John Altman began his musical career at age 3 with Judy Garland at the London Palladium! Commencing his recording and live career as an in-demand saxophonist in the late 60s he has performed with all the major figures in music over the last few decades, including Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, Muddy Waters, Nick Drake, Eric Clapton, Sting, Phil Collins, Jimmy Page, Little Richard, and Van Morrison and Hot Chocolate (for both of whom he functioned as musical director) and many more. He has recently contributed saxophone solos for the new albums by Rick Astley and Goldie.
Beginning in the mid 70s he found great success as an arranger/conductor. Among his hit records have been Aled Jones Walking in the Air (which he also produced); Alison Moyet's That Ole Devil Called Love, Simple Minds Streetfighting Years, Rod Stewart's Downtown Train, George Michael's Kissing a Fool, Prefab Sprout's Hey Manhattan, Tina Turner and Barry White's Wildest Dream, Diana Ross' Christmas Album, Bjork's It's Oh So Quiet, Goldie's Saturnz Returns, album tracks for Tom Jones, the Pretenders, Ian Dury, Graham Parker and Murray Head, and perhaps his most famous arrangement Monty Python's Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. His association with Python also produced the cult classic The Rutles, and three series of the Innes Book of Records, as well as many onstage appearances. He is also a frequent guest conductor for the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.
He has had a parallel successful career as a composer/arranger/producer for films, winning most of the prestigious film composer awards -an EMMY and an ASCAP Film Award for RKO 281 - The Making of Citizen Kane, the Anthony Asquith Award for Hear My Song, a second ASCAP Award and the Choreographer’s Carnival Award for best dance score for Shall We Dance, a TRIC Award for Peak Practice, a Golden Reel nomination for Little Voice, an Oscar mention for the period music for Titanic, which he also produced, and a second Emmy nomination in 2003 for his score for The Roman Spring of Mrs Stone starring Helen Mirren and Ann Bancroft. Other films include Funny Bones, Bhaji on the Beach, Bad Behaviour, Beautiful Thing, The Matchmaker, Fidel, King of Texas, Beautiful Joe, Hope Springs, and On Thin Ice produced by and starring Diane Keaton as well as the classic tank chase sequence in Goldeneye.
He was the first Western composer in history to score a Russian movie in 1991. (He also arranged and conducted many classic movie scores for other composers including the Golden Globe winning score for The Sheltering Sky, Leon (The Professional) and on television, the highly popular Miss Marple series for the BBC.). Along the way he has found time to be the most prolific writer of music for commercials, having scored over 4,000 worldwide, winning every major creative award, including this year's inaugural MPA Music in Advertising Award, and being named by Campaign magazine in 2002 as one of the 100 most influential figures in contemporary British advertising, and one of the 5 top composers. His music for Levis and Renault won the Campaign Award for Best sound tracks in 2003 and 2004.
He has recently scored the top 5 worldwide hit movie Shall We Dance, starring Jennifer Lopez, Richard Gere and Susan Sarandon for Miramax, and wrote the music for the CBS movie Suburban Madness with Sela Ward, and the controversial Emmy nominated miniseries, The Reagans starring Judy Davis and James Brolin . In the UK he scored Mr Harvey Lights a Candle for BBC Films, and the widely acclaimed The Queen’s Sister for Channel 4, and has been working with Sir Ridley Scott on a 4 minute film for Prada.
John is writing an original film musical with Oscar Winning lyricist Don Black (Born Free, Sunset Boulevard etc.), as well as undertaking live gigs worldwide. He is also co-host of London's famous 10 Room Monday night jam session which has won Club Night of the Year awards, and features guests of the calibre of Lionel Richie, Macy Gray, Black Eyed Peas, Alicia Keys, Najee, Wycliff, Shaq O'Neill, Jah Rule, the Roots, The Neptunes, R Kelly , John Legend, Mario, Roy Ayers, Omar, Chaka Khan, Will Smith, Chris Tucker and the Back Street Boys.
John is also a highly accomplished jazz musician, lauded by respected critic Don Heckman in the LA Times as "one of the few film composers with authentic jazz skills." On the jazz scene he has performed with Chet Baker, Plas Johnson, Ernie Watts, Red Holloway, Conte Candoli, Slim Gaillard, Barbara Morrison, Herb Geller, Wild Bill Davison, Bud Freeman, Les McCann, Percy Heath and many others. He conducted the Stan Tracey Big Band and the Durham Cathedral Choir for an album of Duke Ellington's Sacred Music. He also leads a highly successful big band, heard on many of the above records and soundtracks. John also undertook a well received big band tour of Australialast year, and a quintet tour of California. His new jazz quartet CD You Started Something was released in January on the Bronze Jazz Label, of which he is A & R Director, and was Jazz CD of the month in the prestigious Observer newspaper, as was his previous CD featuring his orchestra with jazz singer Joan Viskant. Recent playing appearances have included the Vail Jazz Festival and the Caribbean Jazz Cruise, on which he is scheduled to make a return appearance this November.
His all star US big band includes such jazz stars as Gary Foster, Warren Luening, Pete Christlieb, Peter Erskine,Alex Acuna, Tom Ranier and Andy Martin.