The UK band 'Fraud'

The British improv jazz band Fraud is comprised of musicians James Allsop on clarinet and saxophone, Stian Westerhus on guitar, with Philip Hochstratte on keyboards, and the combined drumming and percussive power of Tim Giles and Ben Reynolds.

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Fraud has been touring the UK since they formed in the spring of 2005, but they got their first big break at the 2006 Cheltenham Jazz Festival, as part of the Jerwood Rising Stars Scheme. In 2007, their self-titled debut album on the Babel Label was nominated for BBC Jazz Line Up Album of the Year award before it had even been released. In 2007, the band won the Ronnie Scott Award for best New Act, and in 2008, the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation.

Many attempts have been made to describe Fraud’s music, but words do not do justice to the sound these musicians make when their instruments combine. Their sound is a dizzying amalgamation of free style improvisational jazz, funk, punk, some techno overtones, and even a bit of rock and metal. The song “Clatter” begins sounding like just that, until Allsop brings his saxophone out to play and changes the whole sound. The results of that percussive and winded combination can only be described as mind blowing.

Suffolk born Tim Giles, co-founder of the band along with James “Jazz” Allsop, won the coveted Young Composer of the Year Award in 1992, when he was only 12 years old. His win had a definite influence on his music, since it afforded him the opportunity to meet and even play with established musicians at the Royal Northern College of Music. Within 4 years, at the age of 16, Giles had already transitioned from child prodigy to professional musician, and he would continue collecting accolades and awards both alone and by playing with others.

James Allsop was himself nominated for the 2007 BBC Jazz Awards' Rising Star Award, which is certainly no surprise, given the impressive list of well respected jazz performers with whom he has played concerts on various tours and at jazz festivals. Much like band mate Tim Giles, Allsop’s catalog of performances contains a veritable “Who’s Who” of contemporary jazz musicians, including Brian Irvine, Polar Bear, and Richard Fairhurst to name but a few.

Fraud has not yet followed up their debut album, but Allsop and Giles have not remained idle. Together they have also formed yet another band, this time a trio with organist Kit Downes, called ‘The Golden Age of Steam’. That band’s debut album, Raspberry Tongue, was released in early 2010.