Monday, 17 May 2021
Friday, 19 March 2021
As everybody else is likely to have said "it's been a strange old year", not that, at the time of writing, we're by any means clear of the restrictions that we've endured for the last year. Nonetheless, after staying at home, and catching up on all the things that 'you always meant to do' (most of mine are still unfinished - though at the time of writing, two of them have been completed, whether to my complete satisfaction remains to be seen!)
Luckily, after several 'home recorded' shows I've finally got back into the studio and it's been a real relief to discover that it's all still working. Actually for my colleagues, when they back to work (hopefully around 29th March) they're going to find that they're on a learning curve because during the lockdown an entirely updated playout system has been installed. Any certainty that they might have had about finding cherished drop-ins or 'tuneage' on the system are going to need review because although a lot of what was on the old system is till there it's all been moved during the change-over. Thus I've been finding favourite things that I use during the shows have been scattered to odd corners of the system. In the most extreme case 11,645 places away from where it used to be. We will, of course be able to give instruction, although in the first place, and probably until late May, it'll have to be on a one-to-one basis. At this point I ought to thank Ian and Tom who worked through the lock-down (remotely!) to make the switch.
So far then, not a lot of jazz! For jazz musicians, and particularly at a local level it's been a really difficult year. One player who made a living from jazz and lives locally told me that his last 'live' gig was March 10th 2020. It's also evident that many tours have had to be re-arranged, often not just once or twice, but up to three times. Let's hope that when those tours take place they are well supported. This also had a strange effect on CD releases which have also in many cases had their release dates moved several times. At the time of writing I'm still waiting for four albums that should have appeared during February - but haven't! There also appears to have been problems with CD manufacture, which for the largest labels is now done, more likely than not, somewhere in Europe. I don't thank the UK's status change has helped with distribution!
Next time I'll write more specifically about some of the albums (old and new) that I've enjoyed, or in some cases rediscovered during 2021.
Friday, 18 December 2020
Top 10 of 2020 - five to one ( and one that nearly made it!)
5. Donald Byrd and the Blackbyrds: The Jazz Funk Collection.
4. Alison Neale: Quietly there.
3. Nubya Garcia: Source.
2. Orlando Le Fleming: Romantic Funk; The unfamiliar.
1=. Lionel Loueke: HH.
1.=. Kandace Springs: The women who raised me.
Spanish Harlem Orchestra: The Latin Jazz project.
Friday, 11 December 2020
2020 Top 10 - ten to six.
Firstly, the annual reminder. These albums have got nothing at all to do with sales, other chart placing or money received as payola. They're the albums that have given me the most pleasure during the course of this very strange year, so it's an esoteric mix, for which I make no apology. It's (if you like) the equivalent of being asked to pick your "Desert Island Discs" on an annual basis. Anyway, there aren't any rules apart from the ones that I make up, so this year it includes an album that was recorded a long time ago, but appeared in public for the first time this year. Five to One will follow!
10. Michel Benita: Looking at sounds.
9. Various Artists: Blue Note Re-imagined.
8. Thelonious Monk: Palo Alto.
7. Benjamin Boone and the Ghana Jazz Collective: Joy
6. Django Bates: Tenacity.
Saturday, 10 October 2020
These are still strange times!
D.A.B+ the preparations.
Saturday, 6 June 2020
1. The building we broadcast from is, apart from us, in total lockdown. Most of the things that we tend to take for granted will not be there. So there'll no going for a cup of coffee or a drink after the show is ended. The other occupants of the basement we inhabit will not be there. We'll be turning on the lights and the air conditioning and having to remember to turn them off again at the end of the day. We'll have to forego (for the moment) the joyous banter that you can have both during and after your show because we'll be socially distancing. Perhaps most peculiarly will be;
2. We're responsible for our own health and well-being. It's us who will have to wipe the surfaces, microphones, keyboards and mouses that we share (thought, is the multiple of mouse in this sense mouses?). We'll need to wear gloves through out the process. We'll also have to be responsible for general cleaning of the studio space, though quite how we're going to do that has still to be sorted out. It'll be interesting to see how other presenters go about adhering to the quite strict rules that have been imposed. It's been interesting to see how anxious several presenters have been about getting back to live broadcasting, and also the lengths that some are going to, to ensure that co-presenters are able to get to air though the use of skype as well as the ever reliable medium of telephone.
3. Where do I start with the backlog of material that has accumulated since March? In total I have about 100+ records, CD's and downloads that have arrived since lockdown. I pondered on the viability of simply doing a couple of new to you shows, but have abandoned that idea and what was new in April and May will have to wait its turn with the older material as I return to the normal cycle of including some classic material. What will be innovative is that at least for a while I'll be playing a lot more jazz-funk, that peculiar jazz fusion that suffered such a backlash from fans who though that their heroes were 'selling out'. I remember that artists like Miles Davis, Freddie Hubbard and Donald Byrd were all accused of the ;'crime'. In lockdown I've been digging out some of the best of it, aided and abetted by a sudden slew of re- releases that complete the picture and in several cases move across several different labels to complete the picture.
4. What will make it all worthwhile is the fact that it will allow me to sit and listen to two hours of the music that has sustained me through this extraordinary period. This is the longest break I've had since in broadcasting since 1984 and my appetite for playing jazz, in all its various forms, remains undiminished. It's all the more exciting for the changes that we move towards in 2021, about which more in a future set of posts.