Huw enjoyed singing as a child, and considers seeing a rerun of Harry Belafonte's appearance on the Muppet Show (see the video on the right) to be one of his first big musical influences.
He began playing tenor saxophone at age 11 without any prior formal training in music, and within a few years was awarded his school's music scholarship, which he used to purchase a soprano saxophone. He was active in school ensembles of various kinds, including pit orchestras for musicals, and became very interested in jazz. Initially inspired by legends of the swing genre such as Glen Miller's and Count Basie's big bands, and tenor saxophonist Coleman Hawkins, Huw's interest gradually expanded to include the innovators of jazz as an art music, including Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman among others. During the last few years of his pre-university education, he was a leading figure in the regional schools' musical community, as a member and soloist of ensembles of various styles and a student-organized jazz quartet.
Huw finished his formal musical training as a saxophonist in 2000 at Leeds College of Music, an institute known for it's affiliations with jazz but which also furnished experiences with Latin American percussion and Hindustani classical music. By this time, he already had two years of experience teaching clarinet to children, as a tutor for the East Leeds Music Centre. He also taught private lessons in music theory and composition. After several summers involved in self-sustaining street performance tours on the West coast of France during university holidays, and being a speaker of French, Huw decided to move to Paris. There he shifted his focus to the clarinet, which he had begun playing to become a member of the LCM's Duke Ellington Repertory Orchestra. During this time he studied with soprano saxophonist and jazz innovator Steve Lacy., who had had a big influence on his approach to both music and improvisation. Paris also provided valuable experiences playing in reggae and soka bands, and opportunities to listen to and mingle with well-known American expatriate and French jazz musicians. He appeared with performance art ensemble Urban Sax for a few of their live shows too.
Since 2002, Huw has been living in Tokyo, where he has established himself as a respected member of both the musical and music education communities. For several years he organized an ensemble to play his original compositions, Billy Spangles Group, which took part in the UK-Japan 2008 festival. This saw 3 musicians from the UK join the group for a tour of the Kanto and Kansai regions which culminated in a recording session documenting the international collaboration. Huw also taught himself ukulele during this period, inspired by a professional Hawaiian player he met.
In 2011 he heard the contrabass clarinet properly for the first time (see the "Syrinx" video above left) and developed a fascination for the instrument. Buying one for himself, he has adapted it to his own purposes, initially in The Lacy Foundation, a group dedicated to the compositions of Steve Lacy, which Huw did a focussed study of for 3 years. Since then, he has also used the contrabass clarinet in duo with vocalist Anna Mackie and vocalist/drummer Samm Bennett, in projects of his own compositions, in unique quartet NOUON, and in the PopJazz Quartet, which adapts classic and modern pop music into a more improvised context. Exploring the unique nature of the contrabass clarinet in different musical contexts has become Huw's primary focus of performance, though he has continued to play the more common soprano clarinet and occasionally saxophone in jazz contexts, and with New Orleans ensemble King Cake Baby.
"An Approach to Creative Jazz Education" is a document detailing in 114 pages his original education method, that Huw completed in 2015. Subtitled "The Application of Polyfreedom in an Academic Context", it evaluates the nature of the jazz tradition, compares the current understanding of the music with that held during the time of its conception, and incorporates both early and free jazz elements as well as the current academic approach into its structure. These features make it an ideal companion for any creative musician interested in deepening their understanding of their craft.
In recent years, Huw has expanded his educational activities beyond private lessons on saxophone, clarinet and ukulele to include improvisation on any instrument, and has devised the workshop/composition Music for Humans, which gives untrained players a chance to experience the joy of communal music-making, and also opens up new doors for experienced musicians.
Huw's plans for the future include expanding the scope of his educational activities and bringing his personal understanding of the musical tradition as it stands today to a wider audience, particularly through the use of the contrabass clarinet.