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John Greaves

John Greaves was given a bass guitar at the age of 12 by his father — Ray Irving, Welsh dance-band leader — and within six months he was playing in the band. At Cambridge University, in 1969, he joined Henry Cow, eventually leaving in 1976 to work on Kew.Rhone in New York with Peter Blegvad — after which he returned to the UK to work in theatre as a composer, arranger and actor. In early 1978 he joined National Health, remaining with them until they disbanded in 1980, when he began a series of solo projects, releasing several LPs and working at the same time with the Penguin Cafe Orchestra and the Michael Nyman Band. In 1984 he moved to France, permanently, forming a series of touring bands and releasing a series of new albums with — amongst others - David Cunningham (of the Flying Lizards), Robert Wyatt, Leslie Caron and Louis Sclavis, at the same time working with Mike Mantler, Jack Buce, Nick Mason and Don Preston. He and Karen Mantler performed together in 1997 in Mike Mantler’s opera School of Understanding in Denmark. In 2011 he fronted the Orchestre National de Jazz at the legendary Theatre du Chatelet, Paris, singing several Billie Holiday songs, and since the mid-2000’s his main compositional focus has been on the French poet Paul Verlaine, whose work he has set on a number of CDs and in other contexts.