Creative young contemporary Alto saxophonist Nathaniel Facey was born on January 24th 1983 to Jamaican parents in south East London where he grew up and still resides today. Nathaniel grew up to the sounds of Gospel, Country, Ska, Soul and the pop music of the day and showed interest in music at a young age playing recorder and guitar in school.
He attended Sedgehill secondary school downham, where he first took up the Bb Clarinet aged 13. A year later due to shortage of saxophonists in the school band Nathaniel was able to move onto the instrument he had always wanted, Alto Saxophone and quickly showed an interest and aptitude for improvisation. He participated in the school concert and dance bands as lead alto as well as in his first small jazz combo alongside childhood friend Shaney Forbes at concerts in London and on tour in Canada.
During summer Holidays Nathaniel participated alongside Shaney in GLYJO (Greenwich and Lewisham Youth Jazz Orchestra) and Meantime jazz workshops. These workshops were lead by an illustrious list including British jazz greats-Chris Batchelor, Steve Buckley, Eddie Parker, Tommy Smith and fiery American drummer Gene Calderazzo. Nathaniel gained lots of performance experience at various local events in South East London as part of these ensembles.
In 2002 Nathaniel was accepted to the Royal Academy of Music where he studied on the Undergraduate BMus jazz program. In his time at the RAM Nathaniel studied with former Jazz Messenger Jean Toussaint, Julian Siegel-known for his stellar work with Partisans and Barack Schmool-founder of the Fire collective among others.
In 2002 having been regular participants in the Jazz Café Sunday jam sessions Nathaniel and Shaney were drafted in as the new members of Gary Crosby’s Tomorrows warriors. They continued to co-lead this group for the next three years hosting jam sessions at the Jazz Café and Spice of Life before moving on to form their own ensemble-Empirical.
Also in 2002 whilst studying at the Royal Academy of music Nathaniel gained his first recording experience on Dune records artist Denys Baptiste’s ‘Let Freedom Ring!’ – a musical tribute to Martin Luther Kings famous 1963 Lincoln memorial speech. Nathaniel toured extensively with this ensemble over the next year and a half playing at various venues both in the UK and abroad including the Queen Elisabeth Hall London, Cheltenham international jazz festival and North Sea Jazz festival-Holland.
Nathaniel has also recorded with:
-British Jazz/Blues national treasure Billy Jenkins-‘I Am a Man from Lewisham’ (2007) and ‘Songs of Praise-Live!’ (2006)
-British Jazz legend Courtney Pine-‘Tradition in Transition’ (2008) and ‘Jazz Warriors-Afropeans’ (2009)
-Pianist/Educator/Producer Alex Wilson –‘Aventuras’ (2004)
Nathaniel has toured or worked with a wide variety of musicians in different contexts both in the UK and abroad including:
-Jack Dejohnette- Jerwood/Take V All-stars
-Jason Moran- In my Mind
-Jerry Dammers- Spatial AKA Orchestra
-Billy Jenkins-Songs of Praise and Blues collective
-Gary Crosby’s NU Troop -Jazz Jamaica and the larger Jazz Jamaica All-stars.
-Ron Kenoli-one of the most celebrated of modern gospel artists.
-Courtney Pine- The Jazz Warriors
-Tim Garland-Underground Orchestra featuring Gwilym Simcock
-Dele Sosimi- Afro beat band.
-Alex Webb-Pianist/song writer
-Alexander Stewart-Jazz Vocalist
-Andrew McCormack-Jazz Pianist and former Tomorrow’s Warrior
Over the last two years Nathaniel has worked in some of the most rewarding of musical situations. Firstly alongside leading light and contemporary genius Jason Moran on his critically acclaimed work- In My Mind- a multimedia performance investigating Thelonius Monk’s famous 1959 Town Hall performance in New York City. Nathaniel played with a UK assembled horn team for the project alongside Moran’s regular rhythm section-Taurus Mateen (bass), Nasheet Waits (drums)-at Moers Jazz festival Germany in 2008, and then in Poland and France in 2009.
2009 also saw Nathaniel selected for the PRS foundation funded artist development program Take V- founded and run by Serious Productions. This in turn led to a musical meeting with legendary jazz drummer and percussionist Jack Dejohnette. Nathaniel worked alongside British Jazz leading lights Tom Cawley, Chris Sharkey, Gareth Lochrane, Neil Charles and Shabaka Hutchins as part of the Jerwood/Take V all-stars, a band comprised of past and present participants in the Take V scheme. After just one rehearsal the band performed compositions from Mr. Dejohnette’s distinguished discography as well as original compositions by the band members, including Facey’s -‘A Bitter End For A Tender Giant’- at the 2009 Cheltenham international jazz festival to rapturous applause and rave reviews. Watch out for more possible performance from this ensemble in 2010/11!
In 2010 Nathaniel has toured the UK extensively as a member of Specials founder Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra. The band was first conceived as a tribute to left field Egyptologist and jazz composer/keyboardist Sun RA in 2006, but has since developed with a repertoire that showcases an eclectic mix of Jazz, Ska, Funk and Hip-Hop. The Spatial AKA orchestra was recently featured on ‘Later with Jools Holland’ on the BBC at the end of a ten-date tour that included performances at the Brighton Dome, the Sage Gateshead and Liverpool Philharmonic Hall. Watch out for more from this band including a performance at Glastonbury Festival this summer!
Among his many interests Nathaniel is passionate about music education and the need to inspire others to channel their thoughts and feelings through the art of music. He has taught both privately and in institutions for some time, including a week long course alongside Napoleon Maddox (US MC, Lyricist jazz performer), Dave Kane (Bassist and Edition records recording artist) and Shaney Forbes, for the Barbican in 2009, centered on giving young people the skills to create their own original music. Also in 2009 Nathaniel gave workshops at many schools in the London area as part of the Barbican’s outreach programme. This year Nathaniel has also taught in an open master class at the South-End Co op, which has also received tutoring from a wide range of Britain’s most well known jazz musicians.