Growing up in rural Wales,musician and all round entertainer Oli Nez first started learning the saxophone in the hopes that it might help with his severe childhood asthma. He was quickly drawn to jazz after hearing some of the world’s top musicians performing at Brecon Jazz Festival.
After seeing Michael Brecker and Courtney Pine raise the roof off Brecon’s normally sleepy market hall, Oli knew with a sudden certainty that the saxophone would become his life!
His musical journey began at the age of ten with his first sax. After years of gigging around South Wales as a teenager, Oli headed to London at aged eighteen to study at London’s prestigious Trinity Music Conservatoire. There he was able to study with tutors as diverse as Jean Toussaint (Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers) and Gerald McChrystal. He was also a member of The National Youth Jazz Orchestra during these years.
Oli has since performed in venues from all sizes, from Ronnie Scott’s to the Royal Festival Hall. In fact, he’s even played on every world continent after recently headlining on a luxury cruise liner in Antarctica! Oli has played to royalty, such as Prince William and Kate, and has warmed up crowds for opera singer Katherine Jenkins with his jazz quartet. Between 2014-16 Oli also headlined on over 110 of the world’s largest and finest cruise ships, earning a reputation as one of the busiest and youngest headline acts in the industry. Oli’s live shows involve everything from humour to audience interaction, and from jazz to classical!
Oli’s life has always been non-conventional and it’s often said that he defies categorisation. Half Welsh and half Iranian (or as he says, half sheep and half goat!), he loves experimenting with musical contrast and juxtaposition. From bemusing an orchestra audition panel by swinging Mozart at the age of twelve, Oli is now combining the sounds of jazz with a traditional male voice choir.
Oli’s first album “Open For Business” was produced by Grammy-nominated Julian Hepple and featured UK Jazz favourites such as virtuoso trombonist Dennis Rollins (Oli also played in his band), guitar great John Paricelli and BBC Radio 3 presenter and singer Emma Smith.
Oli’s latest release is titled Whispers Of Wales and took almost two years to produce: from conception to CD press. Recorded with an American male voice choir, the album is a fresh, new take on the Welsh male voice choir sound using only voices and saxophone.
2017 and 2018 see Oli supporting and staring with platinum UK Vocal Group G4 in a March and Sept UK and Asia Tour. Oli is also a featured soloist on their lastest release, other notable guests on the album are Lesley Garrett, Merrill Osmond and The City of Prague Philharmonic. Oli has also had the honour to duet with American Idol finalist Michael Lynche and Strictly Come Dancing Rietta Austin.