Over the last 30 years, Ralf has lead many jazz groups which have featured his original compositions - Waiting for Stanley, Surprise and 10,000 Things being the most well-known.

Since 2010 he has been studying for a PhD in (Jazz) Composition concentrating on writing new works for big band. (Completed in Sept 2017) This is the latest step in a career of writing for large jazz ensembles, usually those in which he has also played - Bullitt, Canoe and Ultrasound.  His "Matthew Variations" can be found on the Ultrasound CD "North Utsire, South Utsire" that was commissioned by the Bristol Festival of the Sea.

The video above is a performance of his "Colliers Way" suite which was written as part of his PhD studies as a practical exploration of the compositional techniques of the British jazz composer, Graham Collier. It is performed by a sextet put together for the occasion: Gethin Liddington (trumpet/flugel), Savio Pacini (trombone), Mat Sibley (tenor/sop sax), Dale Hambridge (piano), Rob Brian (drums) and Ralf Dorrell (double bass).