In 2017 he launched his debut album, “Portrait of the Modern Jazz Quartet” on Trio Records, with a sold-out album release concert held at Ronnie Scott’s, followed by 2 years of touring the UK with the quartet. The album was awarded “Jazz Album of the Month” by BBC Music Magazine, with a plethora of positive reviews in the jazz press, including 4 stars in The Observer and Jazzwise Magazine. It even made it into the top 10 in the jazz charts in Japan. In 2019 he was invited by Grammy-award winning pianist, arranger and composer Alan Broadbent to give the world premier of a new work celebrating the 25th anniversary of Watermill Jazz. In 2020 - just before the pandemic - he completed an 18-date Arts Council funded tour of the UK with the MJQ band featuring guest tenor saxophonist Grant Stewart, who came from New York for 2 weeks to play. He’s currently working on two new albums which should come out in 2023.
As well as working as a performer, Nat has been very actively involved in promoting jazz and founded a jazz festival, BopFest, in 2015 with saxophonist Allison Neale. The annual festival, initially just long weekend, has grown into a 7-day long extravaganza of bebop and straight ahead jazz in London featuring some of the best musicians from the UK, Europe and America, with the festival attracting both private and Arts Council funding and getting significant audience numbers and press attention.
At his arrival on the scene, he quickly gained a reputation as a talented musician to watch out for, described by Clark Tracey as "one of the best vibes players this country has ever produced." Principally self-taught and following in the style of Milt Jackson, Nat takes a two mallet approach to improvisation, focusing on melodic interpretation over chordal playing. His “Nat Steele Quartet” is regularly featured at the Late, Late show at Ronnie Scott's and as a result he has attracted compliments for his playing from the likes of Benny Green, Joe Locke, Jason Marsalis, Harold Mabern and Eric Alexander. He has studied with Mike LeDonne and had the good fortune to sit in with both Benny Green and Wynton Marsalis.
Born in 1985, Nat grew up in Oxford and Reading, his introduction to life as a musician being a chorister in New College Choir; he was on their CD Agnus Dei, which was one of the best-selling classical albums at the time it was released. The choir also made several albums around the same time with the King’s Consort, a noted baroque ensemble. His first instrument was violin, which he studied as a child, and he learned clarinet, piano, Javanese Gamelan, and drums before finally settling on vibraphone and drums in his late teens. He spent 6 months living in Havana, Cuba studying Cuban percussion just before he started at music college, the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London.
His interest in jazz came about through rifling through his father’s record collection as a child, and then later going to Ronnie Scott’s weekly from the age of 13 to see American jazz greats like Cedar Walton, Kenny Barron, James Moody, Monty Alexander, and Joe Locke. He is largely self-taught, learning directly from the masters on the records and other musicians on the scene, and he has attended masterclasses by Barry Harris, John Pattituci and Billy Cobham.
As a drummer and vibes player he’s performed with most of the names on the London jazz scene, including on an opening gig of the London Jazz Festival with Pete King and Henry Armburg Jennings; Christian Brewer, Atila, Bobby Wellins, Steve Kaldestad, Nigel Price, Marie Murphy, Steve Fishwick, Alex Garnett, Matt Wates, Mike Gorman, Gareth Lockrane, Dave Cliff, Simon Woolf, John Pearce, Dave Newton, Gabriel Latchin, Josh Morrison, Tim Lapthorn, Clark Tracey, Matt Ridley, Sammy Mayne, Ross Stanley, Mark Crooks, Olly Wilby, Colin Oxley, Simon Thorpe, Richard Busceiwicz, Steve Brown, Matt Home, Leon Greening, Graham Harvey, Dave Warren, Alec Dankworth, Matt Skelton, Allison Neale, Gary Kavanagh, Dave Chamberlain, Julian Bury, and with visiting American artists Hod O'Brien, Greg Abate and Joyce Breach