Mike Walker (jazz guitarist)

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Mike Walker
Born 10 July 1962
in Salford, Lancashire, England, UK
Genres Jazz
Instruments Guitar
Years active 1981–present
Associated acts George Russell
Peter Erskine
Steve Swallow
Dave Holland
John Taylor
Tal Farlow
Anthony Braxton
Bill Frisell
Website www.mike-walker.co.uk
Notable instruments
Gibson ES-335

Mike Walker (born 12 July 1962), is a jazz guitar player from Salford, England. Walker has played and recorded with George Russell, Peter Erskine, Steve Swallow, Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor and performed with Dave Holland, Tal Farlow, Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell and many others.

Mike Walker was initially influenced by his father's piano playing, his mother's singing, and his brother's guitar playing. Mike went on to discover a passion for the great jazz guitarists Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Pat Metheny, John Scofield, Larry Coryell, Tal Farlow and others. After many months of hard practice (woodshedding), Mike entered the Manchester music scene with River People, a fusion band comprising Mike playing a Gibson ES-335 guitar; Paul Allen on fretless bass; Tim Franks on drums, and Paul 'Bob Session' Kilvington on keyboards.

Mike's playing drew the attention of Alan Butler, a vibraphone player of considerable repute, who in the 1980s had a long running residency at the Malt Shovels, a well-known 'jazz' pub in Altrincham. Mike joined Alan's quartet in the mid-'80s, where he needed to rapidly grasp the new vocabulary of bebop oriented standards, and more contemporary jazz compositions.

During the five to six years that Mike was a member of Alan's quartet, he had begun to travel further afield playing gigs with Mike Gibbs and Kenny Wheeler. While Mike was with the Mike Gibbs band he was called upon to deputise for an absent John Scofield, during which he was heard by Kenny, who asked him to play with his big band. Mike also formed a fusion band with pianist and composer Roy Powell about this time called Some Other Country with bassist Gary Culshaw, and drummer Steve Gilbert. Mike and Gary had previously played together and had strong feeling for each other's playing. Some Other Country soon established itself as one of the North's favourite fusion bands.

Mike's musical collaborations continued to expand during the late '80s and early '90s. One such was with Nikki and Richard Iles who had formed a band called Emanon, which provided a vehicle for the compositional and arranging skills of Nikki and Richard, and fertile ground for Mike's brand of inspirational playing. Nikki and Mike would subsequently enlist Gary Culshaw and drummer Steve Brown, to form the Mike Walker Quartet. Also at this time Mike was playing in the Sylvan Richardson band, where he met his long-time collaborator and friend, the sax player Iain Dixon. Mike, Iain, Sylvan, and drummer Mikey Wilson would later form the band which came to be known as Brazil Nuts.

Whilst in Zurich with the Kenny Wheeler Big Band, Mike met Julian Arguelles and subsequently joined his quartet. He also recorded several CDs with him, one of which featured on bass, Steve Swallow, with whom Mike would record again on the Mike Gibbs album 'By the Way'. The players were Peter Erskine, John Taylor, Kenny, Mike and Django Bates.

In the early '90s Mike toured extensively in various bands led by Tommy Smith, including a quartet with Mick Hutton on bass, and the Canadian, Ian Froman, on drums. Occasionally Tommy added Niels Lan Doky or Jason Rebello on piano. One of Tommy's quartets featured the Scottish drummer Tom Bancroft, an association that would lead to Mike, Tom and Tom's sax playing brother Phil, working together at the Glasgow Jazz summer school. After many years Phil asked Mike to join his newly formed band which has been touring steadily since, together with Thomas Strønen, the Norwegian drummer, and bass player Steve Watts who replaced Reid Anderson of the Bad Plus.

During the last decade Mike has also visited the United States, and most of Europe, as George Russell's guitarist, recording with him on several occasions. Also, as a member the Creative jazz Orchestra, Mike has played with Vince Mendoza, Anthony Braxton, Bill Frisell, Tim Berne and Mark-Anthony Turnage.

Other musicians that Mike has played and recorded with over the last 20 years include Dave Holland, John Taylor, Tal Farlow, Bob Moses, Arild Andersen and Palle Mikkelborg, as well as some fine vocalists including Mica Paris, Norma Winstone and Jacqui Dankworth.

In May 2008, Mike released his debut album 'Madhouse and the Whole Thing There' to critical acclaim.[1][2] It features the members of Brazil Nuts, plus strings, French horn, piano, brass section and vocals etc. Also, in 2008, Mike was commissioned to write a some music for Manchester Jazz Festival.[3] He wrote a Suite called 'Ropes' which featured a 22 piece Orchestra and Jazz quintet, with Adam Nussbaum on drums. The Suite was performed at the RNCM in Manchester to a packed theatre[4] and received a standing ovation.

Walker has written for his Sextet which features Les Chisnall, Malc Edmonstone, Pat Illingworth, Iain Dixon and Steve Watts. The Sextet tours frequently throughout the UK. He is a member of 'the Printmakers' a band set up by Nikki Iles and Norma Winstone and also featuring Mark Lockheart, Steve Watts and James Maddren.

Walker also works with Steve Swallow, Gwilym Simcock and Adam Nussbaum in a band called 'The Impossible Gentlemen'.

He runs guitar summer schools in various places. He also runs the Music Place Summer School in Altrincham with Iain Dixon and is a tutor for the National Youth Jazz Collective and the online guitar lessons website Practisin2Play. He lives in Rossendale with his two children.



  • Nick Purnell, 1 ,2, 3 (with Peter Erskine, John Taylor) 1991
  • Tommy Smith / Sylvan Richardson, Pyrotechnics (with Jason Rebello) 1993
  • Roy Powell, Big Sky 1994
  • Julian Arguelles, Home Truths (with Steve Swallow) 1995
  • Mike Gibbs, By the Way (with Steve Swallow, Bob Moses, John Taylor, Kenny Wheeler, Charlie Mariano) 1996
  • George Russell, It's About Time 1996
  • London Trombone Quartet, Some of Our Best Friends 1996
  • Julian Arguelles, Skull View 1997
  • Steve Plews Ensemble, Anywhere 1997
  • Peter Fairclough, Permission 1997
  • Julian Arguelles, Escapade 1999
  • Steve Williams, Skyward Bound 1999
  • Richard Iles, From Here to There 1999
  • Steve Williams, Lo-Fi 2001
  • Roy Powell, North by Northwest 2001
  • Julian Arguelles, As Above, So Below 2004
  • Phil Bancroft, Headlong 2004
  • Steve Berry, In An Ideal World : live at Manchester Jazz Festival 2004
  • Steve Plews Ensemble, Extracts from Infinity 2004
  • George Russell, 80th Birthday Concert 2005
  • Steve Williams, 4 am 2006
  • John Helliwell, Creme Anglaise 2006
  • Anthony Braxton and the Creative Jazz Orchestra, Composition No. 175 / No. 126 2006
  • Tony Faulkner Jazz Orchestra, Thad Jones and the Ellington Effect 2006
  • Vibration Music Society, Primo 2007
  • Mike Walker, Madhouse and the Whole Thing There 2008
  • Paul Towndrow, "Newology" 2009
  • 'Real Book North West' 2010
  • The Impossible Gentlemen, The Impossible Gentlemen 2011 (With Gwilym Simcock, Steve Swallow and Adam Nussbaum)
  • The Impossible Gentlemen, Internationally Recognised Aliens 2013 (As above, plus Steve Rodby)
  • Mike Walker/Stuart McCallum Acoustic Duo, 'Beholden' 2014
  • The Printmakers, "Westerly" 2015
  • Mike Walker/Stuart McCallum Duo, 'The Space Between' 2016
  • The Impossible Gentlemen, 'Let's Get Deluxe' 2016


  1. ^ Farbey, Roger (18 August 2008). "CD/LP Review: Madhouse and the Whole Thing There". All About Jazz. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  2. ^ Fordham, John (22 May 2010). "Music picks of the week". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  3. ^ "A Brief History". Manchester Jazz Festival. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 
  4. ^ "Radio 3 Programmes: Mike Walker's Ropes at the Manchester Jazz Festival". BBC. 5 September 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010. 

External links[edit]

This biography was written by Mike Walker himself. This Wikipedia page was put together by Adrian Stevenson on behalf of Mike Walker.