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JazzLife UK

There's No Such Thing as a British Jazz Scene

By Published: June 14, 2010
As a presenter—Martin has presented BBC Radio 3's Jazz Lineup for 10 years—she is happy to say that she doesn't recognize every musician whose music is played on the show. "Presenting the show, I read these names out and think, oh, perhaps I've [only] heard of one of these people...But I think that's great, it's more exciting." The presenting role is an educational one for Martin, helping her to develop her awareness of the music: "I'm not out every night watching other people, but I'm so lucky, I get sent lots of CDs...I listen to them in the car and get this knowledge of what's out there...It also means that the marketing and PR people are doing their job and getting this music on to the radio—and that's good."

Duck Baker sees himself in a specific part of the jazz community: "It would probably be the free improvised scene, because I'm friends with Evan Parker
Evan Parker
Evan Parker
sax, tenor
and Steve Beresford from when I lived in London in the '70s." However, Baker sees links that can draw together styles as disparate as ragtime, folk and free jazz: "In a way it seems strange to me when people say 'Oh, you play all this different stuff...' a gig is a gig!"

Cipher: Dave Sturt, Theo Travis

Cipher's Dave Sturt doesn't see himself as part of the jazz community at all: "I don't really play in a particular jazz set up these days: I'm more involved in different kinds of stuff. I'm not really focused on the jazz scene...but I think there's a lot of interesting people around. Jason Yarde, who I saw the other day and who I was at University with, he seems to have his fingers in lots of pies...his duo with the pianist [Andrew McCormack] is lovely. So there's lots of good stuff, but I'm not involved—I'm just a spectator, which I like."

So my new paradigm on multiple jazz scenes is by no means a universal view, but I have garnered some support. Next time—with more venues, more musicians, an Awards Event and a General Election to report on—I may well have shifted my paradigm again.

The last word this time round goes to drummer Matt Skelton from the Jim Mullen Trio. Speaking about Milestones Jazz Club organizer Stephen Mynott, Skelton said "It's people like him who deserve much of the credit for keeping the scene going, the club organizers and supporters." So much of the British music scene, whether it's jazz, folk, or even hardcore metal, relies on enthusiasts like Mynott or the Dereham Jazz Society and flourishes because of them. They're just part of what makes the scene so great.

Photo Credit

All Photos: Bruce Lindsay

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