Just to say that this blog will be closing on August 1st. Thanks to all those who contributed our commented.
There are no plans for a jazz series on BBC Radio Wales this summer, but instead of twiddling my thumbs I've put them to good use - creating a BBC website about Jazz in Wales at bbc.co.uk/jazzinwales
The site includes a guide to jazz venues, festivals and performers in Wales - feel free to take a look and suggest suitable contributions.
It also includes my own preview of this year's Brecon Jazz Festival - look out for coverage on BBC Four and the Welsh language channel S4C later in the year.
Despite all the copyright hoohah surrounding it, there's no doubt that Youtube has some unbelievably good stuff on it. And if that wasn't enough, they've made their jazz content much easier to find...say hello to Jazztube!
In recent years there has been a lot of discussion about the centre of Jazz gravity moving from the United States to Europe. Indeed, in 2005 journalist Stuart Nicholson wrote a whole book on the subject - Is Jazz Dead (Or Has it Moved to a New Address)? and has frequently returned to the subject in his regular columns for Jazzwise. Of course, it’s a subject about which views tend to vary depending on which side of the pond you live. But few listeners (or critics) would argue that there has been a new confidence and freedom in European jazz in the last decade or so which – significantly – has coincided with the passing of many of the great American jazz giants of the 1940s and 1950s.
RIP Alice Coltrane, who was set to play the UK for the first time in aeons this spring. Though a lot of jazzers are rather sniffy about her music and particularly her playing with her husband's quartet, she was as Destination Out notes rather succinctly, 'never afraid to look foolish'. In other words, she was a brave soul. There's always been a hint of sexism in these dismissals of Alice's talents, making her the jazz world's answer to Yoko Ono in some respects (see this thread on the jazz message board for details). In my humble opinion she was an original and responsible for some of the most intoxicatingly beautiful music I've ever heard. She also made some drivel, but so have a lot of other, er, 'jazz legends'...
BBC News seem to have overlooked the event in favour of more important stories like the death of Rick Stein's dog, but never fear, Destination Out carry a rather nice list of tributes. Plus this one from NPR is worth a listen...
George Shearing’s knighthood in the New Year Honours brings to mind his rare double of achieving popular success as an instrumentalist while maintaining the respect of his jazz peers. In 1949 the Shearing Quintet recording of September in the Rain sold nearly a million copies in the US, the first of many hits. Though this was certainly thanks to its unchallenging and rather easy-listening combination of piano, vibes and guitar, Shearing’s own technique and imagination as a pianist was never in doubt.
I know I know. Spending a week listening to jazz in New York isn’t what most people reading this would consider ‘work’. But my purpose for posting isn’t merely to boast but to add some personal insights that might not have made it into the 400th edition of Jazz on 3 which transmits on Friday 22nd December 2006.
The stated aim of the programme was to take a health check on the city’s current jazz scene and to ask whether it’s still the jazz capital of the world. Well to break the suspense – and just in case there was any serious doubt - the answer to the second part of the question is, in my opinion, a definite yes: with 150 venues and probably the largest concentration of first rate players living in one vicinity it would be hard for any other locality to test.
However (don’t worry there’s more to the programme than that), it’s fair to say not all is entirely well in NYC jazz. Unprecedented rents are making it harder and harder for musicians and venues to get by in Manhattan and if you’re not one of the dozen or so artists guaranteed to sell out esteemed venues such as the Village Vanguard or the Blue Note, getting paid work is more difficult than ever. Furthermore the ailing cd retail industry has recently claimed one of the city’s best loved jazz outlets – Tower Records. For in depth interviews on these topics, plus exclusive recordings of Reggie Workman, Joe Lovano, Bob Belden’s Animation and Assif Tsahar’s Digital Primitives I’d suggest listening to the programme tonight, available on Listen Again until December 27th.
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