Mark Lockheart is one of the most distinctive and creative musicians on the current British music scene. As a saxophonist and composer, his work often defies categorisation and crosses the boundaries of the jazz, new music and folk worlds. "Lockheart is a consummate saxophonist and a original and versatile composer" The Rough Guide to Jazz.
Mark came to prominence in the mid 1980s with the influential and radical big band Loose Tubes, which he toured with throughout the USA and Europe and recorded with until its demise in 1989. The late 1980s also saw Mark composing and touring his own music, performing three times at Ronnie Scott's in London, and at festivals in Vienna, Paris and Berlin. Around this same time Mark was seen touring with Annie Whitehead and Roger Dean's Lysis.
The formation of the co-led Perfect Houseplants in 1992 saw the emergence of one of Mark's most important projects, which is still very much developing today. Perfect Houseplants has released six albums and is involved in several crossover projects such as its collaborations with the Orlando Consort (Extempore, 1998), with baroque violinist Andrew Manze, and more recently with recorder virtuoso Pamela Thorby (New Folk Songs, Linn, 2002). In 1998 the band represented the BBC at the EBU in Vienna where the concert was recorded and broadcast to 11 European countries. A concert recorded at the Norfolk and Norwich Festival this year was broadcast as a special BBC Radio 3 programme over Christmas and Boxing Day. This period also saw Mark collaborating with Irish pianist and composer Michael O'Sullebhain, and recording a world/jazz album entitled Matheran (Isis, 1993) with guitarist John Parricelli.
In the mid-nineties Mark toured extensively with Django Bates' Delightful Precipice, performing at many international festivals including Berlin, Molde and Willisau, and recording with jazz, folk and pop artists June Tabor, Billy Jenkins, Stereolab, Jah Wobble, Robert Wyatt, Prefab Sprout, Don Um Romao ,Thomas Dolby, and more recently Anja Garbarek and Radiohead.
In 1997 Mark was awarded the Peter Whittingham Award to record his semi-orchestral 11-piece group the Scratch Band. This formed the basis of Through Rose-Coloured Glasses, which was released in 1998 to critical acclaim and voted by Time Out as one of the Top Ten albums of 1998.
A commission from the Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Birmingham Jazz led to a suite of pieces inspired by dance forms, which formed the basis for the Scratch Band's second album, Imaginary Dances (Staytuned Records, 2002). In 2001 with the help of The Arts Council of England Touring Grant the Scratch Band undertook a ten date nationwide tour.