It wasn’t always like this, you know. There was a time when turntable designers paid as much attention to aesthetics as they did to functionality. When shopping for a record player was about more than finding the box that actually …
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Doyen of the music press for half a century and a highly-valued and much-loved writer for Jazzwise for the past 14 years, Roy Carr died from a heart attack in hospital in the early hours of 1 July 2018 aged 73. Born in Blackpool in 1945, Roy’s father Tony Carr was a musician with connections to the big-band scene and wrote the hit big-band instrumental ‘March of the Mods’ for the Joe Loss Orchestra in 1964. The tune was also used as a TV theme and covered by Roy’s R&B group, The Executives, who released a number of singles for both EMI/Columbia and CBS between 1964 and 1969, including the highly collectable ‘Tracy Took A Trip’, banned by BBC Radio One in 1968.
An ardent jazz fan, Roy had started writing reviews for Jazz News in the early 1960s and continued freelance writing again in the late 1960s for the NME, joining as a staff writer in 1970. He built a reputation as a clued-up scribe whose insider knowledge of the music business as a gigging musician gave him a certain edge as the paper became the go-to music weekly. He was part of the core team that relaunched NME in 1972 as a serious music weekly under the editorship of Alan Smith and subsequently Nick Logan to reflect the counter-cultural driven change in music and the influence of the more in-depth Melody Maker, Sounds and the then UK underground press, such as IT and Friends. It was a giant leap away from NME‘s previous lightweight pop panderings and soon it was selling over 200,000 copies a week with a readership of a million and top line writers such as Nick Kent, Charles Shaar Murray and Ian MacDonald.
As Carr’s reputation as an incisive writer with a dry, mischievous sense of humour rose he landed a gossip column, Hello Sailor, as well as big name interviews with names such as John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen and David Bowie. Roy compiled NME’s flexi-discs and compilation tapes that were hugely popular with its readership, and, in addition to becoming a prolific album liner-note writer across jazz, rock and soundtracks, he authored books on The Beatles and Rolling Stones in The Illustrated Record Series, as well as acclaimed jazz titles, The Hip: Hipsters, Jazz and The Beat Generation and A Century of Jazz. Roy was eventually moved upstairs to become executive editor at IPC of NME, Melody Maker and Vox, the forerunner to Uncut.
Roy was one of the longest serving staff on what is now known as the ‘golden days’ of the UK music press from 1963 until the late 1990s, when its huge influence and reach stretched worldwide. With NME’s weekly sales now a shadow of its former self and MM and Sounds closed, he viewed the way it had cheapened its approach, ditching editorial depth and credibility for pop frivolity, with a mix of sadness and anger. He retired from IPC in the mid-2000s aged 65 and took up my offer as a freelance reviewer on Jazzwise in September 2004, where he returned to his first love, jazz writing, with a discographer’s eye for detail and sharp recall of decades of interviews and barroom chats with everyone from Miles Davis and Chet Baker to Art Blakey and Jimi Hendrix.
I’d known Roy since I worked on Sounds music paper and last spoke to him four days before he died. He was in hospital awaiting an angioplasty following a minor heart attack a day earlier. “I’m alright”, he said with a wry chuckle in his voice. “They’ll probably fit a stent and I’ll be out in a few days. Send me the next batch of album reviews, but no Chet Baker releases.” A reference to the sheer avalanche of Baker reissues and inferior compilations rather than ‘Mis’Tah Chet’ himself, who Roy absolutely loved.
Our thoughts are with Roy’s wife and family. We shall miss him madly.
– Jon Newey
“I’ve already had my mind blown once today,” a geezerish head of a certain age tells his friend. “By that woman there.” The cause of his expanded horizons, Nubya Garcia, sits smiling in sweet disbelief nearby. A queue for her signature which takes 30 minutes to dissipate is snaking from a record stall which has just been stripped of her latest EP with locust-like ruthlessness. Outside, it’s high summer in England, that rare and precious season when blue skies stay unbroken for weeks during June’s longest days, retaining the heat and light. In the beautiful Sussex village of Glynde, the weather is a particular gift, which seems to keep on giving whenever Love Supreme is in town. Garcia’s rise is part of a youthful resurgence in UK jazz which the festival has supported during its six years, and is now in its own high season. This fresh talent’s correspondence with veterans including Pharoah Sanders, Tony Allen and Dave Holland is this year’s story.
The expansion of both Love Supreme and jazz’s horizons is shown by Garcia’s presence in an Arena tent which has doubled its capacity to 4,000. She looks exhilarated by the scale of an audience whose enthusiasm pushes her band to escalating heights. Her sax solo seems to accompany the Malian desert sounds of Songhoy Blues as they drift in from the Main Stage. When her band’s final high-speed storm detonates, Joe Armon-Jones swirls and slides over the keys with deliberately blowsy excess, and Garcia spans her broad tenor range. The decisive moment comes when Armon-Jones meets Femi Koleoso‘s trip-beats in abstract drum’n’bass-derived shapes more glisteningly beautiful than any of the cold new corporate towers of their London home. Complex yet gut-punch-direct, the crowd greet it as a victory. And a mind is blown.
Over in the Big Top, they are followed by Tony Allen in majestically melodic mood. Long-time observers bemoan a dimming of the 77-year-old’s Afro-beat fire. He is still the polyrhythmic heartbeat of tunes from his Art Blakey tribute The Source, whose soul-jazz traverses 20 years of rhythm evolution without breaking sweat, as a mother and daughter sway in a similarly generation-spanning dance. His sextet’s muscular brass and lilting guitar operate in mellow balance with the afternoon sun.
“Fela Kuti is the king of Nigeria,” we’re told soon afterwards. “I want you all to party like Nigerians!” Allen might agree with the sentiment, but we’re back with the London scene, listening to Femi Koleoso, who has returned to the Arena with Armon-Jones and Ezra Collective. They play the high-energy Afro-beat its inventor Allen now largely eschews, with Armon-Jones again flying high.
We might expect many things from Pharoah Sanders, as the white-suited, bearded prophet of spiritual jazz makes his curved-backed, shuffle-skanking way to the stage. Roaring “Oi-oi!” like an Essex geezer would be low on the list, but Sanders at 77 is inscrutably impish. Gene Caldarazzo‘s press-rolls give his band steaming power when in modal unison. The leader blows forcefully, but rarely, one gentle scream sinking down to a softly burnished tone. His potent closing statement to ‘The Creator Has A Master Plan’ is less memorable than his lushly romantic approach to the ballad ‘A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square’, showing how far he’s travelled from his 1960s provocations with Coltrane.
Sunday morning dawns at Glynde’s soulfully open-minded village church with a reading of a fitting Islamic poem, ‘Cast All Your Votes for Dancing’. Ian Shaw follows this in the Big Top with his secular prayer for inclusion and change, ‘Shine’. Yazz Ahmed then brings ghosts of electric Miles to her meditative, ritualistic, transporting British-Bahraini music. When a bumper Big Top crowd gathers for Dave Holland/Zakir Hussain/Chris Potter, Hussain’s percussion is a sort of sequel to Ahmed, as Ezra was to Allen. His rock-skinned hands’ tabla dexterity is the jagged flint on which Holland’s equally fleet-fingered bass funk bounces and sparks. Their most intense, rocketing exchange, snaked around by Potter’s sinuous soprano sax, is triumphant.
Steve Winwood’s hammering Hammond grooves on a wonderful, Traffic-heavy set show it doesn’t really matter what you call rock music which has all jazz’s improvisatory virtues, and early 1960s R&B fire. Mavis Staples‘ radically loving civil rights soul is a tireless blessing, met in sentiment by a simultaneous set by Keyon Harrold. Ending a soulfully introspective solo, the trumpeter from racially schismed Ferguson, Missouri says: “We shall overcome, right? One day.”
In its happy accidents and sacred confluences, Love Supreme still lives up to its name.
– Nick Hasted
– Photos by Lisa Wormsley
Classic Album Sundays’ Colleen ‘Cosmo’ Murphy and Alex Paterson and Youth from The Orb discuss how Space, the Cosmos and The Great Beyond have inspired music from classical and jazz to psychedelic rock and kosmische musik to funk and The Orb’s first two albums. They will also play music from artists like Pink Floyd, Alice Coltrane, Tangerine Dream, Sun Ra and The Orb on an audiophile hi-fi sound system courtesy of Grahams Hi-Fi, Rega, Naim and Bowers & Wilkins.
The Orb are an English electronic music group known for being the pioneers of ambient house. Founded in 1988 by Alex Paterson and The KLF member Jimmy Cauty, the Orb began as ambient and dub DJs in London.
Because of their trippy sound, the Orb developed a cult following among clubbers “coming down” from drug-induced highs. The Orb has maintained their drug-related and science fiction themes despite personnel changes, including the departure of Cauty and other Orb members Kris Weston, Andy Falconer, Simon Phillips, Nick Burton and Andy Hughes. Paterson has been the only permanent member, continuing to work as the Orb with the Swiss-German producer Thomas Fehlmann and, later, with Martin “Youth” Glover, bass player wifounding member and bassist of Killing Joke.
Aside from The Orb and Killing Joke Martin “Youth” Glover is a member of The Fireman, along with Paul McCartney and has also worked, produced and remixed for bands including Kate Bush, Guns N’ Roses, Primal Scream, Embrace, Siouxsie and the Banshees, Art of Noise, Crowded House, Zoe, P.M. Dawn, Yazoo, Erasure, U2, Bananarama, INXS, James, Suns of Arqa, Depeche Mode, The Shamen, Misery Loves Co., Texas, Dido, Gaudi, Gravity Kills, Fake?, Pink Floyd and The Charlatans.
Time & Date: Friday July 6th 19:00 – 22:00
The Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, Kensington, SW7 2AP
Colleen Murphy with Alex Paterson and Youth
Supplied by Grahams Hi-fi
Summer is officially upon us and that means one thing: MUSIC FESTIVALS!
We’ve been working alongside Cornbury Music Festival to program some incredible entertainment for festival goers this year, courtesy of some of our fabulous Richer Unsigned artists!
The Cornbury Music Festival is “one-of-a-kind: a lovingly crafted, top notch, very English open air party, tailor-made for the whole family. Like the best of England, The Cornbury Music Festival is civilised, charming and irresistible – a homespun melting pot where music-lovers share pies and a glass of champagne with superstars, toffs, rockers, crooners, Morris dancers, farmers, urbanites, fashionistas, gourmet chefs and little old ladies who make exceptional cakes.”
If you’re heading to the festival, be sure to catch as many of these fantastic acts as you can and grab a copy of our free compilation CD. For those who can’t make it, we’ve put together a playlist of the performers for your listening pleasure!
Bethlehem Casuals are this week’s Artist Of The Week! Hailing from Manchester the band marries a world of influence, heavy grooves and tribal drum circles all with a distinctly urban twist of folk rock to create urban rock-styled DIY world music. With upbeat tempos and jubilant horns aplenty, we can’t get enough of our choice track “Mind’s Eye”, which you can check out below: