Heads South
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Heads South

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF

London, England, United Kingdom | SELF
Band Jazz Latin


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"An effervescent collection of Latin favorites and original compositions in the Cuban tradition with plenty of jazz content from excellent players.." Jazz UK


"Chris Parker CD Reviews at the Vortex"

The salsa quintet Heads South was formed for the best of reasons: its members – pianist/composer/leader John Harriman, trumpeter Steve Waterman, Cuban percussionist Chino Martell Morgan, drummer Buster Birch and New Zealand-born bassist Tim Robertson – simply enjoyed playing together on an ad hoc basis, so decided to make the arrangement more formal.

'Salsa', in this case, covers everything from the Vincent Youmans classic 'Carioca' (written for Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers's first screen dance in Flying Down to Rio), through a number of Cuban/Iberian-flavoured Harriman originals, to a latinised 'Mack the Knife' and a visit to Astor Piazzolla's languorous 'Milonga del Angel', but whatever precise musical category they're operating in, the quintet infuse everything they play with appropriate pep and vigour, Waterman in particular firing off a series of blazingly bright, pin-sharp solos over Morgan and Birch's taut but supple rhythm-section work.

Harriman himself performs on electric and acoustic piano with equal facility, and his compositions are bright, breezy and accessible; Record Flight is an enjoyable calling card for a refreshingly unpretentious but musicianly band.

- Vortex Jazz Club

""Seriously on-target musicianship""

There can be joy in solitude. While the London-based Heads South basks in the partying vibes of Latin jazz, the strongest moments on its debut, Record Flight, are ironically when the group eases off the gas pedal. The haunted "Juntito" is a powerhouse ballad, a surprisingly introspective track from a group that often mirrors a steamy summer evening in the tropics. Composer John Harriman's elegiac piano has the lonesome beauty of a moon-kissed lake, while Steve Waterman's velvety trumpet caresses each of its notes like a cool wind. It is downright gorgeous, the stuff that romantic dreams are made of. Similarly, the band's sublime rendition of the tango "Milonga del Angel" is profoundly moving, Harriman's measured piano work stripping away layers of slow-burning passion.
Heads South's quiet breaks appear after the group has worked up a sweat; the sextet doesn't overshadow the rest of the album, nor does it crash its mostly quick pace. Waterman's spirited trumpet, Harriman's jumpy piano, and Buster Birch's fervent drumming make Heads South achieve liftoff on the opening cut, a sprightly cover of Vincent Youmans' 1933 classic, "Carioca." The band's salsa-flavored remake of "Mack the Knife" injects a new identity and vigor into the somewhat tired staple, especially Waterman's buoyant trumpet.

The focus of Heads South may be to entertain but that doesn't belittle the group's seriously on-target musicianship. It takes top-drawer talent to pull off the percolating rhythms in "Carion," as well as crafting other original Latin jazz songs that distinguish themselves in an often cluttered, derivative field. As the group's beat frenzy catches a hot streak on "El Cardenal," it becomes obvious that that Head South's compass is upside down, rocketing to a different direction higher north, where the sun and the moon dance night and day.

- All About Jazz

"Review of New Album Record Flight"

Pianist and composer John Harriman has joined Steve Waterman (trumpet), Chino Martell Morgan (percussion), Buster Birch (drums) and Tim Robertson (bass) for this exciting new project, which specialises in sophisticated jazz-salsa. Cool, cultured and exhilarating, Carioca sets the tone with panache, but while this CD includes refined covers (Mack The Knife, Milonga Del Angel), John's originals fully encompass the Latin spirit but allow traces of inspired improvisation. Credit also to Derek Nash for his outstanding mixing and mastering. The start of something very special.
September 2010 - The Musician

"Review of New Album"

This band's strong points are the compositions and keyboard playing of leader John Harriman and the trumpet of Steve Waterman, which combine to create a spare, crisp, invigorating set of Latin jazz. Waterman, who ranks among today's top British players, is famous for sounding at home in virtually any genre, but his mastery of this idiom is quite outstanding – spiced with just the right touch of bravura. This approach suits Harriman's deceptively simple melodies to perfection. Among the scattering of other material are clever and unexpected adaptations of "Mack the Knife" and Astor Piazzolla's "Milonga del Angel".
September 26 2010 - The Observer


Album Record Flight released October 2010 streaming & airplay.



Heads South’s reputation has grown fast since its relatively recent formation. The five piece Jazz Salsa Band is led by pianist composer John Harriman and features top UK jazz trumpeter Steve Waterman, Cuban percussionist Chino Martell Morgan, drummer Buster Birch and Uruguayan Andres Lafone on bass. The Band’s music combines terrific rhythm and tuneful melody in a superb repertoire of original compositions and arrangements of classic tunes. This is premium quality Latin Jazz that appeals both to the keen concert hall listener and the dancefloor lover.

Heads South’s debut album Record Flight has received wide acclaim: “Cool, cultured and exhilarating.. The start of something very special " The Musician. "Crisp. invigorating Latin Jazz..Waterman's mastery of this idiom suits Harriman's deceptively simple melodies to perfection" The Observer/Guardian "An effervescent collection of Latin favorites and original compositions in the Cuban tradition with plenty of jazz content from excellent players.." Jazz UK “seriously on-target musicianship. It takes top-drawer talent to pull off the percolating rhythms..as well as original Latin jazz songs that distinguish themselves...”All About Jazz The album has been getting extensive airplay worldwide including on the top US radio station Jazzradio.com, JazzFM, BBC radio and Swiss Jazz Radio.

Heads South is a line-up of talented jazz musicians drawn to the sounds of diverse cultures and ‘Las Tierras Latinas’. They all have trophies to their names elsewhere. John Harriman has worn a number of hats in something of an odyssey that ranges from having been a celebrated boy singer as Head Chorister of Westminster Cathedral and a soloist at the Royal Opera, where he rubbed shoulders with the likes of Benjamin Britten and Msitislav Rostopovich, to the thrills and spills of playing piano in California bars including witnessing blood on his 88s’ from a brawl in a club in downtown Hollywood ! John’s music reflects his diverse background, with Irish, French & English grandparents, he lived in the USA for many years and nowadays often decamps to his Spanish wife’s Castilian homeland.

Steve Waterman is one of the Europe’s leading jazz trumpeters. He began his career while studying at the Trinity College of Music and since then has performed extensively in the British and European jazz scene. Steve has a remarkable recording career spanning 20 years and has worked with a great variety of jazz and cabaret artists worldwide. He is professor of Jazz Trumpet at The Royal Academy of Music in London.

Chino Martell Morgan grew up in Cardenas in Matanzas province in Cuba. He started playing percussion in his late teens, influenced by hearing the elderly locals play percussion in the district bars. He briefly attended Cuban music school and played with renowned Cuban drummer Miguel Zulueta and a number of Latin jazz bands. Chino now resides in the UK where he is in demand in salsa and jazz groups and has played at leading venues throughout Europe.

Playing professionally since his teens, Buster Birch is a highly regarded and versatile drummer. Having studied in London and New York, he has played with many of the UK’s finest jazz musicians and he has extensive recording credits. He plays a variety of styles of music and is a percussionist in two respected world music groups. Buster is a professor of music at Trinity College London.

Originally from Uruguay, bass guitarist Andres Lafone has been at the forefront of the European Latin scene since the late eighties. The artists he has toured or recorded with include Snowboy, Airto Moreira, Da Lata, Mike Lindup, Arakatuba, Matt Bianco, Basia, Charlie Palmieri and John Cleary. He has played at all the major European Jazz festivals and has performed throughout the world, including China, Japan, South Africa and USA. Alternate bassist Tim Robertson is one of New Zealand’s finest players. . He located to the UK after studying under a scholarship at the Royal Conservatorium in Den Haag in the Netherlands. Tim is an in demand player on both electric and acoustic basses, having performed internationally at arts festivals, musical theatre tours and on high profile recordings.

For more information go to www.headssouth.com Tel 44 (0) 7711 138780