All That Jazz:
Through a happy series of accidents and with the enthusiastic support of my friend, the writer, Graham Lock, I found myself slap bang in the middle of London’s happening jazz explosion of the mid-80s. It was an era when the previously underground scene was sending ripples into the mainstream. With the backing of some astute record companies and music promoters, talented musicians such as Courtney Pine, Julian Joseph, Django Bates, Annie Whitehead and many others began to emerge. Simultaneously Radio London and the DJ, Gilles Peterson with his infectious love of all things latin, were pushing a whole new jazz dance/club movement – for a while both musos and hipsters were united in their appreciation of John Coltrane. Meanwhile the musicians who had forged the post be-bop era championing a radical approach to improvisation were alive and well and being flown in by independent promoters like Anthony Wood, the founder of The Wire magazine and John Cumming at Serious.
With commissions from the NME, The Wire, the Sunday supplements and directly for the record companies, I would find myself behind the scenes with luminaries whose faces I knew only from record sleeves – eating raw eel on the floor of a restaurant in Japan with Blue Note guitarist, Kenny Burrell, remains a memorable experience. Although I am the first to admit that I lack the encyclopaedic knowledge often associated with jazz aficionados, it is the its energy that continues to entrance me. It is like being present in a room full of alchemists: they conjure sounds from the air and weave a transient magic. Occupying the same space as these people…in a recording studio…in a rehearsal room and sensing that unapplauded energy flowing around you is a glorious place to be. I guess you could call it feeling the vibe.
The musicians can be identified by hovering over the white dot at bottom right of each picture.