Dave Cliff

Dave Cliff – Jazz Guitarist 1944 ~


David John “Dave” Cliff was born in Hexham, Northumberland. He began his career playing Rhythm & Blues in the Newcastle area. In 1967, he moved to Leeds and gained a diploma in Jazz Studies from Leeds College of Music while studying with Jazz Bassists Peter Ind & Bernie Cash. In 1971, after moving to London Cliff became established on the local scene. During 1976-1977 he toured Holland, Denmark, Italy & the UK with the Lee Konitz-Warne Marsh Quintet.  The following year Cliff toured the UK with Soprano Summit Kenny Daverne & Bob Wilber.  He worked increasingly as a freelance from the 1980s on. His 1st Album under his own name, The Right Time, was recorded in 1987. It featured Geoff Simkins on Alto, and was the 1st of a number of Albums with Simkins, with whom Cliff has collaborated extensively. Cliff has appeared frequently at Ronnie Scott’s in varied settings including Georgie Fame’s Blue Flames, Mike Carr Trio, Irene Reid, the Dick Pearce Sextet and the Bruce Adams Quartet. He has worked extensively with visiting American musicians, including Slide Hampton, Nina Simone, Kenny Davern, George Masso, Spike Robinson, Herb Geller, Lanny Morgan, Harry Allen, Buddy Childers, Lew Tabackin,, Mundell Lowe, Bucky Pizzarelli, Jack McDuff, Eddie ‘Lockjaw’ Davis, Richie Cole & Ken Peplowski. In 1998 Cliff won the BT Jazz Awards in the Guitar category.


Gretsch Tennessean

Cliff grew up in a musical household with a father who was an amateur musician who played Guitar & Doublebass in the local Dance Bands. “It was dad who made me my 1st guitar,” says Cliff. “But unfortunately the neck deteriorated and became badly bent and when it needed fixing, sadly he wasn’t around to fix it, as he died when I was just 14 years old.  Lessons? No, I didn’t have any – I just taught myself.  I didn’t practise seriously until I was 19. So I wasted a few years being a “3-chord’ merchant.” When he did finally string more than 3 chords together, Cliff joined a couple of skiffle and rock bands. “By then I was playing a Rosseti 7  (Bass) and a Gretsch Tennessean and then later a Gibson G62.”


DaveCliffArchtopBut the real musical moment arrived when at the age of  he secured a place at Leeds College of Music. “It was the very 1st and the only full time Jazz Course in the country at that time. I spent 4-yrs in Leeds: 3 at College and one unemployed. Then I moved down to London in 1971

Cliff’s influences on Guitar include Charlie Christian, & Wes Montgomery, and he has also been extensively influenced by the Lennie Tristano School, whose Jazz influence he encountered when working and studying with Peter Ind. 

Cliff is involved in Jazz Education, teaching Jazz Guitar at London Trinity College of Music, The Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama & Birmingham Conservatoire. Cliff also teaches at the Glamorgan Summer Jazz School, the Jamie Aebersold Summer School in London and at the Christiansand Jazz Course in Norway.

Dave Cliff with Mike Carr Trio