“An unbelievable drummer. So creative I couldn’t believe it. This kid really is a 360-degree beautiful young cat that I believe has what it takes to make a life out of music.”
– Quincy Jones
Barely into his mid-twenties, Ollie Howell is a multi-award winning drummer, composer, bandleader and international recording artist. Currently based in London, and already establishing a name for himself both in the UK and abroad, Ollie is wowing audiences around the globe with his creativity, dynamism and stunning improvisation, as well as a highly acclaimed repertoire of original music.
Since 2009, Ollie has also become the mentee of musical legend Quincy Jones. Quincy and Ollie first met in 2009, whilst Ollie was studying a bachelor degree in Music at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Quincy recalls their first meeting:
“When I arrived at the school, the jazz department had arranged a musical performance from its best students. Obviously, this happens to me a lot when I travel. But what doesn’t normally happen is for me to be floored by the performance of one of the musicians.”
After first watching Ollie perform, Quincy quickly became Ollie’s mentor and is still continually helping to propel his career and introducing him to stalwarts of the international jazz scene.
In 2012, The Ollie Howell Quintet were awarded the prestigious Peter Whittingham Development Award, administered by the Musicians Benevolent Fund, which has become one of the most sought-after jazz awards in the UK.
Born in Wallingford, Oxfordshire, Ollie began playing the piano at the age of seven under the tutelage of a jazz pianist who introduced him to the blues, jazz and Art Blakey. The sounds of all three steered Ollie towards the drums by age thirteen, and professional work as a drummer shortly thereafter. Ollie graduated from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama with a first class honours degree in Music, and whilst studying there Ollie was presented with a special ‘Music Innovation Award’ from the National Welsh-American Foundation, honouring his commitment to new musical connections and projects between Wales and North America.
As well as his acclaimed work with his own quintet, Ollie has also worked with many international and award-winning artists including Alfredo Rodriguez, Iain Ballamy, Nathaniel Facey, Ola Onabule, Huw Warren, Steve Waterman and Derek Paravicini, as well as many members of the London jazz scene. In 2009, Ollie was selected for a specially formed quartet showcasing Jazz talent in Wales, which was commissioned by the National Welsh Assembly for a tour to China, with extensive media coverage on Chinese television and radio.
Now signed to the prestigious Whirlwind Recordings, which has quickly become one of the most important up and coming labels, promoting music from all over the globe, Ollie has recorded his debut album with his quintet, being released on 23.09.13. Recorded in London, and Mixed and mastered by New York based, 4-time Grammy nominee Tyler McDiarmid, ‘Sutures and Stitches’ contains a collection of original compositions, and features some of the brightest emerging stars on the British jazz scene.
As well as some exciting musical performances and compositions, this album also has an incredible back-story. In 2009 Ollie was suddenly diagnosed with a brain malformation called Arnold Chiari Type 2, which meant that over the past few years, Ollie has had to have several neurosurgeries, the latest being in April 2012. All of the music on this album was written during, and influenced by, the incredible journey that Ollie went through during this defining point in his life.
Ollie is also being mentored by jazz drumming legend Jimmy Cobb who, after hearing Ollie play in 2009, quickly took him under his wing and is continuing to be incredibly supportive of Ollie’s emerging career.
“Here is a young man who is fully prepared to be a great new addition to the music. He’s loaded with talent!”
– Jimmy Cobb