Tim Stenhouse

Tim Stenhouse (22nd Oct 1963 – February 2019)

When Charles Aznavour died in October last year, Tim Stenhouse searched the Internet for the best documentaries and concerts to remember him by. * When Albert Finney died this February, an actor local to our Salford roots, Tim made a point of revisiting Saturday Night and Sunday Morning. Tim’s devout commemorative streak affirmed that people mattered, that a purpose of culture was to preserve that recognition.

Now it’s time to reread some jazz reviews and revive memories that affirm Tim Stenhouse as a fellow who mattered: the contribution of his personality and awareness made good copy for anyone hoping society might yet find a way to get civilized.

We went to the same early schools but I was five years senior so that coincidence passed us by till we met in our fifties. I only knew Tim in his last year but here’s how fast we caught up: Tim would call round about once every three weeks around 2pm, usually weekends, and shoot the breeze until 11 or 12 at night. Good company!

His enquiring mind was open to stacks of books and films and vintage posters and magazines cluttered everywhere in my home when he wasn’t sampling his own collections from his bag. And a well-worn notebook: Tim carried with him everywhere not a mobile phone but handwritten notes on topics and titles and contacts to follow up tomorrow. What he was sharing with you, whenever he posted a review, was his latest findings in the culture he was building for himself.

“Through learning French, I discovered Brazilian culture and literature (both Jorge Amado and Chico Buarque and Caetano Veloso), Italian and Japanese cinema and even independent American cinema (a season of David Lynch films). Moreover, you are able to place yourself inside the mind of a French national to try and understand why they collectively think the way they do.”

Tim wrote that in his autobiographical ‘Living and Woking in France’ on his linkedin page in 2017.

There’s nothing he didn’t know about the French New Wave or anything that crossed the Channel. His jazz appreciation was off the scale; and he shared his findings by regularly presenting to Manchester’s Jazz Society because there was no difference in Tim’s mind between learning and socialising; and the only thing that exceeded his knowledge was his curiosity, outdistancing his PhD.

“Try Will Friedwald!” Once you’ve read Pete Hamill and Gay Talese, it’s hard to find writing about Sinatra that meets Sinatra’s standards of delivery but Tim found me a zinger, because recommending material to supplement your taste was his everyday conversation.

I showed him a jazzy feature adaptation of Othello called All Night Long from 1962 — Patrick McGoohan and Richard Attenborough and coincidentally featuring Mingus and Brubeck and Dankworth and Tubby Hayes and all — along with the original poster autographed by some of the people — and his ebullience was Christmassy. He spoke like the House of Lords but his vivacious affirmation of the life of the mind spoke of his Irish descent, somewhere between James Joyce and Edna O’Brien. His adventurous sensibility was English, Gallic and Gaelic, and somehow Caucasian Caribbean.

The absurdities of society didn’t pass him by; he carried Jacques Tati’s worldview around in his head. When I told him, more than once, that I was not interested in anything Coltrane had done past 1958, so contrary to his own estimation, he let it go and laughed, and then so would I. His writing and his manner had recognition of personal space, like Miles Davis spacing the notes. I heard it whenever he called at my door: he knocked like a dormouse. Timorous.

When Michel Legrand died in February, Tim was mindful of how much history was going down all the way to The Other Side of the Wind. And so, in one of his last visits, Tim handed me a USB and a request of Legrand documentaries and concerts to copy from YouTube. This was routine since I showed Tim the software that downloaded and converted them to play on his television set. Tim had no trouble filling 2×64 GB USBs that way. Computer technology was one area that overtook Tim, so this way of accessing artists to commemorate at home delighted him like a magic trick.

There was nothing elitist about the knowledge in his head. His boyish sense of wonder extended from local nostalgia to worldwide talent. You hear it in his open and amiable authorial voice, charting discoveries in reviews. You see it openly in his face in the recent photograph on this page — which is why, though 55 years old with a comb-over rather than a quiff, the person he most reminded me of, vividly, always, was Hergé’s cartoon character Tintin. If a snowy white Terrier accompanied Tim’s photo, I wouldn’t be at all surprised.

There is at heart no real difference, few intellectuals care to admit, between The Brothers Karamazov and a Boy’s Own Christmas Annual. A book, a record, a film was adventuresome to Tim. Come December, Tim bought for himself such modest treats that he “put away for Christmas” to surprise himself. I imagine him as a pure line-drawing in joined-up longhand: a Yuletide hurrah that Alyosha kept his promises and Snowy had survived a meteorite storm.
A detail in his online career profile:

PGCE. French, Written: Pass. Practical withdrew through illness (chickenpox).

He’s not being ironic in parenthesis: the medical exemption becomes part of the qualification: his illness specialized in chickenpox. That scrupulous fidelity to the facts is, typically endearingly, purely-naïvely- incorruptibly Tintin Tim.

He strategized his line of questioning of what I knew, discounting what he didn’t want to know; he planned his knowledge in his notebook, except for the last thing I ever told him. “How long have we known each other now? six months, a year? If you get nothing else from me, it’s not the British New Wave or film noir technique or any of that but this: Information is worthless.” I was distinguishing between information and awareness but without explaining, leaving space for his own realization. He was trussed up askew at the time against the February cold like a big snowman that kids had equipped too late for Christmas; and with my central heating not on, Jacques Tati in a cockeyed woolly hat made his way down the lobby after ten hours of conversation, and I joked, “Well at least you haven’t asked what the temperature is.”

And obliviously, politely enough, he took it as a cue to ask what the temperature was: what was the temperature? another instance of Tintin Tim. “I don’t know!” I laughed, and repeated my last advice; and it was lost on me then that in repeating it I downgraded the advice itself from awareness to information, so now “Information is worthless” was useless information; and so comedy made chumps of us both.
“See you.”

What a curious blend of intensity and sensitivity and sunny verve in an enquiring mind that could turn an epitaph into the creative celebration of a life. I will miss Michel Legrand and Albert Finney and Charles Aznavour, but I will miss Tim Stenhouse more.

*Tim was delighted to find this YouTube link last October, so it’s an apt sign-off for Tim, too: Aznavour’s club concert, copied over to watch on his television, immediately brought the singer back to life for Tim:

Gary McMahon

On hearing the news…

“I was shocked and saddened to receive your email re Tim’s passing, having been in touch with him during his time writing for UK Vibe and earlier, also at the Manchester Evening News. Well done for posting the fine, and entirely appropriate, tribute to Tim.”
– Proper Music Distribution

“My condolences to you, and everybody that works at UKVibe.”
– Orange Grove Publicity

“So sorry to hear this. I had very good relationship with Tim on a professional level (and by email). He would very often review the Wewantsounds releases. What a sad loss…”
– Wewantsounds Records

“Such sad news. Sending our deepest condolences.”
– Soundway Records

“We are sorry to hear about these sad news. We wish you lots of strength and energy to go through this difficult time.”
– Tramp Records

“That is such sad news, I’m very sorry to hear this!”
– Avid Group

“OMG! I am shocked… And deeply saddened… I am sooo very sorry for the loss of your friend and colleague”
– Cuneiform Records

“That’s shocking news Steve. I’m afraid I only knew the man from emails, although that relationship was about 15 years.”
– Mike Gavin (Edition Records)

“I’m really sorry to hear this. We’ve been sending music to Tim for years….RIP.”
– Ballantyne Communications

“I am so sorry to hear this and you have my condolences.”
– Whirlwind Recordings

“He has been a great guy to deal with and I am so sorry he passed away, and at such a young age. It’s terrible.”
– Ilka Media

In Tim’s words… June 2015

My formative musical influences as a child were eclectic and included Marvin Gaye, Irish and Scottish folk and general pop music. By the mid-late 1970s I was beginning to develop more individual tastes and this included listening to the soulful side of disco and independent modern soul. I was just a little too young to ever sample northern soul in its golden heyday. The early 1980s was a period of intense listening and discoveries thanks to the likes of Richard Searling and Colin Curtis, the latter of whom’s ‘Jazz Breaks’ bridged the gap between instrumental and vocal music for me. Like many, I initially started with jazz fusion (Herbie Hancock, Fuse One), but quickly developed a passion for Brazilian jazz fusion with George Duke’s ‘A Brazilian Love Affair’ a seminal recording. This opened my ears to a whole new sphere of influence and directly led on to other discoveries from Elis Regina and Tania Maria to the more esoteric hues of Hermeto Pascoal. Latin music started to exert its enduring influence also with Mongo Santamaria, Cal Tjader and the pared-down Latin Jazz Ensemble of Tito Puente entering my musical life.

While an undergraduate I began to make musical connections thanks to a student exchange with Cameroon, but it was in fact salsa that I discovered with the Fania All Stars and Celia Cruz’s visit to and concert in Kinshasa, Zaire, as part of Muhammad Ali’s ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ the pretext of a long-term Latin music love affair. It was also the first time I heard African music from Francis Bebey (plus a Fela Kuti vinyl album courtesy of DJ Paul Murphy’s then shop) and that alerted my ears to music from the African continent. My active participation in music began as a student as president and founding member (plus DJ) of a soul and jazz-funk music society and during this tenure the likes of Gil Scott-Heron, Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five as well as Light of The World all visited and were well received. Equally I attended my very first blues and jazz festival in 1983, viewing Dudu Pukwana and Big Joe Duskin. By the mid 1980s the first year I lived in south-west France expanded my interest in all forms of Latin music and in the classic French chanson tradition, and my first proper job in 1988 took me back to Manchester where I once again became heavily involved in Brazilian culture more generally, from the literature of Bahian Jorge Amado to meeting Airto Moreira and Flora Purim in person while at a concert. By the beginning of the 1990s I was regularly attending festivals in mainland Europe, throughout France (Marciac, Nice, Vienne) and several trips to the North Sea Festival then in the Hague. My knowledge of African music grew exponentially thanks to sharing digs with students from Algeria, Mali and Senegal, and a second year living and working in France enabled me to establish contacts within the Paris and eastern French jazz community and attending further festivals (Nancy Jazz Pulsations, Paris). As a postgraduate, initiation into salsa dance technique from Panamanian sisters led on to Rubén Blades and other Fania greats and a first glimpse at Colombian salsa when Social Affairs Secretary of the Latin American society and visiting the early 1990s London Latin festival. By the mid-1990s I was DJing once again with a Colombian colleague and improving my knowledge of classic Latin music and then I received an invitation to write for a publication called UK Vibe. This would be the start of a carer in music journalism, though it had actually started in earnest in south-west France writing for a student magazine in Toulouse. By the mid-2000 period I began working for the Manchester Evening News on the arts review, writing music reviews and was proud of showcasing a Mexican roots anthology which then served as the musical backdrop to the Latin American and Spanish Film Festival. Subsequently, I have covered numerous festivals and concerts. I remain committed to searching for new musical beats and expanding my cultural and musical horizons and being part of the UK Vibe has enabled me to achieve precisely that.

Tim’s Best of 2018 pt.1 – Albums:

1. Kassin ‘Relax’ (Luaka Bop) Review here
2. Trygve Seim ‘Helsinki Songs’ (ECM) Review here
3. Chet Baker ‘Live in London Vol. 2’ (Ubuntu Music) Review here
4. Sons of Kemet ‘Your Queen is a Reptile’ (Impulse!) Review here
5. Elina Duni ‘Partir’ (ECM) Review here
6. Enrico Pieranunzi and Thomas Fonnesbaek ‘Blue Waltz’ (Stunt) Review here
7. Van Morrison and Joey de Francesco ‘You’re Driving Me Crazy’ (Sony) Review here
8. Jakob Bro ‘Returnings’ (ECM) Review here
9. Valia Calda ‘Methexis’ (Self-released) Review here
10. Various ‘We Out Here’ (Brownswood Recordings) Review here
11. Brad Mehldau Trio ‘Seymour Reads the Constitution’ (Nonesuch)
12. Esbjörn Svensson Trio ‘Live in London’ (ACT) Review here
13. Julian Siegel Quartet ‘Vista’ (Whirlwind Recordings) Review here
14. Henry Lowther’s Still Waters ‘Can’t Believe, Won’t Believe’ (Village Life) Review here
15. Bill Frisell ‘Music Is’ (Okeh) Review here
16. Bobo Stenson Trio ‘Contra La Indecisión’ (ECM) Review here
17. Jamison Ross ‘All For One’ (Concord) Review here
18. Idris Ackamoor ☥ The Pyramids ‘An Angel Fell’ (Strut) Review here
19. Nostalgia 77 ‘Fifteen (Best of)’ (Tru-Thoughts) Review here
20. Yelena Eckemoff ‘Better Than Gold and Silver (L&H Production) Review here

Tim’s Best of 2018 pt.2 – Artist/Group re-issues and previously unreleased:

1. Michel Polnareff ‘Pop Rock en Stock’ (Universal France) Review here
2. Cesar Camargo Mariano ‘São Paulo Brasil’ (Mr. Bongo) Review here
3. The Staple Singers ‘The complete Epic recordings 1964-1968’ (SoulMusic) Review here
4. Léo Ferré ‘Paris mai ’68’ (Barclay/Universal) Review here
5. John Coltrane and Miles Davis ‘The Final Tour: the Bootleg Series Vol. 6’ (Sony Legacy) Review here
6. Eric Dolphy ‘Musical Prophet. The expanded 1963 New York Studio Sessions’ (Elemental) Review here
7. Charles Mingus ‘Jazz in Detroit/Strata Concert Gallery/46 Seldon’ (BBE/Strata/Sue Mingus Music) Review here
8. Hugh Masekela ’66-’76’ (Wrasse/Chisa) Review here
9. Harold Vick ‘Don’t Look Back’ (Pure Pleasure) Review here
10. Justin Hinds and The Dominoes ‘Travel with Love’ (Omnivore/Nighthawk) Review here
11. Wes Montgomery ‘In Paris: The definitive ORTF recording’ (Resonance) Review here
12. Ethiopians ‘Reggae Power’/’Woman Capture Man’ (Doctor Bird) Review here
13. George Russell ‘Four Classic Albums’ (Avid Jazz) Review here
14. Kay-Gees ‘Three Classic Albums’ (Robinsong) Review here
15. Sun Ra ‘Astro-Black’ (Sundazed)
16. Woody Shaw ‘Tokyo ’81’ (Elemental) Review here
17. Robert Nighthawk ‘The Robert Nighthawk Collection 1937-1952’ (Acrobat Music) Review here
18. Gordon Beck ‘Jubilation! Trios, Quartets and Septets in session: 1964-1984’ (Turtle) Review here
19. Grant Green ‘Funk in France: from Paris to Antibes 1969-1970’ (Resonance) Review here
20. Bob Andy and Marcia Griffiths ‘Young Gifted and Black’/’Pied Piper’ (Doctor Bird) Review here

Tim’s Best of 2018 pt.3 – Various Artists/Compilations:

1. Spiritual Jazz 8: Japan Pt 1+2 (Jazzman) Review here

2. J Jazz – Deep Modern Jazz from Japan 1969-1984 (BBE Music) Review here

3. Disques Debs International Vol.1 (Strut) Review here

4. Svensk Jazzhistoria Vol. 11 (Caprice) Review here

5. Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present State Of The Union – The American Dream In Crisis (ACE) Review here

6. African Scream Contest 2 – Benin 1963​-​1980 (Analog Africa) Review here

7. Ernesto Chahoud presents TAITU – Soul​-​fuelled Stompers from 1960s – 1970s Ethiopia (BBE Music) Review here

7. Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs present Paris in the Spring (ACE) Review here

8. If Music Presents: You Need This – World Jazz Grooves (BBE Music) Review here

9. Dur-Dur of Somalia Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (Analog Africa) Review here

10. The Meaning of the Blues: The Legacy of Paul Oliver 1927-2017 (Jasmine) Review here

Tim’s Best of 2017 pt.1 – Jazz:

1. Bill Frisell / Thomas Morgan ‘Small Town’ (ECM)
2. Taj Mahal and Keb’ Mo ‘TajMo’ (Sony)
3. Bill Evans ‘Some Other Time: The Lost Session From The Black Forest’ (Resonance)
4. Ralph Towner ‘My Foolish Heart’ (ECM)
5. Cécile McLorin Salvant ‘Dream and Daggers’ (Mack Avenue)
6. Ahmad Jamal ‘Marseille’ (Pias/Jazz Village)
7. Christian McBride Big Band ‘Bringin’ It’ (Mack Avenue)
8. Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings ‘Soul of a Woman’ (Daptone)
9. Anouar Brahem ‘Blue Maqams’ (ECM)
10. Jazzmeia Horn ‘A Social Call’ (Prestige/Concord/Universal)
11. Django Bates Belovèd ‘The Study of Touch’ (ECM)
12. Ole Matthiessen ‘Flashbacks & Dedications’ (Stunt)
13. Bjorn Meyer ‘Provenance’ (ECM)
14. Mélanie De Biasio ‘Lilies’ (Le Label)
15. Charlie Watts ‘Charlie Watts Meets The Danish Radio Big Band’ (Impulse!)
16. Courtney Pine ‘Black Notes from the Deep’ (Freestyle)
17. Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble ‘The Spirit of Trane’ (Fanfare)
18. Robert Cray ‘Robert Cray and Hi Rhythm’ (Megaforce)
19. Sam Braysher & Michael Kanan ‘Golden Earrings’ (Fresh Sound New Talent)
20. Lars Danielsson ”Libretto III’ (ACT)
21. Carmen Lundy ‘Code Noir’ (Afrasia)
22. Mônica Vasconcelos ‘The Sao Paulo Tapes: Brazilian Resistance Songs’ (Mova)
23. Dwight Trible ‘Inspirations’ (Gondwana)
24. Peter Jones ‘Under the Setting Sun’ (Howlin’ Werewolf)
25. Brian Molley Quartet ‘Colour and Movement’ (Bgmm)
26. Egberto Gismonti ‘Dança das Cabeças’ (ECM)
27. Chris Potter ‘The Dreamer Is the Dream’ (ECM)
28. Ambrose Akinmusire ‘A Rift in Decorum: Live at the Village Vanguard’ (Blue Note)
29. Bill Evans ‘Another Time: The Hilversum Concert’ (Resonance)
30. Ferenc Snétberger ‘Titok’ (ECM)

Tim’s Best of 2017 pt.2 – World Roots:

1. Trio da Kali and Kronos Quartet ‘Ladilikan’ (World Circuit)
2. Yves Montand ‘à Paris + Chanson De Paris’ (Jackpot)
3. Mighty Maytones ‘Madness’ / ‘Boat to Zion’ (Burning Sounds)
4. Various ‘Zaire 74: The African Artists’ (Wrasse)
5. Oumou Sangaré ‘Mogoya’ (No Format!)
6. Qotob Trio ‘Entity’ (Choux de Bruxelles)
7. Various ‘Classic American Ballads’ (Smithsonian Folkways)
8. Gwyneth Glyn ‘Tro’ (Bendigedig)
9. Arturo Jorge ‘Finca Santa Elena’ (Tumi Music)
10. Piri ‘Vocês Querem Mate?’ (Far Out Recordings)
11. Baden Powell ‘Tristeza on Guitar’ (MPS)
12. Mulatu Astatké ‘Mulatu of Ethiopia’ (Strut)
13. Various ‘Even A Tree Can Shed Tears: Japanese Folk & Rock 1969-1973’ (Light in the Attic)
14. Egberto Gismonti ‘Dança das Cabeças’ (ECM)
15. Orchestre les Mangelepa ‘Last Band Standing’ (Strut)
16. Kingstonians ‘Sufferer’ (Music On Vinyl / Doctor Bird)
17. Various ‘Dancing Down Orange Street’ (Dub Store Records / Doctor Bird)
18. Various ‘Black Songs Matter’ (Aiwa)
19. Various ‘Inna De Yard – The Soul Of Jamaica’ (Chapter Two)
20. Benjamin Biolay ‘Volver’ (Barclay)

Tim’s Best of 2016:

1. James Hunter Six ‘Hold On’ (Daptone) Review here

2. Anat Fort Trio ‘Birdwatching’ (ECM) Review here

3. Michael Kiwanuka ‘Love & Hate’ (Polydor) Review here

4. Keith Jarrett ‘A Multitude of Angels’ (ECM) Review here

5. Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling ‘Upward Spiral’ (Sony Music) Review here

6. David Murray, Geri Allen & Terri Lyne Carrington ‘Perfection’ (Motéma) Review here

7. Aziza Brahim ‘Abbar el Hamada’ (Glitterbeat) Review here

8. Charles Lloyd and The Marvels ‘I Long to See You’ (Blue Note) Review here

9. Renee Rosnes ‘Written in the Rocks’ (Smoke Sessions) Review here

10. Grégory Privat ‘Family Tree’ (ACT) Review here

11. Roberto Fonseca ‘ABUC’ (Impulse!) Review here

12. Benjamin Biolay ‘Palermo, Hollywood’ (Blue Wrasse/Riviera) Review here

13. Santiago Leon ‘Flamenco tribute to Pat Metheny’ (Warner Spain)

14. Michel Benita / Ethics ‘River Silver’ (ECM) Review here

15. Bill Charlap ‘Notes from New York’ (Impulse!) Review here

16. Renaud ‘Renaud’ (Parlophone/Warner France) Review here

17. Kenny Barron Trio ‘Book of Intuition’ (Impulse!) Review here

18. Stan Sulzmann and Nikki Iles ‘Stardust’ (Jellymould) Review here

19. Warren Wolf ‘Convergence’ (Mack Avenue) Review here

20. Mammal Hands ‘Floa’ (Gondwana) Review here

Tim Stenhouse’s Best of 2015:

Partikel ‘String Theory’ (Whirlwind) Review here

Cheikh Lo ‘Balbalou’ (Chapter Two) Review here

Marcus Miller ‘Afrodeezia’ (Blue Note) Review here

Tigran Hamsayan and Yerevan State Chamber Choir ‘Luys I Luso’ (ECM) Review here

The Robert Glasper Trio – Live at Capitol Studios: Covered (Blue Note)

Various ‘Amplificador, Novissima Musica Brasileira: The Brazilian 10’s Generation’ (Far Out) Review here

Allen Toussaint ‘Allen Toussaint: The Real Thing 1970-1975’ (Raven) Review here

Various ‘Sam Records Anthology’ (Harmless) Review here

Various ‘Jazz in Polish Cinema. Out of the underground 1958-1967’ (Jazz in Film) Review here

Jack Costanzo ‘Mr Bongo’ (Jazzman) Review here

John Coltrane ‘A Love Supreme: The Complete Masters’ (Impulse!)

Astral Travelling Since 1993