Awards for Artists
Image of Paul Dunmall
Photo credit: Emile Holba

Paul Dunmall

Paul Dunmall (born 1953) has played the saxophone as his primary instrument since the age of 14 and began his professional career touring the UK and Europe at 17. Throughout his career, he has dedicated himself to playing and performing a wide range of music, often working in collaboration with musicians from around the world.

A central pillar of his career has been his work developing and refining the practice of improvisation, which he has found to be a powerful tool in reaching common ground across cultures and experiences, and expressing how deeply rooted music is in human experience.

His compositions often begin as fixed structures for improvisation, which act as a framework for experimentation while he is performing a piece. Although he sees himself primarily as a jazz musician, his recent work has cut across genres.

Widely recognised as one of the most uncompromising and pioneering reed players on the international jazz scene, Dunmall has worked with different ensembles in the US and UK, including a stint with the pianist Alice Coltrane in the 1970s and over twenty years in the quartet Mujician, formed with Keith Tippet, Paul Rogers and Tony Levin.

With imagination and dedication, Dunmall has carved out a highly individual and powerful sound that makes him one of the most distinctive improvisers playing today.

I think generally all creative artists find it a struggle to make ends meet so an award like this can really help and personally I'm am extremely grateful for it. My guess for why this has happened is I have dedicated 50 years of my life to improvisation and creative music and perhaps the judges acknowledged that or perhaps it was something else I'm not really sure. This award has really opened up so many ideas of recordings and concerts that I can bring into fruition now and that is so exciting.

Examples of work

Ecstatic, Unbearable Love, 2016

Trumpet solo

12 minutes 24 seconds duration (extract 2m)

Composed and performed in June 2016

Maha Samadhi, 2016

Paul Dunmall Brass project

5 minutes duration (extract 2m)

Composed and performed in June 2016

Life in Four Parts (Part 1), 2014

Paul Dunmall Sextet, featuring Mike Fletcher (alto sax solo)

5 minutes duration (extract 2m)

Composed and performed in March 2014

It Dawned on Me, 2016

Paul Dunmall quintet, featuring Hamid Drake (drums)

4 minutes duration (extract 2m)

Composed and performed in October 2016

Commissioned by Celtic Connections, New Voices programme