Italian Jazz Vibes with a Pan-European outlook: A reflection on A.MA Records with our friends from ReddSugarBlack.

Anyone familiar with The Illicit Grooves Radio Show will know that artist from the Bari based label A.MA Edizioni feature regularly on the show’s playlists.  Some of you may not know that The Return of the Illicit Groove parent company ReddSugarBlack Creatives (RSB) writes and creates the promo materials for the label and therefore we get a regular and early taste of what’s to come as future releases.

One such future release, scheduled for next month ( July 15th 2022), is Freedom Rhythm, the new album from Jazz drummer and composer Giovanni Angelini.


DJs, broadcasters, reviewers and bloggers on the RSB promo list should look out for the EPK coming your way in early July.  For everyone else make sure you tune in to The Illicit Grooves Radio Show on Sunday 3rd April to hear a track from the album and go over to the labels Bandcamp pages here and click  follow to get first call on the pre-orders.  Believe us when we say it is a great album of innovative and contemporary Jazz that really is a must have.

Now, the title of this piece mentions that A.MA has a Pan-European approach to its music output. This is apparent from its past, current and future releases and none more so that the label’s promotion, support and cultivation of the #SerbianWave of Jazz with Belgrade based and Serbian musicians and artists.

Artists such as Max Kochetov (from Ukraine and based in Belgrade), Sanja Markovic, Milena Jancuric, Ivan Radivojevic and Ugljesa Novakovic have all released albums on A.MA to great critical acclaim with airplay on stations as wide ranging as Worldwide FM, Totally Wired Radio, Soul-Power Radio, Stomp FM, the BBC and Jazz FM in the UK (and beyond) as well as stations in the Balkans, Italy, France, Germany the Middle-East and North Africa.  All are still available digitally, with some vinyl copies and CDs also on offer, from the Bandcamp page here.

You can take a listen to tracks from the #SerbianWave on A.MA Records on this playlist created for The Return of the Illicit Groove.

Other recent and past releases have included Amsterdam based Levantine artist and Artistic Director of the famed Marmoucha Orchestra, the pianist and composer Avishai Darash, French artist Sebastien Jarrousse featuring his compatriot, the remarkable French vocalist Elinoa and of course a selection of influential and genre bending releases from Italian artists. These releases include the amazing neo-Soul and Soul-Jazz of Alberto Parmegiani’s Soul Hunters project, the wonderful Be Free album from Francesca Sortino with songs based on the poems of Langston Hughes and a wonderful version of Little Sunflower and most recent of the Italian releases the Ipocontrio album Children’s Soul featuring Canadian Saxophonist Seamus Blake.

Many of the releases mentioned above also provided tracks for the compilation series Inside A.MA curated by Bob Hill from The Illicit Grooves Radio Show.  This series currently stands at 4 volumes of ten track albums and an EP featuring two remixes of Antonio Trinchera’s Joy Drops by the Chicago producer Elbert Phillips; an absolute Summer groove indeed.

Again, go to the A.MA Edizioni Bandcamp page to get hold of these compilations and tracks.  You can have a little taster with this mix also put together by the series curator Bob Hill as one of his regular contributions to International Jazz Day.

So what’s in the release pipeline for this internationalist and innovative label from Puglia in southern Italy?   Well, as already mentioned there is the Giovanni Angelini release on 15th July but also look out for albums from Birmingham (UK) musician and composer Ashley Allan, a new release from Francesca Sortino and the long awaited follow up to Sanja Markovic’s debut Ascension.

A.MA Edizioni, a global label from Bari.


The Illicit Grooves Awards 2021: The Polls Are Open. VOTE NOW


Yes, the polls are now open for the #IllicitGroovesAwards2021 and you can help choose the Favourite Track, Album and Compilation by clicking on the link below and casting a vote in each category.

The polls close at 5pm (GMT) on Sunday the 13th of February 2022 and the winners will be announced on The Illicit Grooves Radio Show broadcast on Totally Wired Radio on Sunday the 20th of February from 1-3pm (GMT)

VOTE HERE –  https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/3QZH622


The January Grooved Review Part 3: The Illicit Grooves Awards Nominations Special for the Favourite Album Category

This year we are presenting three categories for public vote and they are Favourite Compilation, Favourite Track and Favourite Album. Each category features 20 nominees and it is from these nominees that the readers of the #TheGroovedReview and listeners to the The Illicit Grooves Radio Show get to chose the outright winners via a public vote.

Following the announcements today there will be a period around a month when we will feature the full list of nominees over three editions of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show until the polls open on Friday, January the 21st at 4pm UK Time.

To access the poll and place your votes follow us here on #TheGoovedReview, on Facebook and The Illicit Groove Radio Show page and The Return of the Illicit Groove page.

So, along with the nominee lists there is also a Soundcloud Playlist for you to enjoy featuring the artists in each category

Illicit Grooves Awards Album

  1. Josef Akin – Sun Dance (Sola Terra) From the Album Flightcase

  2. Scrimshire feat. Idris Rahman – Love In Dreams (Albert’s Favourites) From the album Nothing Feels Like Everything

  3. Cool Affair – Voodoo Priest (Cool Affair Productions) From the album 1804 

  4. Milena Jancuric – Circles and Lines (A.MA Records) From the album Shapes and Stories

  5. Irreversible Entanglements – Keys To Creation (International Anthem) From the album Open The Gates

  6. B-ahwe – Ready (Artist Release) From the album Motions

  7. The BRKN Record feat. Zara McFarlane – Lifeline (Mr Bongo) From the album The Architecture of Oppression Part 1

  8. Bunn DeBrett Quintet feat. Tenesha the Wordsmith – Long Road Strange Woman (BDQ) From the album BDQ 01

  9. Anthony Joseph – Calling England Home (Heavenly Sweetness) From the album The Rich Are Only Defeated When Running For Their Lives 

  10. Emma-Jean Thackray – Mercury (Movementt) From the album Yellow

  11. Rebecca Vasmant feat. Paix – Internal Dispute (Rebecca’s Records) From the album With Love, From Glasgow

  12. Melonyx – Black Elixir (Tru Thoughts) From the album Black Elixir 

  13. Little Simz feat. Cleo Sol – Woman (Age 101) From the album Sometimes I Might be Introverted

  14. Chelsea Carmichael – Myriad (Native Rebel Music) From the album The River Doesn’t Like Strangers

  15. Daniel Casimir – Boxed In (Jazz Re:Freshed) From the album Boxed In 

  16. Balimaya Project – Balimaya (Jazz Re:Freshed) From the album Wolo So

  17. Alex Malheiros feat. Sabrina Malheiros – Alto Verao (Far Out Recordings) From the album Tempos Futuros 

  18. Secret Night Gang – Journey (Brownswood) From the album Secret Night Gang

  19. Theo Croker Feat. Malaya – Happy Feet (For Dancing) (Masterworks) From the album BLK2LIFE II A FUTURE PAST

  20. Ill Considered – Sandstorm (New Soil) From the album Liminal Space 


The January Grooved Review Part 2: The Illicit Grooves Awards Nominations Special for the Favourite Track Category

This year we are presenting three categories for public vote and they are Favourite Compilation, Favourite Track and Favourite Album. Each category features 20 nominees and it is from these nominees that the readers of the #TheGroovedReview and listeners to the The Illicit Grooves Radio Show get to chose the outright winners via a public vote.

Following the announcements today there will be a period around a month when we will feature the full list of nominees over three editions of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show until the polls open on Friday, January the 21st at 4pm UK Time.

To access the poll and place your votes follow us here on #TheGoovedReview, on Facebook and The Illicit Groove Radio Show page and The Return of the Illicit Groove page.

So, along with the nominee lists there is also a Soundcloud Playlist for you to enjoy featuring the artists in each category

Favourite Track Category

Illicit Grooves Awards Track

Follow this blog and read about the Favourite Album category next Sunday.


The January Grooved Review Part 1: The Illicit Grooves Awards Nominations Special for the Favourite Compilation Category

Building on the past successes of the annual #IllicitGroovesAwards and especially last year’s 2020 edition in which the public vote reached a very welcome 4 figures, it is our pleasure to announce the nominations in this year’s Favourite Compilation category.

This year we are presenting three categories for public vote and they are Favourite Compilation, Favourite Track and Favourite Album. Each category features 20 nominees and it is from these nominees that the readers of the #TheGroovedReview and listeners to the The Illicit Grooves Radio Show get to chose the outright winners via a public vote.

Following the announcements today there will be a period around a month when we will feature the full list of nominees over three editions of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show until the polls open on Friday, January the 21st, at 4pm UK Time.

To access the poll and place your votes follow us here on #TheGoovedReview, on Facebook and The Illicit Groove Radio Show page and The Return of the Illicit Groove page. 

So, along with the nominee lists there is also a Soundcloud Playlist for you to enjoy featuring the artists in each category. 

Favourite Compilation

Illicit Grooves Awards compilation





Break Ya Bones


Mukambo Presents Global Afrobeat Movement vol. 2

NYP Records

Soul Hunters

Harlock the Brave (Dog)

Inside A.MA vol. 4

A.MA Records

Hideo Shiraki

Groovy Samba

J Jazz Vol. 3: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan

BBE Music

David Versace

Inner Reflections

Stylin’ 1000

Heard & Felt

Ante Matas

A Finger of Wine

Eddie Ramich presents Croatian Blue

BBE Music

Jackson Lee

Space Ghosts Part 1 & 2

Under the Influence vol. 9


Frederic Rabold Crew

Ride On

Wine 4 Melomanes

BBE Music



Compost Nu Jazz Selection vol. 3

Compost Records

Footshooter feat. Allysha Joy


Outlines VA


The Lyman Woodard Organisation

Saturday Night Special

Strata Records the Sound of Detroit vol. 1

Bbe Music

Conrad Ellis

Make It Last

Future Bubblers vol. 5

Future Bubblers/Brownswood

Alex Attias feat Georgia Anne Muldrew, Kid K

I Wanna Know

Soulful Culture 2

Tribe Records

Timma T


Future Bounce Club vol. 1

Future Bounce

Steve Spacek & Yazmin Lacey

Another Like This

Boomerang presents Global Sounds

Global Sounds

Sound Support


The Sun After the Rain

Allison Recordings


Los Americanos (Mother Mix)

Heavenly Recordings vol. 1

Heavenly Recordings

Karl Hector

Ngunga Yeti Fofar (Clausell’s Electro Afrika version)

Kapote presents Mushroom House vol. 2

Toy Tonics


Aase Hechchagide

Fermented Grooves vol. 1

Stereo Ferment

The Anthronauts feat. Ngoma

Bully Boys in Power

Global Riddims vol. 4

NYP Records

Sarah Vaughan

Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler)

Mainstream Funk

We Want Sounds

Follow this blog and look out for the Favourite Track of 2021 nominees next Sunday the 9th of January.


The Grooved Review: December 2021

Well, as we hit the holiday season and the inevitable end of year round-up playlists, ‘best of’ lists and awards nominations we’ll be giving you news of the forthcoming #IllicitGroovesAwards2021 and how you can vote in the three categories we are running this year.  Also, we’re sharing Episode 1 in our revamped #TalkingTheGroove podcast series as well as a review of a recent Alfa Mist gig, a couple of book recommendations, a digest of films and clips we’ve found on the net, a catch up of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show and Friday’s Hot 3 playlists on Mixcloud.

Talking The Groove

We have featured reviews of Ayanna Witter-Johnson’s two Glasgow gigs in September, supporting Nubiyan Twist, (Read here) and November, as part of the Great Western Festival, (Read here) respectively this year. It was such a genuine joy and pleasure to interview her as our first featured guest on the revamped #TalkingTheGroove podcast.


In the interview Ayanna talked about the separate roles of being a performer, a composer and a musician, shed light on how she prepares herself to step into the spotlight on stage, the different realities of composing for others to perform against writing for her own repertoire and the process of reimagining other people’s music.

We spoke in the week when she had performed live with the London Symphony Orchestra Percussion Ensemble and premiered a new piece in that concert, a week when the Chineke Orchestra had performed a piece she had composed  for that  and a week in which she was preparing to rejoin the Andrea Bocelli US tour for its second leg in the States.

You can access the #TalkingTheGroove podcast by clicking the image below.

Talking the Groove Ayanna Cover

Future confirmed guests for Talking The Groove include vocalist and composer Tess Hirst and composer, arranger, bandleader and instrumentalist Cassie Kinoshi.


You will undoubtedly remember Tess’s 2019 album, co-written with bassist Daniel Casimir, These Days which gained many plaudits and awards nominations, not least in the #IllicitGroovesAwards that year.  Tess, an alumni of the Leeds Conservatoire, informs the #GroovedReview that she is now in the studio recording her new album and we very much look forward to hearing the results.

Cassie Kinoshi_14 pic credit Adama Jalloh
Picture by Adama Jalloh

Cassie Kinoshi, member of Nerija, Kokoroko and bandleader of Seed and Brown Penny, has just launched her own label Beatprint Records with its inaugural release Bradley 4:18.

Recorded by Seed with all music composed and arranged by Cassie, Bradley 4:18 was commissioned by BalletBoyz for its larger piece Deluxe which was originally intended to premiere at Sadler’s Wells in March 2020 and is now planned to be toured from March 2022.

Ballet Boyz cover (2)

The #IllicitGroovesAwards2021

Illicit Grooves Awards generic cover

The #IllicitGroovesAwards continues to grow and evolve year on year.   The 2020 Awards saw the biggest public involvement yet in the voting in the four categories and threw up some very interesting results from a quality field of nominees. 

This year, for logistical purposes, we are inviting the public to vote in three of the categories (Favourite Album, Favourite Compilation and Favourite Track) with the Favourite Re-Issue now being selected by The Return of the Illicit Groove team along with the ReddSugarBlack Creatives: Arts & Culture Award.

The nomination for the three public vote categories will be published on Sunday the 2nd of January 2021 after that day’s broadcast of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show on Totally Wired Radio.  That week’s show will feature tracks from the nominated compilation albums with the nominees for Favourite Track and Favourite Album playlisted in the shows going out on the 9th and 16th of January respectively.

The polls will open for public vote by listeners to The Illicit Grooves Radio Show and readers of the #GroovedReview at 6pm on Sunday the 16th of January.  The polls will then close on Tuesday the 1st of February and the winners announced in a special show broadcasting on Totally Wired Radio on Sunday the 6th of February, accompanied by a Winners Special edition of the #GroovedReview published at 3pm on the same day.

To vote in the #IllicitGroovesAwards2021 follow the #GroovedReview here  or our Facebook pages The Return of the Illicit Groove and/or The Illicit Grooves Radio ShowThe interactive poll will be published in each of these online spaces.

Gig Review: Alfa Mist at St Luke’s, Glasgow

The last time we reviewed an Alfa Mist gig was his concert as part of the 2019 Cape Town Jazz Festival (Read Here).  Now, after some two years of lockdowns, restrictions and general pandemic pain in the arseness it was so great to finally see one of the favourite artists to grace the #IllicitGrooves Playlists


A brilliant line up of Alfa Mist on Keys and vocals, Jas Kayser on Drums,  Kaya Thomas-Dyke on Bass, Jamie Leeming on Guitar and Johnny Woodham on Trumpet and Flugelhorn absolutely entranced a capacity crowd in this Glasgow venue.  

Playing tracks from across the recorded repertoire, the audience was also treated to the onstage improvisations that these high calibre musicians  are so capable of.  Indeed, the support act was a stripped down quartet version which played new material written by Jamie Leeming and performed for the first time.

Watching and listening to musicians of this quality and creativity is such a massive reminder of how important the creative arts and its education is to any society and how music is such a driver of of innovative practices that go beyond the stage or the recorded performance.

Once again though, and this has been discussed before in the Grooved Review in the report on the recent Yussef Dayes gig (read here), this lovely venue with it’s great sound and techs need to consider a warm up-DJ between shows and to announce the bands.  

That said though, the show from Alfa Mist was something special and witnessing how many of Glasgow’s Jazz scene (Corto.Alto, Nimbus Sextet included) were there discussing the gig outside the venue afterwards was a good indication of how well received the performance was.

Books Recommendations

Two books that reached us recently that we highly recommend here at The Return of the Illicit Groove are the memoir, from Skunk Anansie vocalist and songwriter Skin and Stephanie Phillips’ book Why Solange Matters.

Skin: It Takes Blood and Gutswritten with journalist and writer Lucy O’Brien, is a candid memoir which takes in Skin’s childhood in Brixton, South London, a realtionship with an abusive boyfriend, her move to study design at College and then art school in Hull and how music came into her life through others.

Her political campaigning is discussed, described and detailed alongside her songwriting and both given context and the dynamics of the relationships with other members of the band and those she collaborates with are given great importance.

A thoroughly enjoyable and insightful book that is now published in paperback by Simon & Schuster. 


Why Solange Matters is one of the best books written which creates an understanding of why a particular artist and their work is important beyond a purely artistic context. 

Music journalist, punk musician and Black feminist writer Stephanie Phillips chronicles Solange Knowles’ career and how she uses her art, her political and social references and her control of her career and creates a sociological exploration on class and gender issues and race consciousness from the perspective of a Black woman from Wolverhampton, England.

Solanges’ ability to weave between Soul, RnB, Rock, Punk, Folk and Indie across her albums served, as with Skin, to defy the categorisation in which Black, and especially Black female, musicians are forced into.  Her outright Black Consciousness and love of Black culture as espoused loud and proud in her 2016 album A Seat At the Table  and When I Get Home from 2019 are examined her by Stephanie Phillips and the importance that is inherent for Black women and Black women artists negotiating their ways through the white hegemony and patriarchy. 

The book is insightful, it’s educational, it’s entertaining and it’s witty.  It’s also a great springboard to go and jump into Solanges’s discography from. 

Out now as a hardback published by Faber and a great read.


Friday’s Hot 3

Each and every Friday we select tracks from The Return of the Illicit Groove new music pile.  Mainly taken from the promos we are sent for The Illicit Grooves Radio Show and the tracks and albums we purchase as music fans you can access the new playlist every week on The Return of the Illicit Groove Facebook page and then listen again on Soundcloud and Mixcloud.

Take a listen to the latest selections here.

The Illicit Grooves Radio Show Holiday and New Year Broadcasts

TIGRADS Cover Reboot

As we reach Yuletide and New Year here is the schedule for The Illicit Grooves Radio Show broadcasts over this period.  All shows go out at 1pm GMT and 2pm CET.

Sunday 12th December – Our regular show

Sunday 19th December – It’s our 100th show on Totally Wired Radio. Expect a party full of Illicit Grooves National Anthems.  Two hours of #BackInTheDayBelters and one big #SundayAfternoonJumpUp

Sunday 26th December – A Boxing Day look back at the Friday’s Hot 3 playlists

Sunday 2nd of January – The #IllicitGroovesAwards2021 nominees show for the Favourite Compilation category.

For a journey through The Illicit Grooves Radio Show archives and to catch up with the latest shows after broadcast on Totally Wired Radio visit our Mixcloud playlist here and Follow us.

The Groover’s Digest

It’s always a joy to see postings of and/or find gems on the internet.  This month we were spoilt for choice with four excellent documentaries and a wicked article to share with you.

We kick off with this film centred on bassist Jaco Pistorious, The Lost Tapes.

The Flashbak website provides us with some fascinating pictures and commentary on two of the clubs that formed the bedrock of London’s multiculturalism and embrace and cultural exchange between both Black and white artists and Black and white music fans.

Centred on Club Americana, in Coventry Street and The Pink Flamingo in Wardour Street, Soho in the early 50s to mid- 60s this article is a fascinating look at the beginnings of modern and ‘Modernist’ multiracial London.  Click on the image below to access the article.


Not only is Sun Ra responsible for some of the best Jazz ever made and the epitome of how Black Consciousness can translate into music and art he is also just one of those fascinating teachers who educate and entertain.  In this documentary we see all of these attributes and more.

Alice Coltrane is another fascinating part of both Black Consciousness and Jazz history who, like Sun Ra, was fundamental in bringing the two together in her work.

and finally we head back to London now and a radio station that in its Pirate days called itself ‘The Sound of Young London’.  A station that boasted Norman Jay, Jazzie B, Trevor Nelson, Gilles Peterson, Patrick Forge, Bob Jones and Wilber Wilberforce (amongst others) as its DJs and presenters.  This documentary looks at the journey that took Kiss FM from Pirate to a legal broadcaster in the 1980’s.

Have a great holiday season and the #GroovedReview will be back in early January with the nominations revealed for the #IllicitGroovesAwards2021.

Happy New Year to you all.


The Grooved Review: November 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of the Grooved Review from the pen of  The Return of the Illicit Groove.

In this edition we have review of recent gigs from Secret Night Gang, Yussef Dayes Trio, Ishmael Ensemble and Ayanna Witter-Johnson; a look at Precious, the new film from Claudia Collett, an online Art exhibition The Colour of the Climate Crisis and a new feature the Friday Hot 3 playlists.

Gig Reviews: Live on Stage

The Secret Night Gang

The Carlton Club, Manchester.  26th October, 2021


This was an invitation only event in the Secret Night Gang’s home city of Manchester, organised as a homecoming gig to celebrate the launch of the eponymous new album on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings.

Formed of soul filled vocalist Kemani Anderson and Saxophonist and arranger Callum Connell, SNG’s Jazz inflected Soul and Jazz-Funk repertoire was played out with the addition of a full band, a fantastic horn section and a trio of backing singers that included the excellent rising star that is Mali Hayes.

The venue for this event was perfect, a proper social club with a reasonably priced bar, snooker table covered with plywood and a cloth, the band’s family and friends vastly outnumbering us ‘industry types’ (indeed, Kemani announced from the stage that his Mum was present and seeing him perform for the first time), a good sound system and a proper wooden dancefloor that looked like it was no stranger to everything from the local ballroom dancing club to punters at the latest incarnation of Manchester’s famed indie scene.

The performance itself was excellent; the band was as tight as, the professionalism onstage shone through as did the sax playing and the vocal performance of Secret Night Gang’s founding pair.

Brownswood’s Recordings was repped at the event by Simon Goffe who said that it was the vocal performance on SNG’s breakout track The Sun that grabbed the attention of himself and label boss Gilles Peterson  and prompted them to sign the band.  Being present at this gig confirmed that this vocal performance, and the quality of songs written by the band, was not a one-off. And you know what, they also were having a lot of fun up there.

Big thanks to Yvonne Ellis for inviting Mark Blee and myself along as early adopters of this band on our respective radio shows before they were signed and a big thanks to Secret Night Gang for a great gig and a great album; one that has and will feature on The Illicit Grooves Radio Show playlists for some time.

Secret Night Gang is available now from Bandcamp on Brownswood Recordings

Bob Hill

Yussef Dayes Trio

St Lukes’s, Glasgow. 8th November, 2021


This was my first time at this venue and I will start the review with a props for it.  First of all very friendly and efficient bar staff, also the friendliest security I’ve met (but as I’ve found out also very typical of Glasgow to be honest) and an excellent sound system staffed by excellent techs.  The venue itself is a converted church in the East End , round the corner from the more famous Barrowlands and opposite Barras Market.  As venues go this is a peach.

The event itself would have definitely been improved by having a DJ/compere to firstly ensure the crowd was warmed up before the main event and also just to announce the acts before they arrived onstage.  The playlist selected before The Yussef Dayes Experience came on was, apart from one Fela track, rather out of step with the main act.

However, that said the actual gig was fantastic.  The band consisted of The Yussef Dayes Trio; Yussef on Drums, Rocco Palladino on electric bass and Charlie Stacey on keys and synths, with the addition of saxophone, guitar and percussion.  As one would expect the band played as though telepathy were a natural form of communication for them all and the set they played ranged from tracks from the Trio’s 2020 album release Welcome To The Hills, a visit back to the Yussef Kamal cannon and a helluva lot of improvisation and live and direct re-arrangements of tracks.  Interspersed with Yussef’s conversations with the audience in between tracks this gig felt very informal and very personal as the band created a very real rapport with the crowd.

One thing that did strike me as a highlight in an excellent set was the improvised solos during the encore tracks.  Hat’s must be tipped here to the main trio’s solos in particular and especially Charlie Stacey’s keys improv. in which he also included what sounded like a Rachmaninov interpretation.

Welcome To The Hills is out now and available at https://yussefdayes.tmstor.es/

Bob Hill

Ishmael Ensemble

Broadcast, Glasgow. 10th November, 2021


Supported by a wicked DJ set from Glasgow producer and radio show host, the irrepressible Rebecca Vasmant , Bristol based Ishmael Ensemble played one of the best gigs I’ve been to in 5 decades of jumping around in venues from London to Cape Town to the beaches of Montenegro and cellar venues in Glasgow.

A few things came together to make me rate this event so highly; the aforementioned DJ set, the excellent sound system and tech in the venue, again friendly and very efficient bar staff, the literally underground reality and atmosphere of this cellar space and the brilliance of the musicality and performance of the members of Ishmael Ensemble themselves.  What a unit.

The best way I can explain the set that I was dancing to from start to finish was the comment I made on The Return of the Illicit Groove social media sites straight after the final track, ‘Jazz meets Joy Division with a bit of Can and Geezer Butler thrown in.’

The band itself, led by Saxophonist Pete Cunningham, play a big sound live that also keeps the very nuanced subtleties of the album versions of the tracks they play.  Holly Wellington’s vocal performance was as sublime here as it is on the recordings and her presence, vocally and instrumentally, really does add further textures to the immense sound that came from the stage.

Great gig, go and see this band whether it’s in a field for a Summer festival or in a 200 capacity venue under the streets of a city centre.

Visions of Light is available now on Bandcamp on Worm Discs.

Bob Hill

Ayanna Witter-Johnson

Webster’s Theatre, Glasgow (as part of the Great Western Festival). 13th November, 2021


Returning to Glasgow a little more than a month after being here as support for Nubiyan Twist at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (see review here) Ayanna Witter-Johnson, her Cello Reuben and her kickdrum pedal Jamblock Penny once again created a space where she filled the stage as a solo performer.  Chatting with the audience and offering options as to what she should play and sing once again delivered an intimacy with the crowd despite the stage being so far away from the seating.  A much smaller crowd that at the event in September, and certainly much smaller than her latest audiences on her US tour with Andrea Bocelli,  did change the dynamic of this performance in comparison.  However, this just served to underline the consummate professionalism and versatility that Ayanna embodies as an artist.

Her set mainly consisted of tracks from her excellent Road Runner album which allowed for two songs that encouraged audience participation; the Jamaican folk song Hill and Gully Rider and the song which features Akala on the album, Rise Up.

Again, the lack of thought by those responsible for the event with regards to playlists and/or DJs to warm the crowd between acts or at least prior to their arriving on stage did once again mean that the artist had to warm the crowd from a cold start. But that is the genius of Ayanna Witter-Johnson, her stage presence, her musicality, her compositions, her arrangements, her voice and her sheer style give her that edge that means that audience members want her to succeed and that she does.

Road Runner is out now on Hill and Gully Records and is available from http://www.ayannamusic.com/

Bob Hill

Film Review

Precious by Claudia Collet

I am always fascinated by the work of Claudia Collet; as a film maker they have been dubbed ‘the Bunuel of Banbury’ and though they may well have been influenced by the Aragonese surrealist Claudia really does present a style that brings their own wit to the screen.

Following the 2020 release of ‘Lonely’, which won the Best Filmmaker and Best Experimental Short at the Dream Machine International Film Festival (2021), Precious is a fascinating and transfixing study of the nuances of our changing mental states and works as a piece of art that forces us to think deeper than any dictated narrative.

Art Exhibition

The Colour of the Climate Crisis

With COP26 dominating media attention and providing newspaper headlines good and bad it was always quite rightly going to be an event that would elicit artistic responses.  One such response is the online gallery exhibition The Colour of the Climate Crisis, an exhibition by Black artists and artists of colour exploring the relationship between racial justice and climate justice.

As well as visual images and films there is a superb poetic response from Selina Nwulu and you can access all of these by clicking on the image below.

colour of climate

Friday’s Hot 3

Every Friday The Return of the Illicit Groove selects three tracks from its new music listening pile and you can access these playlists right here.


Letters To Gil: A Memoir by Malik Al Nasir

Reviewed by Bob Hill for The Grooved Review

Malik Al Nasir is a poet, a writer, a seaman, a tour manager, an academic and a man who in 1980s Thatcherite, recession hit Britain was also a semi-literate, penniless young man devoid of connections and hope who had been through a ‘care’ system that was violent, racist, traumatising and mired in abuse.

Letters To Gil is a memoir; it is a memoir of a man’s life, of the institutional racism and the damage it causes, of mentorship and of art as a way of understanding one’s own place in the Universe.  It is also the story of a chance meeting with a Black music legend and the subsequent relationship that evolved after that meeting.

image001 (1)

Malik Al Nasir started life as Mark Watson in the seafaring city of Liverpool.  A city that was multicultural because of its links to the Americas and Africa but also a city that was multicultural because of slave trade and Empire and a city that carries the legacies of all these things.

The book proper opens with Malik’s (as Mark Watson) getting in to see Gil Scott-Heron at the Royal Court Theatre despite not having a ticket.  However, the prologue shows us the realities of the relationship and how it grew as we are taken to Gil’s funeral in Harlem, NYC in 2011 where Malik has ‘flown 3000 miles to pay his respects’, not simply as a fan paying homage but ‘much more than that.’

As the book weaves through his conversations with Gil on tours of Europe and the USA, through their correspondence and Gil’s workshopping and encouragement of Malik’s poetry and writing,  the huge importance of the mentorship and paternal influence that emerges, is illuminated by Malik’s memories of a childhood in the corrupt and institutionally racist education and care systems he was put into…or maybe ‘put through’ is a better phrase.

Indeed, it is the contrasts between the lack of and very limited guidance and empathy that Malik received in his childhood and the mentorship, guidance and encouragement that he got from Gil Scott-Heron that puts into sharp focus how he was able to deal with further racism in his adult life and his responses to racists he encountered.


It is also a story of how he was able to recognise opportunities which came his way and to make the most of them.  Opportunities such as how he taught himself to read properly and used Gil’s critiques of his (Malik’s) poetry to help him.  How he was able to find the words he needed to write about his own Black experience by also meeting The Last Poets and studying  their works and message.  How he was able to understand his own value by witnessing how Gil, his musicians, The Last Poets and other artists such as Richie Havens were able to convey their own sense of Black Consciousness through their intellects, their erudition, their art and their performances.

Photo of Richie Havens
UNSPECIFIED – CIRCA 1970: Photo of Richie Havens Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Malik also describes turning points in his life that could easily be over-looked; discovering a cassette of Public Enemy’s ‘It Takes A Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back’, meeting a trio of pianist sisters and their mother in Ceausescu’s Romania prior to the end of that dictator’s reign and learning how to 2nd guess less than honest or totally disreputable promoters and making sure the band gets paid. The latter being something which he would employ in order to stay honest himself when a fast quid was on offer via shipboard scams in his time in the Merchant Marine. 


This could so easily become a so-called ‘poverty porn’ story or a book aimed at middle-class white guilt in the #BLM era post George Floyd.  But it is neither of those things.  It is a story of hope and the importance of mentorship, of self-worth, of placing value on yourself and others, of someone recognising and making the most of opportunities and of sheer chutzpah, Jihad, hard bloody  graft, working smart and a massive streak of ‘Fuck you’ in order to first survive and then rebuild, learn and prosper.  Oh and let’s not forget that if, like me, you are a massive Gil Scott-Heron fan it is also a book about him too.

Get this book and read it from Lemn Sissay’s beautifully written foreword to Malik’s list of Acknowledgments at the end. Sometimes, when reading a good memoir the reader can learn about the life of the subject, sometimes when reading a great memoir the reader can learn about the political, social and historical contexts of the subject’s life.  Sometimes, as with this superb memoir, the reader learns all of these things plus something about themselves too.  



The Grooved Review: Nubiyan Twist, Ayanna Witter-Johnson & Nimbus Sextet at the Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow. 27/09/2021

There is a literary term and convention called In Medea Res which means ‘In the middle of things’ and this review starts in the middle of last night’s excellent three act gig at Glasgow’s CCA.  

Indeed the middle act of this event was the cellist, vocalist and composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson and it was during this performance that one got the feeling that all those in attendance knew they were witnessing something special.  To come out onstage unannounced and solo and to then captivate an audience as Ayanna did last night takes a mixture of differing stardust ingredients of which she possessed much.

Ayanna has the look of the best possible hybrid of Nona Hendryx and an Afro-Punk Anita Baker to go with the songstress voice worthy of both of these legends.  She has the musicality of the best classical cellists and Jazz bassists and uses a repertoire of techniques including  bowing, fingering, percussive beats and pizzicato to great effect.  As cliche as this sounds her cello, Reuben, and she become indivisible as she creates bass lines, drum patterns and then loops them as she sings and plays her songs.


In a set which included a traditional Jamaican call and response folk song (Hill and Gully Rider) set over the bassline from Omar’s There’s Nothing Like This, a composition, Romeo, which was written for the Hip-Hop Shakeseare Company, a soul drenched cover of Roxanne, the highlight tracks for me were Crossroads; a track under pinned by a tuff jazz bassline, lyrics which tells us to ‘leave the weight behind’ and vocals which border on the plaintiff and the superb rendition of The Abyssinians’ track Declaration of Rights (featuring a brilliant spoken word vox from Cleveland Watkiss) which got the biggest and longest cheer of the set.

road runner

One super talented performer, a cello called Reuben and an FX box and the stage was Ayanna’s to own.

The night itself was opened by Glasgow’s own Nimbus Sextet and the band certainly did the Glass Shoe proud with an assured set of previously released, soon to be released and future releases.


Those of you who listen to The Illicit Grooves Radio Show will know that this band is no stranger to the Illicit Grooves playlists and will be aware of their Acid Jazz Records releases Helix, the soon to be released Dreams Fulfilled and various remixes from Fradinho, Born 74, and Ghostchant.  Last night’s gig saw the band perform tracks from their recorded out put to an appreciative crowd who were thoroughly entertained in this early slot.


For me though the track of the set was the, as yet, unreleased Augur.  A track which allowed all band members to display their musicality and which showed a more adventurous side to the excellent Jazz-Funk output.  It is a track for the Jazzers no doubt, with elements of the experimental and captivating throughout as it builds on a very simple, percussive start.  A quick chat with band MD Joe Nichols and he assures me that Augur will be coming out as a part of a big, future project.  Put me down for that.

Headline act for the night was Strut Records recording artists Nubiyan Twist.  I first saw the band when they part of the line-up for the Southern Soul Festival in 2019 on the black sand beaches of Montenegro and every subsequent time I have seen the band it has been at festivals (COVID notwithstanding) so to see them play in a small venue was a real treat.


The set was tight, it was flowing, it was hot, it was jumping.  In fact, if there is a band out there at the moment that is good for a Jump-up then Nubiyan Twist is a bit of a go to.   I mean, let’s put this into context, it was a Monday night, it was a wee bit chilly and yet last night the venue was packed and the crowd were dancing pretty much from the first bars of the first track.  This was the perfect storm of a band that wants its audience to let go and an audience which wanted to let go.

Again, listeners to the Illicit Grooves Radio Show will be no strangers to the music of Nubiyan Twist as we rinsed ‘Jungle Run’ and ‘Freedom Fables’ on the show.  Seeing those tracks happen live and watching how they come together on the stage was an absolute joy.

All in all what a great way to spend a Monday night; three great acts all at the top of their game in a small venue with a good sound system and a bar that does a pint of Guinness for less than a Lady Godiva.  Quality.


The Groove Review: April 2021

Welcome to the April edition of #thegroovereview. A bit late this month due to awaiting confirmation of a few bits of news about events and music releases. However, we are here now and as always will have a full archive of last month’s #IllicitGrooves show to catch up on, the monthly mix of #NewGrooves from our promo folders, news and updates on what’s going on and the a selection of curated pieces from the net for your enjoyment.


The latest release in the #InsideAMA compilation series is released on Friday the 16th of April and is available to pre-order and buy/stream from Bandcamp.  This is volume 3 in the series and is a ten track album with a focus on vocal tracks from the A.MA Records archive.

To stream and buy #InsideAMAvolume3 just click the album cover art below.

Inside A.MA volume 3 Cover Art

A few other releases to note and search for on Bandcamp and elsewhere include Power of Love by The Lolo Irving Frequency, Reflections by Uglijesa Novakovic and the soon to be released eponymous Bunn Debrett Quartet album. Tracks from all 3 of these albums and #InsideAMAvolume3 are included in this month’s #NewGrooves mix

As with every April 30th since 2011  #InternationalJazzDay2021 is soon upon us and, as we have done since 2015, #IllicitGrooves will be playing a part.  With pandemic restrictions still in place the safest way to paly a role will be a special edition of the #IllicitGrooves show broadcasting on Totally Wired radio on Sunday the 2nd of May.   Do join us from 1-3pm (UK Time, 2-4pm (CET for two hours of #GroovesForTheGLobalLeftfield where the playlist will feature acts, artists and music from all five inhabited continents.

Illicit Grooves IJD 2021 banner

The #IllicitGrooves Radio Show – Listen Again and Catch UP

You can catch up with all the previous shows broadcast on TotallyWiredRadio just here on the #IllicitGrooves Mixcloud page.  Follow us on there to never miss a show, a playlist, a mix or a feature.  Full show archive and special features are also available.

From Around the Net

With the new release on Brownswood of the Bluey Maunick and Gilles Peterson Brit-Funk collaboration Str4ta this article from the Independent reflects the cultural phenomenon and the Multi-Cultural aspects of the movement in the late 70s-early to mid-80s.  Click the Str4ta album cover image below to read.


Photography is one of the creative disciplines that has always been as much a documentary tool as it is an artform and the next two articles highlight this in an apt manner.

Charlie Phillips started taking photographs around Notting Hill in the 50s and 60s and has only just been given the credit he was due for his work.  His subjects ranged from members of the public to Muhammed Ali in a series of striking portraits. To read more in this Guardian feature click the image of Charlie below.


In this feature in Vogue we see photographic portraiture in a different light as it focuses on and tells the story of the chameleon qualities of David Bowie and his many images. A fascinating study of an artist which you can read by clicking the image below.


and finally in our monthly trip around the Worldwide Web we visit the Jezebel website for a feature on UK punk icon Poly Styrene. Click the image below to read about this genius of an artist.


The New Grooves Playlist for April

New Grooves:April 2021

Selected by Bob Hill from The Return of the Illicit Groove from the #IllicitGrooves promos, Re-Issues and new music folders and boxes.

Featured in the Groovers’ Digest: April 2021 blog post at www.illicitgroove.wordpress.com

Sponsored by www.reddsugarblack.com

  1. Winston Neale – Sinnerman

  2. Ugliesa Novakovic – Zen Warrior

  3. Space Dolphin feat. Motormouf – A La Roi

  4. Fergus Quill Trio – Watusi

  5. Hiroshi Murakami & Dancing Sphynx – Phoebus

  6. Sebastien Jarrousse – Bonhomme de Chemin

  7. Contours and Werkha – Sweat

  8. Str4ta – Vision 9

  9. UNKLE – If We Don’t Make IT

  10. Teena Marie – Portuguese Love (John Morales M+M Mix)


The Groove Review: February 2021

Welcome to the first edition of #thegroovereview of 2021.

In this month’s issue we will recap on last month’s results in the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020, listen again to all the #IllicitGrooves shows on Totally Wired Radio from January, include a link to our Mixcloud Select  playlist of the previous months new music and promos and feature a round up of interesting, entertaining and thought provoking content from across the Web and beyond.

So let’s start with the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020 and the winners in each category.

Favourite Track – The Fantastics! – Pyramid (BBE Music)

Favourite Album – Gary Bartz & Maisha – Direct to Disc Session (Nightdreamer)

Favourite Compilation Album – Modern Jazz Dance Classics (MJDC)

Favourite Re-Issue Album, Single or EP – Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela – Rejoice (World Circuit)

For a full review of the results please click the image below

Post banner

The #IllicitGrooves Shows from January on Totally Wired Radio.

Click the link below to listen to all 5 of the #IllicitGrooves show on Totally Wired Radio in January.

New releases, a couple of back in the day belters, a tribute to Phil Asher, a couple of unreleased gems and a look at new compilations and re-issues.

Guest Mix on JazzFM

Thank you to doyen Tony Minvielle for asking us to inaugurate his ‘Expert Curators’ feature on his excellent #FoldedSpace show on JazzFM on the 25th of January.

Here’s his show in full glory and including the ‘Groove Illicit: Back To The Dancefloor’ mix we provided for the show.

The Digest

Every month, going back to when this blog started as #NewsFromTheGrooves., we select blog posts, social media articles and features and more to share with you here.  Mainly music, focus on the arts and always cultural the pieces we select are always designed to be interesting and thought provoking and reflective of the issues of the moment.  Please do enjoy what we have included here for you.

We start this month with one of our favourite DJs and radio presenters and producers, Zakia Sewell.  You may know her for her excellent Questing show on NTS Radio or for her brilliant 4 part series Albion, which was on BBC Radio 4 last year.  Here in a podcast in the Exchange series on the Resident Advisor site she is the subject.  Also, in the introductory text there are links to her excellently researched interviews with Patrice Rushen and with Beverley Glenn Copeland.

Take a shufty by clicking on the image below.


Nubya Garcia has had a very productive time of late.  Her debut album Source was released to great critical acclaim and just last Friday an excellent Mark de Clive-Lowe remix of her track The Message Continues was released to equally positive acclaim.  Just to put the tin hat on it she is also featured in the Spring issue of British Vogue as one of the New Creatives who are part of ‘a new wave of boundary-breaking visionaries bringing fresh, exciting perspectives…and sharing in a radical mission: to rethink the world around them.’

Nubya garcia Vogue

Further to these recognitions in the film below, made by AIAIAI Audio to kick off its My Process series, Tomorrow’s Warriors alumnus Nubya does just this and talks about her creative process as a musician and one of the world’s foremost Saxophonists, composers and bandleaders.  To watch just click the image below.

nubya in blue

Jazz and Hip-Hop have been part of the #IllicitGrooves DJ sets, mixes and radio playlists since day one with the likes of Gangstarr, Guru, Stetsasonic, Ronny Jordan, Courtney Pine and others marrying the forms and borrowing from each other.  With today’s new breed of Jazz artists in London, Paris, NYC and elsewhere using their cultural influences to cross-genres and techniques in their compositions and output it was great to find this short film about the relationships between Jazz and Hip-Hop.

The whitewashing of Black music has been a curse from as far back as the days of slaves making music in New Olean’s Congo Square.  In this piece in DJ Magazine some of the legendary Black DJ legends of the UK dance music scene reflect on race and history.  Featuring only male DJs is a bit limiting here but an excellent article none the less that could have been more representative had it not been so male dominated.  However, the thoughts of legends such as Fabio and Grooverider, A Guy Called Gerald and others are voices of experience that shed light on how Black music is appropriated.  As always, to read this then click the image below of Kid Batchelor.

kid batchelor


#NewsFromTheGrooves: October 2020


Michael Kiwanuka has won the Mercury Prize 2020 for his Dangermouse produced 2019 release, the eponymous Kiwanuka. Having been nominated for his two previous albums (2012’s Home Again and 2016’s Love and Hate) it proved to be 3rd time’s charm in this years award for best album by a British or Irish band. A brilliantly written, produced and recorded album of pure Soul music, North Londoner Kiwanuka is on the ascent as he beat off competition from fellow Londoners Moses Boyd and Stormzy amongst others.

You can read more about Michael’s win on the official Mercury Prize website by clicking the image below.


In other news the music and Jazz education charity, the enormously important Tomorrow’s Warriors, has started it’s fundraising campaign in order to ensure it can provide free lessons to the Jazz musicians of the future. 

We at #IllicitGrooves will once again be supporting the #IAmWarrior campaign by donating 10% of all DJ fees to the fundraiser.  In addition we will also be running an advert on the Soundcloud repeat of the show urging listeners to donate one Pound Sterling, One US Dollar or One Euro everytime they listen to the show. 

Without doubt Tomorrow’s Warriors has provided the means by which a diverse and underrepresented groups of musicians can flourish, collaborate, perform, compose and record the music which has certainly filled the #IllicitGrooves playlists over the past 5 years or so.  In order to gauge how important this charity is just take a look at this list of some of the Tomorrow’s Warriors alumni.

Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia, Sheila Maurice-Grey, Cassie Kinoshi and Nérija, Femi Koleoso and Ezra Collective, Binker Golding, Shabaka Hutchings and Sons of Kemet, Eska, Denys Baptiste, Soweto Kinch, Blue Lab Beats, Mark Crown, David Okumu, Ben Burrell, Zara McFarlane, Mark Kavuma, Camilla George, Cherise, Nathaniel Facey and Empirical, Peter Edwards, Jason Yarde and J-Life, Robert Mitchell, Byron Wallen.

To donate to the #IAmWarrior campaign click the link below.


Take a look and a listen here as Tomorrow’s Warriors founder, Gary Crosby, introduces the Young Warriors paying and playing tribute to the great Charlie Parker.

Live Performances

With the release of her debut full LP Source Nubya Garcia is a classic example of how the right support, encouragement, Jazz education and environment can nurture a great talent who otherwise would be underrepresented in Jazz. The following footage of her NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert is an alumni gig with the following line-up of  Nubya Garcia: tenor saxophone: Joe Armon-Jones: keys; Daniel Casmir: double bass: Sam Jones: drums; Richie Seivwright: vocals; Cassie Kinoshi: vocals all former Tomorrow’s Warriors beneficiaries.

As well as the above concert from Nubya Garcia et al we also sourced another couple of NPR Tiny Desk gigs to share.  Firstly this one from the innovative Chris Dave and the Drumheadz

and then this one from the legend that is Roy Ayers as he, and we, celebrate his 80th birthday.

While we are at it on the birthday front another Jazz giant celebrated his 90th birthday in September.  Happy 90th to Sonny Rollins.  You can listen to a track from each of the decades that Sonny has performed in.   Access the article from WGBO.org by clicking the image below.


Music As A Force For Equality and Political Change

There is no doubt that one of the reasons certain white-wing, sorry, Right-wing governments on either side of the Atlantic are allowing the arts to die and wither on the vine during the pandemic is because the arts has always been a breeding ground for creative dissent and opposition.  The next couple of articles highlight the roles of music, drama and dance in creating space, raising issues within and without of the arts and the importance of artists to all our well being. 

We start with this article from The New York Times  asking whether Jazz can still play its part as a music of protest.

To read it click on the image below.


In the following article from the Exuent website poet, actor and playwright Rachel Nwokoro discusses her nomination for a Stage Debut Award and her experiences as an actor with a disability.  Access the article by clicking on the image below.

rachel shapes

Update:  Rachel was named as a winner of a Stage Debut Award in the Best Performer In A Play Category for her role in Little Baby Jesus.  Massive congratulations from #IllicitGrooves.  Below you can see Rachel Nwokoro perform in her poet role with her piece How Much?

In the following filmed Listen Up Podcast, hosted by choreographer, dance teacher and Changemaker at Pavillion Dance South West  in the UK, Natasha Player.  In this episode Natasha talks with Alesandra Seutin. 

Performer, choreographer, teacher, Alesandra Seutin was born in Harare, raised in Brussels and trained in London where she has made her residence. Her work has toured nationally and internationally and she is progressively emerging as an artist making marks across continents.

Alesandra has been running Vocab Dance Company since 2007. She combines African traditional dance with contemporary dance and Hip Hop to create distinctly Afro-European dance. As an independent choreographer she has created work for Phoenix Dance Theatre, 12º North Dance and most recently State of Emergency’s 2014 tour. She has also acted as Movement Director for two plays at Theatre Centre.

Alesandra was one of 17 artists, and the only UK based artist, selected by iconic dance artist Germaine Acogny to take part in Acogny technique transmission project at the international dance centre, École des Sables in Senegal.

Food Culture

We don’t often focus on food in #NFTG, which is somewhat remiss really.  However, we right that wrong a little in this month’s issue with this article from the Vittles website looking at 5 Black women chefs from London and their attitudes to food  and its cultural importance.  To read the article click on the image below of one of the chefs featured, Kareem Arthur.

kareem arthur

Film and Books

We start with the news that HBO’s film The Apollo won the Emmy for Best Documentary.  The Apollo Theatre in Harlem is of course an iconic landmark and venue in the history of Black Music and African-American culture and you can read more about this film in article on the Indiewire website by clicking the image below.


Watch the official trailer for the film The Apollo below.

Equally iconic in its contribution and part of, in this case, UK culture and society was the anti-racist movement Rock Against Racism. Created in the late 70s as part of the Anti-Nazi League and as an opposition to the racist outpourings of  the likes of rock dinosaurs and music colonialists such as Eric Clapton RAR saw a coming together of bands and artists from REggae, Punk, New Wave, 2-Tone and others in a series of gigs up and down the country.  The film White Riot documents this movement and the bands and people involved and you can watch the trailer here.

Sophia Blackwell is one of the UK’s foremost poets and writers as well as LGBT activists and events organiser.  Her blog is an entertaining and informative read and in the issue you can access by clicking on the image below she recommends 100 books to read.  It’s a great list to explore and a great blog to read.


By recommendation the book Party Music came to our attention and thankfully so.  A fascinating insight into how the Black Panther Party for Self-Defense used music as one of its forms of communication and the author Rickey Vincent spoke about the book in a lecture for the AC Spotlight series below.

Back To The Music 

Innovative radio producer, excellent DJ and presenter of the Questing show on NTS Radio, Zakia Sewell produced an excellent documentary for Boiler Room on the UK Garage scene.  Now available on Soundcloud you really should take a listen below.

With the sad death of Kool and the Gang founder Ronald ‘Khalis’ Bell it does give us an opportunity to look and listen back over the varied and entertaining back catalogue of this important band.  From its Jazz beginnings and psychedelic fusion as The Jazziacs to the party and dance orientated RnB and Disco hits Kool and the Gang has its place in music history.  What better way to honour Ronald Bell than this one hour long version of the track, the symphonic Summer Madness. Enjoy below.

One of the most enduring and innovative friendships and musical partnerships is that of Kahil El’Zabar’s and David Murray’s.  Their 2020 collaborative project Spirit Groove which was released on the Spiritmuse Records label was an absolute masterpiece and is certainly in contention for inclusion in the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020.  The following article on the Downbeat website looks at their friendship in an interview with the pair.  Access by clicking the image below.


The rather brilliant Gal-Dem website is always worth a read regardless of subject.  This article on the Soul singer Baby Rose tackles her being bullied because of her deep voice as well as how Nina Simone and Janis Joplin taught her to be her.  Read the article by clicking the image below.


September’s Broadcasts of The #IllicitGrooves Radio Show

#NewsForTheGrooves New Grooves from September 2020

For this month’s #NFTG we focused on the promos we were sent in September and made a playlist and mix from those.  Lots of new and exciting music from a variety of indie labels from around Europe and beyond. Enjoy below.

NFTG October 20 Tracklist

Our Monthly Guest Mix on Stream101 Radio

This month’s guest mix on Stream101 Radio is a look round the MultiCulti cities of the UK.  A journey which takes in the UK Jazz scene of the past few years and highlights the music which happens when diasporas meet and artists exchange and share their cultural influences.  We hope you enjoy Looking Outwards: Music From A MultiCulti UK part 1.

Looking Outwards Music From A MultiCulti UK Part 1 Tracklist


And finally…

October is Black History Month in the UK and it is important to actually reflect the UK Blak experiences rather than the lazy and ill-informed attempts that some institutions, from schools and academies to tax-payer funded museums and galleries, are guilty of doing.

Here is a short checklist that should help.

  • Slavery is NOT Black history
  • Slavery IS White History
  • There have been Black people of from the African diaspora in the British and Irish Isles since the Romano-British times. E.G the Carthaginian Legionnaires stationed at the Vindolanda Fort on Hadrian’s Wall.
  • Walther Tull was not the only Black soldier in the British Army in WWI and not the only Black professional footballer back then either.  Give him some mates who looked like him, they were there.
  • Modern day UK culture is a consequence of a Multi Cultural  Britain.  Lloyd Bradley’s book Sounds Like London, The Dub exhibition at the Museum of London, Dave Haslam’s Life After Dark are just some of the resources to go to.
  • Did you know that Huddersfield had a massive Reggae Soundsystem culture?
  • How many people do you know who have won the Turner Prize and an Oscar and a Golden Globe and is a CBE and a Knight of the Realm?  There is one and he is Black and British.  Find out who he is.
  • Have you heard of Paul Stephenson?  No, then read about him by clicking the image below.

Paul Stephenson




News From The Grooves: March 2020

Welcome to this edition of #NewsFromTheGrooves as we find ourselves in some kind of real life participation in a dystopian novel.  Many of us are affected by the Corona Virus lockdowns for similar and for different reasons, health of course but also income worries.  Hopefully, amongst all the white noise of social media bullshit, reckless sharing of unattributed stories from anonymous sources via memes and voice messages we can remain clear-headed and apply some critical thinking.

It is also our hope that this month’s #NewsFromTheGrooves can offer some succour, stimulating distraction and moral support to all of us stuck indoors and to all of us freelancers, DJs, artists, musicians, indie venue owners and promoters who have had to cancel gigs and are losing money.  Most importantly though we hope that sharing music and art can help anyone who is now suffering and recovering from COVID-19.  We’re not nurses, paramedics, scientists or doctors but we can all help in some way as we support those heroes and experts in doing their jobs.

So in this month’s slightly earlier than usual edition of #NewsFromTheGrooves we are sharing playlists, listen again broadcasts of The Illicit Grooves Radio Showan archive edition of Talking the Groovenews from the nominations for JazzFM Awards 2020, a playlist of new music from March, films, livestreams, articles and free content from a variety of sources plus some practical advice for musicians and others at this time of, what we are referring to as,  the Zombie Apocalypse we are all in.


UK radio station JazzFM has announced the shortlists for the 11 categories in its annual awards.  Three of these categories will be chosen by public vote with very strong fields in each.  With so many acts and artists who regularly appear on The Illicit Grooves Radio Show playlists being represented in these nominations we do urge you to take a look, take part and vote.  You can view the categories and the nominees and vote by clicking on the image below.

jfm awards 20

Totally Wired Radio,the home station of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show continues to broadcast throughout the Zombie Apocalypse but with public health at the forefront of its plans.  Therefore as of Monday the 16th of March TWR very sensibly closed its studios in east London and put in place technical facilities and training to allow presenters to remotely broadcast live shows and/or upload pre-recorded shows or mixes for the schedules.  You can view the weekly schedules on the TWR website by clicking on the logo below.


Music and performance growth organisation Jazz South, as with many other organisations, has had to cancel showcases and other other events.  However, in recognition of the financial hit that musicians and other performers will take because of the Zombie Apocalypse it has published a comprehensive list of organisations which can help with financial, legal and practical advice.  You can access this content on the Jazz South wbsite by clicking on its logo below.

jazz zouth

In addition to the above advice here is an interesting idea from Jazz On The Tube. As many of you know JOTT is an online provider of Jazz videos which it sources and/or shares on Youtube.  

Instead of sharing just old and existing content it will now help bands and acts through this period by web-hosting and streaming live performances.  To read more and to take part, and also to subscribe to the site, please click on the image below.

JOTT mug

The Return of the Illicit Groove at Le Mellotron.

So, just as the lockdown occured in Paris we played a set at the world famous audio (and alcohol, and meeting place, and social hangout, and radio station) Le Mellotron. 

Enjoy the set here.  Playlist below the embedded player.

1. Bernard Wright – Spinnin’
2. Forest Law – New Thought New Eyes
3. The Art Eixample of Canigo – Le Four de Sainte Jaques
4. Daniel Casimir & Tess Hirst – Freedom
5. KOKOROKO – Carry Me Home
6. SEED Ensemble – Afronaut
7. Patrice Rushen – Haw-Right Now
8. Karma Sound – Lo Unico que quiero
9. Bill Summers – Brazillian Skies
10. Flamingo Pier – Tripping Up
11. RK Fusion – Time Flight (The James L’Estraunge Orchestra Mix)
12. Elements of Life – Children of the World (Ben Brophy edit)
13. Koichi Sakai & Afla Sackey – Atenteben Blues
14. Booket T – Impala 66 (Congo Rework)
15. The Talking Heads – Slippery People
16. The Floacyst – Woman
17. Linda Tillery – Freedom Time
18. Creative Arts Ensemble – Flashback In Time
19. Toli & the Fem Nameless – See Line Woman
20. American Gypsy – Inside Out
21. Daniel Salinas – Straussmania
22. Rotary Connection – I Am The Blackgold of the Sun
23. Marlena Shaw – Woman of the Ghetto
24. Rance Allen Group – Peace of Mind
25. Sweet Harmony – House of Fun and Love

The New Grooves From News On The Grooves

A selection of new music, recent releases, promos, re-issues and grooves that found their way to The Return of the Illicit Groove’s record box this month.

News From the Grooves March 2020 Playlist

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  1. Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela – Robbers, Thugs & Muggers (O’ Galijani) (World Circuit)

  2. Shabaka & The Ancestors – The Coming of the Strange Ones (Impulse! Records)

  3. Koichi Sakai & Afla Sackey – Wono (Olindo Records)

  4. Mikis Theodorakis – Honest Cop (We Want Sounds)

  5. Visions By Statues – Lele (eclectics)

  6. Emanitive – As Of Yet (Remix 2016) (Emanitive)

  7. Gary Bartz & Maisha – Leta’s Dance (Night Dreamer)

  8. Hak Baker & Joe Armon-Jones – Thirsty Thursday (Live From Maida Vale) (Brownswood)

  9. Bodhi Satva Feat. Eman – Brown Sugar

  10. Shamrock – Utekka (Gotto Records)

  11. Penya feat. Msafire Zawosi – Penya Safari (On The Corner)

  12. Oveous – Unfrozen (BBE Music)

  13. Tuca feat. Conrad Rochester – Music (Original Mix) (Grooveland Brazil)

  14. Art Eixample of Canigo – Le Four de Sainte Jaques (Fradhoino Mix) (MJDC)

  15. Adrian Younge & Shaheed Muhammed feat. Azymuth – Apocalaptico (Jazz Is Dead)

  16. Hideto Sasaki & Toshiyuki Sekene Quartet – Carole’s Garden (BBE Music)

  17. Guedra Guedra – Uggug (On The Corner)

  18. Tony Allen & Hugh Masakela – Agbada Bougou (World Circuit)

  19. Ricardo Richaid – O Velho Kai (Far Out Recordings)

  20. Michelle David & The Gospel Sessions – Good Good Good (Fabtone Records)

The Illicit Grooves Radio Shows from March 2020

Because we have published the March edition of #NewsFromTheGrooves slightly earlier than usual the listen again for the March 28th show will appear in the April newsletter.  Don’t forget you can still listen to it on the Mixcloud and Soundcloud pages.

All tracklists are in the comments on each show’s Mixcloud page.


Arts & Culture

Instead of the usual looks ahead at upcoming exhibitions and reviews this month we have sourced (with helpful suggestions from our friends) online content that is free to watch, read and visit.  We hope you enjoy these resources.

Steel and Skin (1979). A Film on The British Film Institute (BFI) Free site.

A fascinating short documentary about exposing multi-racial, working class children in Liverpool, UK to the cultures of the African Diaspora.

To view this it is a simple sign-up on the site.  Then explore the free content.  Just click on the image below.

steel and skin

11 Hip-Hop Documentaries To Watch

The good people at Okayplayer have collated 11 diverse Hip-Hop documentaries.  Films ranging from 1983 to 2017 explore the movement in many different contexts including Tim Westwood’s 1987 documentary Bad Meaning Good filmed in London and featuring The Cookie Crew, Beatmasters and the London Posse.

To watch just click on the image below.

B-boys In New York City

Jean Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child

Definitely one of the favourite artists at The Return of the Illicit Groove so it was a real joy to find this documentary.  An artist who was so much part of the New York City music scene as he was the visual arts, Basquiat remains as one of the defining voices in art some 32 years after his far too early death at only 27.

To watch the documentary click on the image below; a photograph of Basquiat taken by William Coupon in 1986


An Archive Edition of Talking the Groove Featuring an Interview With Claudio Passavanti of Sunlight Square.

More Online content to enjoy

Femi, TJ and James from Ezra Collective discuss their last album You Can’t Steal My Joy on the excellent Tapenotes blog.

‘Hot off the heels winning ‘Jazz Album of the Year’ at the World Wide Awards, the boys reflect upon how the album took shape, from the early rehearsals in a dodgy studio in Croatia to spending two days on a boat recording the whole thing. The boys play us previously unheard demos capturing the moments lightning struck, from a very rough voice memo to a more elaborate Garage Band creation knocked together on the top deck of a bus.’

To listen to this excellent interview click the image below.

ezra collective



Here’s a documentary on Poly Styrene from BBC’s Arena arts magazine show from 1979.  (Did we mention that Poly Styrene is our favourite Punk?)


Featuring contributions from DJ Paulette and Angelique Kidjo among others, this piece from the Elephant website explores ‘Why Music Has No Age Limit’.

To read this article just click on the image of Angelique Kidjo below.

"Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garcons: Art Of The In-Between" Costume Institute Gala - Arrivals

Tony Allen on Hugh Masakela and Fela Kuti.

With the release of Tony Allen and Hugh Masakela’s lost masterpiece collaboration Rejoice this month here is an article from The Guradian where Afro-Beat’s co-author discusses and talks about the people he has worked with.

There are two tracks from Rejoice featured in the

News Grooves From News Of The Grooves Playlist featured in this month’s newsletter.

To read the article click on the image of the cover of Rejoice below.

Rejoice_Allen & Masekela

Manu Dibango

It seems bitterly ironic and a cruel twist that just as this newsletter was being edited we received the sad news that Cameroonian musician Manu Dibango has died from complications due to falling ill with the COVID-19 strain of the Coronavirus.

Right from the early days of #IllicitGrooves the music of Manu Dibango featured in many DJ gigs with his much covered and perennial track Soul Makossa being an #IllicitGrooves National Anthem.  The forthcoming broadcast of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show  on Totally Wired Radio from 1pm (GMT) will feature a selection of four Manu Dibango tracks in the playlist by way of remembrance, acknowledgment and thanks to the great man.

You can read nd view a short report of Manu Dibango‘s sad death from Africa News by clicking on his image below.



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News From The Grooves: February 2020

Welcome to the #NewsFromTheGrooves newsletter for February 2020.  As always we start with a playlist mix of some of the new, recently released and soon to be released promos and new grooves that have reached us here at The Return of the Illicit Groove throughout February.

We will also be looking at several exhibitions, a new Jazz based app and website, a new magazine to hit the UK’s shelves, a mix we were asked to do for Disco JuJu, a wicked competition and the archive of all of February’s editions of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show on Totally Wired Radio.  We will also be acknowledging the impact that Andrew Weatherall had on music, music production, DJing and culture with a tribute to him from Bill Brewster.

The New Grooves From News From The Grooves

The new releases, re-Issues and promos that reached us in February 2020

  1. Nato – Yako

  2. Emma-Jean Thackray – Raindance

  3. Moses Boyd – B2B

  4. Collocutor – Pause

  5. Arema Arega – Electronic Life

  6. Angela Munoz – I Don’t Care

  7. Ricardo Richaid – O Velho Cai

  8. David Walters – Mesy Bon Dye

  9. Iyoshi Karaou & The Wop – Soul Tripper

  10. Tito Lopez Combo – Far Canal

  11. The Herbaliser – Takedown

  12. Irreversible Entanglements – No Mas

  13. Wildflower – Mirage

  14. Forest Law – New Thoughts New Eyes

  15. D’Oke – Sogodounou

  16. Koichi Sakai & Afla Sackey – Atenteben Blues

  17. Ivan Mamaoa Conti – Katmandu (Original Mix)

  18. Andy Compton – Last Night In Jozi (Sax Mix)

Competition:  Win a handful of CDs and a full set of #IllicitGrooves Badges


CDs from Larry Levan, Shabaka and the Ancestors, Azhaar Saffar & Global Wave, Corduroy and Kamasi Washington plus all four designs of our exclusive and limited edition collector badges await anyone who simply follows The Return of the Illicit Groove blog and answers one simple question;  Which cosmic band is Shabaka Hutchings a member of?

To enter just click here.

Tales From The Illicit Groove

Part memoir and part cultural history Tales From The Illicit Groove looks back over Bob Hill’s 30plus years of DJing, broadcasting, gig going and music journalism and places his experiences into the wider context of the UK’s (and beyond) socio-cultural history.


In the chapter Radio Suckers Sometimes Play Me Bob reflects on his relationship with pirate radio and talks to Norman Jay MBE and the Ranking Miss P about KISSFM and the Dread Broadcasting Company and their cultural and political importance.

To read Radio Suckers Sometimes Play Me click here.

Arts and Culture

In last month’s News From The Grooves we mentioned the London Calling: 40 Years of The Clash exhibition at the Museum of London.  This month we review that exhibition, look forward to a new exhibition on electronic music at the Design Museum  and take a look at a new magazine and an online platform dedicated to Jazz.

London Calling: 40 Years of the Clash – The Museum of London. Current exhibition, ends April 19th 2020


So, I was 12 years old and in my 2nd year at my Comprehensive School when The Clash released London Calling in December 1979.  The title track became one of the anthems of my first year as a teenager in 1980 and served as a rallying cry for myself and my mates already acutely aware of what it meant to be living through the early part of Thatcher’s Britain.

Now, 40 something years later that same album still resonates as an audio protest against an authoritarian, bigoted and economically incompetent right-wing junta.  Not simply for its powerful, anti-establishment lyrics and clearly left-wing sentiments but also because it’s hybrid of musical styles and influences and personnel all conspire to be a beacon of everything that was, and is, great about a multi-cultural, multi-racial London and wider UK.


The exhibition captures that spirit with realia and ephemera lent by members of The Clash and their families.  From Joe Strummer’s rehearsal and recording notebook, to his typewriter, Mick Jones’ handwritten track sequencing notes and handwritten tracklists from their New York City shows there is a real sense of connection with the album, the band members and the era.  Perhaps most striking of all the objects on show, and certainly the one which made me take a gulp and a step back, is Paul Simonon’s broken Fender bass.  The very guitar he is seen smashing on the stage on the iconic LP cover of London Calling.

On first impressions the exhibition itself is a rather brilliant and fascinating collection of music memorobilia.  However, in order to understand the real context of the show and the contexts of individual objects and/or pictures you do need to download and use the accompanying Smartify app.  I urge you to see this exhibition before it closes on April 19th.  For more info click here. Bob Hill

Electronic: From Krafwerk to The Chemical Brothers. The Design Museum From 1st April to 26th July 2020

For me Kraftwerk has been the most influential music group ever.  The music produced by the Dusseldorf outfit has been the driving force behind Detroit Techno, Chicago House music,, Go-Go from Washington DC, New York and New Jersey Disco, Hip-Hop and electro from the Bronx, synth-pop from 80s UK to the modern day music styles of EDM, Grime and dance music.  Fusing the repetitive beats of tracks such as ‘Trans-Europe Express‘ with Afro-Latino rhythms has created all of the above genres and an exhibition acknowledging this is apt and very necessary. – Bob Hill

Taken from the Design Museum website is the following description of the show and it does promise much.

‘Evoking the experience of being in a club, the exhibition will transport you through the people, art, design, technology and photography that have been capturing and shaping the electronic music landscape.’

For more info and booking details click here.

Propaganda: A Weekend Curated by Shabaka Hutchings. Barbican 8-10th May 2020

Saxophonist, clarinetist and composer Shabaka Hutchings from The Comet is Coming, The Sons of Kemet and The Ancestors curates a weekend of music, art and spoken word exploring Propaganda and how it is a presence in all our lives.


Including a collaboration between Sons of Kemet and Britten Sinfonia, performances from Sofiane Saidi & MazaldaKit Downes Quintet and more.

More details click here.

Andrew Weatherall: A Tribute and Mix from Bill Brewster.


The words you are about to read come from a tribute paid by Bill Brewster to his friend, the DJ, artist, music producer and composer Andrew Weatherall, who died this month at 56.  Far too young, far to soon.

‘Although our paths often came close in the 1990s, it was only over the past 20 years that I really got to know Andrew. I interviewed him a couple of times, but we also DJed together at a bunch of parties and hung out at festivals, usually with his girlfriend Lizzie. In person he couldn’t have been further from his slightly foreboding reputation. He was an extremely likeable person, always with an interesting angle on a well-worn story, he was someone you’d be guaranteed to end up talking about something typically off the wall; I’m remembering conversations over the years that covered New Orleans voodoo, David Essex in That’ll Be The Day, Billy Childish or any one of countless diversions that always seemed to be part of a few hours spent with Mr Weatherall. He was also a kind and thoughtful man. One summer, we spent a week together in a villa in Croatia, and he helped teach my then very young daughter how to swim (in between speculation about whether Dr John had filched lyrics from a book he’d just read).

I’d doubt whether anyone from the acid house generation has forged such a singular career as Andrew. Many have gone on to become much more successful and considerably more wealthy than him, but none of them have managed to plough a furrow so unique and utterly without ‘career planning’ in mind. Careers were for other people, but not him (during one of our interviews, he told me, “It was only about five or six years ago I realised I was a DJ.”)

Weatherall somehow beat a path in all kinds of directions – verdant and otherwise – but still managed to keep people fascinated by his next move and was equally at home banging out coruscating European techno as he was digging out rockabilly obscurities for a crowd dressed in Western checks and Levis. One of my favourite Weatherall tips was Dave Phillips & The Hot Rod Gang’s brilliant cover of Tainted Love. Pure Andrew dynamite.

He told me on more than one occasion that he’d seriously thought about knocking DJing on the head and concentrating on his art. It’s a tragedy for the art world that he never lived long enough to pursue further diversions. In fact, it’s just a tragedy full stop. What a DJ. What a producer. What a guy.’



Jazziz Magazine Now Available In Britain

USA based magazine Jazziz is now available to buy in the UK.  The Winter 2020 edition of the magazine hit newsagennts’ shelves in January with four features dedicated to the past and contemporary Jazz scenes in London, and a cover art entitled London Calling.

jazziz cover

The London based section of the magazine looks at five artists from the 1960’s scene including Evan Parker and Norma Winstone, ten London centric recordings from the likes of Joe Harriot, Stan Getz and The Jazz Warriors, a rundown of London Jazz joints from Ronnie Scott’s to The Vortex and The Jazz Cafe and a feature called London Rising covering six young artists from the current LDN Scene.  The six artists in the latter piece being Jacob Collier, Shabaka Hutchings, Binker Golding, Yazz Ahmed, Nubya Garcia and Theon Cross.


These features are a good intro of the London scene to a US readership but come with a couple of inaccuracies.  None more so than incorrectly attributing Courtney Pine as heading record label and event promoters Jazz Re:Freshed. Quite a glaring mistake which really should not have been made considering the massive importance of the work of Justin and Adam et al from Jazz Re:Freshed in creating a weekly event which has run for 16 years in London and gave many of the young artists featured in Jazziz their early professional gigs at the Mau Mau Bar and the annual Jazz Re:Fest event. (more on this later).

Also in this issue of Jazziz, look out for the excellent interview with the amazing Carmen Lundy and drummer Terri Lyne Carrington.

Jazzed.  A New Online Platform to Access Jazz

The brainchild of JazzFM colleagues Chris Phillips and Tim Garcia (the founder and curator of the excellent Musica Macondo website) Jazzed is a content platform which allows users to watch, listen and read.  The themed music playlists include contemporary jazz from London (LDN State of Mind) to those which feature the big bands, jazz vocalists and the innovators of the Be-Bop era.  The music player (from 7Digital) is clear, easy to use and sounds great and it is possible to  listen to a playlist and simultaneously read the articles on the site.


As well as free content on the site there is a subscription option which allows access to more content.  The publishers of Jazzed are offering a special offer for new subscribers of 3 months for £1.  Just go to jazzed.com and sign up using the code jazzed2020

Jazz Re:Freshed and Jazz Re:Fest

News has reached us that the weekly Jazz Re:Freshed gig at the Mau-Mau Bar in Portobello Rd, west London will be moving venues after over 16 years.  The organisation is looking for a new space to continue this important event which famously started after Adam and Justin found themselves attending Jazz events in London and were the only black people, and by far the youngest, in the audience.  As mentioned earlier this gig, the record label and the 5ive series of releases has been part of the incubator that has seen the current Jazz scene in London, and artist such as Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd, Ashley Henry, Shabaka Hutchings, Nerija, Seed Ensemble and more rise to prominence.

Read the full statement from Jazz Re:Freshed here.

The organisation also takes young UK talent abroad with recent trips to Sao Paolo, Brazil and showcase gigs at the prestigious SXSW event in Austen, Texas.   Be sure to add the 25th of July to your calendar as that will be the date that the annual  JazzRe:Fest event once again takes over the Brighton Dome on the south coast of the UK.  A fantastic event which provides areal spotlight on UK Jazz talent such as we saw at the 2019 show which included Theon Cross, Camilla George and Rosie Turton on the bill.

jazz refest 2020


Illicit Grooves Gigs, Mixes and Shows

Illicit Grooves at Le Mellotron, Paris

Just a heads up that on Friday the 13th of March Bob Hill will be guesting at and on the famous Parisian venue and radio station Le Mellotron.  The show starts at 8pm French time (7pm in UK) and will be broadcast on Le Mellotron website and livestreamed via Le Mellotron facebook page.


Illicit Grooves in Belgrade

If you are anywhere near Belgrade, Serbia the following weekend the Bob will bringing the #IllicitGrooves flavours to Strogi Centar on the night of Friday the 20th of March and then to Leila Records on the evening of Sunday the 22nd March.  This will be Bob’s 4th visit to Belgrade and DJing in those fantastic venues.  Read about his previous #IllicitGrooves expeditions to the ‘White City’ here.


A Special #IllicitGrooves Mix and Playlist for Disco JuJu

World beats collective and club night Disco Juju invited #IllicitGrooves to contribute a mix to its online content after hearing the West Africa Continental Drift mix featured in January’s News From The Grooves.  Take a listen to the mix here on the Disco Juju Mixcloud page.


A Recap of all of February’s Broadcasts of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show

Totally wired show flyer




From Belgrade to Bari: The Serbian Wave of Jazz & the Italian Label Releasing It.

The first time I DJed in Belgrade was at the invitation of The Loud Minority (Belgrade) organisation who flew me to the White City for the weekend ostensibly to play at the Fourth Funk Kongress on the Saturday.


Organised by Belgrade DJ Soul Mimi aka Milena Ni, I also DJed at Leila Records on the Thursday evening and then the iconic Strogi Centar the following night. It was after the gig at leila Records that I got a real sense of the innovative and creative Jazz scene that Belgrade has to offer when we went along to Strogi Centar to see the weekly Thursday night Jazz improv. and jam session organised by and featuring music students from the Belgrade Conservatoire.

The event, the participants and the venue all added up to something like a Beograd version of London’s ‘Steamdown’ event with a regular pick up band hosting invited guest players and a young and knowledgeable crowd actively participating throughout.


The next time I was playing in Belgrade I met and interviewed saxophonist, vocalist and composer Sanja Markovic, who had by then recorded her album ‘Ascension’ and was looking for a label to release it. That label turned out to be the Bari based Italian label A.MA Records after Puglinese DJ Jazzcat passed on the demo to label head Antonio Martino.

Released in April of 2020, ‘Ascension’ heralded the beginning of the relationship that now exists between A.MA Records and a host of Serbian based Jazz musicians who have subsequently released albums on the label.

Opening with an exclusive play of a track from the forthcoming ‘In Plain View’ album by the Ivan Radivojevic Quartet, this Serbian Wave playlist highlights the diversity and innovation on offer across all the releases of Serbian and Belgrade based Jazz musicians now released on A.MA Records.

Enjoy the mix and head over to the A.MA Records Bandcamp page here for more details.


  1. The Ivan Radivojevic Quartet – Some Place Else (From the album In Plain View releasing 13th May 2022

  2. Sanja Markovic – Ascenion (From the album Ascension released April 2020)

  3. Max Kochetov – Rhetorical Morning (From the Album Altered Feelings released January 2022)

  4. Milena Jancuric – Circles and Lines (From the album Shapes and Stories released November 2021)

  5. Ugljesa Novakovic – Zen Warrior (From the album Reflections released April 2021)

  6. Milena Jancuric – Steps and Curls (From the album Shapes and Stories released November 2021)

  7. Max Kochetov – Sultry Requiem (From the Album Altered Feelings released January 2022)

  8. Sanja Markovic – N’anya (From the album Ascension released April 2020)

  9. Ugljesa Novakovic – Ambivalence, Belgrade Tango Suite (From the album Reflections released April 2021)