Thursday, January 22, 2009

Where's the jazz in London?

It's all too easy to get despondent about how much (or rather how little) jazz there is to be heard in London. Rather it's how hard to find out about all the jazz in London before it's happened. Indeed, there's Ronnie Scott's, the Pizza Express, 606, Bull's Head and the Vortex. But the real excitement is what's bubbling underneath - all too often unfindable, or only to be found too late. Seb Scotney is getting his teeth into this part of the scene on his LondonJazz blog.
For example, the chance to hear Uri Caine in Greenwich on 18 February, courtesy of Trinity College of Music. Or the work that Richard Turner puts in at Cons Cellar Bar in Camden. Or Troubletune at Concrete Bar run by Zed-U, which I went to yesterday. (A mesmerising collaboration with Jason Yarde using looping and electronics as well as beautiful saxophony.)
The shame is perhaps that the musicians themselves are so committed that very little money comes back to them. And the opportunities to "cash in". Dependent on door money, if any at all, and the long-term passion for playing and performing. They know how to improvise their lives to adapt to these passions.
By the way, Zed-U's next Troubletune is on 18 February, with Seb Rochford as guest.

1 comment:

Adam Scrimshire said...

Your points are all true. Fact is that while it's a struggle no doubt,there is a strong jazz community here. And there are a lot of regular events that unfortunately would be tagged as "underground".

But there are also many DJs who love jazz here. People like Dom Servini, Jesper Christiansen, Sid Ford, Jake Holloway, Nik Weston. More mainstream names like Gilles Peterson, DJ Format (known for his Hip Hop but has an amazing jazz collection when he breaks them out).

Check out Sunday afternoon at Proud Galleries in Camden for a live Jazz session (and take an instrument if you play) that has been going on for years. This weekend also has the Gilles Peterson Worldwide Awards at Cargo - Sold out! - that also will be showing a fair share of Jazz from as far afield as Japan.

Personally, I am involved with Dom Servini's
Wah Wah 45s label, which put on a fair amount of jazz related club and live nights. With plenty of fresh new music that fits into that genre in one way or another.

It's all out there and some of the best stuff is really off the beaten track. But quite often free when you find it.