Charlie Bates and Helena Debono

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Last Show: Sunday 30 th July 2023

PizzaExpress Live (Holborn)

Multi-award-winning composer, arranger and pianist Charlie Bates and renowned vocalist Helena Debono are back at PizzaExpress Live. Helena and Charlie first met in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and have since forged a successful and productive musical relationship. After their sold-out autumn show, they are coming to Holborn with an all-star band to perform their original songs for this Sunday Lunch show.

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Charlie Bates is a multi-award-winning composer, arranger and pianist based in London. After graduating from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire with first class honours and as a multiple prize-winner, he released his debut album for big band ‘Silhouettes’. This went on to be dubbed ‘impressive and inventive’ by The Guardian’s John Fordham. He went on to work with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra as composer-in-residence, whom he conducted at Air Studios and Ronnie Scotts Jazz Club. He has since been awarded the Dankworth Award, the Eddie Harvey Award and an Ivor Novello award for composition. He has performed live on BBC2 and his music has been broadcast on BBC TV and Radio, as well as Jazz FM. More recently, he has been working with the world famous NDR Big Band in Germany as a guest composer, arranger and conductor,

‘There is no doubt Bates has mastered the skill of composing for large forces’ Peter Bacon, Jazzwise

‘Impressive and Inventive, Teeming with melodic inventiveness’ John Fordham, The Guardian

‘A true talent’ Tim Garland, UK Saxophonist/Composer.


From South West London comes Helena Debono, a young Jazz/Soul/Pop vocalist. She has been captivating audiences with her emotional renditions of Jazz standards and her own original music since she was a teenager. Her natural, effortless vocals have already received acclaim amongst the UK Jazz scene and leaves audiences wanting to hear more. She has performed at many venues including Ronnie Scotts, Pizza Express Soho and Holborn, Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival and many more. In July 2021 Helena released her debut album called ‘Right Here’ which is a mix of Jazz standards and her own originals. The album received great reviews and has over 30k streams on Spotify. She performed a Sold-Out Album Launch show at Pizza Express Holborn and her band were invited to perform a livestream from Ronnie Scotts which has over 5k streams. 

Helena graduated with a BA (hons) first class degree in Jazz Music from Leeds College of Music. She has performed at many venues in Leeds including the Brudenell Social Club and Hifi. In 2019 Helena became the Female vocalist for The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), during this time she was interviewed by Emma Smith for BBC Radio 3 “Jazz Now”. She is now the Vocal Coach for NYJO. In the Summer of 2019 Helena was thrilled to perform with ‘The London Gay Big Band’ at London Pride in Trafalgar Square. She has also performed with ‘The Puppini Sisters’. 

'Absolutely Beautiful'- Mark Dezzani (Radio Caroline) 'Something Special'- Alan Raw (BBC Introducing)

‘Helena’s singing displays great musicality, relaxed beauty of tone and, of course, that immaculate timing.’- Andrew Cartmel (London Jazz News)

Band Line Up

Helena Debono (vocalist)
Charlie Bates (piano/MD)
Nick Fitch (guitar)
Jack Tustin (bass)
Max Mills (drums)
Luke Vice-Coles (trumpet)
Tom Smith (saxophone)
Tom Dunnett (trombone)