Can the new controller at BBC Radio 3 up the parlous amount of jazz on the network and return the station to Roger Wright's pioneering template?

The new controller to take over the reins later this year at BBC Radio 3 - the only BBC network radio station to show any sort of real if very small commitment to jazz - is ex-Universal Records suit Sam Jackson. He's to also run the Proms. Will he …

Published: 13 Jan 2023. Updated: 20 days.

The new controller to take over the reins later this year at BBC Radio 3 - the only BBC network radio station to show any sort of real if very small commitment to jazz - is ex-Universal Records suit Sam Jackson. He's to also run the Proms. Will he be able to support indie label output as well as listen to what the majors want is a fair question. Jackson has also run Classic FM, Smooth and Gold. Will Radio 3 become more like Classic or any other commercial smashy nicey station is another question worth asking. Jackson is also on the board at Trinity Laban which currently under Hans Koller has proved the front runner jazz studies programme in London in terms of faculty and progressive outlook even better than what Nick Smart is doing at the Royal Academy of Music. Will and indeed can Jackson partner more with less establishment music colleges like Leeds and indeed beyond conflict-of-interest Trinity? Jackson begins as controller in the spring replacing Alan Davey who has not been as much of a friend to jazz as Roger Wright was when Wright was controller. But of course let's be real, classical fans (who mainly tune into Radio 3) aren't necessarily jazz fans. Squaring that circle is mission impossible as Wright discovered when he championed jazz and made room for both musics within the output of the network.

Sam Jackson, photo: Carsten Windhorst/BBC

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Simona Premazzi, Wave In Gravity ***1/2

Technical ability is usually taken as read with a lot of stand out jazz. And while you can admire an album for that essential quality and you must sometimes it isn't the only factor by a long way. Solo piano album Wave in Gravity from US-based …

Published: 13 Jan 2023. Updated: 20 days.

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Technical ability is usually taken as read with a lot of stand out jazz. And while you can admire an album for that essential quality and you must sometimes it isn't the only factor by a long way.

Solo piano album Wave in Gravity from US-based Italian pianist Simona Premazzi ticks a number of boxes and certainly high technical command involving a prodigious sense of flow and contrapuntal resource is among these.

Beautifully recorded (the album was made at top studio Sear Sound so it would be a surprise if it didn't sound sonically good), tick, too. The sheer sonorousness of what sounds an epic piano especially in the lower octaves of the instrument is a big plus factor

Wave in Gravity makes its individual presence felt mainly by not being clinical and by offering a well selected bunch of tunes. Not a newcomer but more a seasoned artist Premazzi has a well worn affinity for the music of Andrew Hill (1931-2007) and the version of 'Smoke Stack' a tune rarely covered since its original trio incarnation in the 1960s on the Blue Note album of the same name is the tune to pick out first although it's not an easy listen at all.

New to Premazzi? The pianist is on Jeremy Pelt's Tales, Musings, and other Reveries (High Note, 2015)

Ticked off by anything? The choice of 'Slow Boat to China' but that's being personal. But the vividness of Premazzi's version makes me actually like the tune a bit more. That said the stately title track is more my cup of china where Premazzi enters territory you'd more easily hear on a Craig Taborn record during the heat of improvisation which again keeps anyone into advanced solo pano on the edge of their seats and rightly so. SG

Out on 17 February. 'G Minor Thing/Wachet Auf' is streaming ahead of release

Simona Premazzi, photo: Chris Drukker