Irish-born singer-songwriter Christine Tobin is based in the UK and spends her time between London and the beautiful Kent coast. Her style, although rooted in jazz, is steeped in the singer-songwriter tradition and draws on a broad range of influences from West Africa to Brazil (Oumou Sangare, Fela Kuti, Elis Regina etc) Her sound is rich, authentic and deeply expressive and was described by the Guardian as “Tobin’s 24 carat voice” while praising her both for the poetry of her compositions and her golden voice. Much of her repertoire is self-penned and Tobin has received many accolades for her skills as a writer and arranger. Romantic and radical, Christine is a musical free spirit who blurs the lines to create her own unique style that is streetwise and eclectic. In 2008 she was named Best Vocalist at the BBC Jazz Awards.
Her versatility and musical integrity has ensured that she is a much in demand guest with other bands. She has been invited to record and work with a long list that includes: Billy Childs, BBC Big Band, Mike Gibbs, Django Bates, Kenny Wheeler, Nigel Kennedy, Billy Hart, Julian Arguelles, Tim Garland, Gary Husband, Phil Robson, Liam Noble, Hans Koller and a performance of a Bessie Smith song in the Mike Figgis directed film, ‘Red, White & Blues’, produced by Martin Scorsese.
She has recorded seven albums for Babel, one of the UK 's most dynamic and creative indie labels. In a 4 star ****review of her 2008 album “Secret Life Of A Girl” the Guardian wrote “Dublin-born singer Christine Tobin is a jewel of the London jazz scene, streets ahead of the pack... She should be on a global stage, rubbing shoulders with fellow troubadours like Cave, Mitchell and Cohen. [Her] eloquent songs are framed by masterful arrangements...There's no self-indulgence: it's all about the songs”. Jazzwise hail her as "probably the most adventurous jazz singer of her generation in this country, with the ideas and willingness to push back the boundaries and explore new territory with each new album."
Christine works regularly on the UK jazz scene, appearing at Ronnie Scott's, The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho, Vortex, Jazz Cafe and many reputed festivals including the London Jazz Festival, Cheltenham and Brecon. She has worked extensively on the international scene appearing at some of the most renowned jazz festivals including Monterey U.S., Kongsberg, Shanghai, Varna, Kalisz, Berlin, Rainforest Music Festival Borneo, Sons di Hiver Paris, Molde, Baku, Syria, Haarlem, Frankfurt and Cork. Club appearances on the international scene include Joe’s Pub, the 55 Bar and Nublu in New York, a weeks residency at the Half Note, Athens and residencies at the Jamboree, Barcelona.
Previously in 2004 Christine was nominated for Best Vocalist at the BBC Jazz Awards, and also in that year her vivid interpretations of Bessie Smith were featured in film director Mike Figgis' Red White and Blues docu/film in the Martin Scorsese Presents The Blues series. These films were commissioned by the PSB channel in the U. S. and screened at cinemas worldwide. Christine has also presented special features for BBC Radio 3’s cutting edge programme Jazz On 3 and is a regular on Alyn Shipton’s Jazz Library also for BBC Radio 3. She has contributed to programmes about Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, Abbey Lincoln, Betty Carter, Joni Mitchell and Carmen McRae.
Her work with Mike Gibbs & the BBC Big Band
Christine was invited to perform with The BBC Big Band at the West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds. They commissioned internationally renowned arranger Mike Gibbs to write new arrangements for this special occasion. Mike, who has written for Joni Mitchell, Gary Burton, John Scofield and Carla Bley, to name but a few, conducted the music on the night and the concert was broadcast on BBC Radio 2's Big Band Special programme. The event was a huge success and in July 2007 the BBC Big Band invited Christine to sing with them at the Margate Jazz Festival and commissioned Mike Gibbs to write more new arrangements. It was also broadcast on BBC Radio 2.
Christine’s current project is “Tapestry Unravelled”, a duo with renowned U.K. pianist Liam Noble but she also works in varying formations with the musicians listed below who altogether comprise the line-up of her larger band.
The line-up of Christine's larger band
Phil Robson guitar As well as being one of the leading jazz guitarists in Europe, Phil is also celebrated as an innovative composer. He is the leader of Six Strings and the Beat, Phil Robson Trio and co leader of Partisans. He also has a trio with U.S. drum legend Billy Hart and bassist James Genus and is a longtime member of the BBC Big Band who he has written and arranged for.
Kate Shortt is a cellist, pianist, songwriter and comedian. Since training as a professional musician at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama she has performed at the Edinburgh Fringe as well as the Hackney Vortex Club, the King's Head Islington, Jermyn Street Theatre and the Covent Garden Festival Club. She recently won Performer of the Year award at the London Palladium. Her show has been described as consisting of "unique happenings at the cello and intimate confessions at the piano". She has also worked as part of Last Amendment (formerly Crass Agenda).
Liam Noble piano, is one of the UK’s most original and versatile young pianists. After graduating from Oxford he attended London’s Guildhall Jazz Course and has been playing with some of Britain’s finest musicians ever since. He writes and arranges for two of his own bands, one with U.K.musicians, Stan Sulzmann, Chris Biscoe, Mick Hutton and Paul Clarvis. He also plays regularly with Bobby Wellins and Harry Beckett. The other band he leads is an international one with US rhythm section Tom Rainey drums, John Hebert double bass and Phil Robson guitar
Dave Whitford double bass. From Cornwall, this superb double bass player has become one of London’s most in demand musicians for U.K. and visiting international bands. He has played and recorded with Steve Lacy, Kenny Wheeler, Hans Koller Big Band, Marc Copland (U.K. rhythm section) Bobby Wellins and John Taylor. He is also a regular guest with the NDR Bigband in Hamburg.
Thebe Lipere percussion Born in Soweto, the South African percussionist’s musical background is rooted in the Bantu drum culture and as an accompanist at rituals and ceremonies. He has adapted traditional African musical sensibility to contemporary jazz and cross cultural music. He leads his own band Moropa Drum Orchestra and has worked with Django Bates, Chris McGregor et al.
Simon Lea drums is a versatile and accomplished musician. He plays with Dave O’ Higgins, Tom Cawley, Cara Dillon, Guy Barker and rap group Just Jack.