Alan Haven

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A jazz organist with enormous energy, drive and rhythmic vitality.
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b. 1 April 1935, Prestwich, Manchester, Lancashire, England. Largely self-taught, Haven’s first instrument was the piano and he began playing jazz while still a teenager. He played clubs and dancehall dates on the Mecca circuit and also ventured as far afield as Paris. He had been interested for some time in organists, including Jackie Davis and, in particular, a Count Basie set with the Oscar Peterson Trio on which Basie played organ. Haven acquired a Lowrey Holiday organ and taught himself to play it, this at a time when organ trios were briefly popular. Facing up to the complexities of the instrument was one thing; there were also audience (and fellow-musician) prejudices to overcome, since the organ was not highly regarded in jazz circles. Haven toured extensively, learning his trade with such dedication and skill that he eventually became perhaps the most skilled of all organists with his footwork. He began to enjoy a higher profile thanks to appearances on television and a popular album of songs by John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

In the mid-60s Haven moved to London, persuaded Ronnie Scott to give him an opportunity at the old Gerrard Street club, and soon broke down most of the barriers of prejudice against his instrument. He played and recorded sets at Ronnie Scott’s and also at Annie’s Room and established a musically rewarding partnership with drummer Tony Crombie. He had a hit single with ‘Image’/‘Romance On The North Sea’ and topped Melody Maker polls for several years. He also wrote music for and played on the soundtracks of a number of films, including two James Bond outings and The Knack. Haven designed and built the Haven organ and for some years was active in the marketing and promotion of the instrument, activities that kept him from the public eye for a while. In the early 80s he was back but from the middle of the decade onwards was only rarely in the UK. Mostly, he was heard in Spain and on US-based cruise liners. In the late 90s Haven returned to the recording studios after a long absence and was working in Spain, often with the singer Karen Elle, a long-lasting partnership.

Throughout his career, Haven has demonstrated enormous energy, playing with drive and rhythmic vitality. His technical skills, especially his footwork, appear boundless but this is technique at the service of a master musician, not for its own sake. Although straight jazz gigs are less in evidence, the luxury liner, hotel and cabaret audience having different needs, when the opportunity presents itself, Haven admirably proves that he has lost none of the youthful fire that made his name, in the UK, synonymous with jazz organ for most of the 60s.