Chris Dean - Musical Director
Orchestra leader Chris Dean is Britain’s foremost Big Band Leader.
Chris began his career as a boy soldier in the Household Cavalry. After a spell at the Army School of Music at Kneller Hall studying with Bill Teskey, then Principal Trombone with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Chris joined the Mounted Band of the Lifeguards rising to the rank of “Corporal of Horse” before leaving in 1977 to pursue a career as a freelance musician. His first job after leaving was as lead trombone at the London Palladium. In February 1978 he was invited by Syd to join the Syd Lawrence Orchestra. Chris stayed with Syd as lead trombone until 1983 when the demands of his session career required that he spend more and more time in recording studios.
As a session musician Chris has received acclaim from many of the music industry’s top performers. He has recorded with Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones, Nelson Riddle, George Shearing, Bob Farnon, Angela Morley, Henry Mancini, Michel Legrand, Barbara Streisand, Natalie Cole, Liza Minelli, Mel Torme and Shirley Bassey. Film work for Composers such as Jerry Goldsmith and John Williams has included the soundtracks for the films Superman, Out of Africa, Basic Instinct, Never Say Never Again, The Living Daylights and Batman to name but a few. He has also played with Orchestras such as the LSO and RPO and performed on Pop Albums for the likes of Eric Clapton, Westlife, Wet Wet Wet and Queen as well as being featured in TV shows such as The Benny Hill Show, Stars in Their Eyes and several Royal Variety Shows.
From 1987 to 1992 Chris played lead trombone in the great Ted Heath orchestra under the direction of Don Lusher. At the same time he was establishing a reputation as a bandleader in his own right touring with his Great British Big Band. In 1991 he was approached by Manja Leigh (Geraldo’s widow) and asked to recreate the Geraldo Orchestra for a series of recordings, broadcasts and tribute concerts.
In 1996, following Syd’s retirement from touring, Chris took on leadership of the Syd Lawrence Orchestra. The Orchestra has thrived under his direction, keeping Syd’s invaluable legacy to British musical life alive for future generations of audiences and young musicians. Today the Syd Lawrence Orchestra is as highly rated as ever. Recent changes in personnel have breathed fresh life into the Band, and with Chris’s experience as musical director and front man, concerts have never been better received. The readers and members of "Big Bands International" (Great Britain, USA, Australia) have recently voted the Orchestra the "Best Big Band in the Land” for the 8th consecutive year.
In addition to his work with the Syd Lawrence Orchestra, Chris is still in great demand as a session musician for albums, TV and film. He is also touring a Tribute to the Great Ted Heath entitled “Listen To My Music” with his own Big Band, and is working on a new show to be premiered in 2007 paying tribute to Britain’s greatest big band singer, Matt Monro.