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John Eyles

Writing about music is like doing a dance about architecture...

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About Me

The first record I owned was “Twist & Shout” by The Beatles. The first album I bought was “Smiley Smile” by The Beach Boys, in 1967. The first jazz album I bought was “Filles de Kilimanjaro” by Miles, in 1968. The first CD I bought was “Gaia” by Marilyn Crispell, in 1989. I haven't yet paid to download an MP3...

I started writing about jazz in 1992 when a friend asked me to be the jazz columnist for Murdoch's TODAY newspaper. (Thanks, Nick.) TODAY closed down late in 1995. Since then I have written for many print-based and web-based media, although I have an uncanny knack of writing for publications that close down! (The Independent Catalogue, Rubberneck, Avant, Opprobrium, One Final Note, Paris Transatlantic, BBCi ...) As well as AAJ, I currently write for The Squid's Ear — currently in good health! I have only ever parted from two publications on bad terms, the first a British- based magazine that asked me to write a good review of a mediocre album as the label had bought advertising space in the magazine, the second a US-based website whose editor asked me to rewrite my review of an old album because my view of it did not agree with his; in each case, I declined and never wrote for them again.

Such experiences mean that, when I edit someone else's review, I only make changes that will help readers understand the reviewer's views rather than altering those views. When reviewing an album, I do not start writing until I am sure— usually after at least ten listenings. I could never write a review after one or two listens. If I really don't like an album, I'll usually leave it be. I would prefer poorer music to be neglected and fade away gracefully than to be panned. If I'm not 100% sure, I'll include some suggested improvements.

For recreation I enjoy improvising using voice, alto or sopranino saxophone, and electronics, being a regular participant at Rick Jensen's Skronk, AMM drummer Eddie Prevost's weekly Friday evening workshop, and a founder member of the Mopomoso Workshop. I am a member of: Apocalypse Jazz Unit; the thirteen-member London Experimental Ensemble; the London Improvisers Orchestra; the Mopomoso Workshop Group (a.k.a. MoWo); the large (sometimes one-hundred-member) ensemble Murmurists; the Noisy People's Improvising Orchestra….

My Jazz Story

I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all. I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties). The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin. My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments—stick with it.

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