b. 12 October 1976, Vienna, Austria. The son of exiled Kenyan peace campaigner Professor Washington Okumu, David and his family relocated to the UK when he was 10 years old. He had begun taking an interest in music, first wanting to play trumpet but instead took up the guitar. Although he did not think he could play jazz, he attended a school where John Parricelli was a visiting teacher and began moving into the genre. He met drummer Tom Skinner and bass player Tom Herbert, both of whom were to become close musical companions and collaborators of the future. After studying French and politics at Edinburgh University, Okumu returned to London where he joined Tomorrow’s Warriors. He had been composing music and was encouraged to perform his ‘Thieves Without Loot’ at the London Jazz Festival. For this date, Okumu was joined by Skinner and Herbert as well as keyboard player Nick Ramm and saxophonist Jason Yarde. He later met and played with Scandinavian contemporary jazz players drummer Benita Haastrup and bass player Anders Jormin.
Okumu has been deeply involved with various bands, sometimes as leader or co-leader; among them are F-IRE Collective, Jade Fox, a band influenced by Miles Davis’ fusion period, and Foot Fooler, a 12-piece band conceived by Skinner and also inspired by aspects of Davis’ work. Among others with whom Okumu has performed are Colin Towns’ Mask Orchestra, John Taylor, Jean Toussaint, and singers Eska Mtungwazi, Terri Walker and Norma Winstone. He has also worked with Taylor and Winstone’s son, drummer Leo Taylor. An adventurous and forward-thinking musician, during the early 00s Okumu was staking a claim to becoming one of the more promising of the new generation of jazz musicians.