Art Themen was born in Manchester, a self-taught musician, having started playing clarinet as a schoolboy but since page three of the tutor book had been missing he had played for some time with the mouthpiece upside-down! He was inspired to play saxophone after attended a gig by the Dankworth Seven, at the local Palais, at the age of 16, with a female cousin. The immaculately-dressed and manicured saxophonist Danny Moss winked at Themen's cousin and the instant effect this had on her convinced Themen that his future lay in the saxophone.
In 1958 he began his medical studies at the University of Cambridge, specialising in orthopaedic medicine, eventually becoming a consultant. Themen started playing jazz with the Cambridge University Jazz Group with bandmates including Lionel Grigson, Dave Gelly and Dick Heckstall-Smith and then in London playing with blues musicians Jack Bruce and Alexis Korner. In 1974 Themen entered on what was to be one of his central musical relationships when he started playing with Stan Tracey, and he has played with all of Tracey's groups, touring with him all over the world as well as around the UK.
A stalwart of the British jazz scene for more than 50 years Art's saxophone style originally owed much to the influence of Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins, but later influences included such disparate saxophonists as Coleman Hawkins, Evan Parker and John Coltrane.
Completing the quartet are Keith Bill (kybd), Bill Coleman (bs), Mal Garrett (dms).
Jazz individualism at its joyous best. – The Guardian
One of a tiny handful of perfect jazz musicians. – The Observer