Dr. Geoff Eales is one of the UK's most eclectic and inspirational musicians. Born in Aberbargoed in the heart of the South Wales Valleys, he is an acclaimed composer, pianist, improviser, musical director and arranger. In recent years he has developed a passion for the written word, his writing manifesting itself in the form of song lyrics, poems, satire and musical criticism.
At Cardiff University Geoff studied composition under Professor Alun Hoddinott and piano with Martin Jones. He was awarded a Ph.D for his large-scale work An American Symphony and the chamber setting of Dylan Thomas' In the Beginning for tenor voice, horn and piano. Other early works include a piano concerto, string quartet, brass quintet and A Sussex Rhapsody, the latter commissioned by the BBC Concert Orchestra. As part of his doctorate he wrote a thesis entitled "Structure in the Symphonic Works of Aaron Copland".
As well as his love of contemporary classical music, Geoff is passionate about jazz. As a member of the BBC Radio Big Band in the late 70's and early 80's, he was featured in well over 1000 broadcasts. During this period, he formed the electric rock-fusion band, Electric Eales, which recorded extensively for the BBC. Geoff left the BBC in 1983 in order to pursue a career as a studio pianist, arranger and composer. His credits include technical musical adviser for the American mini-series, Ellis Island (the last film to star Richard Burton), musical associate / arranger for the Wayne Sleep / Bonnie Langford TV series, The Hot Shoe Show, and featured pianist on the Andy Williams album, Greatest Love Classics, with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Geoff remained a top studio musician for over 15 years, working alongside a host of musical luminaries, Leonard Bernstein, Elmer Bernstein, Henry Mancini, Jerry Goldsmith, Lalo Schifrin and Andrew Lloyd Webber included ; as an accompanist he was frequently featured with leading vocalists such as Shirley Bassey, Jose Carreras, Kiri Te Kanawa, Lesley Garrett and Michael Ball.
As the new millennium approached, Geoff felt an inner need to return to the music that had inspired him as a youth - jazz. In 1999 he issued his first jazz CD, Mountains of Fire, to excellent reviews. A stream of critically acclaimed albums has flowed ever since : Red Letter Days (2001), Facing the Muse (2002), Synergy (2004), The Homecoming (2006), Jazz Piano Legends (2007), Epicentre (2007), Master of the Game (2009), Shifting Sands (2011), The Dancing Flute (2013), Free Flow (2013), Invocation (2014) and Transience (2016). If Geoff's early albums were a mixture of re-interpreted jazz standards and contemporary composition, his last six recording projects are completely self-penned, the subtle relationship between composition and improvisation always key to his musical ethos.
Geoff has performed at many of the world's leading concert halls, festivals and clubs including London's Royal Festival Hall, Royal Albert Hall and Ronnie Scott's, The Blue Note Clubs of Japan, New York's Birdland, The Jazz Bakery in Los Angeles, Louisville's Jazz Factory and festivals in Belgrade, Zagreb, Edinburgh, Cork and Brecon.
In 2011 Andy Findon commissioned Geoff to compose a solo flute work (The 11th Commandment) for his album, Density 21.5. In the same year classical saxophonist Matt London commissioned Geoff to write Dance of the Druids for his Interference Trio, the work receiving its world premiere in Manchester. In 2012 Geoff began collaborating with Andy Findon on the album The Dancing Flute. Released on Nimbus Alliance (N1 6216) in May 2013, the CD comprises 13 new works for flute and piano all written by the composer. In 2013 classical saxophonist Simon Haram commissioned Geoff to write a solo saxophone composition ( She Cries She Dances ) for John Harle's Sospiro label. The work appears on Haram's album Mono'Dia released in 2014.
In the Autumn of 2015 Geoff formed a new ensemble, Transience, with four barrier-busting contemporary musicians: Brigitte Beraha (voice), Noel Langley (trumpet/flugelhorn), Chris Laurence (double bass) and Martin France (drums). Transience is also the name of the CD that this collaboration spawned. Transience was released on the Fuzzy Moon label in Spring 2016. This was followed by a 22-date UK tour to promote and celebrate the album with generous support from Arts Council England.
In July 2016 Geoff collaborated with one of the world's finest improvisers, Keith Tippett, at the prestigious Fishguard International Music Festival.
In August 2016 Geoff headlined at the Brecon Jazz Festival where he was joined by bassist Erika Lyons and drummer Romarna Campbell in a new project "Living Legends of Jazz Piano" paying tribute to McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett.
In 2017 Geoff began working on the script, music, lyrics and poems for his new multi-media musical drama, "Spirit of the Mine", a story about the rise and fall of the Welsh Coal Mining Industry, an industry that helped to create the wealth of a nation. It is an epic tale of passion, pride, courage and human sacrifice.
In 2018 several songs from the musical (which is yet to be fully developed) were premiered at the intimate 1901 Arts Club in Waterloo in front of an invited audience of industry professionals, Mike Sterling stunning the audience with his superb vocals.
Back in the jazz arena, Geoff appeared in three major festivals in Wales in the summer: Swansea International Jazz Festival, The Gower Festival and Llandudno Jazz Festival. The year ended with him performing at a special Christmas Concert at The Ukrainian Cathedral Hall in Mayfair, presented by the celebrated Ukrainian composer, Alla Sirenko.
In the summer of 2019, Geoff returned to the Fishguard International Music Festival where he took the audience on a breath-taking journey through the entire history of jazz piano. In October, the world premiere of the concert version of "Spirit of the Mine" was staged at London's Crazy Coqs in front of a packed audience. It starred Mike Sterling, Emma Kershaw and Monty and Mollie Dunstall. In November, Mark Stein invited Geoff to Montreal to perform on his annual Christmas Television Show where he was featured alongside Randy Bachman, Russell Malone, Anthony Kearns, Carol Welsman and Orson Bean.
The restrictions of Covid-19 dramatically curtailed Geoff's playing engagements in 2020. His last public engagement in front of a live audience was at Ruislip Jazz Club in February. However, the lock-downs didn't stifle Geoff's creative energy. Indeed, it afforded him the opportunity to compose new songs for "Spirit of the Mine" and to prepare for his next jazz recordings.
In early 2021, Geoff recorded his solo piano album "Memoir" at Nick Pugh's studio in Wingrave, Buckinghamshire. Dedicated to the memory of people and places that have contributed to his exciting life story, the CD features three of Geoff's poems performed by fellow Welshman, Ray Roughler Jones. The album was released in October on 33Xtreme with a launch party at the beautiful 1901 Arts Club in Waterloo at the end of September.
In the Summer of 2022 Geoff released "Love Sacred and Profane" which features celebrated improviser Brigitte Beraha as the principal story-teller, cameo roles reserved for Jacqui Hicks. Jenny Howe and Brenda Ford. This major production also features the dynamic rhythm machine of Matt Ridley and Sophie Alloway and the creative energy of Andy Findon, Mark Lockheart, Jason Yarde, Ben Waghorn, Carl Orr and Shirley Smart. The album is already garnering some excellent reviews. Roger Thomas gave it 5 Stars in BBC Music Magazine and Andy Robson 4 stars in Jazzwise.
In October 2022 "Spirit of the Mine" received its Welsh Premiere at the City United Reformed Church in Cardiff. It starred Leighton Jones, Boyd Clack, Mandy, Monty and Mollie Dunstall, Jenny Howe, Hollie-Anne Clark, Ray Roughler Jones, Ethan Hartley, Brenda Ford and the children from Hazel's School of Dance