Claude grew up in Cape Town, Bridgetown, Gugulethu and the Cape Flats. His grandfather Cornelius Otto Marshall had a brass band (Athlone Brass Band) and a choir (Alpha Choristers) which were all community based ensembles during the 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s.
The immediate family moved to England in 1974 as political refugees. Having played drums from an early age, he switched to trumpet when at secondary school in the UK. He played in youth bands and developed his reading and discipline. His first gig was with Dave Holdsworth, the trumpet player and Harry Miller. He met Louis Moholo and played his second gig at a jazz festival in summer.
“It just blew my mind. And, from there, a lot of work came. I was doing big bands, playing with various people, I did a lot of benefit gigs for the movement, during the struggle,” he said.
He was a founding member of the Jazz Warriors in London. He joined Tony Haynes’ Grand Union Orchestra in 1984. He has played with a wide variety of
international artist, including Jonas Gwangwa, Julian Bahula, Art Blakey, Lucky Ranku, Hermeto Pascoal, Carla Bley’s Big Band, Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood of Breath, Manu Dibango, Louis Moholo’s Viva La Black, Courtney Pine’s Jazz Warriors and Andy Sheppard’s different units and recordings. Claude is also known for his work with the Dedication Orchestra, Mervyn Africa, Brian Abrahams, Art Blakey, Archie Shepp, Francis Fuster, Roy Ayers and Fela Kuti. And a variety of projects with Jürgen Leinhos in Frankfurt, such as JAA.
Claude’s music is completely South African. You can hear it from the first note. You will hear the introduction and you know it. It's meant to be happy music. This band has crossed the section where people think of African music as just dance music. This is jazz.
“I am a believer of what Duke Ellington said: “Jazz is African music.” That's where it basically comes from. It's that harmonic structure. It's that freedom, just to take a single melody and expand on it, to improvise. We have been doing that since time immemorial. All different forms of African music have that and that is what jazz music is based on,” he said.
Claude directs and composes for his own bands African Jazz Explosion (8 piece band), Horns Unlimited (16 piece band) and Five Funky Fellas and has headed the brass section of Kinetika Bloco, a community-based youth project that celebrates the music of the African diaspora with the young people of London for over 25 years.
Claude has recorded with Winston Mankunku, Jonas Gwangwa, Miriam Makeba, Julian Bahula, Louis Moholo, Lucky Ranku, Chris McGregor, Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard, Grand Union, Jazz Warriors and many more including albums with his own units.