PROFILE / BIOGRAPHY Henri Defoe
Guitarist/ vocalist and composer Henri Defoe was born in London. He is best known for his work with the group Central Line, who was signed to Mercury Records and marketed by Polygram Records. The band released numerous singles and two albums in 1981 and 1983 respectively. The albums are BREAKING POINT, Mer 001 1981 and CHOICE, Mer 133 1983. Central Line went on to have hits in the USA, France, Holland and also Japan, Africa and North and South America.
Henri has a healthy history of freelance work behind him. He has worked with the poet Benjamin Zephaniah as his musical director. Henri also collaborated on four compositions on Benjamin’s album US AN DEM on the Mango (Island records cidm 1043 1991).
Henri has also toured with Robert Palmer and the group Right Said Fred. He has also toured extensively with the poet Linton Kwesi Johnson and producer/composer Dennis Bovell. He has played on numerous recordings by pop artist Jackie Graham, Peter Andre ‘single mysterious girl’. And Dee C. Lee (Paul Weller) album and single SEE THE DAY. Reggae top producers SLY AND ROBBIE have also called on Henri’s services as a guitarist.
In 1994 Henri was invited to record and tour in Japan with British jazz saxophonist Steve Williamson on his album JOURNEY TO TRUTH on verve 526 425-2 Nippon Polygram co ltd. He has also toured with British trombonist Dennis Rollins who was nominated in 2008 at both the Parliamentary Jazz Awards and the BBC Jazz Awards. Henri has also played live with one of his musical heroes’ American jazz saxophonist Ronnie Laws at the venue Jazz Café in Camden, London in 2002.
For the past fifteen years Henri has been deeply committed to popular and jazz music education. Between 2006 and 2008 Henri taught at the LCCM London center of contemporary music, specializing in guitar fretboard board harmony. Henri was also invited to teach a series of music workshops at SOUTH THAMES COLLEGE in 2006 followed by a tour, focusing on how to prepare music charts and conduct rehearsals with singers and musicians. Additionally in 2006 Henri was invited to conduct a master class at the GUITAR INSTITUTE. This was in conjunction with two of London’s finest jazz musicians, Brothers Mark and Michael Mondesir who play drums and bass respectively. The brothers have toured with jazz guitarist John McLaughlin and a host of jazz and popular artists. Mark, Michael and Henri attended the same grammar school in London as children. Henri continues to teach in schools and colleges.
On the 3rd October 2011 Henri was accepted to Middlesex University on the B.A Jazz program, he graduated in August 2014. Recently Henri has formed a quartet called KARNEESHI COLLECTIVE. He has been composing and performing with this group for the past three years.