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Themen performing in 2009
|Birth name||Arthur Edward George|
26 November 1939 |
|Associated acts||John Critchinson, Jack Bruce, Alexis Korner, Stan Tracey|
Themen was born in Manchester. In 1958 he began his medical studies at the University of Cambridge, going on in 1961 to complete his studies at St Mary's Hospital Medical School in London, qualifying in 1964. He specialised in orthopaedic medicine, eventually becoming a consultant.
Themen started playing jazz with the Cambridge University Jazz Group, and then in London playing with blues musicians Jack Bruce and Alexis Korner. In 1965 he played with the Peter Stuyvesant Jazz Orchestra in Zürich, going on to play with such English luminaries as Michael Garrick and Graham Collier's Music.
In 1974 he entered on what was to be one of his central musical relationships when he started playing with Stan Tracey. He has played with all of Tracey's groups, touring with him all over the world as well as around the UK. He has also played and toured with musicians such as Nat Adderley, Ian Carr, George Coleman, and Al Haig.
In 1995 he formed a quartet with pianist John Critchinson.
His style originally owed much to the influence of Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, but later influences included such disparate saxophonists as Coleman Hawkins, Evan Parker, and the “sheets of sound” John Coltrane.
Themen was interviewed by Julian Joseph on BBC Radio 3's Jazz Line-Up on 22 November 2014 as a celebration of the saxophonist's 75th birthday. He revealed that he had originally played clarinet, but since page three of the tutor book had been missing he had played for some time with the mouthpiece upside-down. He was inspired to play saxophone after attended a gig by the Dankworth Seven, at the local Palais, at the age of 16, with a female cousin. The immaculately-dressed and manicured saxophonist Danny Moss winked at Themen's cousin and the instant effect this had convinced Themen that his future lay in the saxophone.
- 1982: Bebop "Live" – Al Haig, Peter King, & Art Themen
- 1997: Classics – Howard Riley & Art Themen Quartet
Themen is now concentrating on his jazz career, following his recent retirement as consultant orthopaedic surgeon.