Since their formation in 1996 Partisans has been thrilling audiences the world over with their ferociously energetic performances of tightly knit themes and the great freedom coming from their years of playing together. Partisans are real band – known for bridging the gap between New York swing, European improv and UK jam– where the combination of each member’s influences feeds a genuine creative spark generating huge excitement and energy. Co-led by two of the preeminent musicians of their generation, Phil Robson (guitars) and Julian Siegel (tenor sax & bass clarinet), the quartet line-up is completed by Thaddeus Kelly (bass) and Gene Calderazzo (drums). They are widely acknowledged as the godfathers of the new wave of British post-jazz and improv, and have outlived many of the bands that have come since their formation. BBC Radio 3 asserts they are “one of the most exciting all star experimental groups in jazz today”.
Partisans cook up a trademark shot of gritty be-bop mashed with hard bop, early electric Miles (one of their main influences), ballads with sustained delicacy, rock riffs mixed with P-Funk grooves and with fresh departures into electronica. The richly lyrical and strongly melodic compositions written by Robson and Siegel provide the framework and starting point, underpinned by the rock solid, freewheeling and supercharged rhythm section of Kelly and Calderazzo.
With years of touring around the globe and a cult following in their native UK, where they have played every conceivable venue from backwater pubs to the largest concert halls and festivals, Partisans have released four albums to date: their self-titled debut (1997, EFZ), Sourpuss (2000, Babel), Max (2005, Babel) and By Proxy (2009, Babel). They have also collaborated with many icons of modern music, most notably Steve Swallow and Wayne Krantz, the former who exclaims “Partisans present some of the most refreshing music I’ve heard in a long while, uncompromising, very well written and very well played.” September 2014 sees Partisans release their fifth studio album Swamp on the Whirlwind Recordings imprint. This new album is deeply rooted in the Partisan trademark vibe and sound, but completely blows open their already eclectic and unpredictable palette, taking their music to new heights as a result of their near 20 years together.
“Partisans always sounds like the regular confederacy it’s been since 1996 – the tricky zigzagging heads are played with flawless attack, and the quartet’s trademark quality of seamless idiom and time-shifting within each piece operates with a gleeful tautness.” – The Guardian
“Partisans are one of the most consistently inventive and original bands.” – The Scotsman
“Restless, almost reckless energy… delirious listening… consistently thrilling.”
– BBC Music Magazine
“Intelligent, varied and often dazzling”
– The Evening Standard
“Godfathers of the ferocious UK ‘post-jazz’ groups.”
– The Times
“Partisans’ long expected masterpiece, By Proxy is one of the most exciting albums to be released on either side of the Atlantic in 2009.” – All About Jazz
Phil Robson – Guitar
UK-based guitarist Phil Robson is a seminal figure in contemporary British music. Along with Partisans he is the leader of the Immeasurable Code Quintet feat. Mark Turner, and regular sideman with Christine Tobin (Best Vocalist BBC Jazz Awards 2008). His other bands have included Six Strings & the Beat, Phil Robson trio (with Billy Hart & James Genus), Phil Robson Quartet with Dave Whitford and featuring David Liebman & Jeff Williams. Phil tours the UK with Dave Liebman and has also performed with the Barbra Streisand quartet most recently on BBC TV. Phil was awarded Jazz Musician of the Year in the UK 2009 Parliamentary Jazz Awards and has recorded three albums under his own name on Babel including a commission for Six Strings & the Beat.
Julian Siegel – saxophone, bass clarinet
Julian is one of the premier saxophonists of his generation in the UK and European jazz scenes who has worked with many outstanding musicians, including Bill Frisell, Steve Swallow, Adam Nussbaum, Hermeto Pascoal, Django Bates, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Colin Towns, Laurie Anderson, Steve Nieve and the NDR Big Band. In 2007 he was awarded the BBC Jazz Award for Best Instrumentalist. As well as Partisans, his current bands are the Julian Siegel Quartet featuring pianist Liam Noble, Oli Hayhurst and Gene Calderazzo the band’s last album won the 2011 London Jazz Award. He also leads The Julian Siegel Trio with US Improvising stars drummer Joey Baron and bassist Greg Cohen, which was formed as a result of a major commission from Cheltenham Jazz Festival.
Gene Calderazzo – Drums
Gene, a native New Yorker, began his early studies at the Berkley College of music, Boston, (1979-81) alongside classmates Branford Marsalis, Wallace Roney, Jeff Watts and Marvin ‘smitty’ Smith. Yeah baby. He then gained a scholarshipto attend the Long Island University in Brooklyn, New York. Here he performed with Joe Henderson, Mike Brecker, Lionel Hampton and Reggie Workman. Since 1995, when gene made the UK his home base, he has become one of the most in-demand drummers on the European jazz scene today . The year 2000-01 brought tours with Steve Grossman, James Moody, Eddie Henderson, Joey Calderazzo, Bobby Watson, Partisans, Philip Catherine/Ming Doky, Phil Woods, Martin Taylor/ Eddie Gomez and Randy Brecker. In 2000-01 Gene recorded with, Gordon Beck ‘November Song'(Jms), the new Gary Husband Trio ‘From the Heart’ (Jazzizit records), The Dave Green Trio ‘Time Will Tell’ (Jazz House), Guy Barker featuring Sting ”What Love is’, and appeared with Guy ‘s band in the film ‘The Talented Mr Ripley’.
Thaddeus Kelly – Bass
Through his desperation not to work for a living Thad Kelly decided to play the bass an instrument that seemed the easiest at the time only having to play 2 if not 1 beat to a bar on a choice of only four strings little realizing that over the next couple of decades he would have to lug that beast half way around the world with him on his varied musical career. Rather stupidly he started playing jazz gigs and couldn’t stop because people kept booking him. Jazz performers such as Ian Shaw, Claire Martin, Jackie Dankworth should have known better. Searching a bit further than the great American Song Book Thad joined Orquestra Mahatma trio featuring Paul Clarvis & Stuart Hall that played songs and rhythms from Albania to Brazil, that’s A to B. Later he began to rip up musical form with aural anarchist Billy Jenkins who explores the urban blues pallet (of late night tescos and boarded up shopping malls etc.). This naturally lead on to more rock like forms of groove with Partisans an award winning band that paved the way for the newer genre clashing jazz bands today. Again realizing he had ventured far down a harmonically obscure tunnel Thad started playing sweeter soul grooves with old friends Steve Arguelles and Ashley Slater [he of freak power]. After ending up in the wilds of a forest in Gloucestershire an exploration of songs and tunes of the west (Ireland) not so far west (Wales) & north (Scotland) with Celtish featuring Gwyneth Keen vox & Paddy Barcoe squeeze box. So finally Thad had to give in and become a band leader, it comes to us all in time. His current project is AughiskY a celtic/jazz cross-over.