Photograph by David Harvey
Buster Birch b.mus (hons), lgsmd, p.g.dip
Buster Birch is an award-winning drummer from London who has worked with many of the UK’s finest jazz musicians. He has an honours degree in music from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in jazz performance from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He also studied at the Drummers Collective in New York City and privately with Jim Chapin and Joe Morello (of The Dave Brubeck Quartet).
He has performed at virtually every major concert hall and jazz club in London as well as major international festivals, toured in over 30 countries and recorded over 30 CDs. He has been a member of three “world” music groups (Terza Rima, The Branco Stoysin Trio and Heads South) who he recorded and toured with extensively. He has played for The Royal Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and The Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and deputised on West End shows including the long-running "Blood Brothers". He created his own critically acclaimed show www.busterplaysbuster.com which features the Buster Birch Jazz Quartet playing live to the screening of different classic Buster Keaton feature-length movies, for which he arranged and scored over 4hrs of music synced to the films. Current bands he can be heard playing with include ARQ (The Alison Rayner Quintet) - winners of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for "UK Best Jazz Ensemble 2018", The Jo Fooks Quartet, Heads South, The London Jazz Trio and The Halstead Jazz Club Big Band.
Buster Birch is an award-winning jazz educator. He was a professorial member of the jazz faculty at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music for seven years where he taught improvisation, musicianship, jazz repertoire and jazz history classes. He has lectured at The Royal Academy of Music, The Guildhall School of Music & Drama and Middlesex University. He is a member of La Folia (www.lafoliamusic.org) a music charity that brings together instrumentalists, singers, actors, dancers, visual artists and writers to create new music, original projects and ground-breaking performances with vulnerable members of society. He is director of the UK’s largest and longest-running jazz summer school www.theoriginalukjazzsummerschool.com, which was nominated for the 2020 Parliamentary award for Jazz Education. It is a week-long residential course hosted at The Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama for singers and instrumentalists of all ages and experience levels. In 2020, when the summer school was unable to happen because of covid, he set up a 3-day online course featuring 66 masterclasses, workshops and events with 16 of the UK's finest jazz educators. The success of this event led him to create www.theonlineukjazzschool.com, a year-round online school offering masterclasses and short courses for all instruments and singers with some of the UK's finest jazz educators. He also runs weekly online jazz improvisation workshops and musicianship classes. He is the co-founder and course leader for BYMT Jazz School (www.bymt.co.uk) which runs regular jazz improvisation classes for junior and secondary school children at Bromley Music Hub. In 2017 BYMT Jazz School won the prestigious Will Michael Diploma Award for Jazz Education, a national award recognising “outstanding commitment to jazz education” and “acknowledging the work of those field practitioners who are actually delivering jazz education and in many cases helping to combat the widespread jazz phobia among classroom music teachers and instrumental tutors.”
Buster Birch began his writing career in 2018, when he set up Savvy Interactive Music Publishing to publish his own interactive music tuition books. By 2019 he had published 17 books worldwide on the Apple Books store. They are written for all instruments and feature play-along exercises with audio files embedded directly in the books, making the experience more like using an app than a book. In 2019 Buster received a publishing contract from Fundamental Changes, one of the UK's biggest music publishers, and started a new series of jazz improvisation books for woodwind and brass instruments. "Beginner Jazz Soloing" for trumpet, flute, violin, saxophone & clarinet are available worldwide in print from Amazon and for download on Kindle. These books have received hundreds of 5 star customer reviews and have been translated for international audiences. In 2021 he published a new series "Rhythm Changes Soloing" for trumpet, saxophone, clarinet, flute and all concert pitch instruments.
Buster Birch has an honours degree in music from the University of London and a post-graduate diploma in jazz performance from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has performed at virtually every major concert hall and jazz club in London as well as major international festivals and toured in over 30 countries and recorded over 30 CDs. He has worked with many of the UK's finest jazz musicians as well as The Royal Philharmonic Symphony Orchestra and deputised on West End shows. He is the drummer for ARQ (Alison Rayner Quintet), winners of the Parliamentary Award for "Best UK Jazz Ensemble 2018". He is director of The Original UK Jazz Summer School and The Online UK Jazz School and he is co-founder and lead tutor for the award-winning BYMT Jazz School for children. Since 2018 he has published 24 books on jazz improvisation. He has his own critically acclaimed show "Buster plays Buster" featuring his own jazz quartet playing live to screenings of classic Buster Keaton movies for which he has arranged and scored all of the music.