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




Images & Thoughts from #WeOutHereFestival 2021

After the COVID enforced break that all but wiped out 2020-21 it was a welcome return for the 2nd #WeOutHereFestival after the success of the inaugural event in 2019.

Once again we played an #IllicitGrooves set on the rather wonderful, lakeside Sanctuary stage as we did in 2019 and had a real blast.  Following on from the fantastic DJ duo Daughters of Frank we tipped a hat to the great set they played and the full dancefloor they gave us by opening with Donna Summers’ State of Independence before going down the breakbeat, BRUK, Afro routes with tracks from Jules Buckley‘s brilliant new album with Ghost Note and the Heritage Orchestra, Breaks, Sam Redmore’s so tuff remix of Missy Elliot’s Get Your Freak On, tracks from Aziza and Finguz, Khruangbin, NATO, Luiz Gabriel Lopes and couple of back in the day belters from Mory Kante and Fela Kuti before rounding off with more new music from Josef Akin and Snazzback. The programming of The Sanctuary was a brilliant example of innovative and diverse staging with the Evesdrop Collective programming DJS such as Soxee, Tunesmith, Angel Mel, Amazon and other quality women DJs who are there on merit but often sadly overlooked in the white bloke club that DJ line-ups can sometimes be dominated by.  Speaking as one of those white blokes I can say it was an honour and a real joy to be in the minority on this brilliant corner of the #WOH site.

Please enjoy the playlist version of the Illicit Grooves set below with the full tracklisting.

  1. Donna Summer – State of Independence (12” Mix)

  2. Missy Elliot – Get Ur Freak On (Sam Redmore Remix)

  3. Jules Buckley, Ghost Note & the Heritage Orchestra – Space Funk

  4. Jules Buckley, Ghost Note & the Heritage Orchestra – X Breaks

  5. Aziza & Finguz – One by One

  6. Abase feat. Fashion Piva & Jadson Xabla – Guetto (Sou Favela)

  7. Luiz Gabriel Lopes – Venus (The Quiet Ones Remix)

  8. Khruangbin – Pelota (Cuta Rug Remix)

  9. Talking Heads – Psycho Killer (Sam Redmore Remix Instrumental)

  10. The Brady Bunch – Drummer Man (Sam Redmore Remix)

  11. Mory Kante – Ye Ke Ye Ke (A Paris Original 1985 version)

  12. Fela Kuti – Teacher Don’t Teach Me Nonsense (Parts 1&2)

  13. Timo Lassy – Foriegn Routes

  14. Snazzback – Alice

  15. Bram Weijters’ Crazy Men – Objizdka

  16. The Scallymatic Orchestra – Autumn Forest Song

  17. Josef Akin – Sun Dance

  18. Nimbus Sextet – Lowrider

  19. Mike Casey – Norwegian Wood ( Live from Sofar Sounds NYC)

  20. Josef Akin – Di Avenie

As well as the #IlllicitGrooves set and the countless top drawer DJs there was also plenty of opportunities to witness live performances from acts that regularly grace The Illicit Grooves Radio Show playlists.  Along with Nubya Garcia, Kokoroko, Secret Night Gang, Joe Armon-Jones, Ezra Collective and surprise guest Thundercat there were brilliant performances from Yazmin Lacey, Balimaya Project, the sublime Ego Ella may and Bluey’s Brit-Funkers Str4ta to enjoy.

Please check the pictures from the gallery below.  All photos are subject to Copyright but are free to use as long as photo credit is given to Bob Hill.

Balimaya Project

Yazmin Lacey

DJs and Crowds

Ego Ella-May


I hope you’ve enjoyed this taster of the #WOHfestival2021.  I struggled through the whole event with my first cold and cough in over two years but despite feeling like death warmed up on a cold plate I enjoyed what I saw.  One day I hope that this weekend will be bathed in August sunshine, but if rain is to be a feature of this event then the line-up makes it all worth while.

Here’s to #WOHfestival2022 and hopefully more #IllicitGrooves sets and shit load of sunshine.

The Groove Review: March 2021

Welcome to the latest edition of #thegroovereview.  As always we have searched across the internet to find interesting articles, documentaries, music and the arts to share with you.  In addition you will also find the catch up and listen again versions of the #IllicitGrooves Radio Show on Totally Wired Radio, a selection of some of the new music from our promo and latest digging session folders plus and relevant #NewsFromTheGrooves we have to share.

So first things first February has been a helluva a month music wise so the best way to present this to you is with the listen again versions of the #IllicitGrooves shows from February.  Enjoy these below and full track lists are also available in the comments section of each show post.  Whilst you are there go to the site and follow us to receive all the shows the day after they go out plus more music based content, playlists and mixes.

The New Grooves Playlist: March 2021

Enjoy this selection of new music, re-Issues, promos and other bits and bobs from The Return of the Illicit Groove‘s music folders and  record boxes.


More Releases from the Inside A.MA series

As regular readers of this blog and listeners to the #IllicitGrooves Radio Show on Totally Wired Radio will know we have been curating compilation albums for the Italian label A.MA Records from its back catalogue of excellent contemporary Jazz.   So far Inside A.MA volumes 1 and 2 have been released to very enthusiastic and positive receptions.  Tracks from both albums have received wide airplay across many influential stations throughout the World and have been championed by some highly respected tastemakers from the DJ and broadcast community.

We can now reveal that the first of a series of remix EPs curated by Bob Hill from The Return of the Illicit Groove will be released on Friday March 19th and available from the A.MA Records page on Bandcamp.  This first release sees Antonio Trinchera’s Joy Drops track undergoing two remixes by Chicago legend Elbert Phillips.  This remix series will go by the name of A.MA Reforged and 001 will lead the way with more remixes and remixers/producers planned.

Antonio Trinchera-Joy Drops Elbert Phillips

Elbert first came to prominence as a DJ in Chicago in the 1980s and throughout the 90s secured his position as one of the go to DJs for special events and parties including Chicago’s annual Summer music festival The Silver Room Sound System Block Party. The godfather himself, Frankie Knuckles, chose Elbert to be his warm up DJ for four years in the early 2000s and Elbert was one of the first DJ’s approached to play on Boiler Room’s tribute to Frankie at the Smartbar.

Elbert currently has a residency show on Mi-House Radio and is working on a number of remix commissions from around the Globe.

Antonio Trinchera is a formidable guitarist and composer who began studying classical guitar at the age of 13 and who welcomed being influenced by the languages of blues and jazz.

Since 1990, he has collaborated and played live with, amongst others, Cruna, Ritza, Subjects at Risk, Transmutazioni, Intuito, Colores, Fuso & Quadrato, Kuraj ,Bitmap Brothers and La Barca Del Rè.

In recent years, his passion for ambient music, electronics and experimentation have inspired him in many of his compositions with his Next Move album for A.MA Records reflecting his versatility and experimentations with forms and sounds.

Further to the news of the release of A.MA Reforged 001 we can also confirm that Inside A.MA volume 3 is being curated as we speak and will comprise of  vocal tracks from across the A.MA Records catalogue.  More news to come on this.

More Music to Look Out For

A handful of EPS and albums to make note of that we are playing on the #IllicitGrooves show, on our playlists and on the stereo for you to note.

Ararur – Mielikki (Artist Release)

Avishai Darash – Quarantine Blues (A.MA Records)

Dundundun – Anansi/Dun in Outer Space (Worm Discs)

Various Artists – J Jazz volume 3  (BBE Music)

Nimbus Sextet – Dreams Fulfilled (Fradinho Remix) (Acid Jazz Records)

Marcus Joseph – Beyond the Dome (Jazz Re:Freshed)

Good Stuff From Across the Internet

From the most excellent Africa Oye Blog comes Episode 3 of Nyumbani.  This page links you to some wicked good music on the Nyumbani Youtube page from DJ Sno, Moonlight Benjamin and Mim Suleiman and more. To access click the picture below of SNO.


‘On Valentine’s Day 1920, a little over a century ago, a 28-year-old singer named Mamie Smith walked into a recording studio in New York City and made history. Six months later, she did it again’.   So begins the following article from BBC Culture as it explores ‘ The Forgotten Story of America’s First Black Superstars.’  To read the article click on the image below of Mamie Smith and the Jazz Hounds.


One for the crate diggers here, especially the Jazz heads.  Daniel Spicer’s monthly column in Jazzwise magazine has now been collated into a book and here he is talking to the London Economic about ‘Lost In The Vaults: The Joy of Collecting Jazz Records’.  Click the image below to read the interview.


Featuring artists such as Jordan Castel, Betye Saar, Sadie Barnette and others the Studio Museum in Harlem has been an invaluable space for Black female artists since its opening in 1968.  Here this article on the Bazaar website looks at the importance of the Studio Museum.  Click on the image below of Lauren Halsey’s Reparations Now + Welcome Family to access the article.


Black innovators in electronic music are celebrated in this article from DJ magazine with a focus on and interview with King Britt.  Now running a university course in electronic music Britt has been able to call on the likes of Roni Size, Honey Dijon and Robert Hood to deliver guest lectures.  To read more click on the pic of King Britt.

king britt

So let’s leave this month’s #GrooversDigest with a look at the late 80’s band that arguably was the catalyst for the current explosion of top quality, diverse and innovative Jazz in the UK; The Jazz Warriors with Art Blakey sitting in.

If you enjoyed this blog then please follow us to receive it in your inbox every month.  Please share on your socials.


The #IllicitGroovesAwards2020 Results

Welcome to the results round-up of the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020.

If you missed the results announcement in the #IllicitGrooves show on Totally Wired Radio broadcast on Sunday 24th January you can read the full list of winners below and access the show on the embedded player facility.

Now in its 4th year the #IllicitGrooves Awards asks the readers of this blog and the listeners of the #IllicitGrooves radio show to vote from a shortlist of artists and music in four categories; Favourite Album, Favourite Track, Favourite Re-Issue and Favourite Compilation Album.

The winners for 2020 are as follows.

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)*

*Though not strictly a re-issue we thought Rejoice best fit in this category as the tracks were originally recorded in the early 90s and were ‘re-discovered’ for release in 2020.  The precedence for this decision can be found in earlier versions of the awards when ‘found’ music from both John Coltrane and Charles Mingus were included in the Re-Issue category despite never having been previously released.

The Illicit Grooves Arts & Culture Award

This is an award which we at The Return of the Illicit Groove and our sponsors ReddSugarBlack Creativity bestow as the Arts and Culture Award.  In previous years this award has gone to organisations, events, publications, exhibitions that have shown innovation in bringing arts and culture to the public.  Due to the COVID pandemic it became clear that this award would in all probability be awarded to an online event or content creator or to some kind of publication that would be accessible to all of us in lockdown.

This year, as with in 2019, we took the decision to award to two joint winners. Two online events which managed to replace somewhat two events cancelled due to the pandemic and still present a wide range of music from a diverse and culturally significant line-up of live acts, Djs, radio shows, braodcasters, presenters and promoters.

The Joint Winners of the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020 Arts and Culture Prize are

Jazz Re:Fest 2020 Online 

We Out here 2020 Online

Congratulations to all of the winners above.  If you would like to remind yourself of the the nominees in each category you can do so by clicking here for the Favourite Track and Favourite Compilation Categories .

For the nominees in the Favourite Album and Re-Issue Categories please click here .

Listen again here to the #IllicitGrooves show on Totally Wired Radio broadcast on Sunday 24th January to hear the winners.

The #IllicitGroovesAwards2020. The Polls Are Open

The polls are now open for the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020

It’s easy to vote; simply click the graphic below and you will see the four categories and the the ten nominees in each.  Easy peasy lemon squeezy just select one nominee in each category.

vote here

The polls will remain open until 6pm (UK Time) on Wednesday the 20th of January with the winners announced in the #IllicitGrooves show on Totally Wired Radio at 1pm (UK Time) on Sunday the 24th of January.

If you want to remind yourselves of the music by the nominees then you can do so by visiting the special shows we produced below.

While you are here follow us here on The Return of the Illicit Grooves blog.

The #IllicitGroovesAwards2020: Favourite Track and Favourite Compilation Album

Having revealed the nominees in the Favourite Album and Favourite Re-Issue categories in a previous post it is now time to publish the nominees in the Favourite Track and Favourite Compilation Album categories for the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020.

All released in 2020 and played on the #IllicitGrooves show on Totally Wired Radio and/or playlisted on any guest mixes or included in the #NewGrooves mix in the monthly #NewsFromTheGrooves blog, you can vote for your choice in each category when polls open on Friday the 8th of January 2021.

Make sure you Follow this, The Return of the Illicit Groove, blog and Like and Follow our Facebook page here to ensure you have the chance to have your say on the four categories.

So to the nominees.

Favourite Compilation Album Released in 2020

  • Blue Note Re-Imagined (Blue Note Records)

  • New Horizons: Young Stars of South African Jazz (Afrosynth Records)

  • Jazz is Dead 001 (Jazz is Dead)

  • Colin Curtis presents Jazz Dance Fusion volume 2 (Z Records)

  • Eddie Piller and Martin Freeman present Jazz on the Corner volume 2 (Acid Jazz Records)

  • Alex Attias presents Lillygood Party volume 2 (BBE Music)

  • Inside A.MA volume 1 (A.MA Records)

  • Global Riddims volume 2 (NYP Records)

  • African Electric Diaspora: Black Lives Matter (Rebel Up! Records)

  • Modern Jazz Dance Classics volume 2 (MJDC)

Favourite Track Released in 2020

  • Deborah Jordan – Horizon (Kaidi Tatham Remix) (Futuristica Music)

  • Daniel Maunick – Black Magic (Far Out Recordings)

  • Necktr – Grow

  • Don Pascal feat. LyricL – Time (r2 Records)

  • Lady Blackbird – Collage (Bruise Remix)

  • TC and the Groove Family – Temple (TC&TGF Music)

  • Ashley Allen – The Question

  • Soul Inscribed – Let Them In (Irfan Rainy Remix) (Tokyo Dawn Records)

  • Raul Monsalves y Los Forajidos feat. Betsayda Machado – Mosquito (Olindo Records)

  • The Fantastics – Pyramid (BBE Music)

The Illicit Grooves Radio Show first broadcast Sunday 3rd January 2021 on Totally Wired Radio

#Grooves4TheGlobalLeftfield #g4gl


Produced by

The Return of the Illicit Groove

Sponsored by

ReddSugarBlack Creative Words and Content

#IllicitGrooves Awards2020 Nominees part 2

Favourite Track and Favourite Compilation Album categories

  1. Emma-Jean Thackray – Speak No Evil (Nightdreamer) (Blue Note Records)

  2. Mabuta – Slipstream (Afro-Synth)

  3. Gary Bartz with Ali Shaheed Muhammed & Adrian Younge – Distant Mode (Jazz is Dead)

  4. Paoli Mejias – Revelation (Z Records)

  5. Roberta Flack – Compared to What (Acid Jazz Records)

  6. Dayme Arocena – Stuck (BBE Music)

  7. Antonio Trinchera – Our fault (A.MA Records)

  8. Koichi Sakai & Afla Sackey – Atenteben Blues (NYP Records)

  9. Dandana – Free The System (Rebel Up)

  10. Carfoxa – San Gogo Fu (MJDC)

  11. Deborah Jordan – Horizon (Kaidi Tatham Remix) (Futuristica Music)

  12. Daniel maunick – Black Magic (Far Out Recordings)

  13. Don pascal feat. LyricL – Time (R2 Records)

  14. Lady Blackbird – Collage (Bruise Remix) (Artist Release)

  15. TC & the Groove Family – Temple (Kalaux Remix) (TC & TGF Records)

  16. Ashley Allen – The Question (Artist Release)

  17. Soul Inscribed – Let Them In (Irfan Rainy Remix)

  18. Raul Monsalve y Los Forrajidos feat. Betsayda Machado – Mosquito (Olindo Records)

  19. The Fantastics – Pyramid (BBE Music)

To vote in the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020 follow the blog at illicitgrooves.wordpress.com

Polls will be open on Friday the 8th January at 4pm (UK Time) 5pm (CET) and will close at 6pm (UK Time) on Wednesday the 20th of January.

The #IllicitGroovesAwards2020: Favourite Album and Favourite Re-Issue Nominees

It is that time of year again when we start to review the music that has been released in 2020.  More than any other year in recent history we have been reminded of the importance of music and the arts, musicians and artists to human existence.  So it is with an even greater pleasure than normal that we at The Return of the Illicit Groove can present to you the viability of the arts with the following lists of nominees in two of the four categories in the #IllicitGroovesAwards2020.

So please find below the lists for the nominees in the Favourite Album and Favourite Re-Issue categories and the Mixcloud repeat of yesterday’s special edition of the #IllicitGrooves show featuring all 20 nominees from each of those two categories.  The nominees in the Favourite Compilation and Favourite Track categories will be published on Monday the 4th of January 2021 right here.

Remember you, as listeners to the #IllicitGrooves show on Totally Wired Radio, readers of #NewsFromTheGrooves and The Return of the Illicit Groove blog are eligible to vote for your favourites when the polls open on Friday the 8th of January.

Favourite Album Released in 2020

  • SAULT – Untitled (Black Is) (Forever Living Originals)

  • Waaju – Grown (Olindo Records)

  • Nubya Garcia – Source (Concord Jazz)

  • LCSM – Earthbound (Super Sonic Jazz Records)

  • Gary Bartz & Maisha – Direct to Disc Sessions (Nightdreamer)

  • Byron the Aquarius – Ambrosia (Axis Records)

  • Coldcut – Keleketla (Ahead of Our Time)

  • Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids – Shaman! (Strut)

  • Don Pascal – The Dakar Experiment (r2 Records)

  • Scrimshire – Believers volume 1 (Albert’s Favourites)

Favourite Re-Issue Released in 2020 (Album or Single)

  • Kirk Lightsey & Rudolph Johnson with the All-Stars – Habiba (Outernational Sounds)

  • The Robin Jones Seven – El Maja (The Jazz Room)

  • Tony Allen & Hugh Masakela – Rejoice (World Circuit)

  • Billy Brooks – Windows of the Mind (We Want Sounds)

  • Hideto Sasaki, Toshiyuki Sekene Quartet plus 1 – Stop Over (BBE Music)

  • Ambiance – The Black Narcissus (BBE Music)

  • Manfredo Fest – Brazillian Dorian Dream (Far Out Recordings)

  • Dianne Mower – The Secret Sign (Mind Fluid Music)

  • Mandisa – Summer Love (Disc of Fun and Love)

  • Dalvanius & the Fascinations – Voodoo Lady (Warm)

The IllicitGrooves show on Totally Wired Radio 27th December 2020. 

  1. SAULT feat. Michael Kiwanuka – Bow (Forever Living Originals)
  2. Waaju – Listening Glasses (Olindo Records)
  3. Nubya Garcia – Pace (Concord Jazz)
  4. Likwid Continual Space Motion – Earthbound (Supersonic Jazz Records)
  5. Gary Bartz & Maisha – Leta’s Dance (Nightdreamer)
  6. Byron the Aquarius – Edgewood Avenue (Axis Records)
  7. Coldcut – Future Toyi Toyi (Ahead of Our Time)
  8. Idris Ackamoor & the Pyramids – Tango of Love (Strut)
  9. Don Pascal feat.Rich BLK & Niara Scarlett – Be Yourself (r2 Records)
  10. Scrimshire feat. Pena – Tanto Tiempo (Albert’s Favourites)
  11. Kirk Lightsey and Rudolph Johnson with the All-Stars – Fresh Air (Outernational Sounds)
  12. The Robin Jones Seven – Chant Afrique (The Jazz Room)
  13. Tony Allen & Hugh Masekela – Never (lagos Gonna Be The Same Without Fela) (World Circuit)
  14. Billy Brooks – Rockin’ Julius (We Want Sounds)
  15. Hideto Sasaki Teshiyuki Sekene Quartet + 1 – Soultrane (BBE Music)
  16. Ambiance – The Black Narcissus (BBE Music)
  17. Manfredo Fest – Jungle Cat (Far Out Recordings)
  18. Dianne Mower – The Secret Sign (Mind Fluid Records)
  19. Mandisa – Summer Love (Discs of Fun and Love)
  20. Dalvanius and the Fascinations – Voodoo Lady (Re:Warm)

Rmember to tune into the #IllicitGrooves  show on Totally Wired Radio this coming Sunday the 3rd of January to hear the nominees in the Favourite Track and Favourite Compilation Album categories. 

Follow this blog here and/or The Return of the Illicit Groove on Facebook to receive the link to vote on Friday the 8th of January 2021 at 6pm (UK Time) 7pm (CET)

Illicit Grooves awards track and Compilation