Olly Chalk was born in Bury St. Edmunds and grew up in a quiet village in rural Suffolk. At 18, he received a scholarship to study Jazz Piano at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire, graduating four years later with a First Class Honours. During these formative years, Olly developed his voice as a pianist and improviser studying the music of McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock and Kenny Kirkland. Today, his deeply emotive but informed pianism intertwine with his understanding of the subtle balance between structure and freedom. As a composer, he walks the high-wire between total freedom and detailed (often through-composed) writing, taking with him a ‘blank canvas’ approach to any and all musical situations.
Although Jazz is his first love, Olly maintains a chasm of influences, his focus ever-changing (he likes it that way). Recently, Sergei Prokofiev, Kate Bush, Tim Hecker, Gorguts and Toru Takemitsu have dominated his listening time. Generally, Olly strongly believes that this consciously varied approach to listening and discovery is at the heart of his approach to composition and improvised music. In January 2018, Olly received the Peter Whittingham Development Award through HMUK to assist with the costs of a tour and album recording. Featuring world-renowned New York saxophonist John O’Gallagher alongside the Olly Chalk Trio, ‘Scathed Citizens’ explores a vivid picture-book of themes: science fiction, mysticism, hope, anxiety and dystopia. Influenced by David Binney, Pablo Held and Einojuhani Rautaavara, this album (due for release in June 28th 2019) showcases daring, emotive compositions and explosive improvising.
Having recently moved to South-East London, Olly is now undertaking an MMus degree in Jazz Piano at Trinity Laban; his teachers include Kit Downes, Bruno Heinen and Liam Noble. He is looking forward to having the time to practice, write and study again. Despite his short time in London, Olly is beginning to establish himself in the capital. Having recently played at King's Place, London Jazz Festival and Kansas Smitty's, Olly is looking forward to continuing to make as much music as possible.