I remember when I was given my first pair of drumsticks. I used to go for lessons with Stephen Hamper in Garston. He lived in a house right on the main road. You’d go through the house and out into the back garden, where he taught from a shed that he’d soundproofed himself with what must have been car tires and rubber sheets. The smell was so strong, that on some level I think I mentally attach it to every paradiddle that I play. After a few lessons, he gave me a pair of black wooden sticks. They were his first pair that his teacher had given him, and for some reason he decided that the eight year old in front of him was worthy of this grand accolade. Prior to that I had only ever used a small pair of blue plastic sticks. These went perfectly with my Mickey Mouse drum kit. It was an all-in-one affair, with two differently sized drums poking out of the bass drum, and a cymbal jutting out above everything. I was delighted with my new sticks, and came home to try them out immediately. Thunk. The first stroke of these seemingly giant plinths went straight through the tomtom. Thunk. The next stroke went straight through the other tomtom. I often look back at this moment and see it as the first clear metaphor for my character, where I tend to make the same mistake twice in rapid succession, and learn by the third. Maybe it’s being the youngest of three.

I grew up within strong social, cultural and artistic communities. I was introduced to music at a very young age through my mother’s big band, and these early musical experiences gave me an innate understanding of the importance of community through art. I also played music extensively with my two brothers, and I now know that a lot of the music we played would have been described as free improvisation. This was some of the first music I ever heard or played, and I feel like my life has been a constant search for joyous freedom within structure. It’s my belief that music is a microcosm that contains within it everything we need to know about life: teaching us about beauty, communication and collaboration.

I gained a first class honours degree in music from the University of York (2006-9), where I delved into the music of Béla Bartók, György Ligeti and Igor Stravinsky. I also studied Composition, Electroacoustic music, Indian music and Contemporary Jazz. In 2005 I studied at Newpark Music Centre in Dublin, Ireland. In 2007 I studied music pedagogy at the Kodály Institute in Kecskemét, Hungary and in 2010 I learnt Carnatic (South Indian Classical) Music at Brhaddhvani in Chennai, India. In London, where I live, I study privately with Paul Clarvis and this year received a bursary from Help Musicians UK to study rhythmic language from traditional cultures with Barak Schmool and Harmony and Arranging with Pete Churchill, which has been a dream of mine for several years. Other teachers that have had a profound influence on me include John Taylor, Ambrose Field, Seán Carpio and Nicky Losseff.

I have always been proactive in organising concerts and events, and founded and ran the cross-arts platform Pop-Up Circus from 2011 to 2014 – staging exhibitions and live events throughout London, from living rooms to steel workshops, galleries and arts centres. Pop-Up Circus was described by the Guardian as “a heartening impression of the quixotic, optimistic and generously shared energies of London’s young artistic community”. The events that I curated were conceived as hubs to instigate social change through the process of collaboration, improvisation and experimentation. As a composer, my music has been performed at the BBC Proms and broadcast widely on national radio. I produced Laura Jurd’s critically acclaimed debut album Landing Ground [Chaos Collective] and helped produce her second album Human Spirit.

I spent several years performing and recording with the Elliot Galvin Trio and also the Ghanaian-inspired group Vula Viel. The Elliot Galvin Trio received the Young European Jazz Artist of the Year Award 2014 at Burghausen Jazz Festival. In Summer 2014 we also received the Help Musicians UK Development Award for ‘Dreamland’ – a multimedia installation at Turner Contemporary. Recent highlights for the trio include supporting Robert Glasper Trio at Ronnie Scott’s International Piano Trio Festival, Jools Holland at Greenwich Music Time, and playing The Arena at Love Supreme Festival. Our second album ‘Punch’ is being released through Edition Records this summer. Having recently played at the BBC Proms, the critically acclaimed Vula Viel headlined the Kings Place Festival, opened last year’s EFG London Jazz Festival at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and headline this year’s Songlines Encounters Festival.

I have toured the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada and Asia and played prestigious venues and festivals across the world, with highlights including Cheltenham Festival, Burghausen Jazz Festival, 12 Points!, Songlines Encounters Festival, The BBC Proms, Kleztival Sao Paulo, Happy Days International Beckett Festival and Love Supreme Jazz Festival. I have appeared on several critically acclaimed albums, with the recently released Engines Orchestra album ‘Lifecycles’ and Elliot Galvin Trio’s ‘Dreamland’ receiving four star reviews from All About Jazz, Jazzwise and The Guardian.


“Simon Roth’s drumming is always just perfect – subtle, imaginative, in the pocket and never too loud.” – London Jazz News.

“Fine drummer & young conjuror of surprises” – John Fordham, Guardian

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