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Gilles’ 2012

January 7, 2013

Still in shock at the loss of a shining light to a buoyant scene, Austin Peralta gone in an instant. Spare a moment of thought for his family.

We also lost Terry Callier and Marva Whitney, Adam Yauch, Donna Summer, Chuck Brown, Jose Bertrami, Whitney Houston, Etta James, Dave Brubeck, Fontella Bass, Ravi Shankar, Robin Gibb, Don Cornelius, Johnny Otis, Bob Babbitt, Chris Lighty, Louis Belson, Maynard Ferguson, Clare Fisher, David S. Ware and so many others. As the early generations of jazz and soul artists reach their eighties and nineties it seems weekly now that one or more big names gets the obituary…we better get used to it.

From the Worldwide Awards a year ago to my new slot on BBC 6 Music to the annual WorldWide Festival shenanigans in Sète it’s been a busy one.

Dec 31 2011 in Jakarta with a sound system crash at 11.55pm it could only get better…apart from a calf injury a few weeks before the Tokyo marathon. Sorry Toshio I will make it one year…Still it meant I played my Japan shows in February and discovered this little gem of a restaurant…Narukiyo. I returned in September for my annual Worldwide Showcase at the Liquid Room this year with Jose James, Ryat, Jam and an out of the ordinary jazz based turntablist set from DJ Krush – one of the best things I heard in 2012. Trying to get him for Sète this summer…

On that trip I got a first glimpse of a great new spot in Shanghai called UNICO finally a good spot in China, big up Amar! I played there again 10 days ago – what a vibe… killer restaurant that turns into a proper music / DJ lounge with fat sound. I was joined on stage by some heavy players including trumpeter Theo Croker who riffed hard over tracks like TNGHT etc… killed it! His new album is produced by Dee Dee Bridgewater and features a great version of Michael Jackson’s ‘I can’t help it’ which I palyed on my latest show.

But I also had one of my weirdest moments on that trip to Japan and Shanghai… on my return to Japan via Sapporo I got stopped at immigration with an incorrect visa on a bank holiday Saturday…merde… 56 hours later I was in Paris via some heavy shit… don’t ask! It was long and expensive and gave me plenty of time to reflect on who to choose for the WWA 2013..!

I was back in Brazil in March spinning at a big posh do on Sugarloaf mountain and it gave me the chance to meet up with some old friends like DJ Nuts and Ed Motta… with whom I had another magnificent lunch at Satyricon in Ipanema. Ed is the one when it comes to music and culture and is really worth following on twitter for his YouTube links etc. He’s just made a new album that will hopefully come out soon.

Another Rio resident I met this year was Marcos Valle. He was performing at the Jazzystan festival in Kazakhstan – I was lucky to have a couple of days hanging with him and Lefto, Rainer Truby and Rustam Ospinov who’s built a really great little scene in Almaty.

One of the year’s highlights for me was all of us having dinner before the gig and chatting about Marcos’ 50 years in the game and the making of the Estrela track and his days working with Leon Ware, at which point Rainer pulled the vinyl out of his bag and we all listened to the whole album with Marcos… he hadn’t heard it for years and watching him relishing his own music was magical… what a guy!

I went to Martinique in April where I was blown away by the local scene somewhere between Zouk and Dancehall and spent some good times with an impressive DJ from Lyon (in the Garnier tradition) called Agoria it was during his set that I first heard Inspector Norse by Todd Terje on a big sound.. it quickly made it to the front of my pile. Big ups to Gaby and the gang who’ve been organising the Martizik festival for a couple of years now. Another reason I enjoy travelling and spinning is hearing other DJs, tracks sound different when other people play them.

I also started my new show on BBC 6 Music in April.. Its been a brand new experience playing on a Saturday afternoon which I’ve loved even if it took me a while to get used to the News breaks etc….hopefully I’m finding the right mix of new and old and introducing the music to a new audience whilst keeping the hardcore satisfied. It’s a bit of a challenge but one that feels good. I’ve also had a great year of interviews from Doug and Jean Carne to Nas and Kendrick Lamar and now that I’ve got my studio back at Brownswood I can enjoy longer chats with the likes of Bobby Womack, Shuggie Otis n all… and hopefully over the next year I can release the ‘directors cuts’ via my website which has been upgraded and will host plenty of streams and more mixes etc…watch this space… and check my APP for Iphone here.

I was back in Cuba in May, the highlight of which was listening to Simbad’s DJ set to around 1000 people who were literally losing it to his broken house jacking shit…and the following day to find, to my total surprise, in a land of minor wifi and minimal Football… a TV screening the last day of the premiership with split screen of the Man U and Man City games, crazy, specially when I then saw that Arsenal had somehow beaten West Brom to make the Champions League. It’s going be tight again this year I think…mind the gap!

Cuba is always full of surprises and the release of Mala in Cuba was the best surprise of all. I just wish we’d have pressed more box sets- they went in a day! The album itself has been such a satisfying project to have been involved with in 2012. Highlighted by the sell out London premier at the Brixton Electric in November. Thank you Mala and Simbad for delivering such a significant record. In case you missed the few shows in November there’s loads more touring this year including the Worldwide Festival in Leysin in March.

May ended with Sunsplash Festival in Antalya which has become the official ‘start of festival season’ where the DJs get to hang out for a few days and enjoy Kirk de Giorgio’s naked dancing to Norman Jay…priceless…and one of the years highlights, as was the Kenny Dope set… I admit it… I’d forgotten what a monster DJ he is!

Into June and the start of my new residency in Paris at the Bellevilloise. I wanted to do a daytime type gig where I could play long sets and invite my friends. The Francois K session in September was one of my favourite gigs of the year… the next session is on Feb 24. Big up all the French crew who seem to be turning up wherever I am in the world. As always I’m so grateful to continue broadcasting on Radio Nova who with people like Emile Omar and Rémy KK has maintained it’s status as the best alternative radio station in France (even if it does have more adverts than before!) Big up VRT StuBruArrow FM, FM4, Radio X, WDR Funkhaus and Giant Step US, who are the home to my international show.

I didn’t want to play at too many festivals this year so kept it simple by just playing in Sète, hosting the Traction Festival in Kings Cross, Adam Regan’s Mostly Jazz in Kings Heath, WEYA Nottingham, The Spring Festival in Graz and September’s Bestival following Rob Da Bank’s offer to spin before Stevie Wonder (how could I refuse!). It’s going to be harder to better last year’s Worldwide Festival, but we’ll try, the beach set-up will have to be different as we had some local stress but it looks like we’ll be going back to where we were further up the coast for the daytime sessions. Meanwhile there’s talk of James Blake coming back to the theatre..! The night with Rodigan and Mala in the rain has stuck with me, but everything from the beatless Koreless set to dropping Jackie Mclean and Michael Carvin  and not forgetting Machine Drum. Just too many highlights! Find out more info for this years Winter and Summer sessions here.

I took most of August off to enjoy the Olympics… which of course I did… commentator of the year awards Simon Brotherton (cycling and football) and Steve Cram (athletics). It was around the end of the Olympics that Theo Parish hand delivered a copy of this to me – Andrew Ashong… could this be the record of the year? Find out on Jan 19!… Big up Marsha at NTS and The BPM on Boileroom a big year for these guys…love ya! In fact some killer sessions in the railway arch in Hackney… DaphniOwiny Sigoma loads of moments!

Back in training around October, I ran a half marathon in December which I completed (phew) and ran in under 2 hours even if I started 5 minutes late coz I was looking for (and couldn’t find) my gels..!! Think I’m going to try and do Paris in April rather than London  marathon this year in aid of the Steve Reid Foundation which is really taking shape. We’ve got plenty of events to look forward to including the ‘drum off’ in the basement and the recording of an Emanative album. Talking of recordings, the label is going to have its most active year ever, releases coming from William AdamsonTroumaca  Owiny SigomaZara McFarlane and Gang Colours and more comps Bubblers 10… Electric 4 etc.

The year ended on a high when my mum came over from Lausanne to witness me receiving an Honorary degree in Arts from Nottingham University, such a huge honour and a proud moment for me. The previous night my mum came to my new studio to listen to the HI-FI I just installed – watching her eyes closed and tripping out to the drum solo in Dave Brubeck’s ‘take 5′ was my best moment of 2013…she’s 80 and loves it!

By the way the Black Jazz Radio is finally out! I really enjoyed doing this and you can get it here. It’s a compilation of my favourite tracks from the Black Jazz cataloge.

I want to thank everyone who invited me to play music in 2012… from Graz to Rome, Belgrade to Berlin.. the New York crew massive as always, what a night pre Sandy! Leron Thomas live was worth the ticket alone and Kilo Kish the bonus beat! Poisson Rouge (ex Village Gate) a great new spot.. check out the recording of my set here.

Other highlight venues include Propaganda IstanbulBlock Tel AvivNorth Sea jazz Club AmsterdamVillage Underground ShoreditchDalston Roof GardensBob Beaman MunichPuddhu Bar TurinBird Rotterdam and really looking forward to a mini Swiss tour in March and shows in Algeria, Russia and India coming soon…

Happy New Year!