I was in my teens when I bought my first copy of A Love Supreme. Shame it was Will Downing’s version – not quite so cool.
Truth be told I grew up like most kids, I think, listening to the charts or to the music my parents played around the house, without any sense of how my tastes would develop.
Somehow I stumbled across Robbie Vincent’s Radio One show. This isn’t as daft as it sounds. Most of my mates liked rock, and whilst there was the odd Prince fanatic, soul and funk rarely got a look in. Also, although Radio One was a national broadcaster I don’t recall them being as youth orientated as they are now. I seem to remember that in the early eighties they used to play Blues and Jazz (what I would have considered old folks music) on a Sunday night and finished broadcasting quite early.
Vincent’s show was a revelation to me, igniting an interest in music that hasn’t diminished to this day. I used to record shows on cassette and would playback the tunes I liked until the machine chewed the tape up or I got bored and overdubbed with a new show.
Growing up on the south coast it didn’t take me long to work out that the local high street record store wasn’t the best place to try and get hold of the latest US imports, which largely left me with my tapes, and the occasional shopping trip to London.
During the nineties my tastes started to diversify, and also I became more interested in back catalogues. In the main this was because soul and boogie were making way for R&B and nu soul, which I couldn’t really get in to.
Gilles Peterson’s arrival on Radio One came in the nick of time. Just as Robbie Vincent’s show was a good fit in my teens, GP’s show with it’s eclectic mix suited my maturing musical tastes. All of a sudden styles like Brazilian MPB and Samba, Folk and AOR, which I’d previously had little interest in, and/or had limited exposure to, were on my wants lists. However it was Jazz that really caught my imagination. Up until that point I think that I’d always looked on Jazz from the outside, either that the whole Acid Jazz thing was too trendy or that at the art music end of the spectrum it seemed overly self-indulgent. Of course if I’d continued to think that way I would have saved myself a lot of time and money….
Holidays abroad would invariably involve me digging at some stage or other – trips to the States just had to include a stop over in Chicago so I could drop by Dusty Groove, Jazz Record Mart, etc.
Now the Internet plays the role that radio used to, except it’s not just the medium to listen by, it’s so much more than that. For me it feels like my musical experience has been made more democratic, freed from the 20th century model of record companies pumping music through radio stations. Now I can find music for myself, select music according to my tastes, buy (or not buy, if that is your thing) and in some cases can have a connection to the artists themselves via social media.
In recent years I’ve got more in to live music than I ever used to. In the main this is due to the fact that I live much closer to London and therefore there are plenty of opportunities. I feel blessed to have seen the likes of Matthew Halsall, Nat Birchall, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Carmen Lundy, Incognito, Tania Maria, Resolution 88, Kaidi Tatham, Rachelle Ferrell, Ed Motta, Kamasi Washington, Chassol, Da Lata, Zara MacFarlane, GoGo Penguin, Nicola Conte, Lalah Hathaway, Nick Mulvey and Joyce in the relatively short time I’ve been living here.
It’s not quite a life spent listening to music, but sometimes it feels a little bit like that.
My name is Andy and I’m a music addict.