Theon Cross is one of those rare musicians whose vision has redefined their instrument. His unique approach to the tuba has expanded the instrument’s sonic possibilities in revolutionary fashion, restoring it to a long-forgotten prominence as a crucial part of the contemporary jazz ensemble.
He started out at Lewisham Music at a young age going on to become a graduate of Guildhall School of Music and an alumnus of the legendary Tomorrow’s Warriors.
Through his combination of technical mastery, studio smarts, deep musical knowledge and expansive vision, the power and originality of Theon’s playing has reinvented the tuba’s place in modern music. He is as at home with ensemble jazz as he is when playing road marches, collaborating with grime stars, or providing bassline pressure in reggae, afrobeat or soca settings.
The flexibility and power of his sound has made Theon an indispensable presence across the length and breadth of the current UK jazz scene, and he has collaborated on dozens of award-nominated and award- winning projects. Since 2013 Theon has been a core member of MOBO award-winning Sons of Kemet, with whom he has recorded and toured globally. He has played regularly with Nubya Garcia; Moses Boyd Exodus; Steamdown; and with Cassie Kinoshi’s SEED Ensemble, among many more.
“I’m quite a reserved, quiet guy and I’m amplified by that instrument.”
His solo track ‘Brockley’ was a standout on the Brownswood collection We Out Here. Beyond jazz, he has worked with grime megastar Stormzy, appearing on the opening cut of Heavy Is The Head, and played alongside major musical figures including Kano, Pharaoh Monch, Emeli Sandé and Angelique Kidjo.
Theon’s debut release, Aspiration (2015) led to a Jazz FM nomination as Best Newcomer, and a Parliamentary Award nomination for Best Instrumentalist. His acclaimed 2019 LP, Fyah, reached no.1 in the UK jazz chart, was nominated for awards by Jazz FM and Gilles Petersen’s Worldwide FM, and received critical recognition across the mainstream and music press, appearing in numerous end of year lists. In 2019, Theon was winner of the Downbeat 67th Critics’ Poll ‘Rising Star’ award.