Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Capital of European Jazz?

Londonjazz blog has contenders for the capital of European jazz. To the list that Seb suggests I'd like to add:

Amsterdam: home of the incredible Bimhuis, Willem Breuker, Han Bennink, Benjamin Herman etc
Berlin: Just a buzzing city. Bands like em, a free scene inherited from East Berlin (Petrowsky etc). Has attracted Tom Arthurs to its bosom recently.
Paris: Just a great city, home of Michel Portal, Martial Solal, Marc Ducret etc. with all the Africans adding to the buzz
Cologne: Stadtgarten venue, great festivals nearby such as Moers and Leverkusen, conservatoire which has the likes of John Taylor teaching there. Musicians in the area such as Simon Nabatov, Florian Ross.
Vienna: Vienna Art Orchestra has acted as the hub for over 30 years. Jazz festivals there and in Wiesen, Porgy and Bess club is probably the best in Europe (after Ronnies and Vortex, of course)

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dalston - a land fit for kings

For years, I would never have thought of Dalston as anything but a traffic jam where the Balls Pond Road crossed Kingsland Road and created delays on the journey to the Blackwall Tunnel. The move of the Vortex to Gillett Square of course created, perforce, a move to the area. The car park outside the Vortex filled up on Friday nights for the hard core African clubs and by day for Ridley Road market and the car wash team.
Of course, the Africans are still here, the Turkish restaurants are still fantastic, the Rio ploughs its furrow as one of the truly independent cinemas in London. And the Arcola is striving to be an eco-friendly as much as a creative friendly theatre. The drunks have been forced elsewhere, and some of the clubs have been closed down.
How much the area has developed as a centre of artists and clubs was brought home to me in force by the Land Of Kings event on Thursday and Friday this week. A dozen or so venues opening their doors and the Vortex packed to a bright young crowd for Oriole particularly yesterday night. Briony Campbell came round to do some photos of the team at the Vortex as part of a project photographing the venues in the area. The first few can be seen at the Arcola Theatre and she has identified 24 alone. The results will be posted up on the web soon and I'll put the details up when I have them.
Fortunately the recession means that these venues will grow steadily and strongly, but not too fast. And we hopefully shan't be overpowered by the Hackney Council glitz on Dalston Square, whenever that appears.
Today I'm off to open my shop as part of an event exploring our food through art. And will be drinking copious amounts of coffee at the Vortex to recover from a late night. With finally, a performance by the amazing Six Strings and The Beat. Go Phil!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Come to my record shop, one of the last outposts

The LondonJazz blog reminds us it will be Record Store day on Saturday. Personally I doubt whether this will at any stage come to rank with the likes of Mother's Day or National No-Snoring day. Still let's hear it for the small shops like mine on Gillett Square indeed - and Honest Jon's, and Ray's and ???.
I find it shocking as to how HMV has gone so far backwards in its making jazz (and recorded music) available in its stores nowadays. HMV Hampstead probably has 200 jazz CDs in its rack. I understand that in Enfield there are probably 200 CDs in total. It's all about games and DVDs there. I hope they don't claim any degree of increased profitability out of selling music in their stores.Watch out Waterstones! Waterstones is no longer the store that it was. Even "sophisticated" Hampstead in inundated by novels by Katie Price, and memoirs by Jonathan Woss. (Waterstones is indeed owned by HMV)

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

A jazz archive?

Where do we get the old reviews of albums?
The internet and online reviews are the only place now where there are proper long-term archives of album reviews. This raises the importance of the reviews by the likes of Chris Parker on the Vortex web site or Peter Bacon's jazz breakfast to the same status as that of newspapers where there is a proper online archive (e.g. the Guardian). For regular news, then, there are blogs such as Londonjazz, or the pop-oriented ones, like Record of the Day.
Unfortunately, there is now no similar facility for researching the old copies of the main magazines, which therefore become ephemeral. Even though they are regarded as definitive and make substantial investment in articles and reviews (i.e. paying the contributors).In the old days, of course, it was possible to go down to the local library and look up copies of Jazz Journal, say. Now, how, for example, can we get hold of old reviews of Jazzwise and Jazz UK? I suppose there are still a few libraries around, and of course there's the National Jazz Archive in Buckhurst Hill. Then where? You could go down to Streatham (Jazzwise's headquarters), Cardiff (Jazz UK's headquarters), Colindale (the British Library newspapers Reading Room) and, I would expect, the copyright libraries in Oxford, Cambridge, Edinburgh.
If magazines like Jazzwise don't engage properly with the internet but prefer to fight it, they will go the same way as the major record labels, when they fought Napster etc., about a decade ago.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Music Market - 26 April @ The Vortex

The next Vortex music market is on 26 April from 2-6 p.m.
Jazz on Cds, vinyl - much hard to find.
With the loss of so many high street shops, here is one of the few places for lovers of specialist jazz to find what they love.
FREE to attend, FREE to display.
For more information, contact oliver@vortexjazz.co.uk
At the first, you could find many Leo CDs for £2, and exciting things from Czech Republic, Babel releases ahead of their time and so on.