I’ve been earning money and having fun playing music for over twenty years, firstly as a bass guitarist, trumpet player and trombonist, and, for the last twelve years, primarily as a double bass player. I first bought a bass guitar on my eighteenth birthday, and started gigging with it shortly afterwards, in bars and cafes around Sheffield, where I lived at the time. On moving to Leeds to study in 1993, I formed my first proper band, Baby Harp Seal, playing Hardcore Punk, and, in 1994, did my first tour with them, in France, Belgium and Germany. We released our first 7 inch record shortly afterwards, and an LP in 1996. Two days after my last university exam , I left on tour with the band Headache, with whom I toured extensively in Europe for the next three years; we were on tour for an average of seven months out of each year. We released an album in 1997, and continued until 1999, when the band split up. I returned to Leeds, working on several different projects, including Snail Racing, a bass guitar trio with added drums, and touring with the band Almanac.
In 2001 I moved to London, and found work with the “nu-jazz” electronic act Hefner, with whom I toured several times, as well as recording a session for Gilles Peterson’s Worldwide, and playing on his stage at the North Sea Jazz festival. Lee Jones, who ran the band Hefner, also asked me to play on an album he was producing by an act called Abraham, and I subsequently played live with them too, as well as recording a session for Jonathon Ross’ show on BBC Radio 2. It was during this time that I bought my first double bass, and embarked on the lifetime’s work of learning how to play it. Returning to Leeds in 2003, I started to concentrate more on the jazz and improvised music side of my practice, and around this time started playing in the band 7 hertz, an improvising ensemble who used their ‘classical’ instrumentation – violins, bassoon, clarinets and horn – to explore chamber ensemble playing in an improvisational context. In 2008, having slimmed down to a quartet, we released an album on the label Birdwar called ‘Tender, Almost Vulgar’. During this period I was also working in a band called McWatt, a duo with flautist and accordionist Sarah McWatt, with whom I released an album in 2006.
Other projects around this time included the jazz band If Destroyed Still True, who won a Parliamentary Jazz Promoter’s Choice award, as well as Jazz Yorkshire’s band of the year award in 2010. They released the album ‘Seven Dials’ in 2009, and undertook a Jazz Services funded tour. The improvised Music and Dance project ‘Mathilde’ started around this time too, an attempt to reconcile improvisation in two different media, dance and music. You can watch video of Mathilde elsewhere on this site. The project continues to this day, with a recent performance in Leeds on a bill along with Jer Reid and Solene Weinachter from Glasgow. The project blog is here. More recently, I have been working as a sideman for Mary Hampton, the superb folk singer from Brighton and Laura Cole’s Metamorphic. Alongside this, I have been running my own trio Nut Club, the Bennett-Cole Orchestra, and a co-operative trio with pianist Laura Cole and drummer Peter Fairclough. I recently stopped playing trombone in Swiss Afro-punk dadaists rchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp.
I have been teaching at Sheffield Jazz Workshops for the last three years, for which I jointly won a Jazz Yorkshire award for Best Teacher. In the summer of 2012 I taught on the Sound and Music Composer’s Summer School at the Purcell School in Hertfordshire, and I am building a busy individual teaching practise.