Jazz Services, do they help us?


11/05/10 - News Item

If you haven't heard there's a campaign for more jazz on the BBC: Where have you been?  All you need to do to influence the BBC is to join the online campaign at http://www.jazzservices.org.uk/JazzBusiness/JazzOffAir/tabid/206/Default.aspx. Jazz Services needs you to do this by 20 May so they can collect all your voices and make sure the BBC and press know just how many people have taken part.   

13/05/10 - 

Re the 'Jazz Services' request for more jazz on the BBC. Does anyone seriously think this will benefit people who believe that by signing the petition, 'our sort of jazz' will receive more exposure? Think again folks. Even the Musicians Union would never financially help New Orleans/Dixieland/Mainstream jazz bands. 'Cutting Edge' is the stuff - interminable meandering saxophone solos, dominant sevenths over modal scales, honking noises (no, not from over indulgence in food or booze - more 'goose in extremis'). Tunes - what are those? Chord progressions ? So restrictive to these geniuses of improvisation. Yes folks, this is the jazz for the blinkered cretins of Jazz Services. We can get plenty of good, straight ahead jazz from programmes on the Internet. Forget the BBC - and Jazz Services as well. If any musician of our persuasion can say he/she has had any help from Jazz Services, I'll 'quote' a Courtney Pine lick on Penwortham High Street this coming June.

Ian Royle 

14/05/10 - 

Ian Royle has certainly hit the nail on the head with his writings about the Jazz Services petition. I wonder if he has an opinion on why the "powers that be " are so reluctant to support pre - bebop styles of jazz. Are the people in charge of these organisations ( Arts Council etc.) simply ignorant regarding older styles of Jazz or is it this obsession with wishing to be seen at the "cutting edge" of things, good or bad ( usually bad )? 

David Davis


I note Ian says The BBC doesn't recognise our sort of music, but of course they do, but don't know it. They play it all the time they play our classical masters. Simply listen to Chopin, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky. These guys really dished it out in their day and we still revel within their chords and even above and beyond. Miller etc played and arranged melodies from them and they knew all about jazz and played it. - Unwin Nunns

16/05/10 - 

Hi Fred, Re Ian Royle's observations. Over the past 12 months or so I've been lucky to have met and played with several musicians of the younger generation who are no strangers to playing modal scales and free improvisations, but who nevertheless have shown great interest and enthusiasm for older styles of jazz, and many have made a very decent showing at it (No problems with either tunes or chord progressions--they learned the theory from the start). It's a pity and rather shaming that many musicians of our genre seem unable to show the same openness and generosity of spirit as these young people. Ian refers to Jazz Services, and by implication the musicians they promote as "blinkered cretins". I can only comment by noting that three little words come to mind--"pot", "kettle" and "black"! 

Phil Yates.



To David Davis and my opinion on the Jazz Services and Arts Council 'Powers that Be' rejection of Our Kind of Jazz as worthy of support.

First of all, how many of our jazz band musicians playing exclusively in the New Orleans/Dixieland style been to Music College? 

Vast sums have been invested in Jazz and Light Music Colleges around the Country so the Arts Council of Great Britain and Jazz Services, who rely on Government support, have to support the graduates from these educational establishments. The tutors at these Colleges are all 'modernists'. The students are instructed and reach a high academic level thanks to, amongst others, the Jamey Aebersold scale and modal progression portfolio. The colleges are churning out hundreds of newly qualified students every year. These kids can't 'swing' (not on the curriculum), hold a tune (gotta improvise) or perform before an audience (what do the punters know, after all?). It is little wonder that after five years of study these highly qualified, technically brilliant young musicians can't find an audience their perceived expertise deserves. There are a very few great players on the scene who have established themselves via this system. 

Traditional Jazz musicians fall into an entirely different category. Most of us are academically unqualified and we play jazz because we love the music. Yes, we hear a tune and think, "Hey, we could do something with that" so we do "something with it" because we know our audience will like it. Maybe we'll write out a 'lead' sheet and the chord changes for the guitar/piano player. Punters like it, we like it and it's popular. 

Funding? Forget it. Let's face it, we get audiences to listen to what we do. And the Music Establishment hates us for it.

Ooblie Jazz rules the waves on the BBC. Jazz Services? -- For who?

Ian Royle


Hi Fred, Re Phil Yates' comments. Over the past 12 months or so I've been lucky to have met and played with several musicians of the younger generation who are no strangers to playing modal scales and free improvisations, but who nevertheless have shown great interest and enthusiasm for older styles of jazz"

Yes, but can they (or you) accurately busk a tune, playing all the right notes in the right order? In other words, do they (or you, Phil) mentally hear what they play BEFORE it comes out to surprise them? I've known many, many "jazz musicians" who simply cannot play a tune unless they have "learned it".

Frank Slater


Unwin Nunns was quite right. One of my all time favourite classical compositions is still Mozart's Banjo Concerto in F# major. They don't write 'em like that any more!  Keep smiling. 

Les Bull.


I take Frank's point about mentally hearing what we play before it comes out to surprise us. That's the part that makes playing such a thrill no matter how long we've been at it. I'm grateful for having learned most of the repertoire on the bandstand in my early days eg "Do you know this one? No? You'll soon pick it up." Having always been a busker, I am not in any way rating enthusiasm over experience but I do feel we shouldn't be too hard on youngsters who might have come from a different tradition in musical education but are willing to give it a go. Steep learning curves seem to be no problem for people in their teens and twenties and many may yet surprise us. Always the optimist ! 

Phil Yates


It's refreshing to read such sensible and balanced views as expressed by Phil Yates and sad to read the blinkered, introverted nonsense from Ron Knight in Oz.

Jazz is the one musical genre that should, above all, promote tolerance and admit that there will be inevitable advancement, for good or bad, in all its aspects. Even putting jazz into its own, elite compartment is daft. Music is music.

Can't we please have an end to such silly debate.  Keep up the good work. 

John Hill


Nice to have stirred up a bit of controversy. Sorry Phil Yates, if you thought I was slagging off the college graduates - I wasn't. Indeed, I was a peripatetic brass instructor for over thirty years with future Heads of Music, Brass Band proncipals and conducters and - yes, good jazzers on my list of credits. Indeed, one of my ex-pupils now runs his own quartet on the Queen Mary (well done Mark Hodgson!) 

I frequently played at the Swan in Cleckheaton where several graduates from Leeds College brought their 'Fake Books' and sat in with the quintet. They were most welcome but it was obvious that most of them had never studied the earlier forms of jazz. If a 'blues' was suggested, they had to have the written out chords in front of them and they appeared to think it was the norm to play at least eight solo churuses on every tune. 

An exception to this was a delightful session I had down at the much lamented 'Raven' in Welshpool and young Jamey Brownfield turned up. Now there's a lad versed in all forms of jazz.

As far as the Musicians Union is concerned, as Jazz representative for the North West a few years back, I enquired about funding for 'our sort of jazz'. The chairman of the Committee, John Patrick, said and I quote "As long as I am a member of this committee, there will never be a penny spent by this Union to support Traditional Jazz' . I didn't stand for re-election.

Jazz Services has the same attitude. I will pass the correspondence on Freds site to Mike Hoggard (ex-Yorkshire Jazz Band etc) who approached Jazz Services for a bit of help in setting up a weekly jazz gig featuring a band of 'local musicians' with a star guest appearing once a month. I'll let him explain how shabbily he was rebuffed.

From the kettle (or am I the pan?),

Ian Royle


Dear Fred, Some years ago Linton Ali, leader of the Downtown Dixieland Jazz Band, and myself were on the board of Jazz Services in the North West. I later went down to London regularly as a committee member from the North West, but my activities with The Spinners meant I could no longer always be available for meetings, so I had to resign. During the time I was on the committee I found a readiness to listen to any points we put forward, but there was an apparent reluctance on the part of "trad" people to communicate with Jazz Services. I had formed a small band on leaving the Spinners with a repertoire including Coney Island Washboard, Sweet Georgia Brown, Big Noise From Win., Apex Blues etc. - hardly "modern rubbish"? and we were given a grant to make a tour of Northern venues. I also believe that Max Collie had at least one tour supported by Jazz Services. 

Why, oh why don't musicians of the undoubted stature of Terry Perry, Mart Rodger, Dave Mott and Les Bull apply to Jazz Services for a short tour grant? From the Midlands Richard Leach and George Huxley would certainly qualify and a quick flip through the Jazz Guide would reveal a whole host more. The "moaners" are usually them wot ain't tried! Get stuck in and show Jazz Services what a lot of GOOD traditional Jazz is on offer. End of sermon. 

Tony Davis (Liverpool)


Here, Fred, we have a classic oxymoron... 'Jazz Services' and 'help us' in the same line.

Like so many 'flag wavers' for our music - right back to when the M.U's Hardie Ratcliffe connived with the 'law' to prosecute the promoters of the legendary Bechet/Lyttelton concert at London's Winter Gardens theatre - those who shout loudest, do, and achieve, the least for us.

It is a simple fact that NONE of the major broadcasters want to know anything about Jazz in its original forms.... that's why the local and internet output is so deserving of our support. But having accepted that, what I'd like to know is - if our music is so 'old hat' 'out of date' and 'of no interest in today's environment', why do we hear so many commercials using everything from Louis, Benny G right down to Spike Jones as the music line for radio/tv commercials? I saw one on RTE1 here in Spain recently for a washing powder, which had Bunk Johnson's 'Spicy Advice' as the backing-track!

It couldn't be simply because the recordings are so popular, and now out of copyright under some 50-year rule, could it?

I'd like to go for a drink tonight to listen and cheer me up a bit, but then we now have 'none in a bar', after years of procrastination, don't we? Another major achievement of the same brigade.

Nil desperandum ..............John Westwood (Spain)


Oh yes I agree with Ian Royle. I have for years carried the torch against the "Musical Colleges" and the "Media" not to mention Jazz Festival organisers. In my humble opinion the above mentioned organisations are totally to blame for a dropping in standards generally speaking throughout the many UK Jazz Festivals. Having played 23 years at the Cork International Jazz Festival , I have seen the rise of "alternative/ progressive" Jazz (in reality "Garage" type noise pretending to be a form of Jazz) and the demise of Traditional New Orleans/ Dixieland / Chicago - and even Mainstream Jazz. You rightly comment upon the tragedy of young musicians leaving College and University completely unable to "Swing" or "Improvise" or even understand the meaning of the words. Yes they can read music like I read a comic, and they can produce notes(?) out of their chosen instrument that were never meant to be played, but take away the printed music and take away the screeches - wails - crashes and bangs - scrapes and scratches and they are left (oh please) noiseless. I can recall a conversation I had with Barry Douglas (World acclaimed master of the Classical Piano) during which he stated that he would give a fortune to be able to play Traditional Jazz - he could NOT improvise to save himself he said. Now how sad is that? I have also talked with festival organisers who, in answer to my question, stated that they obtain grants if they showcase obscure bands/artists/ musical forms ,"acts that the public would never get an opportunity to see and hear in normal circumstances", but no assistance for what is called "old - out of date musical expressions". Almost made me give up drinking Guinness.

George Moore


Hello Fred." Jazz is the one musical genre that should, above all, promote tolerance" says John Hill. He should tell this to Jazz Services etc. and see if he can persuade them to " tolerate" older styles of Jazz . I think Phil Yates needs a visit to Specsavers to replace his rose tinted spectacles. Just because he has come across a few younger musicians who have an interest in older types of Jazz doesn't alter the fact that the vast majority of younger players and the people who teach them have no interest whatsoever in pre - bebop ( in many cases pre - Coltrane ) music. 

Dave Davis.


There are narrow minded people in all genres of music and the two I have most contact with are no exception, namely jazz and (British style) brass band. There are even divisions within those two, especially in the broad field encompassed by the word 'jazz'. There are also musical snobs in all of them, for example brass banders who refer condescendingly to jazzers as 'buskers' and New Orleans' afficionados whose idea of the varied music from that city is the narrowest of the narrow, i.e. if you don't sound like George Lewis or Kid Thomas you aren't playing real jazz. Schools teach jazz (if they teach it at all) as being almost exclusively 'big band'. Other organisations, including festivals and Jazz Services and the BBC, have their own interpretation. We're not going to change that, folks. Personally I'm the biggest bigot of the lot, I can't stand Garage or Rap, I'm prepared to give anything else an ear though!! Let's enjoy everything we can, music's a big worldwide language, and it's wonderful. (except for garage and rap). On younger musicians, yes I know quite a few and very good they are too, especially technically. But in jazz, whose special qualities cannot be written down, we've all had to do (and continue to do) 'the listening', (the equivalent of the London cabbies 'knowledge') and it takes a long time. But the one's I know will get there with a bit of dedication, some already have. But garage and rap? Oh dear! 

Richard Knock


I'd just like to thank Ian Royle for his clarification. Of course I agree that our music is under represented, but I've suggested in discussions elsewhere on the site that we should start to think outside the box and target the general live music scene and venues that feature other popular styles, because that's where the new audience is.

I'll leave it at that and respectfully agree to differ with Ian in his assessment of experimental jazz. I still enjoy the occasional "goose in extremis"! 

Thanks, Phil Yates


In theory, organisations called Jazz Services and the Musicians' Union must be there to support all kinds of jazz and all kinds of musicians respectively. If either of them is failing in this they are failing their members, potential mambers and active participants - the very people they depend upon for their existence. 

I don't know anything about Jazz Services apart from the fact that they wanted me to sign a petition for more jazz on the BBC, but I've signed it because there isn't enough jazz (of any kind) on the BBC. For anyone to suggest that any of us should decline to sign it on the grounds that EVEN IF IT IS SUCCESSFUL they won't play 'our kind of jazz' is to separate our jazz from all other kinds. If we don't sign, the message we deliver is that traditional jazz enthusiasts don't want more [of our kind of] jazz on the BBC. 

I'm not sure how the Musicians' Union got caught up in this debate, but I know a lot more about that. Time and again I meet jazz players who tell me they are not members, usually on the grounds that the MU has 'never done anything' for them, and there have been several similar rants in this column. My argument remains the same: if traditional jazz players don't join the MU the message is that they don't require the services of the union, which is there to serve the needs of its members. We can't have it both ways. John Patrick was national chairman during the time when I was on the Liverpool branch committee, and as such he was in no position to make any decisions regarding union policy except where a casting vote was required. As an 'ordinary' member of the national executive he would still have needed to persuade other elected members that his point of view was justified. In other words, he was NEVER in a position to make the declaration that as long as he was a committee member the union would never support traditional jazz. If he said it, he must have made himself a laughing stock. Whatever he did, I can say with absolute certainty that, beginning under John Patrick's chairmanship, the MU always gave vital financial support to the Llangollen Jazz Festival during the years when it was predominantly traditional. To that extent, at least, the union was of direct benefit to large numbers of traditional jazz musicians, some of whom, no doubt, were not members.

I'm with Tony Davis and Linton Ali. Instead of opting out, we should get involved. If we make ourselves PART of Jazz Services and the Musicians' Union, we'll be in a position to influence the decisons they make and ensure that our tastes and needs, alongside those of others, are accommodated and met. If we don't, we have no-one to blame but ourselves.

Allan Wilcox

22/05/10 - 

..... and no! I'm not on their payroll! I'd like to suggest that Amy Roberts - possibly with the support of Jamie Brownfield - applies to Jazz Services for a Touring Grant, listing - say five of her coming gigs. If they cover a decent Geographical area so much the better but I don't think that's essential. As I recall, my supported tour included Ormskirk, Runcorn, Bolton and The Stables. I bet Amy has gigs covering a much bigger area than that! I really don't want to get embroiled in a silly dispute over all this, but really we won't ever get anywhere if we don't move on. Any further ideas about a suitable touring package should be posted on this website with a "further" to Jazz Services. How about Richard Leach's Alex Welsh Tribute as one? Or a Hot Club of Paris/France tour for one of the several Django/Stefan groups around? And I bet The Merseysippi could knock up a Lu Watters tribute concert??? Keith Nichols can produce any type of wonderful traditional Jazz you care to name. ... and yer honour, I rest me case!

Tony Davis


I have been following the Jazz Services Jazz on The BBC debate on your website. Ian is quite right and I admire his point of view. I am a member of the Association of British Jazz Musicians which is part of Jazz Services and I have always believed in the benefits of fighting for ones cause from within rather than outside. I have sent the following email to Chris Hodgkins who is the Head Man at Jazz Services and I think it will be good to hear his view :-

Dear Chris,  You will know from my applications to be part of Jazz Services and The Association of British Jazz Musicians I have always made a point of stating that my interest lies only with the Traditional/Dixieland and Mainstream element of Jazz Music. I think in fighting for the cause of Jazz Broadcasting on the BBC you should concentrate equality for all forms of jazz. My views on Modern or Funk jazz are the same as my views on Modern Art and I have no time for either.

Mart Rodger


The Director of Jazz Services responds. -

The current Jazz Services campaign is for a greater allocation of jazz on the BBC. When Jazz Services says jazz we mean the whole range of jazz from Buddy Bolden to the present day. People will also see from the campaign that the promotional card talks of the development role of the BBC in promoting jazz in the UK and our report is unequivocal in this matter. Unfortunately I cannot respond to every posting on your site. However I will say this; after working in jazz from the age of 16 to my present age of 59, as a musician, managing director, Chair of the National Jazz Archive, festival organise, founder of the Welsh Jazz Society, run own record label - Bell CDs, band leader and composer; I am interested in the full range of jazz music. Jazz does it self a terrible disservice, fragments itself and wastes time on what to me is fruitless discussion - a rerun of the mouldy figs versus beboppers argument of the late 1950's There is room in jazz for everyone's music and we should all support each other. United we stand divided we fall.

Jazz on some occasions is its own worst enemy, for when it not stabbing itself in the back it shoots itself in the foot. 

Finally with regard to opinions expressed that Jazz Services only supports one kind of jazz, this is unhelpful as it is wrong. In September we are supporting the New Orleans Serenaders and in the past we have supported Paul Munnery and Phil Mason amongst others. Perhaps before people start hurling brickbats they should find out what we do and how the touring support scheme works first and then if they have a problem call me or email me

I will finish on the oft quoted truism that there are only two types of music - good and bad.

I wish you all the very best in all your endeavours

Kindest regards

Chris Hodgkins

Jazz Services
First Floor
132 Southwark Street
London SE1 0SW
Tel: 0207 928 9089
Fax: 0207 401 6870 


01/06/10 - Dear Fred, 

I think Chris Hodders has really had the last word on this matter - much as I have enjoyed the argy-bargy on this business! 

Can we now STOP all the fractious behaviour of spoilt children and get on with the business of promoting our music - JAZZ in all its wonderful variety of forms. In the past I have been as guilty as anyone of narking about Bop, Fusion and the various developements - or perhaps degenerations - which have taken place over the sixty six years since Ken Binns played me Muggsy Spanier's "Sister Kate" and "Eccentric". I was then fortunate - having conned Bruce Bakewell - no, HE conned ME! - into buying a "simple system" as we called it - clarinet,- to enjoy a dozen years of "trad" bigotry, before the immortal Don Lowes sat me down and played Gerry Mulligan 78s through the night while he wrote scores for Billy Smart's Circus Band! 

At college I was enrolled for a very short spell in Manchest Art School's Jazz band with a trumpet player called Cephas Howard.... and I joined up with Eric Lister for another short DREAM spell in a two clarinet line up... In my art class was a great lad - with whom I lost touch to my lasting regret - called Dave Power. He had a great breadth of taste which was most unusual for that time. He also had a cracking sister.... but that's another story! During years of playing and singing a wide variety of Folk music, both British and foreign, I found myself working with an incredible character - and a fine bass player - called John McCormick - who we inevitably christened "Count John". He completed my widening of taste, as I don't think I have ever encountered anyone else with such a tolerance - and genuine liking - of so many different styles of what we call Jazz. John gently increased what Don Lowes had begun, and my wife, Beryl, - whose collection is unbelievebly eclectic - has continued it. 

Please excuse my egocentic wanderings, but it all adds up to a plea for tolerance. We should ALL be pulling together and not acting like spoilt children - "if you won't play MY game I'm taking my ball home!" When writrers like Rudi Blesh - who did a brilliant analysis of Jelly Roll Morton's "Doctor Jazz" - calls Teddy Wilson "an effete" pianist..... Well, I feel like giving up! Such a talented writer - wasted! And THAT is what upsets me about Ian Royle and Mart Roger's attitude. Two fine musicians and band leaders, but just 'cos it's not THEIR cup of Bovril - they aren't going to ASDA again! Try Tesco fellers. You might even get points!

Tony Davis (Wallasey)


Ian Royle, who does not regard himself stuck in any particular style,  posted a response to this comment, but later asked me to withdraw it on the basis that it didn't deserve one!  He has submitted another one instead - FB


I've just picked up the latest 'Jazz UK' magazine. In the 'Jazz Services' section (page 13) you'll see their recommendation for the 'Access to Music' courses. Have a look at the people who endorse the North Manchester College site. I couldn't be bothered to look elsewhere. No doubt there are endorsements from Puff Daddy, Eminem and Chris Evans. 

I took the ATM course after thirty years teaching brass in schools (so did Tony Donleavy, Howard Murray and bassist Pete Smith) and my course tutor was a lady who played banjo in an amateur folk group. So much for Jazz Services and ATM (run by former classical trumpet player John Ridgeon). 

Ian Royle

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