Is jazz a private members club? Or do we just need to knock a little harder to let ourselves in? This is a question I’ve been asking myself for years. My mum (a die-hard Cliff Richard fan) and Dad (who holds no particular love for music himself) have always been supportive of my musical journey. My mum’s passion for it was infectious to me, and over the years, my love of pop and rock (which still remains) has morphed into a growing love of hiphop and a firm one for yes, jazz.
Many jazz artists I’ve interviewed like Kit Downes or Sarah Gillespie have said that they were introduced to it by a relative when they were young. For me, it came out of a boredom for current pop and rock about three years ago, when I felt the authenticity has weakened and the hooks had sold out. It was time for something new. And that’s when I found Sonny Rollins, Dizzy Gillespie, and modern acts like Troyka and WorldService Project (above). I entered a world which was unpredictable, exciting, and new.
I was so inspired and driven by my excitement to find more of it, that JazzedUp was born, a blog which aimed to make jazz less intimidating and more inviting to people like me who were discovering it too. I founded it for my Music Journalism BA end of year piece, and despite it being a ‘student’ project, it got big praise from the likes of John Fordham of The Guardian, via a 40 minute phone conversation. Only now do I realise how very fortunate I was to share that discussion with him. I kept it going for as long as I can, but sadly, I had to let it go to plunge myself and my time into my telly work.
Now, I’m lucky enough find myself on Hoxton radio every Monday morning, buzzing from that excitement on air. Every week, I play a variety of modern tracks and standards. I also bring in tracks which cross jazz with other genres, like Soweto Kinch who delivers his sax phrases alongside raps. My favourite part of the show, is where I play a jazzed up version of a track from a completely different genre. Pianist Karen Souza and band Postmodern Jukebox are both great with this, having recorded their own versions of Creep and Drunk sin Love respectively.
In this weeks show, I opened up this debate to my listeners; is jazz a private member’s club? Your thoughts were really interesting. Click on the image above to have a listen. You might find something you like.