John O'Gallagher is considered one of the most compelling alto saxophonists and composers at work today on the New York jazz scene. He is known for an innovative style which pushes the boundaries of jazz while rooted in it's tradition.
"Mr. O'Gallagher is an exploratory alto saxophonist with a clear melodic streak" - The New York Times
Born in Anaheim Califorina in 1964 he began playing alto saxophone in grade school after his family moved to Spokane, Washington. Upon graduating high school he studied briefly at Eastern Washington University before moving to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music. There he studied with legendary saxophone gurus Joe Viola, Jerry Bergonzi and George Garzone.
During the past 25 years living in New York he has become known for his projects as a leader, and as a sought after sideman, working with artist such as Joe Henderson, Maria Schnieder, Kenny Wheeler, Billy Hart, Tony Malaby, Jeff Williams, Tom Rainey, Chris Cheek, Ralph Alessi, Rudresh Manhathappa, Mike Formanek, Ben Monder and numerous others.
A dedicated composer, Olly debuted his choral work ‘The Stream’ (with text by Charles Simic) at the Adrian Boult Hall with Percy Pursglove and the Via Nova Choir on the 13th April 2016. A few weeks later, he also premiered his multi-sensory, cross-disciplinary suite ‘Prometheus’ at the Old Joint Stock Theatre; this adventurous project included an 11 piece band and live, improvised visuals by artist Jake-Andrew Nason. Olly writes music every day and enjoys working with large and chamber ensembles respectively.
His debut album 'MOUTH' is a unique exploration of the large ensemble. Heavily influenced by the late work of John Coltrane, the album is currently available to stream or download on Bandcamp, Itunes, Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, Tidal, Deezer and Google Play.
His second album (‘The Precipice’), is due to to be recorded later this year following a tour with his recently established and electrifying new trio. Consisting of three of Birmingham’s most forward thinking and engaging improvisers, the Olly Chalk Trio (w/ Sam Ingvorsen and Gwilym Jones) are a vastly creative new outfit. Citing influences such as David Binney, Wayne Shorter, Ambrose Akinmusire and Pablo Held - Olly’s intricate writing is daring, bold and emotive. His forthcoming album ‘The Precipice’ tells a deeply personal story, addressing themes of anxiety, dystopia, nostalgia and hope.
Olly has been a passionate educator for the last 6 years. In addition to teaching privately, he now works for a number of established companies including Piano Teachers Connect and Primavolta Mobile Music Tuition.
Currently, Olly lives in Birmingham's Jewellery quarter, where he runs a weekly jam session at 1000 Trades. In his spare time he likes to read, socialise, cook and take pictures on film.
In 2016, pianist and composer Olly Chalk graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire’s BMus Jazz Course with a First Class Honours degree. He is currently active as both a performer and educator in and around Birmingham. Having established himself as a strong sideman and bandleader, he has played in venues around Birmingham such as The CBSO Centre, The Adrian Boult Hall, The Yardbird, The Jam House, Fleet St Kitchen, The Lamp Tavern, The Sunflower Lounge, The Spotted Dog, The Hare and Hounds and Cogs Bar. Around the UK he has also played at The Apex, The Hunter Club and Snape Maltings Concert Hall in Suffolk, The Auction Room, The Bedford Arms and The Ent Shed (Bedford), Jackdaw in London and The Butterfly & The Pig in Glasgow and Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Whilst studying at the Conservatoire, his teachers included Liam Noble, Mike Williams and Hans Koller. He also attended lectures and masterclasses with Kenny Garrett, Mark Turner, Steve Coleman, Dave Liebman and Joe Lovano alongside private lessons with John Taylor, Elliot Mason, George Colligan and Tim Garland. Both inside and outside of the Conservatoire Olly has had the pleasure of sharing a stage with Dave Holland, Nate Smith, Jeff Ballard, John O'Gallagher, Jeff Williams, François Théberge, Soweto Kinch and Rachael Cohen among others.