Q&A with John Helliwell

Q&A with John Helliwell

Supertramp frontman and saxophonist John Helliwell is back at Hull Truck Theatre on Sunday 15th November for Hull Jazz Festival 2020. Playing alongside the Singh String Quartet and John Ellis (on the Hammond Organ), the show is a celebration of John’s latest album ‘Ever Open Door’ which encompasses an eclectic mix of ballads and new arrangements of songs from the likes of Peter Gabriel, Paolo Fresu, George Butterworth, Jim Scott, and of course Supertramp. We caught up with John to chat about his new album, all-time favourite gigs and his dream musical collaboration.


  1. What excites you most about jazz music as a genre?

The freedom of expression and personal interaction between the musicians. It’s like no other genre of music in that sense.

  1. How did you select the tracks you’ve covered on your new album?

I tried to find very tuneful ballads and folk songs from a variety of different sources and then discussed them with Andy Scott, the arranger. We used ‘Lord Stackhouse’ that he had written for me several years ago and I found two suitable Supertramp songs to add to the collection too. We also wrote a track together called “…It Seemed That Life Was So Wonderful”.

  1. What's your most memorable gig to date, and why?

As part of the ‘Ever Open Door’ circuit, the first concert at The Storyhouse Theatre in Chester was very memorable. In fact, I included two tunes recorded here in the final album. Because of these challenging times, we’ve only done two gigs so far.


With Supertramp, The Pavilion de Paris in 1979 was pretty special. This is where we recorded the album ‘Paris’.

  1. What's your all-time favourite song to play on the sax? 

It would have to be ‘Crime Of The Century’, even after all this time it’s a firm favourite.

  1. If you could play a gig with anyone (dead or alive) who would it be and why?

No hesitation needed here: Donny Hathaway. I would be totally inspired by his soulfulness, especially on ‘I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know’.


Tickets for both the live event and livestream are available to buy here: https://www.hulltruck.co.uk/whats-on/music/supertramp-saxophonist-john-helliwell-ever-open-door/


All shows will be socially distanced in the main auditorium and

limited to around 100 people. Covid-secure safety guidelines are available to view online:  https://www.hulltruck.co.uk/your-visit/coronavirus-welcoming-back-our-audiences/