Radio 3's new look at new jazz
Soweto Kinch, one of a trio of presenters at BBC Radio 3's new Monday night jazz programme hails an opportunity "to shake up our jazz world with a bit of controversy"
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I sent the following to the BBC recently (may be too long to go in here). In April 2016 "Jazz Now" replaced "Jazz on 3" on BBC Radio 3. There is much enjoyable music in the new programme, but in my opinion it has two serious flaws: 1. It is too fragmented - a typical programme starts with a brief snippet from a featured band, with the promise of more later. Then there may be a bit of chat about something else, followed by two or three pieces by the featured band and an interview with the bandleader (sometimes illuminating, but often banal). Then a CD review or two, back to the featured band, and finishing up with something else, maybe a preview of next week. There is no longer a regular jazz programme on BBC radio which reproduces the experience of hearing a whole concert or club set by a single band. Even "Jazz on 3" was becoming fragmented in its later months, suggesting to me that this arises from BBC policy - is there a fear that listeners will switch off without all this hyperactivity? 2. There is no longer significant representation of the more experimental/improvisational side of jazz - artists such as Evan Parker, John Butcher, Pat Thomas, London Improvisers Orchestra etc. Is this type of music now relegated to occasional appearances on "Hear & Now" or obscure corners of "Late Junction"? In both of the above respects, "Jazz Now" is almost identical to Saturday afternoon's "Jazz Line-Up". I would not expect the latter programme to cover the more experimental side, but I don't see the point in having two programmes with near-identical format and content. The celebrity jazz musician presenters and their sidekicks are competent but I would like to see their cheerleading balanced by some independent critical opinion - only Kevin LeGendre occasionally offers this. Also the content of the two Radio 3 programmes now overlaps to some extent with Jamie Cullum's jazz programme on BBC Radio 2, which is a worthy successor to the late Humphrey Lyttelton's.