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About Itchy Fingers

Formed in 1986 as an offshoot from Mike Mower's 12-piece band Hiatus, Itchy Fingers quickly achieved an international reputation as one of the world's leading Jazz Saxophone Quartets.

Shortly after its formation in 1986, Itchy Fingers won the national British jazz competition on BBC TV (Schlitz Jazz Sounds '86), and soon picked up a string of awards: - "Best new Band" - Wire jazz magazine; "Grand Prix" - Czech Jazz Festival; and their debut album Quark was awarded the "Deutscher Schallplattenpreis" (voted one of the best 10 albums of 1987 by German record critics). They were also voted best band of 1994 at the British Jazz Awards.

The band was never intended to be a Sax Quartet, but evolved that way after condensing Hiatus due to the organisational and financial difficulties of running a band that size. Mike however wrote for Itchy Fingers as if it were a big-band, and it is this mixture of compositional complexity and fiery solos which gave the quartet its unique identity. The band played original compositions, (mostly by Mike with other contributions from members of the quartet), plus an occasional jazz standard, usually re-arranged out of all recognition!

Itchy Fingers memorised all their music so the quartet was free to move about on stage, adding a visual aspect to their performances. The informal presentation, incorporated members of the band talking to the audience about the origin and content of their compositions, breaking down the barrier between musician and audience, a step often ignored by contemporary jazz bands.

Itchy Fingers has toured the world, playing in over 40 countries including substantial tours of Europe, the Far East, West Africa, North Africa, Brazil, two tours of South America, former Eastern Europe and USSR, and a brief visit to the USA at the JVC festival in the Lincoln Centre, New York in 1987.

The quartet was a well established name on the European festival and club circuit from 1987 to its disbanding in 1997.

Itchy Fingers have released four albums, the first two featuring a rhythm section, and the latter two as a straight acoustic quartet, the way the band is known on stage.

The original members of the band were Mike Mower, John Graham, Martin Speake and Howard Turner. Over the years, changes in line-up included Nigel Hitchcock, Tim Holmes, Pete Long, Matt Wates, Dave O'Higgins, Mike Smith and Tim Garland.