2017.... a year to remember....
This past year will forever be associated with the shocking and hopeless Grenfell Tower scenes... I will never forget staring out from my temporary home high up a tower block in North London the morning of June 14 to see thick smoke rising from West London...
I only hope and wish something positive can come out of this.
London is my home and a place whose music and culture have made me... and I am forever thankful to this great City.
My travels have been full on this year but I always feel that I go to these places as someone steeped in its musical traditions... from Joe Strummer to Norman Jay to King Krule...
Here are some of my highlights of 2017...
- started the recordings on a new Sonzeira album in Rio with Kassin, Dill and Rob …. aided by percussionists
Stephane San Juan and Zero and pianist Danielo. was hoping to have something out by now but it now looks
like later this year. R,D + K still discombobulating... and live shows could be on for the summer. very excited about the feel
think digital spiritual krautrock Amazon!…. big up to Dill for his work on King Krule, Mount Kimbie and most of the UK jazz invasion releases in 2017… and Kassin for his tremendous continued output including this great collab with John Gomez https://www.redbullradio.com/…/e…/outro-tempo-teatro-oficina…. by the way this was also my compilation of the year… Outro Tempo https://www.discogs.com/Various-Outro-Tempo-Elect…/…/9621899… Rob also had an active 12 months either as General Rubbish on MC duties or with a great new Diabolical Liberties album or simply reading the highly accurate and informative shipping forecast as Rob-San every morning with Mari at 9.45 on WWFM>>> this is the best way to start your day by the way….
First ever trip to India… blown away by Mumbai and the colours and sounds and food of it all. what a place and so full of life,
music and culture. We broadcast live on WWFM too which was a great feeling…. and we found the WIFI (just in time)... many thanks to producer Sanaya Ardeshir aka Sandunes,the ever progressive Sarathy Korwar... and my ears and eyes for the duration, Kenneth Lobo who’s article on the Kraftwerk show in India is fascinating and you can read here.http://daily.redbullmusicacademy.com/…/10/kersi-lord-feature. he also took me to record dealer Mansoor Mohammed Ali’s abode in the heart of Pydhonie full of Bollywood funk and disco…. a truly memorable trip that I hope to repeat sooner rather than later…
My return to Cape Town was unforgettable as I had the chance to stay there for more than 24 hours and so got to really investigate under the surface of this complex city - I made a documentary about all of this that you can listen to again here… https://worldwidefm.net/…/cape-town-sounds-full-documentar…/
there were so many highlights …. and the different scenes from searching for 80’s bubblegum tunes to new Cape Jazz to meeting the hip hop masters who were here to welcome home Nelson Mandela from Robin Island all those years ago….Esa was a fantastic guide and even premiered his new tune Blast which certainly became one of my tunes of the year…. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Moo6HekXQuc Again, having all the differing musical factions sharing 3 hours live on WWFM has made setting up this online platform the highlight of what I do these days… thanks to Dave O’Donnell who produced the documentary and who pretty much laid the foundations of WWFM… he has moved on to pastures new and I wish him all the best for 2018 and beyond!
6 Music in Glasgow was off the scale… and it was an early summer feeling as I stood under the sun outside Barrowlands https://www.instagram.com/p/BSEXHv5Bl54/… just before doing my show live from there. I’d played what has always been my favourite spot in Scotland ,the Sub Club, the night before and bumped into Mark King (Level 42!!!) in my hotel but went on to forget about adding him and Don Letts to the guest list which didn’t go down well the next morning at breakfast…! (seriously guys I’m sure I'd told the door person)….I’m loving my time at 6 Music… I didn’t realise when I left Radio 1 that I’d find such a perfect home at 6…. Thundercat and Loyle Carner getting such heavy 6 Music attention is so important in getting the music out to a wider UK audience… and who'd have thought BadBadNotGood in 2016 and Thundercat in 2017 would become albums of the year by my 6 music colleagues… who’d have thought!
the weekend continued in Leysin for the Winter edition of the WW Fest highlighted by a unique jam on the Sunday night with Spacek/ Nia Andrews/ Simbad and Mark de Clive Lowe…. one of the best moments of the year in the 'unexpected treat’ category. The next edition is coming... https://www.worldwidefestival-leysin.com
The highlight of my Asian tour was probably presenting Nubya Garcia at the Singapore Jazz festival or meeting Blood Wine or Honey at Sonar in Hong Kong… but the wild memory was being in an Apocalypse Now Colonel Kurtz type hideaway on the island of Koh Tao listening to an amazing Thai singer called Rasmee Isan Soul… she blew my mind in an exotic Ellen Mcllwaine way… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Oioiao6fFs keep an eye out for the next edition of Tao Fest - due to return this August… props to Bangkok Paradise crew for making things right… and the army of workers who created one of the most spectacular sites I’ve ever played at….
New Orleans. a place I’d never been to…. and for a Frenchman who likes jazz….. unacceptable! what a place… easily the most altered place in America and way beyond the promise of watching Angel Heart, Treme and reading Confederacy of Dunces….. 10 days and 10 shows on WWFM… listen to some of them again here…https://worldwidefm.net/filter/ww-new-orleans/. i’m definately going back soon… if only to revisit Preservation Hall and hang out with Matt Knowles in his Domino record shop…. By the way one of the most active musicians in new Orleans is Christian Scott who I spoke to several times in 2017... most recently as part of a series of interviews with WeTransfer celebrating 40 years of NASA's Golden Record... https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=4&v=bD5r1eSckQM
Philly . playing at the Roots Picnic was a real privilege and career highlight… watching Solange performing was a massive bonus on a day when Pharell and the Roots played ‘at home’…I wasn’t expecting such a ‘local’ type festival - I’m a little scarred by the over branding of most big events…I hate it... but this event has all the intrinsic ingredients that make Philly the City of Brotherly Love… having line dancing to my set as I played Dexter Wansell and Jones Girls records was surreal and guesting on Quest Love’s radio show made me feel like I was part of the Philly thing! but visiting the Sun Ra house in German Town was the reason I needed to stay over an extra day …. even if there was no one in…. my pilgrimage on this particular Sunday morning was the Jazz Mecca moment that I ended sharing with other Ra freaks parked outside the house from all different corners of the country….one guy had driven from Miami! It was interesting to hear Knoell Scott on the radio the other day say that he now sleeps in Sun Ra’s bedroom which happens to be the worst bedroom in the house as its the coldest in winter and hottest in summer…. thats why they called Sun Ra Mother… he always thought of others before himself...
Sete. the festival continues to blow my mind every year. I’m kind of addicted to it and look forward to it so much! too many highlights from the Arkestra to Antal and Black Madonna to Thristian dropping Moses Boyd…. check it here… https://www.instagram.com/p/BWNF7jEByYm/…
edition 13 is coming up - we've made it 8 days this year with a day break on the Tuesday but covering 2 weekends which should make it easier for the renting brigade…. a first part of the lineup is about to be introduced in a few days…. gonna be another good one I feel… and hopefully some good World Cup second round games that week - latest kick off is 6 so shouldn’t interrupt the gigs too much… By the way talking of Marea / Black Madonna... I started a series of interviews with DJ's I admire called the Psychology of DJing... https://wetransfer.com/thiswor…/…/10/10/psychology-of-djing/
Marciac jazz festival . I was invited by Roberto Fonseca to perform some live tracks with him during his finale slot at this Historic festival near the Pyrenees. I had no idea it would be in front of around 7000 people in what I can only describe as the jazz equivalent of a stadium gig… and to be part of Roberto’s 3 hour closing finale was a massive honour…. I loved it and was pepped further after being told that I’d been the first ever DJ to play there… and to perform with Eric Truffaz and Will LV alongside Fonseca’s incredible band was another major career highlight for me…. thank you Roberto for your faith and incredible vision. I return to Cuba in February to record a new album and film BTW...
Returning to Phonox after the summer festival season was a relief! I enjoy festivals but nothing beats 500 people in a dark room with tight sound and a 6 hour stretch to play what I want and really explore sound…. the idea of residencies goes against the agent / manager / promoter tactic of less is more etc etc… but you know what… I’d rather play in london every month than getting 1 big pay day a year… and playing residencies allows me to keep trying new music out…. My other residency reached 5 years and another series of uplifting nights in Paris - I played 6 times at La BelleVilloise in the 20eme ….its still my fave Sunday afternoon / evening session - and a massive shout out to Raphy and Anders and the Mellotron crew and all the great guests that came through this year including a classic set from K15… on retourne bientot!
I’ve been going to Tokyo pretty much twice a year for over 25 years now… Its still my favourite destination…. ever since that first trip eating Dunkin Donuts in 87 ... too scared of ‘raw fish’ and meeting Takagi Kan,DJ Takamura, Major Force and the UFO crews, I could never have imagined how this country would shape and inspire me. Broadcasting live from Asakusa was a first (never knew this bit of Tokyo - proper old school) and spinning with Toshio Matsuura at Contact was as off the head as it always is in the city that brought us Club Yellow and Air… particular highlight for me was playing the full Joanne Grauer ‘Frog Child’ (including 3 minute bass solo at 5 am to a beyond enthusiastic dance floor… unbelievable scenes!) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L0CubdiE3cMToshio also recorded a new album in London during the summer with Tom Skinner and friends… ( out in feb on Brownswood)…. can’t wait to play you his version of Bugge Wesseltoft’s Change...
Quick travel aside… the new Tokyo - Kanazawa train line is a Must… east to west coast through some of the most beautiful bits of Japan…. also check out the Bordeaux - Paris train….unbelievable—— faster than Shinkansen…. whoooooooof….. The UK is so far behind….
This was all about Buenos Aires… another first for me and Wow… what a city... Sorry Brazil but I got seduced by the gang next door…. a lot going on… and the music scene is bubbling nicely with Juana Molina leading the pack. Our WWFM radio show from Exiles was my fave of the year and the gig at Sonar was one of my favourite big stage happenings of 2017…. kicking off my set with spoken words by the legendary bass player Jose Lopez Ruiz’s https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vYPsKiOaYA4 ….. unbelievably the next thing I get is a direct message from the man himself thanking me for playing it and offering me any of his old recordings… thank you Facebook for that one!
Massive big up Dingwalls and all the work that Janine does to keep this session going twice yearly. As you know I’m not one for revival and legacy Dj sets but somehow Dingwalls has a magic that brings out the biggest smiles in anyone who goes there. Its so relevant with today's new audience that really celebrates classic and rare old music…. from modal jazz to gospel tunes to boogie, disco and exotica… Dingwalls was playing that mix 30 years ago…. and playing Teena Marie’s ‘portuguese love’ never sounded better to my ears https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7MJXRIqU7E… and whatever anyone else says… You can’t beat London when 1000 people know the words to a tune like that….and here’s another thing that Dingwalls celebrates…. dancing! and a beautiful diverse audience from 16 - 60…. thanks to Patrick Forge for keeping it real all these years and Bob Jones for celebrating 50 years in the game ….yes 50 years and still loving it just like the time I heard John Coltrane for the first time in a backroom at Caister in 81 with Bob Jones head down below the decks on the mic introducing us to ‘The Night Has a Thousand eyes’ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1IBIOlu-DFM…. thank you Bob…. #neverstop