Meet Down for the Count's Musicians: Alex Western-King

Published: 30 Oct 2023

In the next of our series of Meet The Band articles, Ruby talks to saxophonist and clarinettist Alex Western-King about his musical influences and experiences with Down for the Count.


How/when did you first get involved with Down for the Count? 

I was in my second year at Guildhall and there was an old bass player who used to play with Down for the Count called Matthew Reed. He was already gigging with Down for the Count and he recommended me for a gig.


What was your first experience of jazz/swing music? 

I went to Wells Cathedral School, and it was probably when I was around 11 and I heard the school big band play.

Saxophonist Alex-Western-King performing with Down for the Count


What other musical projects are you involved with outside of Down for the Count?

I’ve got a residency at Ronnie Scotts and I also run jam sessions all over London. I also play with a few different bands around the country and I also have my own band who are playing at London Jazz Festival this year. I am trying to get in some of more of my own projects with producing and mixing.


Who are your musical influences? 

My main saxophone influences would be Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Joe Henderson, Lester Young, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins and so many more. Those are kind of the old guys.

Also with living in and around London for many years, just lots of contemporaries. People I hear week to week who sound badass! So as much as I check out those old guys, it’s great to hear some new people coming through. My peers are some of my favourite musicians honestly.


What is your favourite jazz album, song or recording? 

What a question! The first one is going to be Transition by John Coltrane - which is just the most incredible representation of four musicians who are just giving it 100%, which I don’t think people do enough these days.

Then Charlie Parker’s version of Cherokee with a guitarist called Efferge Ware is also just genius.  

Alex Western-King (clarinet) performing with Down for the Count


What is the best gig you have ever been to? 

I go to a lot of gigs, and I’ve been to a lot of gigs recently. I see a lot of phenomenal gigs every month, again just in and around London listening to some friends of mine play. 

I just saw the James Owston Trio at Southampton Jazz Club last week, that was probably the best one I’ve been to in a while. 

I have also seen Biffy Clyro a few times, I’m a big fan. I even went to Paris one time to see them play as they had sold out in the UK. That was very cool. 

I used to go to Glastonbury every year as well, so I saw lots of great stuff there too. 

I mainly like seeing friends and contemporaries play though, I think there is lots of great stuff being made at a grassroots level. 


What are your hobbies when you’re not performing? 

Honestly a lot of my hobbies are tangentially related to music. 

I also switch between hobbies quite often, I tend to get really into something for a few months and then move on. Recently it was making clothes, at the moment it is music production - which hopefully will stick. 


What is the best part about being involved with Down for the Count? 

I think it’s cool that this band is taking this type of music and taking it to audiences all around the country. There aren’t a lot of bands doing that and I really like this music, so it’s great to bring it to lots of people. 

Saxophonist Alex-Western-King performing with Down for the Count

About the author

Ruby Willis

Ruby is Down for the Count's marketing and communications assistant. When she is not writing Facebook posts and making Instagram reels, she is often performing in short films or physical theatre shows.

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