Dead Biography

Issie Barratt is an internationally active composer, arranger, conductor, baritone player, record producer and educator who has performed at a majority of leading concert halls, jazz clubs and festivals in Britain, Germany, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, south east India, central America and the east coast of Canada. She has been awarded commissions by the Philharmonia Orchestra, Delta Sax Quartet, 4th Dimension String Quartet, Voice of the North Jazz Orchestra, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, Bohuslän Big Band (Sweden), North Cheshire Wind Orchestra, Norwegian Wind Ensemble, Treffpunkt, PRS-Foundation for New Music, JCFI-Association (Norway), Swiss Gemeinderat and Burgerkanzlei of Unterägeri (Canton Zug), Vortex Foundation Big Band, Conservatoires UK Big Band, the National Youth Jazz Collective, National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Royal Academy of Music’s Big Band, Royal Northern College of Music’s String ensemble, Trinity and Leeds Colleges’ Contemporary Jazz Ensembles, Youth Music and the South West Music School, with her music often featuring international acclaimed soloists such as Anders Bergcrantz, Gary Burton, Tim Garland, Suranjana Ghosh, Julian JosephMark Lockheart, Joe LockeCarl Rütti, Rowland Sutherland, Maggi OlinMike Outram, Steve Waterman and Annie Whitehead, frequently sharing the billing with fellow record label composers, Mike Gibbs and John Warren.

Issie directs and composes for her own large ensemble
 comprising 21 of Europe’s leading jazz artists, with whom she recorded her highly acclaimed debut album  Astral Pleasures  (produced by Mike Gibbs and released in August 2008 by Issie’s own record label, Fuzzy Moon Records)




Flutes: Rowland Sutherland
Saxes and clarinets: Pete Whyman, Mark Lockheart, James Allsopp, Mick Foster and Rob Townsend
Trumpets + Flugels: Sid Gauld, Steve Waterman, Anders Bergcrantz and Mark Armstrong
French Horn: Jim Rattigan
Trombone and Euphonium: Jeremy Price
Trombone: Mark Bassey
Bass Trombone: Pete North
Piano: Liam Noble
Guitar: Mike Outram
Electric and Acoustic Bass: Dudley Phillips
Drums: Simon Pearson
Vibes: Rob Millett
Harp: Fiona Clifton-Welker
Percussion: Chris Wells

Astral Pleasures Angel 2007 Anders Bergcrantz“A very special band playing very special music –  often taking us from familiar jazz styles and asking us to explore different musical language with much beautiful programmatic orchestration” Anders Bergcrantz

With each track comes a new story: From a day in the life of a super heroine, to an exquisite Chagallian summer’s eve, or a memorable afternoon’s walk through a momentous “Dublin Soundscape.”

 Asral Pleasures CD cover“If you read the notes and listen carefully, you really can picture scenes or follow a storyline.”  Dave Gelly, The Observer.



Meinrad Iten Quartet

Issie also performs with and writes for her contemporary quartet, The Meinrad Iten Project with Rowland Sutherland on flutes, Mick Foster  on clarinets, Mark Donlon on piano and Issie on Baritone Sax with guest appearances from Carl Rütti in June 2007 and Kuljit Bhamra in August 2010.

“Meinrad Iten (1867 – 1932 Unterägeri, Canton Zug) is my maternal great-grandfather – A prolific Swiss portrait and landscape artist who painted over 2000 paintings. In 2006 I received a box set of 4 DVDS containing photographs of Meinrad’s 2000 paintings and a commission from the Swiss Gemeinderat and Burgerkanzlei of Unterägeri to compose a suite, setting some of the pictures to music – for which I chose 11. Wilhermene – Meinrad’s pencil portrait of Wilhermene his wife The Man With The Gun He Tangos – It’s as if the man’s doing a strange backward tango, with a gun for his dance partner! Snow Scene – ice-cold harmonies with the cool breathy sounds of wind through the snow. Das Mädchen – Reminiscent of the playful woodland dances my mother taught me as a child. Unser Vater – a friendly portrait of an Archbishop who was known to Meinrad, with a pencil drawing of Adolf Menzel (Meinrad’s most favourite artist) on the wall behind. Meinrad – A self-portrait with the austere expression we all seem to have inherited (somethings are definitely genetic!). Der Onkel – Meinrad’s maternal uncle who raised him as a child. Der Soldat – staring into the distance, as if haunted by memories. Der Weg – A processional dance with Ägeri’s woodland spirits. St Jost – the home of a catholic hermit who encouraged Meinrad’s study of art and where Meinrad and Wilhermine were later married. Der Tal: Wir Bleiben Zusammen – While Meinrad was dying he told his wife and three children to always stay together. When I walk through this part of Ägerital I feel the family’s presence (past and present) and the echoes of his wish”

Two new projects currently under development with the intention of recording bespoke new works by the end of 2012

  • Skandinavian quintet with Issie Barratt (Baritone Sax), Lisbeth Diers (Percussion), Peter Jensen (Trombone), Maggi Olin (Piano and Rhodes) & Alberto Pinton (Clarinets and saxes)
Most of Issie’s scores and parts are available from Fuzzy Moon Music
A full list of Issie’s repertoire is on Issie’s Projects Page 
Issie Barratt, Suranjana Ghosh and Maggi Olin @ Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2010

Issie’s music has been featured in many festivals and conferences, including the Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s 2001 Rising Star series, the Leeds International Jazz Conferences 2002-2007, the International Association of Jazz Educators conference 2008 in Toronto, Copenhagen Jazz Festival 2010, Montreux Jazz Festival 2010 and the International Real-time Music Symposium 2011 in Oslo.

Recordings of her compositions include Show Time recorded by the Vortex Foundation Big Band on their debut CD Charybdis (2004), Somehow with the Passage of Time recorded by Delta Sax Quartet for their album and UK tour Dedicated to you but you weren’t listening (2007), Strange Fruit for the Bohuslän Big Band’s “Letter to Billie” album and Swedish Tour (2007), Astral Pleasures (A full album of original material for own 21 piece ensemble released in 2008) and Issie Barratt’s Meinrad Iten Suite: A quartet’s response to 11 paintings (2011).

Astral Pleasures Vortex band“One of the finest conductors and musical directors we have ever worked with” Anders Bergcrantz


” Her conducting gives music a whole new meaning: a whole new lease of life.” Göran Levin, Bohuslän Big Band


Fresh writing and commanding conducting skills.” The Observer


In 2011 Issie was nominated for the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Awards for ArtistsNever afraid to visit the full breadth of the psychological spectrum, Issie’s music invariably combines the warmth of an embrace with the full zest of a lemon!A great, great composer, who writes beautiful, beautiful music.” Julian Joseph: Pianist, Composer and broadcaster

A proper, grown-up jazz composer, like Maria Schneider, Gary McFarland or Mike Gibbs.” The Guardian

Well-regarded by many as being a gifted leader, composer and arranger of large ensembles.” Jazzwise

A remarkable composer, conductor, arranger and baritone sax player.” Mo-Jo Magazine

Without doubt one of the most outstanding writers in the jazz field and beyond.” Bebop Spoke Here

Such beautiful music.” Steve Swallow – Bass player and composer

The orchestration is simply breathtaking and the soloists fill out the picture beautifully.” The Observer

Her amazing breadth of skills – composing, conducting, rehearsing and teaching – are JUST what the music world needsMike Gibbs – Composer/arranger

Highly original writing, not lending itself to helpful comparisons.” Jazz Uk

Barratt has complete mastery of the orchestra, and hits all her targets.” The Guardian

“You might find the odd echo of Gibbs, the large-scale arrangements of Bob Moses or Jaco Pastorius, hints of the later Gil Evans and Mingus, but these compositions are like nothing else.” Jazz Uk

“Her formidable reputation as a jazz writer.” Mo-Jo Magazine.

“A hand-picked ensemble”  The Observer

… stuffed with strong soloists.” Jazz Uk.

The distinctiveness of Barratt as a composer… the empathy of this ensemble for her work.” All about jazz

It’s contemporary big band jazz that refuses to lie still and behave itself and that’s to be encouraged.” Jazzwise Magazine.

It richly rewards repeated exposure.” Vortex website

Its GREAT musicMark Lockheart: UK saxophonist and composer

Distinctive and memorable” Leicester Mercury

I LOVE her writing”  Joe Locke US Vibes player and composer

It’s powerful stuff.” The Independent

In recent years Issie’s emergence has been a most rewarding and innovative arrival – exciting, vitalizing and so noticeably effective. Her contributions have been on so many fronts” Mike Gibbs

“A highly skilled and very sophisticated composer, whose music is appreciated and respected among musicians, composers and listeners alike. She has certainly found her own personal voice – which is beautifully unique and highly developed”  Anders Bergcrantz

“An important UK Jazz composer, arranger and orchestrator who has that rare ability of writing large scale music that successfully bridges the gap between jazz and classical composition. Her writing is unique in many respects, not least for the sound world she creates by combining 20th century composition and orchestration with jazz and improvisation: Something that hardly anyone else is doing!” Mark Lockheart

“An original and talented composer whose work spans jazz and contemporary classical music effortlessly” John Warren

She has the most amazing ears of anyone I’ve ever met” Mark Mondesir

An extremely dedicated and prolific composer, whose originality comes from a fluent working knowledge of jazz together with contemporary classical styles.  Her points of reference are broad and varied, her music disciplined and pays a great deal of attention to technique, whilst being broadly programmatic and always “tells a story”. Issie’s voice is an important one within the context of composition, both in terms of jazz and contemporary approaches” Mick Foster

Issie has a very colourful and distinctive style. Her ability to combine both contemporary jazz and classical forms seems effortless and impressive, while her story telling through her music is vivid, inventive and highly expressive. Her “Meinrad Iten Suite” for example (for a quartet of flute, clarinet, baritone and piano) is like a set of miniature tone poems, often reminiscent of the music for wind by Weber, Richard Strauss and works by Dvorak while her  compositions for big band are on a par with many of the major British symphonic composers of the twenty-first century” Rowland Sutherland

Issie is an extremely passionate and dedicated educator (see Issie’s Education page), setting up the highly successful Jazz Faculty at Trinity College of Music (London) in 1999, which she headed until 2004, when she was offered the post of Jazz Fellow Jazz Fellow, allowing her more time for her compositional and performance activities. A much sought after composition teacher, Issie continues to teach composition to undergraduate and post graduate conservatoire students, with her students regularly wining awards and prizes, such as the Dankworth Award in 2009, 2010 and 2011 and BASCA’s new British Composer Award for jazz composition in 2010.

In 2006 Issie became the Founder and Executive Artistic Director of the National Youth Jazz Collective, working with 40 of the nations most inspirational jazz educators,  president Dave Holland and vice presidents Julian JosephHelen MayhewJohn Fordham and Michael Connarty MP.

Issie is also an adjudicator for Music for Youth’s National Festival of MusicYamaha’s Jazz ExperienceWatermill Jazz Young Composers Award and the Barbican/Lincoln Center Essentially Ellington; a Trustee of Jazz Heritage Wales;  a member of the Jazz and Concert Executive for the British Association of Songwriters, Composers and Authors and an advisor for  Jazz Services‘ Educational Advisory Panel.

Research Papers


“The history of women Jazz Musicians in the UK” with co-writers Dr Catherine Parsonage and Dr Kathy Dyson commissioned by the Fondazione Adkins Chiti: Donne in Musica.


“The talented and gifted young Jazz Musicians of the C21st: Identifying their needs, assessing their access to national and regional opportunities and recognising the deficits on a regional and national scale”. Youth Music Feb 2006


“Researching group assessment: Jazz in the conservatoire”: British Journal of Music in Education 2005 Cambridge University Press.

On going research project – “Gender in Jazz” Led by Issie Barratt and the National Youth Jazz Collective in collaboration with Youth Music and the Institute of Education (2010 onwards)