About HSQ

Introducing HSQ
(The Hillary Step Saxophone Quartet)

HSQ showcases the talents of four strong and experienced saxophonists – Jim Collins, Helen Pillinger, Will Lenton and Helena Summerfield. They have performed together for over ten years, playing classic and contemporary jazz plus their own original compositions. The HSQ line up can include unusual combinations of saxophones and also feature other instruments from the woodwind family.

HSQ expanded upon the traditional saxophone quartet to collaborate with Phil Bennett (percussion) and Rachael Gladwin (harp) enabling them to create even stranger and more wonderful music. HSQ+2 performed with great success at the Manchester Jazz Festival, capturing this material on their debut E.P. “Shapechanger”.

HSQ+2 were one of twelve bands selected for Jazz North’s ‘Northern Line’ touring scheme to promote jazz in the North West. This gave HSQ the opportunity to take their music to jazz venues outside of Manchester and perform at the Liverpool Jazz Festival in 2014.

HSQ premiered “Lang Wudu” composed especially for them by Alexander Douglas. This nine movement work was commissioned by ‘Bear Hunting and Other Ways to Walk’ an outdoor arts event funded by Kirklees Council. “Lang Wudu” (old English for long wood) was inspired by the landscape and topography of Longwood and delighted audiences at the premier performance. RNCM graduate Kyran Matthews performed in “Lang Wudu” and from this point became a regular member of HSQ.

With the support of the Dalcroze Foundation, HSQ worked with acclaimed storyteller Ursula Holden Gill to create “How Monkey Found His Swing” – an interactive concert experience for children combining original storytelling, jazz and movement to blur the boundaries between performance and participation. The show premiered at the Manchester Jazz Festival and has since performed at the award-winning ‘Just So’ festival in Cheshire, The Birmingham Symphony Hall and the Bridgewater Hall, Manchester.

Building on the success of “How monkey found his swing”, HSQ premiered their new interactive performance “HMS Syncopation” at the Manchester Jazz Festival. This show features ‘Professor Jigget’ from Yan Tan Tethera and the ‘Ain’t Misbehavin’ jazz trio as the captain and crew of a ship sailing around the world on a quest to find musical styles and fruity rhythms. HSQ created “HMS Syncopation” with funding from ACE after a successful ‘Grants for the Arts’ application.

The future

HSQ are looking forward to developing new interactive concerts for 2019 and composing more quirky yet beautiful saxophone quartet music.