Having poured his heart and soul into the promotion of ‘Good Music’, after becoming entranced by Miles Davis’ On The Corner album at the age of ten, Bruce Q is still on a mission to provide quality nights of music to dance to. Since 1976 he has been manning the decks and putting on funky Fusion nights, such as the Kitten Klub in the early to mid eighties and latterly, the in demand Liquid Fusion sessions which have worked their magic in four different venues through Birmingham.
As an integral part of the Acid Jazz and Jazz Dance ascension, Bruce Q was more than qualified to disclose to UK Vibe his inner thoughts on his good friend’s Snowboy’s book, ‘From Jazz Funk & Fusion to Acid Jazz (The History of The UK Jazz Dance Scene), as well as talk philosophically about the future of Jazz in general.
Michael J Edwards managed to corner the elusive Mr Qureshi at London’s Cargo club, having just viewed the screening of Dick Jewell’s seminal ‘Jazz Rooms’ film, to get the lowdown.
Michael J Edwards : Jazz Funk, Jazz Dance, Fusion, Acid Jazz – You were an instrumental part of that time and that period, so what are your thoughts on Snowboy’s finished project?
Bruce Q: I’ve not had chance to digest it all but what I’ve seen is very, very interesting. He’s taken on a challenge and set the gauntlet for himself, because now everyone is going to be coming out and saying, “Did we used to do that?” Well, we did!
And to culminate so much information over the past twenty to twenty-five years and compress it into a book – it’s very difficult. I know he’s been on it for twelve years, and I think he’s done a sterling job from what I read so far. It needed to be done. It probably is the definitive book on Jazz Dance of our time – easily! That’s coming from somebody who knows what they’re talking about and knows what they’re doing.
Michael J Edwards : How did you come across Snowboy in the first instance? How did you first cross paths?
Bruce Q: I discovered Snowboy back in the mid-eighties, obviously via the Acid Jazz movement and all that. Just listening to his tunes, and I thought, whoa! This guy’s got something going on. And then coming to London and hooking up with him and all the rest of it. Then I just got all my friends and hooked him up with everybody in Birmingham regarding the whole Jazz movement.
Michael J Edwards : I understand you have some ties with The Jewel Bar where Snowboy had his official book launch?
Bruce Q: Yeh, Gonzo is a friend of mine and also a co-partner of Liquid Fusion Music. He used to manage Ronnie Scott’s in Birmingham, which is where we originally set up Liquid Fusion, so he’s been a valuable part of what I’ve wanted to do. That’s back in the early nineties so to be still doing it is some achievement. He now runs a club called Jewel in Piccadilly London so we got chatting about it and things moved forward.
I said it really needed to be done as I could understand what Snowboy and the book was all about. I could give it the sensitivity that it needed. Something more than it just being ‘a night’.
Michael J Edwards : What did you think about the Jazz Dance scene at the time and what do you think about it now?
Bruce Q: You know what, I think the definition of Jazz is not only about the music, it’s about a mind-set, it’s about evolving or dissolving, is pretty well how I’d put it. And the whole Jazz scene was the desperation for the black movement at the time, back in the seventies, from how it was at the time and the pressures that were going on. I mean, there were riots in the streets back then. I don’t think kids today have got those pressures – it is purely about pleasure now.
At the time it was really about not being able to get in many ‘white clubs’, if I can say that, including myself. It was difficult to get into certain clubs, so we had to create our own little sub-culture. And if you talk to most of the dancers, they will mention the Nicholas Brothers; they’ll talk about Bob Fosse, Gene Kelly and all those people. And they had to jump back to those people, because that was the only reference point that they had as dancers.
Michael J Edwards : You’ll agree though that the Jazz Dance scene in the UK came from the ground up…with the West Indians and Blues Dances etc?
Bruce Q: Yeah! Yeah! Absolutely, it came about from Blues parties and all that kind of stuff. Like I said it had to create its own sub-culture. When I was a kid…the first record I bought at ten years old was Miles Davis – On the Corner. And nobody wanted to know what that was about then.
It was only later that the purist were going, “Well Miles isn’t doing Jazz” and all that. I didn’t know anything about the politics, but what I did learn to understand in time was that it was Jazz in its purist form, because it was evolving and doing something else. I don’t think Jazz will ever sit still and just become a pigeon-hole genre of music.
As of now, its moved into areas of broken beats and all that kind of stuff. House music is using a lot of Jazz chords, so its evolving to another level. Along side that, I’m seeing all the Jazz dancers that I grew up with, they’re moving along with it…There’s now breakers, poppers and lockers, they’re moving along with it as well – everybody’s getting caught up into it. The most important thing is that it can’t and will not sit still. It needs to move on – to develop.
Michael J Edwards : Talking of progressing –What keeps you strong now in 2009? What keeps the fire burning inside Bruce Q?
Bruce Q: Do you know what, I still love all my old music, I still love my old Jazz, but I’m always looking around the corner for what’s fresh too. I love the broken beat movement, I love what people like I.G Culture have been doing over the past decade, I love what Bugz In The Attic have been doing, I love what Kyoto Jazz Massive have been doing. All these people have really taken the baton up. They’re no different from Herbie Hancock and Roy Ayers and all that to me.
Michael J Edwards : The modern-day equivalent?
Bruce Q: They are, they’re the equivalent. Because when those people were going on in the sixties and seventies, they didn’t really get the accolades and recognition they deserved, for want of a better word. But you know, that’s how things are, you can move things around a lot faster now, information travels a lot faster now.
But there is still an underground scene, ironically. It still hasn’t become super club mentality, where there’s two thousand people dancing, shocking out to our music now. But you know, maybe there could be a guy in the next twenty years in Australia, who will listen to what’s going on now and think, wow! And he might take it somewhere. And I think that’s what it’s about.
Michael J Edwards : Or any other distant country?
Bruce Q: There are people all around the world I get music from…every corner of the world doing Jazz and Broken and a new take on it. Some of it isn’t quite there, but then again some of its really inspiring. The fact that they’re trying to do something is what makes the difference – to quote Picasso: “If you can do something, what’s the point of doing it, do something new and see what evolves from it.”
There are no guarantees that if we go to Mars, we’ll be able to live there, but the fact that we’re trying then something is bound to come out of it. It’s no different with music or any other medium, like painting or cinema. It just needs people to keep breaking the boundaries.
Michael J Edwards
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