Barry Guy

Barry Guy is an innovative bass player and composer whose creative diversity in the fields of jazz improvisation, chamber and orchestral performance and solo recitals is the outcome both of an unusually varied training and a zest for experimentation, underpinned by a dedication to the double bass and the ideal of musical communication.

He is founder and Artistic Director of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and the BGNO (Barry Guy New Orchestra) for which he has written several extended works. His concert works for chamber orchestras, chamber groups and soloists have been widely performed and his skilful and inventive writing has resulted in an exceptional series of compositions.

Barry Guy continues to give solo recitals throughout Europe as well as continuing associations with colleagues involved in improvised, baroque and contemporary music. His current regular ensembles are the Homburger/Guy duo, the Parker/Guy duo, piano trios with Marilyn Crispell and Paul Lytton, Jaques Demierre and Lucas Niggli and a recently formed trio with Agusti Fernandez and Ramon Lopez. He continues the longstanding trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lytton as well as projects with Mats Gustafsson.

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Barry Guy is an innovative double bass player and composer whose creative diversity in the fields of Jazz improvisation, solo recitals, chamber and orchestral performance is the outcome both of an unusually varied training and a zest for experimentation, underpinned by a dedication to the double bass and the ideal of musical communication.

Between the early Seventies and mid Nineties Barry Guy held principal bass position in various orchestras including The Orchestra of St.John’s Smith Square, City of London Sinfonia, Monteverdi Orchestra, The Academy of Ancient Music, Kent Opera and The London Classical Players. During these years he was also active in the European Improvised Scene.

He is founder and Artistic Director of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra for which he has written several extended works with recordings of the following: Ode (Incus 1972 and re-released on Intakt 1996), Stringer (FMP 1980), Polyhymnia on ZURICH CONCERTS (Intakt 1988), Harmos (Intakt 1989), Double Trouble (Intakt 1990), Theoria (Intakt 1992) with the Swiss pianist Irène Schweizer as soloist, Portraits (Intakt 1994) and Three Pieces for Orchestra (Intakt 1997) and Radio Rondo (Intakt 2009).

His concert works have been widely performed and his skilful and inventive writing has resulted in an exceptional series of compositions: Flagwalk (1983), The Eye of Silence (1988), Look Up! (1990), After the Rain (1992), Bird Gong Game (1992), Fallingwater (1996), Redshift (1998), Remembered Earth (1999), Nasca Lines (2001), Folio (2002) and  Anaklasis (2003), The Butterfly Series (2002/4), Convergence (2006), Horizontal Blue (2008), Tales of Enchantment (2010) , FFF (2010)  a.o.   

Look Up! was honoured with the Royal Philharmonic Society Award for Chamber-Scale Composition 1991–1992. Guy's compositions usually reflect a personal liaison with musicians and ensembles he writes for. As such, the commissions arrive from chamber orchestras, chamber groups and soloists interested in contemporary musical performance with a special commitment to communicate with the audience. Guy's works therefore have a sense of freshness without recourse to ideological excesses or scores that baffle players to the extent that performing becomes a trial.

The scores however are virtuosic and often present innovative sonorities and extended instrumental techniques and as a performer himself he is ideally placed to assess these possibilities.

Barry Guy continues to give solo recitals throughout Europe as well as continuing associations with colleagues involved in improvised, baroque and contemporary music. His current regular ensembles are the Homburger/Guy duo, the Parker/Guy duo, piano trios with Marilyn Crispell and Paul Lytton, Jaques Demierre and Lucas Niggli and a recently formed trio with Agusti Fernandez and Ramon Lopez. He continues the longstanding trio with Evan Parker and Paul Lytton as well as projects with Mats Gustafsson.

The Barry Guy New Orchestra (BGNO), formed in 2000, features in festivals as a project ensemble, and Barry Guy as a director/composer is  often invited to work with large ensembles using his own extensive library of composed works or to give lectures and workshops on his various graphic scores.  BGNO’s first album Inscape-Tableaux was a recipient of the 2001 Choc de l’Année award in France. And his second composition Oort-Entropy  for the BGNO also received the same award in the following year.

Late 2005 saw him working with the ICI Munich orchestra and the Glasgow Improviser’s orchestra.

In 2006 he was featured composer at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (UK).

After living in Ireland for nine years, he and his wife Maya Homburger moved to Switzerland in 2006 where they continue to run their CD Label MAYA Recordings and contribute to the New, Improvised and Early Music Scene as well as touring with a variety of musical projects all over Europe.