So with COVID-19 wrecking live music events across the Globe this year’s International Jazz Day Concert, initially scheduled for Cape Town, is now a virtual affair with artists performing in isolation. The show must go on and indeed will go on with streaming on Youtube starting at 3pm in NYC, 8pm in London, 9pm in Cape Town, Paris and Berlin and 10pm in Moscow.
Also today was the announcement of the 2020 Jazz Journalists Awards nominations. The JJA Awards results will be announced in mid-May and reward work from 2019.
Back to the International Jazz day 2020 Virtual Global Concert. Now named as Jazz day At Home 2020 the event will include contributions from Herbie Hancock, Dianne Reeves, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Cecile McLorin Salvant, Lizz Wright, Danilo Prez, Lwanda Gogwana, Sibongele Khumalo and more.
So with the lockdown extended in the UK and continuing in one form or another globally this issue of #NFTG is a bumper one with things to watch, things to read, things to listen to, things to study and a shit tonne of music to experience.
We celebrate the life of Bill Withers, whom we sadly lost this month, with a musical tribute to him as a songwriter in a mix prepared for The Illicit Grooves Radio Show broadcast on the 12th of April and link to the excellent BBC4 documentary Still Bill.
April marked the 50th anniversary of the release of Bitches Brew and we have sourced footage of Miles Davis in concert performing that very album as well as a couple of articles looking back on the importance of Bitches Brew to jazz and to popular culture in general.
We have also sourced a series of podcasts where the excellent Reggie Yates talks to a range of guests from Riz Ahmed to Jacob Sanderson AKA Raleigh Ritchie to Naomi Harris. The work of music organisation Tomorrow’s Warriorsis discussed by co-founder, the bassist and former Jazz Warrior, Gary Crosby. A radio documentary on the Griot drummers of Senegal, early footage of Bass maestro Esperanza Spalding, the Polyrithmic Britain podcast and the artwork of Fela Kuti’s album covers are also included in this month’s offerings. Furthermore you are also invited to a talk by It’s A London Thing author Caspar Melville (reviewed in the #NFTGJanuary) and a trip around a Basquiat exhibition plus a schlepp around the music landmarks of Manchester with UK DJ legend Colin Curtis along with Greg Wilson.
For the past few years The Return of the Illicit Grooveand The Illicit Grooves Radio Showhas been a partner of the global event that is the UNESCO sanctioned International Jazz Day spearheaded by Herbie Hancock. The #IllicitGrooves contribution has included several special radio broadcasts, live events, screening the #JazzDay concert via the #IllicitGrooves website and even being in Havana, Cuba for the 2017 global concert. Sadly this year’s concert, hosted in Cape Town, South Africa, will not be going ahead due to the lockdown. However, we have been informed by the organisers that #JazzDay itself will still be marked on the 30th of April as it is every year since its inception. What will take place will be any events scheduled as remote events such as radio broadcasts and online activities. There will also be access to footage of past #JazzDay global concerts via the official website here.
To mark Cape Town’s selection as the host city for #JazzDay2020 we created a DeepThrillsMeanSomething mix featuring music from that great city. You can listen to that mix here.
Bobhill Illicit Grooves DJ · Deep Thrills Mean Something Vol V Cape Town Jazz And Funk Mixdown
So, along with the #JazzDay2020 global concert from Cape Town we have already been notified of the re-scheduling, postponing and cancellations of Glastonbury, Cross the Tracks and Love Supreme in the UK , Worldwide in Sete, France, Kala in Albania and festivals across the World with no continent, save Antarctica, left untouched. It’s hard to imagine what this means for promoters, venues, musicians, artists, techies, labels and all those affected, including fans and consumers.
With art galleries, bars, clubs and museums all part of the lockdown we now find ourselves unwilling characters in a story that is reminiscent of E.M Forster’s The Machine Stops. A story which foretells the internet to such a degree that online shopping, virtual concerts, virtual museums and art gallery tours and music piped into the home are all included in its pages.
Let us hope then that idiot Presidents telling people to inject bleach aside, we soon find ourselves out of this nightmare and once again can congregate to listen to music, to dance, to laugh, to cry, to kiss, to fuck and to frolic with a backdrop of art and culture as our scenery. In the meantime let us at News For The Grooves try and add to the online options for a scenery to our, sadly necessary, social distancing.
The New Grooves For News From The Grooves
Please sit back and enjoy a selection from the new, unreleased, recently released, promos, re-issues, new mixes and other tunes that found their way onto the #IllicitGrooves playlists this month.
Die Reck & DJ Sean P – No Question (Illect)
Out of the Ordinairy – The Republic of Persevere (LP Version) (Ramrock Records)
Luis Radio – Straight Ashead (BBE Music)
Kameelah Waheed – Holding On (North Street Vocal Version) (Ramrock Records)
Twylyte 81 – A Dreamer (Favourite Records)
Carvalho – Indigo (Vesrifymusic)
Master Chivero – Black September (Daniel Haaksman Edit) (BBE Music)
Brazilian Soul Crew & Sterling Ensemble feat. Nadine Navarre – Can You Feel It (Khulili Kholwaku Retake) (Grooveland Brazil)
Loren Oden – Queen (Linear Labs)
Sergio Mendes & Brazil 66 – Mas Que Nada (Edit by Mr K) (Mr K Digital Edits Vol. 5)
Angela Munoz – In My Mind (Linear Labs)
Jneiro Janel – Banana Peel (Cascaro de Platano) (Far Out Recordings)
Binky Womack – Let’s Do It Again (Last Valentino)
Gazzara vs Alex di Cio – Magic (Superstrut Mix) (The Man IRMA Dancefloor)
Kutiman – Layla (Full Suite) (Siyal Records)
Malcolm Strachan – Time For A Change (Haggis Records)
Nico Gomez and His Afro Percussion Inc. – Lupita (Bosq Rework) (Matasuna Records)
Patrice Rushen – Settle (South Beach Recycling Edit) (SBR)
Shamrock – Put On Your Dancing Shoes (Gotto Records)
Teddy Pendergrass – Joy (Alex Di Cio Edit) (Alex di Cio)
Waaju – Listening Glass (Olindo Records)
Yazmin Lacey – Morning Sunrise (On Your Own Records)
Bobhill Illicit Grooves DJ · #NewGroovesApril2020 Mixdown
Listen Again To April’s Broadcasts of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show on Totally Wired Radio.
Listen To The Belgium & Blues Illicit Grooves Fridays Mixes.
As part of the #IllicitGrooves collaboration with innovative and independent music venue Belgium & Blueswe are producing weekly hour long mixes of Rare Groove, Soul, Jazz and Funk to enjoy during the lockdown. Once the venue can open again The Return of the Illicit Groove will be curating a Friday night residency at the venue in Bournemouth, UK.
You can listen to all the playlists here.
Bobhill Illicit Grooves DJ · Belgium & Blues Illicit Grooves
Online Arts and Culture
A fine selection of podcasts, articles, playlists and films to help your culture fix throughout the lockdown.
We start with a series of podcasts hosted by UK based Anglo-Ghanaian actor and broadcaster Reggie Yates. Well worth listening to both series and all episodes of this podcast where Reggie talks to performers from the music and acting worlds about their craft and approaches to it and how their personal lives influence their performance. Insighful stuff here, listen by clicking the image below.
Produced by radio documentary maker and NTS Radio host Zakia Speaking Sabar is a fascinating look and listen to the Griot drummers of Senegal and how electronic musicians from London can collaborate and be influenced by the rhythms of the Griot.
Listen to the documentary on the BBC by clicking on the image below.
It has to be said that one of the most innovative artists we love here at #IllicitGrooves is Esperanza Spalding. In recent years her online and very public projects 77 Hours, which resulted in her Exposure album, and the equally improv based and collaborative 12 Little Spells have been an inspiration to her legion of fans and artistic admirers. Here is a video of early footage of Esperanza in 2009 working with Joe Lovano’s Us Five group.
Former Jazz Warriors bass player Gary Crosby along with Janine Irons have been instrumental (no pun intended) in the rise of the young and diverse jazz talent that has emerged and continues to be nurtured in the UK at the moment. From Shabaka Hutchings to Theon Cross, Daniel Casimir, Nubya Garcia, Ezra Collective and others Tomorrow’s Warriors, the organisation founded by Gary and Janine, has played a major role in their development. Gary discusses this here in a Locked In The Green Room interview.
We celebrated the life of the great Bill Withers this month with his death at 81 years old. As part of that celebration of his brilliance we produced a special selection of songs written by Bill and covered by acts as diverse as Grace Jones, Gil Scott-Heron and Gladys Knight among others. Bill himself stated in interviews that he primarily saw himself as a songwriter and you can hear those great songs here.
Bobhill Illicit Grooves DJ · An Illicit Groove Celebration Of Bill Withers Mixdown
You can also watch the BBC4 documentary Still Bill here as Bill looks back over his life. This is a wonderful documentary that, mixed with archive footage, shows us what a mensch he was.
So a couple of anniversaries came up in April; the 80th birthday of Herbie Hancock and the 50th anniversary of the release of Miles Davis’ game changing album Bitches Brew.
First of all then we can take a look here at a short film of Herbie discussing the making of his Blue Note album Maiden Voyage.
One of the aspects which fascinated me about the processes that were involved in the making of Bitches Brew was the influence of his then wife, songwriter and Funk singer and star in her own right, Betty Davis. It’s hard to equate what that album meant to both Miles and to Jazz in particular. The influences it had on the whole Jazz-Fusion and Jazz-Funk scenes and how it changed or influenced improvised composition and live performance. Below is archive footage of a full live perfotrmance of the album.
You can also read the perspectives on Bitches Brew from ten musicians from now. Ranging from Kassa Overall to Brandee Younger it’s fascinating to read how a new generation of artists connect to the album.
Read by clicking the image of Miles below.
The striking cover for Bitches Brew was also ground breaking in its boldness, its black consciousness and Afro-Centrism and its departure from the standard image of the main musician in a sharp suit. You can read about the creation of this cover and the artist Mati Klarwein by clicking the image below.
and finally on the subject of Bitches Brew take a listen to the podcasts about it and the live footage from a performance in Copenhagen via the Consequence of Sound website.
Again, click on the image below to access.
As with the cover art of Bitches Brew another series of LP covers which grabbed the imagination and totally tied in with the music and the political message of the composer and performer of that music was the 26 covers created by Lemi Ghariokwu for Fela Kuti.
Read more by clicking the image below.
In last month’s #NFTG we included a documentary about and featuring Jean-Michel Basquiat. Well, by happy coincedence the Museum of Fine Art in Boston, Mass., was due to open an exhibition this month entitled Writing The Future: Basquiat & the Hip-Hop Generation. Obviously due to the lockdown it is unsure as to when the physical exhibition will go ahead. However the museum’s website allows for a number of interactive methods by which to encounter Basquiat’s work. This includes links to slideshows and videos. Indeed, as it urges the reader to do on the site ‘Dive into writing the future’.
You can do just that by clicking the image below.
From The Twisted Wheel to The Hacienda the UK city of Manchester is steeped in the history of black music and dance music whether it be Northern Soul or Chicago and New York House. In this film DJ legend Colin Curtis, a man whose influence spans a period from the late 1960s to now, joins fellow DJ Greg Wilson for a cultural historic walk around the city visiting the sites of record shops, clubs and bars which still hold an iconic status in the multi-cultural story of the UK.
You can read more about Colin Curtis and watch an interview with him discussing his 50 years as a DJ by clicking the image below.
Speaking of iconic DJs from Manchester’s history in music you may remember in last month’s #NFTGa feature on music having no age limits. One of those who contributed was DJ Paulette who also featured in a For The Record interview for Freed En. In this interview she discusses how age ‘rules’ affect female DJs less advantageously than their male counterparts as well as DJ as performer, connecting with dancefloors and cherry picking from other people’s record collections. She describes her first gig and DJing in gay clubs like Flesh.
To watch the interview click on the image below.
Another look at the Uk’s multi-cultural history is the polyrhythmic movement of musicians who have fused Afro-Latin, Afro and Latin rhythms in a British context. Featuring London bands such as Cayenne and referencing iconic venue Bass Clef and arts backers such as the GLC presenter and producer Vicky Jassey presents a fascinating insight into the cultural exchanges and cross-fertilisation that comes with movements of peoples and the meetings of artists from different cultures.
Access the podcast by clicking on the image below.
Further to the theme of the cultural exchange that is such a dynamic feature of multiculti Britain Caspar Melville’s book It’s A London Thing discusses shared cultural spaces in London through the lenses of the Rare Groove, Acid House and Jungle scenes. Hosted by the Manchester University Press you can join Casper for an author talk webinair on Thursday the 30th of April at 5pm (BST).
For more details of the talk and how to register please click the image below.
Further to the above talk you can listen to an interview with Caspar Melville on the New Books Network podcast. Discussing the book as cultural history, social history, spatial history, racialisation of space, cultural geography and a document of the importance of sound system culture, warehouse parties and the politics of underground movements.
Author, journalist, cultural historian and WorldwideFM presenter and broadcaster Emma Warren (author of the insightful book Make Some Space) is currently researching for a new book on dancing and the relationships people have with the dancefloor. She has also written an insightful article which looks at how we dance now that the usual dance spaces have been closed for the Zombie Apocalypse.
Entitled Dancing at Home you can read the article from the Dorothy website by clicking on the image below.
and you can read a review of Emma Warren’s Make Some Space, a book which analyses the impact of the Total Refreshment Centre as part of London and the wider UK’s cultural capital, from the Guardian website by clicking the image below.
Livestreamed Gigs from the cream of the UK Jazz Family.
The Royal Albert Hall has curated a series of gigs where artists play live from their own homes. Titled as Royal Albert Home you can subscribe to its Youtube channel to stream the gigs. Two recent events you can watch below featured composer, cellict and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson and pianist and composer Ashley Henry.
In March and in lieu of their cancelled showcase gigs at the SXSW conference and festival in Austen, Texas Theon Cross, Daniel Casimir & Tess Hirst and Noya Rao streamed live performances for the British Music Embassy Sessions and MQA. Sponsored by, among others, Jazz Re:Freshed you can access the archived gigs by clicking on the image below.
There are many ways to follow and enjoy the content created by The Return of the Illicit Groove including following this blog right now.
You can also access the links to all our social media sites, playlists, podcasts and more by clicking on the image below.
All are shops from where some of the playlisted tracks you can hear on The Illicit Grooves Radio Showhave been purchased, all have physical shops in the real world and all are continuing to trade via their on-line options. All are also great places to hang out in, to find new releases and dig through well stocked crates of second hand treasure.
On a personal note all also are owned, managed and staffed by good people too. And never forget that when the tax avoiding high street chains were turning their backs on vinyl and on new music to focus on CDs and the trough of ‘greatest hits’ and Top 40 inanities it was shops such as those featured below which ensured that we could still spend our money on building decent record collections.
The BBE Store. Situated in Helmsley Place in Hackney, E8 and an easy bus ride from Bethnall Green Tube this is a great place for in-stores as well as knowledgeable staff; Marcio and Grace. Always something going on and always someone to bump into. Everytime I’ve popped in I’ve ended up with some gems and I don’t think a visit to the BBE Store has ever lasted less than a couple of very chatty and enjoyable hours.
Click the logo below to get to the BBE Store website.
Honest Jon’s. With their main and original shop in Portobello Road, W10 (where my Nan came from) and a smaller unit in Coal Drops Yard, behind Kings Cross Station, N1 you would normally have a couple of options here. Any of times I’ve played at Spiritland or gone to the Indie Labels Market I’ve popped in to the Coal Drop Yard shop and spent some money. Also, two of my favourite DJs and Broadcasters; one also a radio producer and the other an indie label owner earned their chops at Honest Jon’s so I urge you to click on the image below and take a butcher’s.
Love Vinyl. Found in Pearson Street, E2 in between Hoxton and Haggerston Underground stations you only have to read the online reviews to know what a great shop it is. With comments that consistently mention the friendliness of the staff and the knowledge about music it’s good to see that the online shop on Discogs matches the website shop for quality of stock. Big up Zaf and Jake. Again, click the image below.
Sounds of the Universe (SOTU). A Soho institution really. Situated in Broadwick Street, W1F , just around the corner from both Sister Ray and Reckless Records in Berwick Street for me SOTU is part of a digging day out. Lunch and a coffee in Bruno’s, Wardour Street then ground floor in SOTU for the new and recent releases then down to the basement to hunt for some treasure in the 2nd hand crates. Also worth a butcher’s at the books on sale and worth noting that it is the home of Soul Jazz Records too.
Again, click on the image below to get to the website and online sales.
Vinyl Van. We head out of that London now to a shop in Dorchester, the county town of deepest, darkest, most Romanesque Dorchester. Now I first encountered Vinyl Van when it was literally just that, a camper van full of vinyl and its owners Mark and Helen at a couple of record fairs in Bournemouth (the metropolis of Dorset). I was DJing at one such fair, aptly titled Crate Digging, and managed to score a couple of LPs off my wants list. A combination of 2nd hand vinyl and 180 gram quality re-issues is on offer and it’s well worth a schlepp on the train for a dig and a coffee in the physical shop.
For now though Mark is offering virtual digging and you can message him via the Vinyl Van Facebook page he will respond to your queries including sending out stock lists by genre. You can reach the Facebook page by clicking on the image below.
This is just a taster of the indie record shops we at The Return of the Illicit Groove want to see thriving during this unprecedented moment we are living through. So, as this Saturday the 18th of April was supposed to be Record Store Day, please don’t wait for the new date for RSD to scheduled before you buy records, go and check out the websites, Discogs, Bandcamp pages of any indie record shop you know of and, as with the indie labels, let’s keep these shops going.
So, in the spirit of mutual respect, symbiotic gratitude and in the interests of the oil of money continuing to lubricate the engine of the independent music economy here is a selection of labels and other outlets which are offering discounts and deals throughout the lockdown period of this Zombie Apocalypse.
Anyone familiar with the playlists of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show and its tagline#Grooves4TheGlobalLeftfieldwill also understand just why the Radio 4 documentary Speaking Sabar would have such an appeal to everyone involved with #IllicitGrooves. Read on to find out more and to listen to it via the BBC Sounds app.
Some weeks ago radio producer, broadcaster, cultural historian and rather brilliant DJ Zakia Sewell travelled to Senegal with musicians Beatrice Dillon and Nkisi to meet griot drummers the Ndiye Rose family.
The purpose of this visit was primarily for the musicians to ‘interpret and decode the encoded messages of the drums. What we also get is an insight into the deep and complex Senegalese rhythms which are apparent and present in music across the Globe.
Zakia’s production of this documentary for Falling Tree Productions was made as part of a wider musical exchange involving the aforementioned participants with the addition of Honest Jon’s Records and Berlin Atonal.
You can watch a short film of the Ndiye Rose Family in performance below.
The documentary, which aired on Monday 6th of April 2020, is available now for a year via the BBC Sounds website and app. You can listen by clicking on the image below.
Initially due for an opening in March Belgium & Blues, Bournemouth will open in Post Office Road once the all-clear is given from the unprecedented situation we all find ourselves in. Once it does open then Friday nights will be given over to Jazz, Soul and Rare Groove sounds curated by Bob Hill of The Return of the Illicit Groove.
‘We are delighted to be forging this creative venture with Belgium & Blues. The weekly Illicit Grooves Radio Showthat we present on Totally Wired Radio every Sunday focuses mainly on brand new music from across the Globe on Indie labels. This residency on the Fridays will be a fitting counterpoint to the radio show as we play vinyl only sets of quality Jazz, Soul and Rare Groove from across the decades and #AcrossTheTracks.’ Said Bob
To stay in touch with when Belgium & Blues will open please follow this blog. Furthermore The Return of the Illicit Groove will be releasing an hours long mix every Friday until the opening night to give a flavour of what to expect on the Belgium & Blues Illicit Grooves Fridays. The first is available for you to listen to below, again, follow the #IllicitGrooves Soundcloud and Mixcloud page to receive the new mixes every Friday and the latest broadcasts of The Illicit Grooves Radio Show.
Having sold out his shows at the legendary Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club in London’s Soho piano maestro Ashley Henry will be playing a ‘Lockdown Session‘ in response to the club’s closure for the Zombie Apocalypse.
Henry, whose magnificent album Beautiful Vinyl Hunter was released in 2019 to much praise, played a fantastic gig at Another Sunday Afternoon at Dingwalls last December and is not to be missed.