studied music at the Universities of York & Oxford - and is probably best known as a member of award-winning jazz-punk ensemble WorldService Project. Other projects include The Vanderbilts, a contemporary cross-arts collaboration with pianist-composer Elliot Galvin, and dancer Kasia Witek; the free-improvising Speckles Brass ensemble; and The Old Bone Band, who specialise in the swing jazz tradition of the 1930s and 40s.
Raph also loves to use creative music-making and song-writing in his work as an educator and workshop leader, particularly with children who have special educational and social needs. He has participated/directed numerous projects with: Be Creative Music, English Touring Opera, Spitalfields Music, Opera Holland Park, Sinfonia Viva, London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Match & Fuse initiative, and others.
In 2016, he performed with: the Octandre Ensemble (a Radio 3 broadcast); the Kazzum theatre company’s new pop-up piece ‘Sprung’ at festivals; the Engines Orchestra & Femi Temowo at the Love Supreme Festival; the Brassroots brass band; and toured with WorldService Project’s new album ‘For King and Country’ across Europe, China, Japan and India.
In 2017, Raph worked with: Benin City (Joshua Idehen’s RnB/Hip Hop band); a jazz & shadow puppetry project in Brecon with Huw Warren, Laura Jurd, Chris Williams & others; participated in projects for English National Opera and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra; and in October, recorded the fourth WorldService Project album, 'Serve', which is to be released in May 2018 on Rare Noise Records.
Meanwhile, also last year, The Dissolute Society itself presented large ensemble performances at The Vortex and Cambridge Jazz Festival, plus some Dissolute Society Trio gigs in Bristol, the London Jazz Festival, and Brighton (the latter gig was recorded and may well form the basis of a future release).
Raph has recently written music for a new ensemble - 'Equal Spirits' is a celebration of UK-South African jazz connections post-war, including collaborations between Keith Tippett and Mongesi Feza – and currently featuring Chris Batchelor, Steve Watts, Phil Merriman, Leeto Thale, and Mike Pickering. This project will be on tour in South Africa in February 2018: sophiatownthemix.com/event/sophiatown-jazz-encounter-raph-clarkson-presents-equal-spirts.
Raph has also been composing music for a number of commissions and projects - including pieces for the Derby-based Sinfonia Viva, the Common & Kind Charity, and arrangements for a fundraising, collaborative Ghana-UK album, featuring Laura Jurd, Mark Lockheart, Liran Donin and Seb Rochford – and overseen by Sonny (John Simpson) who engineered “Soldiering On”.