Colour Beginnings

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COMPOSERS: Tim Whitehead
LABELS: Home Made
PERFORMER: Tim Whitehead (sax), Liam Noble (piano), Milo Fell (drums), Patrick Bettison, Oli Hayhurst (bass)


In 2009 Tim Whitehead was the first musician to be artist-in-residence at Tate Britain. Since 2006 he had been considering
a project inspired by a collection of JMW Turner’s watercolour sketches known as Colour Beginnings.

The roots of the music on this CD were improvisations he recorded in front of the sketches, before transcribing them and creating compositions, which earned him a 2010 British Composer Awards nomination.

The concept was to respond to colour tonality with sound tonality, and these luminous sketches were an ideal start. Translating one art form to another is a dubious business, but if any visual medium lends itself to being evoked by contemporary jazz it’s Turner’s instinctive-seeming sketches.


Whitehead and his quartet of long-term associates encompass the impressionist, expressionist and abstract with panache, but there are also fine lyrical, linear pieces as well as stirring, conventional post-bop. Barry Witherden