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"

BBC Radio 3's new jazz programme, Jazz Now, is launched on 4 April, replacing the long-running Jazz On 3 presented by Jez Nelson, who moves back to Jazz FM after 18 years.

Singer Emma Smith, saxophonist Soweto Kinch and trumpeter Al Ryan (pictured right) will present the show every Monday from 11pm–12.30am. Smith and Kinch are new to radio presenting; Ryan has produced and presented jazz shows on RTE and Lyric FM in Ireland and now presents a jazz programme on BBB Radio Oxford.

The BBC says that Jazz Now "...will examine the vibrant new and underground jazz scene which is taking the genre forward and introducing jazz to new audiences alongside established ones. From less traditional spaces like car parks and dance music clubs through to break-through artists in established venues, the presenters of Jazz Now, who are all performers in their own right, will get under the skin of how jazz is moving forward and the names to watch out for."

The first programme will feature an exclusive broadcast performance by British trio Malija, MOBO jazz act winners Binker and Moses and an on-the-road interview with Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen. The show will also feature concerts and in-house sessions specially recorded for the programme, together with in-depth artist features, record reviews and news reports from around the world. The show will also include masterclasses, starting with saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius, 11 April.

Others featured in the first month will include Woody Shaw III, Bugge Wesseltoft, Ralph Alessi, Hans Koller, Ran Blake, Woody Shaw III, John Etheridge and Peter Erskine. There will also be a preview of the 13 May transmission on BBC Four TV of the BBC Young Musician 2016 Jazz Award, the finals of which took place in Cardiff, 12 March.

Soweto Kinch says: “Jazz Now is a brilliant opportunity to reach out to new audiences, discover new voices, and to shake up our jazz world with a bit of controversy.” Radio 3 Controller Alan Davey says: “The underground and emerging jazz and wider contemporary music scene is really exciting right now and Radio 3’s mission is to connect our audience with remarkable music and culture. We wanted to bring that scene to our audiences and through enlisting expert performers such as Soweto, Emma and Al I am confident Jazz Now will do just that.”

Jazz Now joins BBC Radio 3's existing specialist shows: Jazz Line-up, Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz and Jazz Record Requests. It comes from production company Unique, a 7digital broadcasting company, which won a competitive tendering process to produce the new show. Unique has a long track record of producing jazz programming for BBC Radio, including Jazz Library, Sunday Features and episodes of Jazz File for BBC Radio 3, and series presented by Moira Stuart and Dame Cleo Laine for BBC Radio 2.

Broadcaster and writer Alyn Shipton, executive producer for Unique, commented: “We are all very excited by this opportunity to bring the best of contemporary jazz to BBC Radio 3, both from Britain and the rest of the world. We hope to satisfy existing fans of jazz, and also draw in plenty of new listeners to music we are passionate about and committed to supporting.”

Bruce Lindsay

Your Comments:

Posted by Edward Kitchen, 24 October 2016, 22:09 (1 of 2)

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.
Posted by Mac, 10 August 2017, 5:38 (2 of 2)

Absolutely agree with the above, Jazz on three with Jez Nelson was a special program, it kept me up to date and interested with whats going on in Jazz, when i think of all the great musicians Jez Introduced me too, and how great the live concerts sounded, it makes me so sad that this program went, honestly it's a serious loss to something i enjoyed so much! Whoever decision this was at the BBC you should be ashamed, im now left with Late Junction as the only interesting program for me on Radio 3. Don't get me wrong i think the presenters are lovely people, i've met and photographed Soweto a few times, but they aren't Jez :(
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