Composition, Drums, Organ, Percussion, Production, Programming
Mark's love of music
and rhythm started as a child living in the Sudan where his
father worked as a teacher. On returning to Scotland he took
up electric guitar in 1972 at the age of 13, inspired by the
black rock and rollers like Chuck Berry, Fats Domino and Little
Richard. By 15 he had saved enough money to buy a second hand
drum kit, which he set up in the garage and set about learning
the rhythms he loved by playing the records and trying to
copy what the drummer was doing.
With a musical upbringing that included Sudanese music, James
Brown and T. Rex, Mark played in many early experimental fusion
bands, however his first professional work was in a cabaret
band playing in the Working Men's Clubs around Newcastle
an eye opening experience which included a short residency
at a brothel!
When ska and reggae music blossomed in the early eighties,
Mark formed his first band, V-Disk, playing
a ska-electronic fusion, featuring the innovative new Korg
MS10 synth - supporting the likes of Bad Manners, The Selecter,
The Body Snatchers, Steel Pulse, and Culture. The band split,
and Mark's half went on to form the notorious experimental
reggae/punk/funk band Your Dinner, whilst
he also played in the roots-reggae band Hondo.
At this time he recorded a single with Dennis Bovell and met
his all time favourite producer Lee Perry. In a review by
the eminent Charles Shaar Murray, Marks drumming was described
Starting to do studio session work led him to build and run
a professional recording studio in Cambridge in the mid eighties,
while he also worked at the core of a project to get a local
venue built ('The Junction').
He moved to London to work with an early line up of Sons
of the Desert in 1989, and made much of his living
busking at Covent Market with them. While they moved to France,
he stayed in London and worked for a year at Community Music
an outreach project taking music facilities and teachers
to under privileged kids in London, which eventually led to
the formation of Asian Dub Foundation. Around this time he
was playing with bands including Ruff Ruff & Ready
and working with members of 'Simple Minds', 'Osibisa', 'John
Martin Band', 'The Charlie Watt Big Band', 'Tommy Chase Quartet',
In 1991, Mark took the decision to start a long term composition
project and moved to a village outside London where he worked
for a year with mad-bad vocalist Demmy James and the renowned
guitarist Calum MacColl (currently Ronan Keating's musical
arranger) in 'Apes'. This was his first project using samples
and backing tapes along with live drums, guitars, and horns.
Demmy's family commitments ended the project, so Mark continued
the concept by teaming up with Folk fiddler Hazel Fairbairn
to form Horace X in 1993, while doing the odd session with
members of 'The Eddi Reader band', 'The Bible', and 'Pluck
This', including work with Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger on
the album 'The Naming of Names'.
Horace X grew from an original diet of 'Dance Music' backed
Balkan tunes, and has evolved using the influence of Gypsy
tunes from all over the world to produce a truly Global Music.
While not composing or on tour with Horace X, Mark is currently
doing a part time Honours degree in creative musics in Cambridge,
and lives in a cottage with a converted recording studio in
a sleepy village in Cambridgeshire, UK.
grew up in a multi-cultural bog near Slough and from an early
age experienced both Asian and Celtic sounds as a normal backdrop
to everyday life. Learning violin from age 8, Hazel grew up
with both classical and folk traditions. In 1983 she moved
to London to study music at City University and the Guildhall
School of Music. Majoring in Ethnomusicology, she graduated
with first class honours and a passion for the diversity of
world music culture, fuelled by experiencing the vibrant London
Whilst in London Hazel played fiddle and viola with experimental
groups, The City Garden and The Ubiquity Orchestra , and with
Soweton Jazz Pianist Mervyn Afrika, performing venues around
London including Ronnie Scotts, The Bloomsdale Theatre, and
Edinburgh Fringe Festival where she also first played with
Gypsy-Jazz violinist, Joe Townsend. During this time Hazel
also spent a great deal of time in pubs around Camden Town
and developed a passion for Irish music.
From 1988-1993 Hazel researched Irish Fiddle Music in Co.
Clare and Co. Cork working with Micheal O Suilleabhain, and
playing with Sharon Shannon, Tommy Peoples, and many other
fine musicians. Her PhD thesis about Anarchy in The Irish
Music Session was awarded by The University of Cambridge in
1992. During this time, Hazel made a living busking with a
Cajun band in Cambridge and also touring France, Italy and
Hazel formed Horace X with Mark Russell fusing Balkan tunes
and western dance beats and gave up her job lecturing on World
In 1994 she went to the Bhavan to study Indian Classical
(Carnatic) Music. While playing with Laurie Anderson, in her
Meltdown series at The South Bank, Hazel met Chandru (Violinist
and string arranger for Bollywood Strings who has recorded
with George Harrison, Bjork, Nitin Sawnhey and Talvin Singh)
and resumed these studies as his student.
As well as appearing with Horace X she now performs with
Chandru in classical Indian and East West fusion concerts,
and still guests with a number of Irish and folk line ups.
Clarinet and Baritone Sax
was born near Cambridge in 1973. A classically trained clarinettist
from age 9, he took up tenor sax at 16 and starting getting
into jazz, blues and (particularly) funk, soon starting to
specialise in baritone sax. He has recently added contra-alto
clarinet to his array of instruments.
Pete ran his own band "New Tradition" playing anything
from trad to funk from age 17 to 19. In 1992, he formed instrumental
10-piece funk band "Fully Funktional" playing his
own compositions - released album "Intoxication"
in 1996 of all original material and released a new album,
"No Frills" in 2003, again of his own compositions.
He has always made a point of including clarinet on some heavy
funk tunes and other modern styles that are often considered
inappropriate/impossible for the clarinet.
After graduating with a first in philosophy from University
of Birmingham in 1994, Pete played in various soul, acid jazz
and jump jive bands from 1994-1995, including touring Switzerland
with harmonica virtuoso Steve Lockwood in 1995. During this
time he also studied briefly with saxophonist Jean Toussaint.
Pete joined Horace X in 1997, finding another new environment
for the clarinet and covering the other end of the spectrum
on baritone sax, often employing a slap-tongue style influenced
by that of bass saxophonist Adrian Rollini.
Aside from Horace X, he continues to lead Fully Funktional
and work as a session player for other bands, even stepping
back to the classical field occasionally as favoured clarinettist
for composer Rohan Leach. Often to be found in small informal
jazz and blues groups around Cambridge, including that of
singer/songwriter George Breakfast.
His musical influences range through Roland Kirk, the Dirty
Dozen Brass Band, Carla Bley, Nils Landgren , Charles Mingus
and many New Orleans jazz clarinettists.
Inspired by old school reggae, ska and ragga, Simon learned
to chat from vintage vinyl cuts and teamed up with Terminator
Bones in 1994. Their debut album, Chant Down
Babylon won the attention of Andy Kershaw who featured
them in two sessions on Radio 1 and they were picked up by
The Mad Professor who subsequently mixed for them.
During the next few years of hard touring around the UK,
they met Horace X and collaborated in cutting edge non-stop
cross over music performance concepts. Eventually, bored of
motorway cafés and sleeping in cars Simon and Bones retired.
Horace X still had their number.
Guesting on Horace X's first full length CD, the duo appeared
with them live for the first time at Glastonbury in 1999.
Fired up again, both recorded and released solo albums and
continued to tour with Horace X. Although Bones' extensive
family commitments have prevented him from lengthy international
tours, Simon is now hardcore Horace, bringing Mark's reggae
influences to the foreground of the band's sound.
Cambridge-born, Fabian learnt music from childhood starting
with piano, violin, classical and electric guitar and then
taking up bass at 16 when he and Pete Newman first met. They
have played together ever since in blues, rock, jazz and
funk line ups. A founder member of the infamous and highly
regarded Flying Pig jams at the Flying Pig pub in Cambridge
UK, Fabian ran the jams for several years in the 90s before
being threatened with a £20,000 fine for unlicensed music...
has toured with bands in Canada, France, Australia and the
UK. As well as playing with Horace X he guests with George
Breakfast, Fully Funktional, Cath Coombs and the Awesome Soul Collective and Godfather.
Also an active member of
Real Deal Productions.
Cath Coombs, newest addition to the band!- a powerful soul
singer who has created her own unique sound with strong influences
from Aretha Franklin and gospel training. Originally working
in the Irish folk tradition, she was lead singer and instrumentalist
for successful Cambridge band Whiskey Before Breakfast, where
she appeared throughout Europe and the UK. Festival appearances
include Glastonbury, the Barbican and the Cambridge Folk Festival,
where in 2000, as a solo artist, she was famously joined on
stage by the legendary Joan Baez. Now performing live with
Horace X (she appears on the albums Sackbutt and Burst Peacock),
her vocals bring an emotive soul power to the music. She is
also performing regularly with her own band "Cath Coombs and
the Awesome Soul Collective"