Hugh soon fell out with the autocratic Kurt Hahn and the family retreated to Dartington. Heckstall-Smith completed his education at the Foxhole school before reading agriculture – and co-leading the university jazz band – at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge, from 1953. Aged 15, he had taken up the soprano sax while at Foxhole, captivated by the sound of Sidney Bechet. Then the smokiness of Lester Young's sound caught him, and the music of tenor saxist Wardell Gray, a major early bebop musician. Heckstall-Smith was an active member of the London jazz scene from the late 1950s. He joined Blues Incorporated, Alexis Korner's groundbreaking blues group, in 1962.
The following year, he was a founding member of that band's breakaway unit, the Graham Bond Organisation; the lineup also included two future members of the blues-rock supergroup Cream: bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. In 1967, Heckstall-Smith became a member of keyboardist-vocalist John Mayall's prominent group the Bluesbreakers. That jazz-skewed edition of the band, which also included drummer Jon Hiseman and future Rolling Stones guitarist Mick Taylor, released the album Bare Wires in 1968. From 1968 to 1970, Heckstall-Smith and Hiseman were the key creative members of the pioneering UK jazz-rock band Colosseum. The act was a showcase for the saxophonist's writing and his instrumental virtuosity; like American saxophonist Rahsaan Roland Kirk, he could blow two saxophones simultaneously. After exiting Colosseum, Heckstall-Smith fronted several other fusion units, including Manchild, Big Chief, Tough Tenors, Mainsqueeze and DHSS. He participated in a 1990s reunion of the original Colosseum lineup and played the hard-working Hamburg Blues Band.
In 2001 he cut the all-star project "Blues and Beyond", which reunited him with Mayall, Bruce, Taylor and ex-Mayall and Fleetwood Mac guitarist Peter Green. Read more on Last.fm. User-contributed text is available under the Creative Commons By-SA License; additional terms may apply..
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