Alto saxophonist Soweto Kinch was born in London, England, in 1978. His father, originally from Barbados, was a playwright, and his British-Jamaican mother an actress.
Kinch began playing woodwinds at the age of nine, learning clarinet at primary school. After meeting Wynton Marsalis four years later, he discovered modern mainstream jazz, first practicing piano, and in his teenage years concentrating on the alto saxophone. He attended Bromsgrove School in Worcestershire, graduating in 1996. Next, he earned a degree in modern history from Hertford College at the University of Oxford in 1999, but put aside traditional subjects for a street jazz education after being offered a place within the core band of Tomorrow's Warriors, a young artists development program established by Gary Crosby in 1991. In addition to Crosby, Kinch's mentors included fellow saxophonists Courtney Pine and Denys Baptiste. Kinch made his recording debut as a performer and arranger with Crosby's Jazz Jamaica Allstars on their 2001 album, Massive. In 2001, Kinch formed his own trio, and since then has won numerous accolades including the Rising Star Award at the 2002 BBC Jazz Awards, and the White Foundation World Saxophone Competition prize at the Montreux Jazz Festival. In 2003 and 2007 he won the MOBO prize for Best Jazz Act, and his debut album, Conversations with the Unseen, was given high honors in the U.K. In 2004, Kinch won a pair of BBC Radio Jazz Awards, Best Instrumentalist and Best Band, along with the Peter Whittingham Award for Jazz Innovation. In 2006, Kinch released his second album, A Life in the Day of B19: Tales of the Tower Block, the first installment of a two-part concept album documenting the lives of three inner-city Birmingham men, with narration from Moira Stuart. Kinch also moonlights as a member of the pop idol backing band the Big Blue, and has delved into the acid jazz, hip-hop, and rap scenes of London. ~ Michael G. Nastos, Rovi