While jazz’s loss is clearly humanism’s gain (or are they not both and the same?) guitarist Billy Jenkins’ role as a humanist officiant means we don’t see him gigging or recording quite as much as in the past.

So it’s good that this year’s Brecon Jazz Festival is to mount, get this: ‘The Drum Machine Plays The Battlemarch of Consumerism’, an extended Jenkins composition created, composed and scored for six drumkits by the guitar poet of the suburbs himself.

Martin France of Spin Marvel is at the helm, and he’s perfectly placed as a leading percussionist in Jenkins’ outlandish Voice of God Collective for many years, with percussion students from the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama heading to Brecon to perform the piece.

‘The Drum Machine’ dates back a dozen or so years with Jenkins making plain to Making Music magazine at the time his motivation for the piece: “I want folks in clubs dancing to real musicians — those who take the responsibility for every single sound they make, not a pre-programmed pathetic microchip with parameters, pressed once by a self appointed purveyor of so-called music taste."

Jenkins has not been terribly impressed, to say the least, by “the rise of compressed digital recorded sound sources that constrict timbre and intonation," and you can see his point as we have all become inured to the march of technology which often values ease of use more than quality of sound.

The concert takes place in Brecon’s Theatr Brycheiniog at midday on 10 August.

Stephen Graham

Pictured above: Still sounds like Brecon Billy Jenkins


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Recently performing with Food at the Bath festival the Anglo-Norwegian band is to return with the follow-up to the acclaimed Quiet Inlet in September. The band, which fuses a sense of English pastoralism with airy Nordic textures, is to be released again by the ECM label, with the album, as yet untitled, bringing together Iain Ballamy and Thomas Stronen, with guitarists Christian Fennesz and Eivind Aarset, plus trumpeter Nils Petter Molvaer and south Indian slide guitarist/singer Prakash Sontakke.
That’s not all, as Ballamy’s relationship with ECM has blossomed to also encompass the debut of the band Quercus expected next year. Quercus sees the saxophonist joined by pianist Huw Warren and folk singer June Tabor, with tracks including traditional folk songs and music by the elegiac John Dowland who Warren has championed in the past, and new music from Ballamy including a setting of  Shakespeare.
Stephen Graham

Pictured: Quercus