Born in London of St Lucian parents in 1969, Denys studied music at school from the age of 13 and, in 1990, went on to study at the West London Institute (Brunel University). In 1992, he continued his music education at London’s Guildhall School of Music, studying under former Jazz Messenger, Jean Toussaint.
From the moment he joined the London jazz circuit, Denys displayed extraordinary talent, energy and commitment. Spotted by veteran Jazz Warriors double bassist, Gary Crosby at the bassist’s regular Tomorrow’s Warriors jam sessions, Denys was immediately invited to join Crosby’s new band, Nu Troop. Since then, Denys has soared in his development as a soloist and bandleader, earning enormous respect from his peers.
His colossal talent - based on a powerful technique and an ability to improvise fluently and effortlessly across a wide range of musical styles – is matched only by his unfettered energy which takes him and his audiences into the musical stratosphere. An evening with Denys guarantees a display of unsuppressed expression, ranging from sweet “saxuality” to breathtaking, edge-of-your-seat virtuosity. Over the years, Denys has evolved into what the Time Magazine describes as “the icon of British jazz”, with a most distinctive and immediately recognisable sound.
A much sought after soloist, Denys has played/recorded with some of the biggest names in jazz and other genres including McCoy Tyner, Andrew Hill, Ernest Ranglin, Bheki Mseleku, Marvin “Smitty” Smith, Michael Bowie, Courtney Pine, Manu Dibango, Gary Crosby, Steve Williamson, Julian Joseph, Jason Rebello, Martin Taylor, Lonnie Plaxico, Ralph Moore, Billy Higgins, Jerry Dammers, Sean Oliver, Jean Carne, Marlena Shaw, Noel McCoy, Juliet Roberts, Incognito, Jazz Jamaica, and others of distinction.
Denys is an amazingly versatile musician and, although his roots are steeped in the jazz tradition, he incorporates ideas from other musical forms and popular culture, producing a repertoire which is contemporary, multi-layered and highly accessible. He is also an enormously talented composer/arranger, whose brilliant compositions have already earned him immense critical acclaim. Awards
1999 Début album Be Where You Are (Dune Records DUNECD03)
Mercury Music Prize for An Album Of The Year 1999
MOBO Award for Best Jazz Act 1999
2000 British Jazz Award for Rising Star 2000
2001 Album Release Alternating Currents (Dune Records
2003 Album Release Let Freedom Ring! (Dune Records
2005 Release of Let Freedom Ring! in the USA
2011 Album Release Identity By Subtraction (DUNECD019)
Be Where You Are – his 1999 debut album on independent jazz label, Dune Records – earned him a Mercury Music Prize for An Album Of The Year and a MOBO award for Best Jazz Act. He followed this in 2001 with his second album, Alternating Currents (Dune Records DUNECD05) also receiving great critical acclaim.