Robert George Downes, 22 July 1937, Plymouth, Devon, England. It was not until he was in his late teens that Downes began to teach himself to play the saxophone. Some years later, he switched mainly to flute but also became proficient on several reed and woodwind instruments. At the end of the 60s he was briefly with Mike Westbrook and in the following decade he also played with the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and frequently led his own groups. These bands included Open Music, the Alternative Medicine Quartet and, some years later, the Flute Orchestra. With these bands, Downes played a wide range of music, including rock and free jazz, classical and ethnic. During these same decades, the 70s and 80s, he extended his reputation as a flautist of distinction, working in England and Germany. Downes has composed a great deal of music in the jazz and classical genres, including in the latter orchestral suites and music for contemporary ballet.