Keith Tippett left Bristol in 1967 and came to prominence in London in the late 1960s with his Sextet and his astonishing 50-piece ensemble Centipede. He is widely recognised as one of the most distinctive and radical pioneers in contemporary jazz today: from solo performances through a myriad of duos, trios, quartets, sextets and septets to the 21-piece orchestra The Ark and Centipede, he has shown a unique discipline, dedication and creative energy. Performance, composition, recordings, broadcasts, masterclasses, film scores, workshops and children's education projects all constitute Keith Tippett's work over the past three decades.
Tippett's associations have been with some of the most substantial names in contemporary jazz; Over the years he has made numerous recordings and concert and festival appearances alongside other major pioneering improvisers from Europe and South Africa.
Recognition has come, too, from the world of contemporary 'classical' music. Not only has Tippett played a crucial role in opening the Dartington International Summer School to jazz and improvisation but he has composed several pieces for new music groups such as the Composers Ensemble with Mary Wiegold and recorded with the Balanescu String Quartet. His ground-breaking introduction, as founder, musician and artistic director of the Rare Music Club series of concerts in his native Bristol (in which jazz, contemporary 'classical' and roots/ethnic music performers share the same bill) has given further emphasis to his position as a leading figure in the contemporary music movement in Great Britain.
Associations with Tippett through Dartington and the Rare Music Club led the Kreutzer String Quartet to commission him to write new music for piano quintet, which he premiered with the Kreutzer Quartet in Nottingham in 1995 (and subsequently recorded for BBC Radio 3); other works include And after all it was, a commission for Kokoro (1998), the new music group formed out of the Bournemouth Sinfonietta; work for harpsichordist Margherita Porfido; a large-scale work, First Weaving, for Tippett's orchestra Tapestry; Five Short Pieces + Four Whispers for Archies's Chair for the Apollo Saxophone Quartet (2004); and a string quartet for the Elysian Quartet (2009).