It's been a perverse year at Babel. When the economy was doing well, it was a drag on our activities having to sort out some of our payments to musicians. Now that the recession has hit good and proper, things are moving in a positive direction, for reasons that I can't yet fathom.
Portico Quartet's CD has continued to sell and sell, and it was a delight to see them at a sold-out ICA on Wednesday, confident and with some exciting new material and effects. It's probably Babel's best selling CD of all time by now!
The Vortex's piano has now been paid off, thanks to an individual act of generosity. With a further substantial donation by another "friend" to come, it means that almost certainly the club can weather the recession.
Finally, at a time when the retail music sector is in meltdown (more on the Pinnacle/New Note/Cadiz story unfolding soon), I have opened a Babel shop at the Vortex! Between the Nigerian travel agent and Somali qat seller. More a jazz deli than a supermarket, I feel that it's time to go back to basics and directness.
I have many CDs of the young jazz generation who perform regularly at the Vortex. Blink, John Randall, Amit Chaudhuri to name a few who are otherwise unavailable.
Why the (relative) optimism? My first thought is that at a time of recession like this, jazz is no longer peripheral. Quality and value are two important elements that spring to mind. It's music that can repay constant revisiting. Yet costs the same or less than other entertainments around. (My local cinema is more expensive than a usual Vortex gig.)