John Williams has had a long career in jazz and is major figure on the British jazz scene.


sketch of John
sketch by Robin Lawrie

From 1962-62 he was leader of the resident Big Band at London’s legendary Marquee Club, and a member of the band which recorded Ellington’s ‘Black, Brown and Beige’ Suite. He was  Music Director for Harlech Television together with excursions accompanying pop stars and playing for West End shows.  John has accompanied a wide range of artists including O.C.Smith, Gladys Knight and the Pips and the Three Degrees and he worked and recorded with Oscar Peterson and some of the more adventurous UK musicians including Keith Tippett, Barry Guy, Norma Winstone, Mike Westbrook and Graham Collier.

John has created ambitious and innovative jazz projects: his 18 piece band featured regularly on BBC Radio 3 broadcasts, and he is composer of ‘Out of Focus’ – a suite for baritone saxophone and chamber orchestra.  His 12 piece jazz/classical ensemble New Perspectives recorded specially commissioned jazz songs based on A. E. Housman’s poetry. ‘Five Housman settings’ and other jazz works (Spotlite SPJ CD 559) was selected by the Sunday Times as ‘the outstanding British jazz release of 1996.  Collaboration with poet Roger Garfitt resulted in an Arts Council award for  ‘Presences of Jazz’ and his album ‘The Baritone Band’ celebrating the baritone saxophone – reviewed as  ’a true celebration of the way the once ponderous baritone has been liberated’.  John commissioned Dick Walter who composed ‘Excursions for Baritone Saxophone and String Quartet’ which he premiered with the Bingham String Quartet and which received a 5* review in the Birmingham Post.

His collaboration with poet Roger Garfitt resulted in the CD ‘In All My Holy Mountain’ – a celebration in jazz and poetry of the life and work of Mary Webb – featuring John’s Octet, which was released in 2016.

Alongside performing, John has established a reputation as jazz educator – directing masterclasses, courses and workshops in London and across the UK.  For many years he has co-directed an innovative Youth Jazz Band, working with his own compositions and arrangements specially tailored for the participants.  Composing and arranging is a significant part of John’s activities and the wide and varied selection of pieces available on this website are testament to that.

Hear John’s music at