Radio review: The Jazz Show with Jamie Cullum (BBC Radio 2)

Latest in our radio programme review series. We kicked the series off with Jazz Record Requests and now for something completely different but staying with a BBC jazz programme Jamie Cullum's Radio 2 show. Official title ''The Jazz Show with Jamie …

Published: 5 May 2020. Updated: 43 days.

Latest in our radio programme review series. We kicked the series off with Jazz Record Requests and now for something completely different but staying with a BBC jazz programme Jamie Cullum's Radio 2 show.

Official title ''The Jazz Show with Jamie Cullum'' the latest show went out on 28 April. The complete opposite to JRR which is more your pipe and slippers type doze-a-bit if you must affair Cullum is chatty and chummy. He begins speaking of the chaos of his home studio in that self-deprecating but warm way of his. Shirley Horn, Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, Roy Ayers, Bobby McFerrin, Alfa Mist, Maya Law, Gary Bartz & Maisha, Diana Krall & Cullum himself singing, Christian Scott, Wilma Archer, Pharoah Sanders and Steam Down make a hardly edgy mix when everything is mixed together in such a matey fashion.

A few from the vaults, a few new-ish artists, a bit of crossover, the formula has been like that for ages and seems to go down well on Radio 2 given that the programme has been around for 10 years. Projecting a very upmarket middle class aspirational jazz coffee table feel to it, the Waitrose thing about this show is that Jamie whether a good thing or not depending on how demanding you want your listening to be makes whatever he plays seem glossy and even if what he sneaks in is rough and wild the subtext is that newly unscary monsters have right now been uncaged and made somehow lovely.

Without wishing to rain on his parade I'd much prefer hand on heart hearing a jazz programme with a presenter who is more a version of the great film critic Mark Kermode, someone who can do sharp criticism and not just be nice all the time and still not piss us off by being too much of a smart alec while still teetering on the precipice of being too opinionated. Actually here's a thought: Jay Rayner allowed to let rip presenting a regular jazz show would be just great. For decent choices, and a comfy Radio 2 experience the Jamie Cullum show is absolutely fine. If you're looking for a stretch seek it elsewhere. SG

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Larry Willis' last album

The final recordings by pianist Larry Willis, who died in September, are to gain a release later this month. These recordings were made at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, where Willis first began his professional …

Published: 5 May 2020. Updated: 6 months.

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The final recordings by pianist Larry Willis, who died in September, are to gain a release later this month. These recordings were made at the Rudy Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, where Willis first began his professional recording career. His first recording there was in late-January 1965 as a sideman for Jackie McLean on the album Right Now!

On these last sessions he is joined in a quintet by drummer Victor Lewis and alto saxophonist Joe Ford, with trumpeter Jeremy Pelt and bassist Blake Meister completing the line up. Look for the release on High Note.

'Let's Play,' currently streaming, a new version of a Willis composition that was included as the title track on a 1991 Steeplechase trio album on which Victor Lewis also performed is featured on I Fall in Love Too Easily: The Final Session at Rudy Van Gelder's to be released on 29 May.

Larry Willis top. Photo credit: unknown