Live jazz, artists, venues and education in Leicester
Eric Morecambe brought Fiona Dickson into Roy Castle's dressing room, said "Roy this is Fiona and she's in love with you" and left. Roy and Fiona later married and had four children. The youngest of those children is Ben Castle. Ben co-presented a Disney Time TV special with his dad when he was one. After that he retreated from the limelight for a while to concentrate on growing up. That never happened. He started learning the clarinet at the age of seven and the saxophone two years later by which time he was back performing music and comedy routines with his dad. Bored of practicing scales, Ben pleaded with his parents to let him give up music. They strongly encouraged him to persevere. He did. When he could vaguely play The Pink Panther theme tune he started to see the point of it all and became obsessed. When he was 13 Ben achieved distinction on his Grade 8 clarinet exam. That same year his dad took him to see The Buddy Rich Big Band at Ronnie Scott's Club in London. It did nothing to cure his obsession. In fact it made it a whole lot worse. At the age of 15 he started getting work playing background music at parties and joined the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. He left school aged 17 and after a year of gigging and practicing for eight hours a day attended the one-year post-graduate jazz course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama After leaving Guildhall, Ben recorded 'Ben and Roy Castle's Big Celebration' with his dad. It was an album of their own arrangements of hymn tunes and some original compositions. A follow up, 'Breathe Easy' followed up the following year. Having only received royalty statements from the record company saying "we don't send cheques for less than ten pounds", Ben thought that if he's not going to earn money from making records, he might as well make the records he really wanted to make. First up was the triple selling album 'Four From the Madding Crowd', released in 2000, then 'Blah Street' in 2004. 'The Heckler' from 'Blah Street' won the International Songwriting Competition jazz category, judged by Pat Metheny and Arif Mardin. Weather Report legend Joe Zawinul also asked Ben if he could record his own version of the tune but selfishly died before he had had the opportunity. As well performing his own music Ben has also played and recorded with a huge array of artists including Duke Special, Radiohead, Quincy Jones, Amy Winehouse, Humphrey Lyttelton, Paloma Faith, Matthew Herbert, Guillemots, Sting, Jools Holland, Dizzee Rascal, Stan Tracey, Will Young, Carl Barat, Boy George, Tony Bennett, Carleen Anderson, Patrick Wolf, George Michael, Divine Comedy, Grace Jones, Moloko, Jamie Cullum, Kula Shaker, Andy Williams, Marillion, Cleo Laine, Jarvis Cocker and Marlena Shaw. For full list see the 'Shameless Namedropping' book. He has also written music with/for Beth Rowley (All three EPs and 'Little Dreamer' which reached number 6 in the UK album charts and 'You've Got Me Wrapped Around Your Little Finger' which was on the shortlist for an Oscar nomination, written for the film 'An Education'), Duke Special, Carleen Anderson, Foreign Slippers, Bahia, Clare Teal and has composed various music for theatre and television. Ben was always keen to keep his integrity intact. However, in 2001 Simon Fuller managed to persuade Ben to be the front man and musical director for The Big Blue, a big band that amongst other things accompanied the Pop Idol contestants for both series of the TV show, their number 1 album and tour. They also featured in the wedding scene in 'Love Actually'. Richard Curtis told Ben he was without doubt the best actor he had ever worked with. There is a chance he was being sarcastic, but he did say it. In 2006 he was featured on the front of the 72p British postage stamp so you may have already licked the back of his head. He recently assembled the brass section for the Queen's Jubilee Concert who played for Grace Jones, Annie Lennox, Madness, Robbie Williams and Sir Cliff Richard He is currently working on a few new projects and has nearly finished an album with his new band 'The Tombola Theory
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