Chez Topsyturvydom, we no longer have one of Mr Baird’s televisual apparatuses, so the wireless is our main mass medium. The DAB radio in the kitchen is habitually tuned to Radio 4, with Radio 2 providing the meal soundtrack, except on Tuesdays. At other times, we’ve recently tried theJazz. Although I can’t be doing with trendy interCapitals, I feel this station might prove a winner.
Basically, it’s jazz, mainly of the 50s and 60s, played without adverts, and without DJs. It’s owned by Classic FM, so presumably at some point it will become awash with commercials and presenters. At the moment, all you hear between tracks is someone who sounds very like John Thompson (probably because it is John Thompson) saying fatuous things like “Listen up to The Jazz…” He doesn’t say “Nice” in his Fast Show voice though.
What you get is oodles of Ella, lashings of Louis, bags of Billie, miles of Miles and other stars of the fifties and sixties. Which is nice. It’s as if someone has seen one of those lists of “the hundred best jazz albums ever” and has bought them all, and is obsessively playing the stand-out tracks. Programming seems entirely random, so you might hear “God Bless the Child” by Billie Holiday, and then again by some big band three songs later. And they don’t seem to have that many records…
There’s nothing experimental – I did hear a bit of Keith Jarrrett, but that’s as far as it goes, and the only modern stuff is by pseudo-jazzers such as Jamie Cullum and Madelaine Peyroux. No trad, either. So, although generally pleasant, not a patch on the sublime Humph, whose show is a must-hear in these parts.
I’ve not, however, heard on Humph or TheJazz anything by Georgie Fame, coolest man on the planet. I’ve been listening recently to his album Sound Venture, forty years old, and sounding as brilliant now as it did then. He is in great form, appearing as vocalist with the Harry South band, whose line-up is amazing: Stan Tracey, Tubby Hayes, Dick Morrisey, the absolute pick of British jazz of the day. George sings some of his own stuff, some Lambert and Hendricks, and even persuades Harry to blast out a great version of Papa’s Got a Brand New bag. It’s all marvellous stuff, and in these days of endless reissues it’s bizarre that you have to get it via Japan. That does mean that it comes in a very funky mini-LP format though, a CD sized replica of the original sleeve – and with 9 bonus tracks. Bliss!
Radio Daze by Dr Rob Spence is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.