Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel in 1963 and trained at the Rubin Academy of Music, Jerusalem (Composition and Jazz). A multi-instrumentalist he plays saxophones, clarinet and ethnic woodwind instruments . His album Exile was the BBC jazz album of the year in 2003. He was described by John Lewis at the Guardian as the “hardest-gigging man in British jazz.” Atzmon tours extensively around the world playing in festivals, concert halls and clubs. His albums, of which he has recorded twelve to date, often explore political themes and the music of the Middle East.
Until 1994 he was a producer-arranger for various Israeli Dance & Rock Projects, performing in Europe and the USA playing ethnic music as well as R&R and Jazz.
When he moved to the UK in 1994, Atzmon explored his interest in playing the music of the Middle East, North Africa and Eastern Europe that had been in the back of his mind for years. In 2000 he founded the Orient House Ensemble in London and started re-defining his own roots in the light of his emerging political awareness. Since then the Orient House Ensemble has toured all over the world. The Ensemble includes Eddie Hick on Drums, Yaron Stavi on Bass and Frank Harrison on piano & electronics.
Atzmon's essays are widely published. His novels 'Guide to the perplexed' and 'My One And Only Love' have been translated into 24 languages. Gilad's latest book, The Wandering Who?, is a study of Jewish Identity politics. It was published in English in October 2011 and has since been translated into ten languages.
Over the years Gilad Atzmon's music has moved increasingly toward a cultural hybrid. As a bandleader and reed player he has been amazing his listeners with his powerful personal style that combines great bebop artistry and Middle-Eastern roots in a sophisticated, sometimes ironical manner. Influenced by Coltrane’s powerful approach on the sax, Gilad's live performances are simply breathtaking and overwhelming.
Gilad's work is highly praised by the musical press. Here are just a few quotes:
"Atzmon's fluid lyricism is in full flow on songbook classics and worldly originals. But as sweet romance morphs to modernist uncertainty, the bittersweet balance and rich emotional palette equally impress." Financial Times ***** March 2009
“A formidable improvisational array...a jazz giant steadily drawing himself up to his full height...” The Guardian.
“The best musician living in the world today” Robert Wyatt
"Gilad Atzmon, the expat Israeli saxophonist/clarinetist, combines thrilling jazz musicianship with a maverick political intelligence" The Guardian ****
"Like the best of albums" Jazzwise **** March 2009
"Atzmon always manages to tell a story" Uncut **** March 2009
"One of the finest alto players around, Gilad pays his respects to Bird ...It's striking how similar Gilad's sweet, open-throated sound is to Parker's, but as you'd expect from the fiery philosopher-turned-Blockhead, this is no tribute album." BBC Music Magazine March 2009
As a member of the Blockheads, Gilad has also recorded and performed with Ian Dury, Robbie Williams, Sinead O'Connor and Paul McCartney. Gilad has also recorded with Robert Wyatt, the Water Boys and many others. In 2007 Gilad extended his role as a Producer,
working with outstanding singer-songwriter Sarah Gillespie to produce her debut album released in September 2009.
In 2008-9, Gilad also produced the Brazilian percussion star Adriano Adewale, the multi ethnic Irish band Yurodny and is currently producing the UK legendary bass player Norman Watt-Roy’s debut album. In 2010 Gilad produced The Ghosts Within with Robert Wyatt and Ros Stephen. He also produced Sarah Gillespie's In The Current Climate.