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Born and raised in rural Hertfordshire, the son of liberal and creative parents, Aaron Liddard’s initial foray in to the world of music came via one of the most eccentric of instruments, the tuba. From this unusual starting point and via brief dalliances with both the piano and guitar, he settled on the saxophone, discovering a natural affinity with his chosen instrument that would influence his existence to the present day, taking him on a truly varied and fascinating voyage of discovery. Receiving school music lessons from the classical composer Nicholas Sackman and renowned choral director Dr Charlie Beale provided an initial enthusiasm, but it was Liddard’s discovery of the Buntingford Jazz Club that truly ignited a spark, absorbing the intricate and dexterous guitar playing of Jim Mullen and the mellifluous tones of Alan Skidmore on sax. It was at this club that Liddard improvised for the very first time, in front of his newly discovered heroes.

Further intrigue for the alternative, more technical aspects of music creation were developed at Harlow College on a sound engineering course, which eventually led to a job at Cambridge Modern Jazz Club, where Aaron discovered the brilliance of artists such as Andy Shepard and Django Bates.

But it was a decade spent in Manchester from the early nineties to noughties that the saw evolution of Aaron Liddard from an aspiring player to a master musician. Swiftly developing a reputation in the city’s burgeoning music scene as prolific jammer with an insatiable appetite for live performance, Aaron became so in demand that at one point he was performing regularly with 15 local bands! Highlights of these heady days included a long stint as tenor sax and percussion for batucada ensemble Inner Sense, whom he became acquainted with in his role as sound engineer at Manchester’s iconic live music venue Band On The Wall, not to mention the formation of Latin hip hop group Nylon Jungle, who headlined Manchester Jazz festival in 1999.

After some time spent teaching in Moss Side (where his student’s included members of The Happy Mondays), Aaron moved to London, where one fateful evening he impressed the musical director of a then up and coming singer called Amy Winehouse with his baritone sax. From there on in Aaron formed a musical bond that led him to become a touring member of the inimitable vocalists’ band, lending his skills to a plethora of live performances and recordings including ‘Later…’ with Jools Holland, a show-stopping turn at The Brit Awards and a prominent appearance in the video for Amy’s worldwide hit ‘Rehab’.

After the tragic event of Amy’s passing, Aaron’s subsequent work included a triumphant spell touring with another of the UK’s finest singers, Beverley Knight. It was in this position that he was able to perform with James Brown and Parliament-Funkadelic saxophonist Maceo Parker, as well as the iconic artist Prince, during his now legendary 21 days at the 02 Arena. Aaron describes the moment that Prince hushed the rhythm section to better hear the riff he had come up with during a jam session as one of the highlights of his professional life!

Aaron Liddard’s rock n roll credentials are equally as strong: being key member of The Stargazers since 2007 led to Bob Geldof asking him to join The Boomtown Rats on their recent comeback tour.

Despite flourishing in such diverse musical experience, Aaron’s love for jazz and blues has never strayed far from his heart. In 2014 he joined Sheila Tracey’s big band alongside Duncan Lamont Snr (known for his work with Frank Sinatra and Ray Charles) and Ronnie Hughes (a long time collaborator with Ted Heath). Since 2018, Aaron has also been part of The Sugaray Rayford Band, who he tours with to the present day, gracing stages in Canada, India, Western and Eastern Europe. The band won the Blues Blast Magazine prize for Best Blues Band 2019 and Sugaray’s most recent recorded work received a nomination for ‘Best Contemporary Blues Album’ at the 2020 Grammy Awards.

Aaron Liddard is an adept musical director, curating and producing the large-scale big band album ‘Dark Humour’ by The London Jazz Collective and directing a series of UK concerts for Michael Henderson, bass player for Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder and Miles Davis. Their sold out show at London’s Royal Festival Hall was met with widespread critical acclaim, including a rave review in The Financial Times.

As a frontman, Aaron Liddard formed ‘Aaron And The Argonauts’ with Paul Michael from the band Cubania, having worked together with Cuban ballet star Carlos Acosta on a Latin music and dance residency at The Royal Opera House. Since their inception, Aaron And The Argonauts have performed in many parts of the world, including recent tours in Brazil and India.

Aaron released his debut album Nylon Man on in 2022 to critical acclaim. Released on vinyl, CD, downloads and supported by a national tour, the album involved 42 musicians and took 12 years to make. Nylon Man has been played on JazzFM, BBC radio, and stations around the world and Liddard was cover artist for Blues and Soul Magazine in its Oct/Nov issue.

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Supremely talented saxophonist
Essential Listening
9/10
Aaron Liddard has released an astounding album
The UK based multi-instrumentalist is a treasure yet to be found on these shores

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Aaron Liddard
Nylon Man
New Album by Aaron Liddard, featuring Carleen Anderson, Omar Puente and Miss Baby Sol ‘Nylon Man’ is the new album by saxophonist-keyboardist-arranger-composer Aaron Liddard, released on 7th October 2022 on the British independent label Havis House. Featuring a plethora of guest contributions from the likes of Carleen Anderson, Omar Puente and Miss Baby Sol, Nylon Man is 12 tracks of jazz by a UK-based artist influenced by the music of Europe, North and South America, the Caribbean and Africa. In his prolific and wide-ranging career, Aaron has contributed to many different musical experiences, including working with Amy Winehouse, Prince and Maceo Parker, and in genres ranging from hip-hop and rock to Latin music and gospel. But jazz has always been the closest music to his heart. “Jazz is the only living musical art-form that is not defined by its exclusions,” says Aaron. “At its truest, jazz is an evolving aural tradition. As a musician with myriad musical influences, jazz is the only home that allows me to fully explore.” He describes Nylon Man as “roughly 12 years in the making” and a summation of his career to this point. 42 musicians in all appear on this project. Five (singer Giulia Marelli, guitarist Harry Greene, bassist Paul Michael, drummer Jimmy Norden, and percussionist Eric Young) appear on many of this release’s selections. Of Giulia Marelli, who is prominent on four numbers, Aaron says, “She is able to tackle every detail and edge with precision and deliver performances with charisma. Giulia comes to my music with the best attitude, capability and emotional energy.” Nylon Man, which is named after the three cities that most influenced Aaron (New York, London and Manchester), begins with a tribute to the late Chick Corea, ‘Corean Castaway’. It was composed years ago with Joan Viskant writing the lyrics in more recent times. Giulia Marelli has the vocal and handles the wide intervals flawlessly, the strings make a gradual but memorable entrance, and the complex drum solo is played with expertise by Marc Parnell. One could imagine Chick Corea and Flora Purim enjoying performing this piece. ‘Frisco’ was written during Aaron’s first visit to the U.S. One night, he was walking home to his hotel in San Francisco after attending a stirring rap opera and the song suddenly appeared in his mind; he wrote the entire piece that night. Carleen Anderson, who Aaron met while appearing with Norman Connors and Michael Henderson in a London show, is featured. Her singing in a lovely operatic voice recalls Kay Davis with Duke Ellington in the 1940s, although the groove is quite contemporary. ‘Together Forever’ has a vocal duet by Sannaliisa Ilkka and Sam Grimley, the pandeiro of Norman Jankowski, and a mixture of an acoustic bossa nova with heavier drums and bass. A great deal takes place but the overall results are warm and soothing. ‘Chicken Soup’ was recorded in Brazil, has a fine bass solo from Felipe Cortes (who at one point emulates a clucking chicken), and is a particularly rewarding showcase for Aaron Liddard’s tenor and piano. ‘Thru Your Eyes’, which is about the long demise of a relationship, features a dreamy and eerie vocal from Giulia Marelli over an electronic ensemble playing in 19/8 time. The joyful ‘Apples & Pears’, which was recorded in one take, includes prominent spots for guitarist Greene and Aaron’s tenor over a bluesy and funky groove. A real change of pace, ‘My Kinda’ is described by Aaron as being about “an affair that starts out with butterflies and ends in emotional torture. It travels from rock to hip hop to electro to highlife to acid jazz and back to rock; it always surprises audiences.” The rollicking ‘Catfood’ is also a bit unique, for it has Aaron joined by two different rhythm sections (British funk and Cuban) for a brief bit of extra excitement. The medium-tempo ballad ‘Snowdrops’ begins with hints of the Yellowjackets and includes a particularly warm vocal by Giulia Marelli and inventive playing by the leader. Aaron switches to flute for some lively Latin jazz on ‘Manana’ which has infectious percussion work from Eric Young and is highlighted by colourful solos in the tradition by violinist Omar Puente and Harry Greene on acoustic guitar. ‘Beautiful’ is a calming ballad sung beautifully by Miss Baby Sol with Aaron on piano. Nylon Man, a set filled with more than its share of variety, concludes with the political anti-corruption song ‘One Million Children’. The episodic and unpredictable performance is about the sins of the world being viewed through the eyes of the youth, and of a temple in Thailand in which one million school children gather once a year to meditate for world peace. Aaron Liddard, who was born in Hertfordshire, started out on the euphonium, spent time playing piano and guitar, and then settled on the tenor-sax as his main instrument. While classically trained, as a teenager he found that the freedom of jazz was more inspiring. He spent a decade living and working in Manchester, developing into a very busy musician who at one point was playing regularly with 15 different bands including his Latin hip-hop group Nylon Jungle. Aaron spent a long period as a regular member of Amy Winehouse’s band, toured with singer Beverley Knight, performed with Maceo Parker and Prince, and played rock with the Stargazers and the Boomtown Rats. He also contributed to over 30 albums, performed jazz with Sheila Tracey’s big band, blues with the Sugaray Rayford Band, and toured in three continents with his group Aaron and the Argonauts. Aaron Liddard sums up his new release which defines his career up to this point. “Nylon Man is how I hear music and its possibilities. I hope that listeners will be happily surprised by what they experience.”
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