Raph Clarkson is a trombonist, improviser, composer and educator, born and bred in London. After studying music at the Universities of York and Oxford, he has developed an eclectic musical career, which spans trad jazz, contemporary jazz, avant-garde improvised music, theatre and performance art, contemporary classical music, ska/reggae, South African township jazz, and salsa. He is best known as the trombonist for the award-winning jazz-punk ensemble WorldService Project, which has seen him tour Europe, China and the USA, performing at the London, Tampere, Tokyo and Umea Jazz festivals amongst many others; the band represented the UK as 12 Points Festival ‘Plus’ artists. WSP have also been heavily involved with the Match&Fuse european exchange and touring network, collaborating with artists from across the continent.
Match&Fuse also represents Raph’s passion for educating; he has designed and delivered a number of projects in schools in the UK and abroad for M&F, is a co-founder of the Be Creative Music organisation, and recently held a place on the prestigious Spitalfields Music Leader Traineeship. More recently he has been involved in educational work curated by English Touring Opera (ETO), Opera Holland Park, the Bath Philharmonia and the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and has this year been leading projects for Creative Futures, London Music Masters, the Kazzum theatre company, Spitalfields Music, M&F, Sinfonia Viva and Share Music Southwest.
Raph has developed a compositional and improvisational interest in the intersection between the trombone and the voice, and is exploring this with his new ensemble The Dissolute Society, for which he writes words and music (the album ‘Soldiering On’ featuring piano virtuoso Huw Warren as a guest comes out in Spring 2017); with his trad jazz project The Old Bone band where he sings and plays trombone accompanied by guitar and bass; and with The Vanderbilts, a contemporary cross-arts ensemble spearheaded by pianist and composer Elliot Galvin which also includes the dancer Kasia Witek, where he narrates, acts and improvises on the trombone.
Highlights for 2016 have included a performance with the Octandre Ensemble at St John’s Smith Square, broadcast on BBC Radio 3; developing and performing in the Kazzum theatre company’s new outdoor pop-up piece ‘Sprung’ at festivals across the country; touring with the free-improvising Speckles Brass ensemble, which Raph co-founded; regular performances with Brass Roots; performing with the Engines Orchestra alongside Femi Temowo at the Love Supreme Jazz Festival; and international touring of WorldService Project’s new album ‘For King and Country’ across Europe, China, Japan and India.