Small Axe: must watch TV

Hard hitting, and quite brilliant, going on the first episode of Steve McQueen television drama Small Axe is a must for all jazz lovers from a sociopolitical point of view because all proper jazz fans do not live in a vacuum at all even when their …

Published: 17 Nov 2020. Updated: 13 days.

Hard hitting, and quite brilliant, going on the first episode of Steve McQueen television drama Small Axe is a must for all jazz lovers from a sociopolitical point of view because all proper jazz fans do not live in a vacuum at all even when their favourite music is not playing but dig the soca, dig what became the reggae that sits perfectly alongside. The music of the late Toots Hibbert is like a halo here as of course in the titling Bob Marley via the proverbial. Recall most importantly if around then how grim and brutal racism was and make no mistake continues to be even after some reform. Shaun Parkes as Frank Crichlow is marvellous. Watch 'Mangrove' the first episode. Photo: BBC press shot.

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Jazz charts

No one who preens their inner mystic predictor of jazz greatness chops looks at the big jazz sales chart ouija boards to tell us anything particularly interesting about where jazz is at. Even the jazz salesperson community will often be baffled …

Published: 17 Nov 2020. Updated: 13 days.

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No one who preens their inner mystic predictor of jazz greatness chops looks at the big jazz sales chart ouija boards to tell us anything particularly interesting about where jazz is at. Even the jazz salesperson community will often be baffled about what is not selling even after their top ninjas have sweated buckets over some slogan or other. Such totting up of course has its uses and fills a very lonely spreadsheet with digits every so often and provides a diversion from propelling paper darts into the wastepaper basket.

A true jazz fan however adores their favourite jazz act even if the artist is unlucky – selective? – enough to sell 300 copies or beyond all begrudgery lucky – gregarious? – enough to invite 1 million in for their platters between 1959 and oh 2059.

Yet while not playing mystic for me lots of people buy jazz albums however non-mistily of say some fondly recalled Concert by the Sea, let alone, er, all, stream bits of code that carries a few tunes, regularly. Who knew? What we all long ago clocked however is that what numbers an album sells and how cherished it becomes are usually entirely different things. Take for example two of the biggest jazz charts: firstly in the UK, The Official Jazz & Blues Albums Chart Top 30. And secondly, in the US, have a gander at the Billboard Jazz Albums Chart.

Back in blighty the late great blues guitarist Peter Green's Man of the World: The Anthology 1968-88 tops the latest chart and you will see a few brand new jazz albums from cutting edge mature-student types entering the studio nestled in there high up from time to time successfully having reinvented their parents' record collections helped along by ever-so-kindly uncle Universal. Over in the US the Billboard jazz chart regularly displays a big-selling weakness for crooners and of course scarily Christmas has come very early once again with gran's top pin-up Michael Bublé ding a donging. Cue sleigh bells, Al or nothing at all, castanets, the outrageous lockdown voodoo is running down and dawning – jazz ahead.