Mike Walker

Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric

Born: July 10, 1962    

Born in Salford in 1962, Mike took fifteen years to realise, that his father's piano playing, his mother's singing, and his brother's guitar playing, might just have genetically predisposed him towards a love of corduroy. Realising, however, that careers in the King's cords were somewhat thin on the ground, Mike turned his attention to the chords of Kings. In his case, Mike's royalty comprised Wes, Joe, Pat, John, Larry, Tal et al.

After long months of solitary woodshedding, Mike launched himself upon the Manchester scene with River People, a much loved fusion band comprising Mike on his trusted, and even then, rusted 335 guitar; Paul Allen on fretless bass; Tim Franks on drums, and the always astounding Paul Kilvington (a.k.a. Bob Session) on keyboards....
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Best soloist at the Glasgow Jazz festival 1995
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” ... the highlight was hearing Mike Walker really playing at his peak and contributing so many pieces to the band’s material. Those who have known Mike’s playing for some years know that he is a world class player; it was great to hear him in a context that really matched this and brought out his full potential.” Birmingham Jazz, May 22nd 2010 From the Simcock/Walker/Swallow/Nussbaum tour.

“Northern guitar heavyweight Mike Walker, overlooked by arts-funding bodies but never by musicians, makes a stunning debut here as leader. As always his solos are brilliant but so too is his writing. A collage of original verse, nutty voiceovers and hip fringe-jazz elements (Sergio Mendes, BB King, Steely Dan) blends into one ecstatic, deep-grooving whole. A True Embrace is a sexy samba for female voices and Iain Dixon's tenor sax. Dad Logic and I'll Tell 'im are absorbing jazz-rock modes, and an elegant brass miniature is incongruously called Still Slippy Underfoot. A Mancunian masterpiece.” Jack Massarik, London Evening Standard, Saturday 5th July 2008

Jazz supergroups are volatile concoctions, bespoke teams of virtuosi often just getting in each other's way. But the Anglo-US quartet built from scratch this week around the untried partnership of pianist Gwilym Simcock and Salford guitarist Mike Walker, with Americans Steve Swallow on bass and Adam Nussbaum on drums, fulfilled all its promise ” and then some. With everything from prize-winning albums to Prom concerts under his belt, Simcock's international stature is secure ” but Mike Walker, though almost two decades older, has been a peripheral figure. Yet Walker's contribution to this ensemble was nothing short of sensational, through plenty of quiet but compellingly lyrical music, as well as some postbop gallops and a spectacular roaring blues. With its mix of understated grooving, chiming rock/blues guitar sounds and passages of glistening delicacy, this band recalled the early ensembles led by vibraphonist Gary Burton. Simcock set the improv bar early on with a surging, McCoy Tyner-like solo on his own convoluted-bop theme, and Walker's fast Laugh Lines revealed his rare balance of meticulousness, spontaneity, storytelling and tonal bite as a soloist. Walker uses effects sparingly, but an accordion-like sound warmed a graceful ballad towards the end of the first set. Nussbaum's blues Hey Pretty Baby then launched some howling electric-blues out of a stealthy and soft- strummed overture, and Swallow's classic Ladies in Mercedes was a vehicle for the bass guitarist's inimitably slinky solo style ” with Simcock's arrangement typically cherishing its famous riff, while disguising its melody almost entirely. The full house listened rapt to every polished sound. John Fordham. The Gaurdian. 28/05/10

Mike Walker 's playing, for those who don't know it, is one of the greatest joys of British jazz. To say he's in the league of a John Scofield or a Mick Goodrick may mean little. But in the live situation he can lead the listener literally anywhere. There's a capacity to play on the borders of silence, and yet with an astonishing range of colour. And to build from there, organically to full-on Hendrix. He never disappoints. Sebastian Scotney LondonJazz.

Gwilym Simcock might have been the instigator, but if the composing credits fell mainly to the two British players ” the other was guitarist Mike Walker ” the stature of the US rhythm team ” Steve Swallow on bass, Adam Nussbaum on drums ” meant this was very much a band of equals.

I’m alway intrigued by at what point in a gig the band really takes flight and moves from giving a merely pleasing performance to one that will live long in the memory and always bringing a warm smile . If we’re lucky it’s in the third or fourth tune, but sometimes, this being the unpredictable world of jazz, it never happens at all, not on that night, not at the gig we’re at, anyway.

For me, this band took flight in Clockmaker, Mike Walker’s rich composition which, like all his pieces, sound both immensely complicated and yet really easy for the listener to assimilate and to enjoy. It was the opening piece of the concert, and our first taste of what four exceptional and open jazz musicians sound like when they are both challenging themselves and having a damn fine time.

Steve Swallow’s knees bent as he focussed in hard on the music on the page, Nussbaum kept eye contact with Simcock and Walker as the tune flowed from improvisation to improvisation, always in a developmental way, never merely processional. And the two younger British men just looked so pleased to be here and making music together with these older Americans.

It was Swallow’s Real Book album, in which he wrote new tunes based on the chord sequences of standards, that Simcock said inspired his You Won’t Be Around To See It, based on Softly (As In A Morning Sunrise). On a balmy night this raised the temperature further, with Nussbaum showing his full volume range, from a snare thwacked with his considerable might, to a cymbal stroked with fingertips.

After the unoriginally titled Gwil’s Tune, it was time for two more Walker compositions, the intricate and explosive Laugh Lines, and the richly lyrical and quietly climactic When You Hold Her. Again, these are such rich compositions, full of melody and emotion and fully explored by the band.

The Americans provided a token tune each in the second half, but for the most part they seemed really delighted for Simcock and Walker to share the writing and playing limelight. Walker’s Wallenda’s Last Stand was gorgeous, with that slightly Latin feel he sometimes favours, and Simcock’s Plainsong was a sublime encore.

A guitar and piano frontline is not the easiest line-up to manage. Those of us who saw the Pat Metheny/Brad Mehldau band in Symphony Hall a few years ago will know that even for two musicians of such standing, it is by no means plain sailing. There are icebergs lurking dangerously out there. Pat and Brad could learn a lot from Gwil and Mike. They never got in each other’s way, neither did they inhibit each others’ natural style.

And, in a world where some jazz musicians can still be a little too cool, what a joy to be witness to the clear warmth and mutual respect of all the musicians on the stage.

This feels like the start of something special and I was pleased to see the recording mics out last night. I haven’t been as excited by an Anglo- American project since I first heard Julian Siegel with Greg Cohen and Joey Baron. Let’s hope it becomes more than a one-tour stand.

The band is going on to play around Europe but if you are within driving distance of either Leicester (Embrace Arts Centre tonight) or London (Ronnie Scott’s tomorrow) ” so, anywhere on the mainland, in other words ” I’d urge you to get along. It’s the real deal. Peter Bacon Jazz Breakfast 23/05/10

Primary Instrument: Guitar, electric

Willing to teach: Advanced students only.


I've been teaching privately for 28 years. I have taught all levels from beginners to advanced. My teaching methods range from building a solid foundation of fundamentals i.e. fretboard knowledge through scales, arppegios, triads, chords etc. to more advanced techniques concerning theory, harmony, and improvisation. I also teach improvisation for any instrument, including vocals. Emphasis is always on the individual and their own personal voice.

I've been working on tackling problems of nervousness, lack of confidence, and negative self criticism. These often get in the way of a musician's ability to express themselves freely. To this end I have developed a number of techniques to better understand the causes of such problems so that they won't be as much of a barrier in the future.

I now offer lessons from premises on Lower Ormand Street in central Manchester close to the Royal Northern College of Music and the Manchester Universities. I offer intermediate to advanced guitar lessons and improvisation, harmony and theory tuition for all instruments. The charge is £40 for a 1 hour lesson. Please contact me to book a lesson.

Teaching CV:

Salford College of Music. Lecturer in guitar for various periods between 1988 & 2002. Also taught improvisation.

Leeds College of Music, Lecturer in guitar, 1993 – 1998. Artist in Residence, 2001/2.

Leigh College of Music.

Arden Centre, Manchester.

Bretton College, Wakefield. Lecturer in guitar at Bretton, Leigh, and Arden Centre for various periods between 1990 & 1993. Duties also included arranging and carrying out workshops on time and rhythm, improvisation for any instrument, practice techniques, and ensemble playing.

Franz Liszt Hochschule, Weimar, Germany. Full time Professor of guitar. During the period 1998 – 2001, duties included teaching guitar on a one-to-one basis; giving classes on jazz improvisation for singers; ensemble playing (including running multi-instrumental workshops); jazz theory, and instruction in the practical aspects of teaching.

Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts Teaching Fellow. One-to-one guitar tuition, and teaching of improvisation and ensemble playing. 2002 onwards.

Workshops / Summer Schools / Short courses, etc.

I have led a number of workshops, and also work in schools at primary and secondary levels, such as on behalf of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland.

I teach at many residential jazz Summer Schools including those organised in Birmingham, Manchester, London, Glasgow, and Burnley.

I am the organiser and co-Director of the Music Place Jazz Summer School, held annually in Altrincham, Cheshire.

Clinic/Workshop Information:

I teach on two annual week long Jazz Guitar Master Class Retreats in Southern Spain. The classes involve five days of intensive study and are specifically aimed at intermediate to advanced jazz guitar students. The two courses allow for students wanting introductory studies to advanced instruction in jazz guitar. The objective is for students to leave with focus, understanding and consolidation in the sometimes confusing but always intriguing language of jazz. Week One is suitable for the "new to jazz" students up to the somewhat hard to qualify term, intermediate level player. The aim for this week is to provide a learning platform for students to take away a solid grounding in and fundamental understanding of jazz expression. Week two is for the already versed and competent player ready for further challenge and inspiration. More information at I also lead a number of workshops, and also work in schools at primary and secondary levels, such as on behalf of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Scotland. I teach at many residential jazz Summer Schools including those organised in Birmingham, Manchester, London, Glasgow, and Burnley. I am also the organiser and co-Director of the Music Place Jazz Summer School and jazz weekends, held annually in Altrincham, Cheshire.
Gibson ES-335, Mesa Boogie Mark IV Borys Jazz Guitar Martin HD28V Tommy Cougar Mystic Blue ODS
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