Nick Hempton

Image 1 of 5


“What makes Nick Hempton’s music and persona so innately compelling that one can’t turn away? Perhaps it’s that he’s a character, in the sincerest of ways.” (NYC Jazz Record)

Nick Hempton is an alto and tenor saxophonist, playing swinging jazz music for the people. A veteran of the New York scene, he fills rooms big and small throughout the city, as well as concert halls and festivals around the world. Influenced by the greats of the instrument– Dexter Gordon, Sonny Stitt, Cannonball Adderley– and informed by a misspent youth playing Rhythm & Blues and Ska in his native Australia, Hempton's jazz is “gritty, entertaining, and thoroughly modern.”  (Flophouse Magazine)

Growing up on the mean streets of Sydney, Hempton and the Jazz School system didn’t see eye to eye, and he learnt to play jazz the old-fashioned way: jam sessions at local clubs and late night practice sessions on Sydney’s famous Harbour Bridge. A year at sea working on the cruise ships raised the funds for a flight, and in January 2004 he touched down in NYC. 

From 2005 to 2016 Nick led The Nick Hempton Band, delivering “highly entertaining, hard-driving and solid swinging modern jazz,” (E–Jazz News) to most of the major New York venues, as well as touring regionally and internationally. With this group, Nick released four highly-praised studio albums: “Nick Hempton Band” (self-released, 2008); “The Business” (Posi-Tone, 2011); “Odd Man Out” (Posi-Tone, 2013); and in 2015, the innovative “Catch and Release,” which was recorded and released track-by-track over the course of a year. This was followed by the pared-back “Trio Stonk” (SmallsLive, 2017), recorded live at NYC’s famed Smalls Jazz Club.

In 2018, after years of flirting with the organ band format, Nick recorded his sixth album, the organ quartet outing, “Night Owl.” Featuring renowned guitar ace Peter Bernstein, Night Owl harkens back to the classic ‘60s organ band sound, “that greasy, funky soul-jazz popularized by the likes of Lou Donaldson, Grant Green and Stanley Turrentine... complete with a Gene Ammons-grade soul tenor sax.” (Something Else Reviews). “Night Owl” was such a gas, Nick took the same band back to the same studio, and the hotly-anticipated follow-up, “Slick,” was released to much acclaim in November 2021.

Nick has built a strong reputation in NYC and abroad as an entertaining and energetic front man, whether in the organ band format, or leading conventional hard bop quartets and quintets. His itinerant lifestyle has taken him to stages throughout the US, Europe, and Australia, as well as regular visits to China and South East Asia. He has made numerous television and radio appearances, and has also developed an excellent reputation as a music educator, holding private lessons, clinics, and masterclasses for school- and mature-aged students.

 On stage, in the studio, and on the road, Hempton continues to bring his “big fat grooves, a real sense of swing, strong melodies and even stronger rhythms” (AAJ) to audiences everywhere.