Perhaps best known for his work as the compelling counter-voice to singer and wife, Stacey Kent, Jim Tomlinson is increasingly recognised as a distinctive saxophone voice in his own right. The release of his debut album as leader, Only Trust Your Heart (Candid 2000), was greeted with enthusiastic and universal acclaim. His follow up CD, Brazilian Sketches (2003), was named Jazz CD Of The Week by the Observer newspaper in the UK.
Tomlinson did not study music formally until well into his 20s. He played saxophone and ran a band as a hobby whilst studying for his degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics at University College, Oxford. It was only after graduating and finding himself drawn to London’s jazz scene that he enrolled at the Guildhall School Of Music in 1990. It was at the Guildhall that his musical and romantic relationship with Stacey blossomed.
Since then, Tomlinson has worked in a wide variety of groups, from Brian Ferry to experimental big band composer, Michael Garrick. His own quartet has appeared at clubs and festivals across Europe. Most recently, he has toured almost exclusively with Stacey Kent in Europe, USA and the Far East, reserving time to perform in a quintet dedicated to the music of Lester Young with fellow saxophonist and Guildhall graduate, Mark Crooks.
When not performing, Jim shares his passion for skiing with Stacey, a sport at which they both excel. Only touring commitments in March 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2009 prevented them from racing in the Nastar US Championships for which they both qualified in consecutive seasons.
Tomlinson’s latest CD, The Lyric (2005) features Stacey Kent extensively and is the first release on his own record label, Token. The album recently hit the charts in Poland, France, Spain, Hong Kong and the UK. The Lyric also won ‘Album of the Year‘ at the 2006 BBC Jazz Awards.
In 2007 Jim produced Stacey’s new platinum selling, Grammy-nominated Blue Note album, Breakfast On The Morning Tram, for which he also wrote four new songs with the acclaimed author, Kazuo Ishiguro. Their song, The Ice Hotel, won first prize in the jazz category of the 2007 International Songwriting Competition and So Romantic was a finalist in the 2008 competition. In 2010, they realeased a french language album, Raconte-Moi.
Photo credit : Vincent Bouchard - Georges Seguin