‘If there is a more complete guitarist in contemporary music than Deirdre Cartwright I’d like to know who it is.’
Dave Gelly The Observer April 2008
She has released five albums with her group, the latest Tune Up Turn On Stretch Out was recorded live at the Vortex during the London Jazz festival.
Her latest projects include Emily Remembered a guitar duo with Manchester based guitarist Kathy Dyson which invokes the spirit of the great American bop/latin guitarist Emily Remler and Picnic a quartet featuring Annie Whitehead with influences from reggae and Latin jazz grooves.
Born and brought up in London Deirdre Cartwright bought her first electric guitar when she was fourteen; however she had to keep her ambition to play in a band a secret from the nuns at her convent school. Mainly self-taught, she discovered the sounds of blues and jazz, and from the age of 17, began to play with a variety of bands from rock to big band jazz.
She signed to EMI records with manager Harvey Goldsmith with her group Tour de Force; however she started sitting in with the jazz/latin group the Guest Stars…
In 1983, busking be-bop tunes in Covent Garden with two other Guest Stars one lunchtime, Deirdre was spotted by producer Chris Lent who offered her the job of guitar presenter on the BBC?s ground-breaking show Rockschool. The two series of BBC TV?s Rockschool attracted audiences of 2 million viewers every week in this country and were subsequently shown worldwide. In the U.S.A. the programmes were introduced by Herbie Hancock.
Meanwhile she was also performing and composing for one of the most successful of the British jazz groups of the 80s, the internationally acclaimed women?s jazz group the Guest Stars with whom she recorded three albums and toured in 17 countries.
In 1991 Deirdre formed her own group. The Deirdre Cartwright Group has played extensively in the UK on tours supported by Jazz Services and the Arts Council. Festivals have included: Bath, Brecon, Cheltenham, Newcastle, Nottingham, Chard, Swanage and the London Jazz Festival.
As a solo artist she has played with American guitar legend Tal Farlow, toured with Jamaican composer Marjorie Whylie, and has played throughout Europe. She has also seen the regular jazz club she co-runs Blow the Fuse become one of the most popular in London and has been a regular presenter for BBC Radio 3.
In 1998 Deirdre was commissioned by Chard International Women?s Music Festival to devise an original performance and educational piece. ’Flight’ was also performed for the London Jazz Festival and included appearances at the Barbican and Queen Elizabeth Hall with an international band.
In 1999 her group represented Great Britain at the European Jazz Festival in Mexico City, and she also performed a concert and live radio broadcast with her trio at the Warsaw International Guitar Festival.
Deirdre’s third CD ‘Precious Things‘ was released in 2002, reaching no.3 in two jazz charts in this country and no.5 on KAFM radio in the States.
In May 2003 Deirdre’s ‘Looks like Jazz’ UK tour supported by the Arts Council took her touring nationally again with her Group and visual artist Anne Robinson.
‘Dr Quantum Leaps‘ was released in October 2004, and the Deirdre Cartwright Group embarked on another nationwide UK tour in Autumn 2004 / Spring 2005 supported by the Arts Council of England.
Since arriving on a TV screen in 1983 presenting the programme ‘Rock School’ she has also been involved in many music education courses and books.
She helped to found the music course at Lewisham College, one of the first colleges in the country to offer BTEC in popular music. She want on to teach on the Certificate of Jazz and Pop music at Goldsmiths College, London University and on the Music Technology degree at Rose Bruford College.
She is also Head of Guitar syllabus development for Rockschool Graded Exams which reaches tens of thousands of musicians in 20 countries around the world.
In Sept 2004 she was Artist in residence at Lincoln Jazz Festival working with a jazz big band and young teenage groups and she also has extensive workshop experience in the UK for the Princes Trust amd has led many summer week long courses and worldwide including Mexico, Germany and Switzerland.
She has had seven books published, the latest by Backbeat Publication The Interactive Guitar Bible (2007) and has a book aimed at teenage girl guitarists coming out next year in the States for Music Sales.
Deirdre is the recipient of two Arts Council composition awards though still acknowledges the lasting effect of an early exposure to Glam Rock.