Rob Buckland has crafted a career around his primary work as a saxophonist that defies categorisation. Moving effortlessly between genres, performing as classical soloist, chamber musician, contemporary specialist and improviser, with an international reputation as an insightful and forward-thinking educator. Renowned for a highly distinctive, original sound, with real personality and projection, combined with an open-minded approach to repertoire and performance styles, his work takes him around the globe in an astonishing variety of musical settings.
His most enduring and significant musical partnership is with the Apollo Saxophone Quartet, which he co-founded in 1985, which has commissioned and premiered well over 100 new works for the medium and recorded eight CDs, all themselves world premiere recordings. The quartet has toured extensively across the UK, Europe, Japan and South Africa. He has released three CDs with his duo partner pianist Peter Lawson, one of which features his Equivox Trio (adding in percussionist Simone Rebello), and numerous albums with artists such as the Michael Nyman Band, London Saxophonic and orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, Halle and RLPO.
He has performed as concerto soloist with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North, Chinese National Symphony, Macau Chamber Orchestra, Strasbourg Radio Philharmonic, Atlantica String Ensemble, Banda Sinfonica Porto, Portuguese Air Force Band, Slovenian Army Band, Band of Her Majesty’s Royal Marines and the Central Band of the RAF.
Over the years he has worked with a wide variety of jazz, pop and commercial artists, including notable performances with Michael Buble and Elvis Costello, Jason Rebello, the Storyhouse Big Band, Andy Scott’s ‘Group S’ (formerly SaxAssault), BBC Big Band and many others.
Constantly evolving, his most recent projects include a new collaboration with world-renowned Jazz pianist and composer Gwilym Simcock. Featuring the two musicians in both classical and jazz contexts, joined by string quartet, this project merges genres seamlessly to create a new take on some beautiful classical inspired repertoire, with improvisation sympathetically woven into the fabric of the music. This project will record a CD in 2021, and has expanded to a programme with jazz quartet and orchestra. He is also a founder member of the Neoteric Ensemble, a six-piece brass and saxophones chamber group that is currently commissioning and recording a new programme of original music.
Continuing the cross-genre theme, the Apollo Quartet, in collaboration with the Artvark Quartet (Netherlands), has also recently recorded and released a critically acclaimed new disc of music “Two Quartets Collide & Merge”, composed by the members of both groups, again merging contemporary classical and contemporary jazz idioms.
Rob also directs and arranges for John Helliwell’s Super Big Tramp Band project, presenting the music of Supertramp for full 18 piece big band with John Helliwell as featured soloist. This project will record to CD and tour extensively in 2021 and beyond.
Alongside his performance work, Rob has written a major saxophone book ‘Playing The Saxophone’ detailing advanced technique and practice methods based on 23 years of teaching at the RNCM. As a composer and arranger, his works feature on the concert stage, on numerous CDs, for solo, duo, ensemble, in Apollo Quartet projects accompanying black & white film and poet, and a popular series of works on all of the major exam syllabi.
Rob is also building a strong reputation as a creative producer, working with a wide range of artists from solo, duo, chamber ensemble, big band and strings to multi-tracked cross-genre studio albums, noted for a warm and honest recorded sound that stays as true to the individual artist as possible.
Rob is Professor of Saxophone at the Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester, where, since 1997, he has lead one of the UK’s most active and innovative conservatoire saxophone departments alongside colleagues Andy Scott and Carl Raven, creating a programme that attracts students from around the world. He is Deputy Head of Chamber Music at the RNCM, overseeing the creative development of the college’s wind chamber ensembles, conducts and arranges for his unique RNCM ArkEnsemble, a cutting-edge, highly creative wind ensemble, is co-Artistic Director (with Andy Scott) of the annual RNCM Saxophone Day, director of the Harrogate Saxophone Summer School, is a solo artist and endorsee for Henri Selmer Paris Saxophones and Vandoren Reeds, and is published by www.astute-music.com.
“the panache of Rob Buckland’s Alto saxophone left everyone else in the shade.”
“the alto saxophonist brings an aptly Russian melancholy and nostalgia to his solo”
“….wonderful solo saxophone”.
Rob Buckland’s Alto Saxophone is the most affecting I’ve heard.