenham Jazz Festival
  • London Vortex Club
  • Pizza Express Soho
  • Wakefield Jazz Festival
  • Manchester Jazz Festival
  • Mercury Music Prize for An Album Of The Year 1999
  • MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 1999
  • British Jazz Award for Rising Star 2000
  • Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Album 2004
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