Bees Mouth - March 2019

25th March

Hey! How’s life on the cliff edge? Too edgy for the edgiest edgelord,the edgiest, so edgy! Even the millions who assembled in important London for the biggest middle-class flex ever can’t stop the edginess - even Uri can’t stop it with his bendy spoons - even Boris can’t stop it with his edgy spaffing - even Nigel the toadman in his giant Barbour coat and his 200 marching elderlies can’t stop it - but don’t lose your muffins, get along to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be defying current trends and laying down some vibes of ordered sanity thanks to the indefatigable talents of man like Luke ‘2Pac’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘The Real Don Dadda’ Thomas (drms) as they deliver on the real Will Of The People by laying out some hot licks and cool grooves, aided by me on bass, plus the unflappable ascended beings of the Bee’s team emanating calmness, peace vibrations and spiritual unity from behind the well-stocked bar… as history skips the tragedy bit and goes straight for the farce, as all around are losing their heads and blaming it on the illuminati, as Mr Corbyn does the hokey-cokey all alone in his corner, as the Maybot rues that billion quid bung to the world’s costliest proddies, as the Trumpkin prepares a gigantic sickening wazoo for all, as the sap stirs in the bough and the bud breaks upon the branch, as a roseate glow suffuses the western sky over the glassy sea, time to drive dull care away and get your bad self down to where the good stuff is, don’t delay

18th March

What’s up holmes? All wore out from submitting the same attempt at ur sick chirpse for the third time? Hoping to prorogue but no-one’s playing? Attempt at meaningful vote only seems to point up the emptiness of your meaningless existence? Wanted to draw Wolves but Life handed you Man City? Don’t stumble glumly through the chilly drizzle like some Farage-led cavalcade of soggy truculence, gird your loins and stride boldly forth to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH and let those masters of the magic music portal, whose material emanations vibrating on on this octave are known as Luke ‘Visions Of The Emerald Beyond’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Between Nothingness And Eternity” Thomas (drms), transport you to a fantastical realm of good grooves hot licks & the real swing thing, aided in some fashion by me on bass, while the peerless denizens of the scented darkness behind the well-stocked bar wait, eager to pour you a healing libation, plus whatever special guests may drop in from the chartered streets outside, sunflowers weary of time, sick roses, tygers burning bright or whoever else really, anyone who can join in with the ideals of peace, unity, communication, creativity and not killing people to satisfy your pain or your bullshit or your greedy little newsfeed…. so don't stay in hoping that 'After Life' will cheer you up cos it won't, come and join us, the world will keep turning, we’ll do a thing.

11th March

Where’s your moral compass? How can you have an opinion when ‘Finding Neverland’ turns out to be too long to actually watch all the way through, when R Kelly’s automotive expertise no longer stands up to analysis, when International Women’s day doesn’t even spark a decent ‘not all men’ pile-on on your feed cos everyone’s too demoralised to moralise… OPT OUT of all the bullshit and OPT IN to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be throwing care to the bitter winds and stoking the inner mounting flames with high-octane musical juice courtesy of Luke “The Last Dragon” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “The Last Jedi” Thomas (drms) plus me aiding and assisting to the best of my ability on bass, while the interdimensional agents of the Bee’s Team wait, poised in the fragrant shadows behind the well-stocked bar, the bad boys hand out their tasty burgers, Cruella de Ville lays out some more bullsh*t around the neighbourhood bars, the nameless creatures of the night pass by upon their fathomless errands, and out across the land the citizens mug each other off or stockpile listlessly as the promises of Mr Corbyn’s jammy allotment and Ms May’s field of blighted wheat seem to shift and shimmer in a haze of spectral unreality, the cold winds blow across the close cropped turf far out beyond the edge of town, in the dank spaces under the blackened hedgerow the sap begins to stir and feather footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole… don’t let it bug you out, come and join us, we’ll have a time. 

4th March

Here you are, making tracks through this vale of tears, beset upon all sides by the unrighteous, rendered by busy little crawlers scraping your most intimate datasets on behalf of their boringly rapacious masters, trying to spark joy off your soggy surroundings… screw that negativity, get yerself to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be on it like Phil Silvers thanks to the majestic incantations of man like Luke “Ten Toes” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “The Real Don Dadda” Thomas (drms) as they lay out pure musical intoxication into our lil’ jazzy hotbox here, while the all-knowing, all seeing Bee’s team wait, under the command of dandy highwayman Jack Rowan, to administer libations of top grade hooch to ease you gently through to the end of the night, as the denizens of the darkness get into their stride and the winds of change blow in from across the darkling ocean as the waves tear at the ragged shingle, with only 25 days til the giant Momo challenge of Brexmas comes spreading it’s shitty wings across the grubby over-tagged streets of your town… we’ll be here doing our thing here in the warm twilight building musical castles to keep out the bad vibes til they call time on it all, so get along, get along, Twisted Firestarters especially welcome.

Bees Mouth - February 2019

26th February

Summer is finally here so it’s time to take a good long slurp of nourishing Huel, get to the park for some Jogacise, reset all the privacy settings on your networked devices to ‘Scrape My Data Baby!!, and re-pitch your Ryan Adams and R Kelly collection to 432Hz to keep the vibrational level sweet… or just don’t, and get yourself along to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where you can just lay back and relax safe in the knowledge that Luke “Isosceles” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “Equilateral” Thomas (drms) will be building a genuinely strong and stable musical refuge for you all out of hot sweet swinging music, aided to some degree by me on bass, to store up strength against the oncoming tide of tedious life-sapping drivel that is threatening to engulf us all, as the final shitstorm approaches and our elected representatives bravely start blaming each other for everything, like a bunch of slightly drunk middle aged divorcees trapped in a broken-down Leyland Princess on the side of the A34 returning from a disappointing pub lunch, trapped in a sweaty hell smelling of vinyl seats, scotch eggs and their own farts… leave them to it, don't be tempted to dash off some hastily configured meaningful contributions to pour petrol on the heaps of smouldering social pile-ons about Jezza and Tezza and imaginary transgender antisemites (those crazy guys!) that are stinking up the meedjasphere, grab your translucent shimmering wings, fix them to your tired shoulders and come spiralling up with us into the limitless cerulean where music is free and so will you be too, don’t miss out, it’ll be very

19th February

Feeling browned off? Yoga classes and DryVeganuary just reproachfully fading memories? Valentine’s didn’t deliver? Get back on-trend by starting a splinter group from your book club, or negotiating some wonderful free-trade deals with your nearest Londis, or looking in the mirror to see if there’s a funny tinge, or denying all responsibility for everything, or by doing none of those things and sashaying down to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be building a shelter from the howling storm of idiocy that’s swirling ever closer and fending off the bad vibes with an impenetrable shield of hot swinging music thanks to the strength and integrity of men like Luke ‘King Of Kings’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘The Fresh Prince Of Forest Row’ Thomas (drms) as they lay out the good grooves and hot licks, aided by me on bass as per, plus whatever incognito genuises blow in out of the psychic storm to join us, and the inimitable Bee’s team standing by to fulfil your requests for the finest hooch known to humanity.. Come and join us, it won’t be long now, not long now, the world is turning on its axes, one man struggle while another relaxes, out across the distant fields the sap may quicken in the rimy hedgerows but the change is still to come…

11th February

Only 47 more panic buying days left till we can all board our fleet of imaginary ferries and sail merrily away upon the silvery seas of Brexmas for ever and ever, into a future consisting entirely of roseate dawns and gift-wrapped promises made by Bozza out of gummi bears and oxycontin.. in the meantime don’t let you needy little feeds neg you out, throw them in the virtual sea and get your badass corporeal self along to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be weaving a web of protective musical mojos against the coming iterations of unspeakable awfulness advancing towards us like a phalanx of slavering Chopes, all senility and entitlement, but powerless against the limitless vibe of man like international beach operative Luke ‘Toubab’ Rattenbury (gtr) and covert operative Loz ‘Deep Forest’ Thomas (drms), plus me doing whatevs on the bass, and whomsoever has chosen to manifest themselves tonight on this vibrational level as the Bee’s Team, ready to make with the liberal measures of top quality hooch… there’ll be a whole bunch of good stuff going down, so don’t just stand aghast at the matchless irl sh*tposting of lollygaggging bad faith on daily display from our elected representatives and their so-called ‘leaders’ as they bob around helplessly on the oily seas of parliamentary subterfuge… where are the feasts we were promised? Where is the wine, the new wine, where is the old wine? dying on the vine… don’t gwt mad, get on down, pump up the jams, pump it up a little more… get the party going on the dance floor, seek us that's where the party's at… and you'll find out if you're too bad… 

4th February

Isn’t February just the ginchiest? U know, snow, cold, dark, football, fare hikes, Russell Brand, the undermining of the basic tenets of liberal welfare democracy at the hands of surveillance capitalists, Maroon 5, Brexit Brexit Brexit trundling through the wintry dark like a giant rail replacement bus full of screaming self-interested nitwits being sick in each other’s handbags… thank MC 900 Ft Jesus for JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH as it comes swaggering back into the saloon ready to right some wrongs in your immediate vibrational ambit thanks to the superhuman skills of special guest star Oli “Crime & Punishment” Howe tickling up the weighted ivory-alikes for your edification, and Loz “The Possessed” Thomas thumping the hell out of the traps while riding the tightrope between technical virtuosity and pure animal spirits, plus me as usual doing whatevs on bass and the ascended masters of the highest octave known round these parts as the Bee’s Team waiting in shimmering interdimensional splendour behind the well-stocked bar.. what beings, fey or fell, will enter through the swinging portal tonight? Step forward, hesitant, confident, full of rude anxious vitality, to shake their ruffled metallic plumage or tawny mane of rain-peaked fur, strike the threshold with their brazen clattering claws or sidle in softly on tattered pads or splintered hoofs, their eyes hooded, aflame, dulled with nameless care or alive with fierce intelligence, ready to lift their voices above the lurid warm fug and and smash out a peerless chorus of “Airegin” or something like that… soon enough things are gonna move, the sap rises as feather footed through the plashy fen passes the questing vole, but tonight it’s gonna be fine, let’s get on it and get into it.

Bees Mouth - January 2019

28th January

As the freezing winds of Brexmas swoop down across the glassy sea and into your personal space, like Mr Putin’s icy fingers down the back of your neck, as your emotions are all still a-quiver from trying mix the feels of a weekend combining Burns Night and Holocaust Memorial Day, as you contemplate necking a load of tide pods and yeeting into traffic just to show em all, JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH comes riding in just in the nick of time to get you back on the good foot and into it, man, so quit trying to gaslight yourself back into happiness or at least some kinda resignation to Fortuna’s wheel and get some symmetry and geometry back into your life by digging on special guest Paul ‘Fist Of Fury’ Richards (gtr), keeping you safe from harm as he’s equally at home swinging the changes on his pearl inlaid fretboard as he is disabling an assailant with a single body blow, plus Loz ‘The Last Dragon’ Thomas on the drums of thunder, plus me as per on the ol doghouse keeping Argos out of the chill as he waits for master to get back from his trip, while the shimmering sylphs and dryads of the Bee’s team wait poised in the scented shadows behind the well-stocked bar to make with the quality liquors and whatever guests spin by to shake it loose with us limber up to do their thing, and so can you, so can you, say it loud whatever it may be, don’t go voiceless into the black night, derevaun seraun, derevaun seraun. 

21st January

Here you are, deep into the chilly heart of cuffing season, the super blood wolf moon overhead like a Roger Dean prog dream, harbinger of some tide of earthbound f*ckery that’s waiting to overwhelm us all as our elected representatives bray and bellow like the venal lacklustre lollygaggers we all suspected they might be … regular transmissions of mediated nicompoopery won’t divert us sufficiently from the incoming mediocrapocalypse, but luckily JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH  is back with a big uncut slice of the reals thanks to the warp-speed talent of special guest Mr Al “Crazy Legs” Scott on the virtual piano and Mr Loz “Osmium” Thomas (drms) to take you away from all this boring madness on a magic carpet ride of hot sweet swinging music, aided in some manner by me on bass, with a host of potential participants all ready to chip in with their esteemed contributions, rockabilly rebel Sean ‘Flicknife’ Stapleton presiding sharp as a blue steel blade behind the well-stocked bar, the Bad Boys laying out the tasty burgers, badmashes pulling up to the kerb outside, ice crackling on the windows of your draughty overpriced accommodation, Phil the Greek burning it up like Birdbox in his new German whip, stars wheeling overhead, while far away in the cold distance up on the black frozen hillsides lurking like Grokes at the edge of town, deep under the frozen loam, something is stirring, the sap is ready to move in the blasted hedgerows… get ready, as some shitty little AI program gets ready to convert your living pulse into predictive data and flog it to some other numpty, this is the rhythm of the night, this is the rhythm of my life

14th January

When parliamentary process is just too lit and u just wanna chill, when dogs-in-sunglasses memes are simply no longer enough to express your admiration for correct adherence to legislative precedent, when your enthusiasm for reading other people’s furious explanations of what ‘democracy’ means on fb just dies….. let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH take the tension out of your Brexit extension and get the spark back into your tired lil eyes, cos all you have to do is come down, kick back and chill out to the heavy heavy monster sound as our resident experts Luke ‘Freedom Of Movement’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘The Eternal Backstop’ Thomas (drms) lay out another feast of musical good vibrations to bring the people together, aided as ever by me on bass plus the promise of special guests galore… as Jezza and Tezza both try to pull off the ultimate sick chirpse on each other while everyone else yells themselves into a state of hyper-osmatically exacerbated inertia, as the wokest post-millenials yell at each other in Hisbe, as Trumpkin picks his nose and stares at the snow outside his lonely window, we’ll be laying out a bunch of smoking hot jazz-to-blues-to-bop-to-latin-to-beats-to-whatever for the people to enjoy just for kicks, so just block all your dreary collapsitarian mates, pull on yer coat n shoes and get down, don’t be all sad like poor Andy, get happy like you’re laughing at salad, come and join us, join us, get in. 

7th January

New Year came in with a smash and already your poor little head is spinning into a vortex of discombobulation, kids are back at school, you’re back at work or something, China is on the dark side of the moon, what’s to do? … slough off your ideologically ambiguous Yellow Jacket and slouch on down to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be setting things up for whatever 2019 can throw our way with a shedload of internationally unconstrained blues-to-bop-to-latin-to-groove-to-whatever thanks to the boundary-defying majesty of Luke ‘Unity’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Equity’ Thomas (drms) and they lay out a fresh platter of jazz-related musical goodness for you to load up your extra-size buffet plate with, aided in some manner by me on bass, while the interdimensional entities of the Bee’s Team stand by, waiting in the alluring scented depths of the shadows behind the well-stocked bar to make your guilt-ridden compromised attempt at Dry January as painlessly empowering as possible; as Tezza is ‘seeking further assurances’ and Jezza is ‘biding his time’, as online brexitty yelling reaches fever pitch, as we all prepare to set sail on a fleet of imaginary takeaway ferries, as Greggs continue subvert the patriarchal hegemony via the medium of pastry snacks, who knows what the hell will happen next? Let’s face the music and dance, or something. 

Bees Mouth - December 2018

17th December

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven; a time to lay in on your seasonal purple drank, wrap up the kids’ carefully re-gendered gifts, pretend that sending cards in the physical meatspace mail is still a thing, hone your ‘casual works drink’ mastery skills, gather yourself before the coming storm, and yet still time as well to get your bad self along to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where sh*t will be real and the sound is fresh as ever was thank to the endless ingenuity of Luke ‘We Free Kings’ Rattenbury (gtr), Loz ‘Equisapiens’ Thomas (drms) and special guest Maestro Nigel Thomas keeping it sweet and lowdown on the bass … the air will be laden with the acrid stench of mulled wine, the streets filled with harassed late-night shoppers trying to express their hope that love will overpower mortality via the medium of consumer spending, regular working stiffs and panhandlers alike will be expecting their seasonal bonuses, bells will be ringing, lovely Stacey will be dancing, dancing, dancing, the Trumpkin will be waiting for the stroke of midnight or Mueller, all under the lowering sky as the horsemen of impending Brexitapocalypse gird their fetid loins and our scurrying political class cower in their gilded, endlessly flipping residences muttering their feeble imprecations of votes on votes of votes to try and ward them off, keep them away, drown out the steady thud and flutter of dry, dusty wings circling overhead… don’t let it harsh your vibe, don’t let em grind you down, get up and get down, we still out here…

10th December

How much more of this Strong and Stable stuff can we take? Is Maybot the Delaybot trying to stall while she finds her CV? Is Jezza secretly spraying on the Lynx before bursting forth to pitch his woo to the punch drunk electorate? When will we see the promised TV dance-off setting May’s Brexit Stanky Leg against Corby’s Socialist Hokey-Cokey? If it’s all messing with your equilibrium, cast off all care and come to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be respecting the real will of the people with our own backstop arrangement of good grooves, hot licks and hard swing thanks to the unfettered self-determination of Luke ‘Silent Majority’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Youthquake’ Thomas (drms) as they sail confidently into the glorious future, assisted in some manner by me on bass and unapologetic centrism, while the fearless buccaneers of the Bee’s Team stand in proudly independent readiness behind the bar, well-stocked with the finest international hooch from our valued trading partners, and the multi-dimensional beings of the night shuffle past upon their nameless errands deep within the wind-blasted crannies of the convoluted, compromised, ageing city clinging on between the chilly shingle and the dark silent masses of the downs lurking in the gloom like gigantic Grokes at the edges of your mind…. we’ll still be here as long as there’s music to play and someone to play it to, til Megatron returns to claim us all as his own, so don’t sit at home on your pile of hysterically stockpiled vegan corned beef substitute, fortify yourself with a big swig of fermented Huel and come and sit in, we still out here… 

3rd December

As poor faithful Curiosity Rover sends us more pix of a bleak, monochromatic wasteland, devoid of intelligent life, like we’ve never heard of Spoons and its jolly Brexitty bossman sir Tim, as the informed debate essential to a functioning democracy descends into an endless round of petulant shitposting, do you feel that your options are slowly withering on the branch to lie flaccid upon life’s tracks like the wrong kind of leaves? Let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH act upon you like a tonic, free equally of Big Pharma and homeopathic hooey, ready to reinvigorate your frontal lobes with a mega dose of pure hot sweet swinging jazz-and-related-music thanks to the tireless ministrations of Luke “Frozone” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “Mr Incredible” Thomas (drms) as they do their thing with both gusto and panache, like those enterprising shoppers at Christian Dior, aided in some manner by me on bass, while the fearless buccaneers of the Bee’s team stand by to reward the righteous with libations of the finest A grade hooch, the Bad Boys line up the patties, the regular stiffs mingle with the mythical denizens of the dusk in the chilly mist outside and the pale-eyed creatures of the night shuffle past to their appointments with who knows what, their shadows striding behind them and rising to meet them from the cold sticky pavements under the sodium glow… maybe you’ve decided against that Air B&B break in Gay Paree, maybe Black Friday didn’t give you anything you really wanted, maybe you’re ready to table a motion of No Confidence in yourself - don’t do it - come and join us instead, it’ll be very. 

Bees Mouth - November 2018

26th November

Now that cushy research post in Doha doesn’t seem quite as appealing, your cruise holiday in the Sea of Azov has been called off, Masterchef is nearly over, nothing to look forward to but the endless hell of yelling Brexitty bullsh*t, followed by Xmas, followed by more Brexit, but now with horrible hench Noel hollering at Holly Willoughby like a malignant but ripped meat dwarf.. let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH swoop down upon you from over the glassy frozen sea, out of the chilly light and autumn’s sere breath from the misty horizon , and bear you up up up upon wings of pure imagination, good grooves, cool swing and hot licks thanks to the imperturbable majesty of Luke “All Killer” Rattenbury (gtr) and the unflappable sang-froid of special guest Angus “No Filler” Bishop (drms), and they lay down some dank stanky sh*t for you to enjoy, aided to some degree by me on bass, and possible special guests of all shapes and sizes, while the fearless buccaneers of the Bee’s Team wait, poised and ready in the scented dusk behind the well-stocked bar, the bag-o-fish guy hovers in the turbid street outside the steamy windows, the badmashes mix with the Bad Boys over a tasty burger … somewhere far away across the darkness at the edge of town, politicos are plotting, Ms May is dutifully writing thank-you letters to herself in a dark dusty cupboard, Jeff Goldblum enrages a generation of Trinity grads by tinkling the ol’ ivories with a knowing leer, Megatron and Optimus battle for command of the shadow zone, but we’ll be safe in here, good things will be happening, so join us, join us…

19th November

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; a time for sticking your fingers in your ears and your head under the pillow, and screaming ‘lalalalala’ til it all goes away - and if that doesn’t work, a time for JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be cutting right through through the swathes of misinformational bullshit, celebrity jungle witch hunts, imaginary backstops to backstops, manipulative virtual orang-utans, dank unwholesome memes and needless spiritual shitposting that have been clogging up your poor bruised frontal lobes, and inviting you to join Luke ‘Strong’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Stable’ Thomas (drms) as they set off on a magic carpet ride of good grooves and hot licks, aided by our special guest, the effortlessly debonair George ‘Family man’ Trebar, on bass, while the fearless buccaneers of the Bee’s Team under the command of their intrepid leader Jack Rowan stand by to proffer good vibes and libations of top quality hooch, and out across the wide wide world all kinds of things go down that you won’t need to worry about for a while - that nice Mr Corbyn tends his polls and offers jam tomorrow, Melania carefully rakes up all the brushwood as Donald looks on, Boris checks his Gumtree ads, The Spice Girls prepare their leadership bid, International Men have a day all to themselves to attend to their metrosexual manscaping , the tectonic plates grind away deep below the earth, Mars keeps the lights on, the last leaves are torn screaming from the stunned trees, Orion lifts above the horizon and winks, and somewhere deep within the chilly urban labyrinth a man fills a bag with stolen fish and sets out into the night… come and join us, you’ll be glad you did, you will. 

12th November

Hey! How’ve u been? Forging ahead dynamically like a Sovereign Individual into our exciting Ayn Rand fantasy of a future? Or bumping sadly about like Trump’s abandoned umbrella on the steps of your own grounded Air Force One? Don’t get all neggy n shit - the future’s as bright as a newly minted Brexit 50p, or if not, at least there’s JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH rolling your way down the tracks once again, so park your imaginary weed-stinking Tesla at the curb and jump on board, cos we’re on the scheduled service to good grooves, hot licks and pure joyous musical energy thanks to the indefatigable efforts of Luke ‘The Conductor” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “ A Pound Off The Topline” Thomas (drms) as they see you safe on your journey, aided in some manner by me on bass, while the Ansel Adams of the Optics Jack Rowan and his team of fearless buccaneers preside over the well-stocked bar and outside on the pavements the heavy stained slabs lie mute beneath the restless cavalcade of human traffic, mammals and MAMILS, some glowing in their youth, some strutting in their pride, some bent double, like old beggars under sacks, knock-kneed and coughing like hags, some just trying to get through to the end of the night, while overhead the satellites are spinning, the galaxies are waiting, Mars still hangs burning in the void as the axis tilt yet again, Fortuna’s wheel sends us careening on the way to who knows where? Vassalage, chaos, the Critic’s Round of Masterchef, its all to play for, so grab yer axe and come join us, what’s to lose?

Bees Mouth - October 2018

October 15th

Feeling a bit edgy? 25 degree heat seemed kinda Mediterranean in June, now it just seems sinister? Oktoberfest on the Level just feels like a tactless Brexitty provocation? Beset by a nagging formless dread? Stop playing psychological whack-a-mole with your deepest, most shameful inner terrors and come and join us at JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where spirits can rejoice and music can be the healing force of your ever expanding laminar universe thanks to the tireless energies of Luke ‘Slowhand’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘A Pound On The Topline’ Thomas (drms) as they power on into the night with the good bait, aided by me on bass and whatnot, and all manner of hucksters jivers, smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers, pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers, plus the fearless buccaneers of the Bee’s Team ready to repel boarders and reward the faithful …. if you’re feeling like some terrible catastrophe is being cooked up by a bunch of scheming no-marks, if it seems likely that the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; if you reckon that the best lack all conviction, while the worst have the mostest Insta likes - if you didn’t manage to book a holiday in Thailand over the approaching endless half-term - if you tried ASMR and it just made you feel creeped out - if you’re a jubilant royalist or an ostentatiously indifferent republican, set aside your differences, hang up your hang ups and come and join us, join us, the season is on the wane, Fortuna’s wheel begins to spin again

October 1st

As M. Aznavourian and Geoffrey fly hand in hand up above the streets and houses, rainbow climbing high, saying bye-bye to this vale of tears, to the smoky tendrils of autumn creeping around us, to those vital Brexit negotiations, now safe in the shabby velour hands of Zippy, George and Bungle, to Mrs May choking back her tears and assuring us we’ll soon be hitting 80 in our German whips, to Trump and his trumping and Ye and his yeyeyeye, JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH will be continuing to operate at full strength thanks to the eternal flames manifesting on this material plane as Luke “Killer Dilla” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “Driller Killer” Thomas (drms) as they serve up another smorgsasbord of musical delights to refresh your jaded frontal lobes and realign your vibe, aided in some manner by me on bass, while the fearless buccaneers of the Bee’s Team under the command of their fleet-fingered captain Jack Rowan stand by to repel boarders, bringdowns and buzzkills with their magic healing liquors, the bad boys and badmashes line the glittering kerb outside, stray freshers staggger in circles,and down on the beach where the sea meets the moon-blanched land the planets burn in the sky over the shingle’s grating roar…. don’t sit glued to your stupid phone waiting for the next usage update, that sorta defeats the point, yeah? don’t wait for the hapless collection of backstabbers feebs, schlemils, and sappy poindexters that have somehow ended up in charge of our collective destiny to get their shit together… get down to where it’s on, you can do the milly rock, you can do the stanky leg, you can just do your thing, it’s beautiful baby. 

Masters of our Domain

Autumn brings many harvests in its wake; not least the publication of numerous surveys and reports, the pages of which drift across the digital realm like the falling leaves. With the Brexit deadline drawing ever nearer and inconsistency remaining the only consistent factor in approach from both government and opposition, the uncertainties that the whole nation faces in March 2019 are already having an impact. A survey of 1,600 musicians by the Incorporated Society of Musicians, published this August, finds more than 40% report a negative impact on their careers, mostly arising from uncertainties around visa issues for future bookings; the July 26th report from House of Lords EU Home Affairs Sub-Committee also warns of the consequences of visa restrictions on the UK’s cultural sector as a whole, and urges clarity on the continuation of free movement after Brexit – clarity which is sadly unlikely to be forthcoming at any time soon. Touring abroad is a vital component of many professional musician’s incomes; music in general, and jazz music in particular, is a cultural form that can appeal across national boundaries, and jazz occupies what is known as a global niche – audiences may be small, but they can be found, sharing their common culture, across the world. Access to these transnational markets has long been a valuable resource for jazz musicians, ever since Sidney Bechet took up residence in Paris and opened the door for so many other US players when the home scene went through barren periods – let us hope that our UK talent continues to have access to the educated, engaged and passionate European audiences on our doorstep. 

Of course, we also have our homegrown scene, and there exist also the boundless virtual prairies of the digital realm to be exploited. Good news from the latter realm, as in a July report, Spotify told the BBC Newsbeat service that in the past six months, the number of UK users aged 30 and under listening to their flagship Jazz UK playlist had increased by 108%, and smaller streaming platforms such as Deezer and Amazon Music reported similar increases.The growth has been attributed to “a flourishing UK scene which fuses jazz with a variety of genres”, and a Dr Peter Elsdon, a musicologist at the University of Hull, has been quoted in the report describing jazz as “a chameleon” that constantly changes colour to reflect its environment. “Because of the way streaming services work, people can find out about jazz more easily and quickly than they might have been able to in the past”, he explains, referring one assumes, both to the search n’ suggest algorithms that bring new artists to your desktop or hand-held device, and also to the availability of so much previously hard-to-find jazz music via the services themselves. One might add here that a certain generation of jazz musicians still persistently demonstrate a negative attitude towards streaming; while it is true that niche musics are not always well served by current streaming models, for reasons discussed in earlier editions of this column, realism surely compels us to acknowledge that the hope that consumers will obligingly boycott Spotify and return to buying CDs, as in days of yore, is very unlikely ever to be fulfilled. Visibility and engagement are the essential stepping stones towards audience progression – JazzFm reported its highest audience figures for the past four years, and in July an unlikely milestone was reached when John Coltrane scored his first ever UK Top 40 album chart placement, crashing in at number 21 with the belatedly rediscovered Both Directions At Once. One may slice and dice the analysis of what this really means, and find positives or negatives to suit one’s own temperament, but the unmistakeable message is that both the media landscape and the recorded music industry are changing, and that opportunities are being thrown up for those astute or engaged enough to exploit them. As popular music tends increasingly towards blandness and homogenisation, a sector of the youth market responds by developing a hunger for more challenging and sophisticated forms, and jazz can benefit by satisfying that hunger if it is prepared to array itself, attractively garnished, upon the cultural smorgasbord.

While foreign markets and online presence are important to the scene as a whole, it’s the UK market where the majority of our players will find their sustenance. A picture of the whole is provided by the recently published UK Live Music Census – the first of its kind. Let’s hear what it did, in its own words: “For 24 hours from noon on Thursday 9th March 2017, volunteers in cities across the country went out and about to live music events, from pub gigs to massed choirs to arena concerts. Live music censuses took place in our three primary snapshot cities of Glasgow, Newcastle-Gateshead and Oxford, while affiliate censuses also ran in Brighton, Leeds and Southampton on 9-10 March, and in Liverpool on 1-2 June, the affiliates led by members of UK Music’s Music Academic Partnership (MAP). Nationwide online surveys for musicians, venues, promoters and audiences were online from March until June. The intention of the census project was to help measure live music’s social, cultural and economic value, discover what challenges the sector is facing and inform policy to help live music flourish.” We should note the inclusion of Brighton as a location – a reflection of the flourishing sector in the town across all genres, jazz being no exception. The research was exhaustive and the findings comprehensive, but we can but summarise a few points here. It will come as no surprise to our esteemed and discerning readers to learn that the report concluded that live music has ‘significant economic, social and cultural value’ – the annual live music spend in Oxford alone is estimated at over 10 Million GBP, supporting over 350 full-time equivalent jobs. More is now spent on live than recorded music, with nearly half (47%) of respondents to the audience survey spending more than £20 on tickets for concerts/festivals each month while only a quarter spend the same on recorded music. On average, nearly half (49%) of the annual income of those respondents to the musician survey who identify as professional musicians comes from performing live, compared to only 3% from recording.

The survey is unique in its breadth, gathering data and stories from all those involved in music, from audiences to promoters, council licensing boards to venue owners, and even including the rarely heard voices of the musicians themselves. The survey’s analysis divided musicians into three categories – professional, semi-professional and amateur. Some results may come as a surprise, others less so – the sector is still male-dominated, with men accounting for 68% of professional and 81% of semi-pro players – men and women earned roughly the same per gig, but fascinatingly and perhaps unexpectedly, male singers tended to average more than female ones (100 GBP compared to 85), whereas for instrumentalists the positions and earnings were reversed.

Although individual earnings spread across a far wider range, it is significant that this average figure is well below the Musician’s Union suggested rate of 121.50 for casual engagements, reinforcing the commonly acknowledged heuristic conclusion that this rate is effectively a nominal one only that in practice is seldom adhered to. In addition, while 78% of professional musicians are self-employed, the survey found that 66% of those respondents to the musician survey identifying as professional musicians earn less than £15,600 direct from live music each year and 28% earn less than £5,200 direct from live performance; indeed, research by the Musicians’ Union in 2012 found that 56% of the musicians surveyed earn less than £20,000 in total per year, with music teaching being the primary means of supplementing income – accounting for typically up to 50% – and maintaining their professional status.

Analysis by genre provided further insights. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it suggests that the four most lucrative genres for respondents to the musician survey overall are: rock, pop, blues and classical, with 40% of all respondents earning money from rock, 26% from pop, 22% from blues, and 21% from classical music. However, another, rather different picture emerges when the musician’s own preferences are examined – when asked to choose which genre they identify with the most, 29% identify most with classical music, 14% with jazz, 11% identify with rock music, 8% identify as a singer/songwriter, and a measly 7% are happy to openly identify most with pop. Furthermore, 38% of respondents to the musician survey identifying as professional, currently earn money from classical music, 31% from pop, 31% from jazz, and 22% from blues For respondents to the musician survey identifying as semi-professional, however, the most lucrative genre is rock music: 48% earn money from rock music, while only 9% earn money from classical music. While jazz accounts for a small proportion of overall financial turnover from the sector as a whole, it holds its own as the genre that many musicians would rather be playing – and earning their living from – and a gratifying proportion of those musicians are successful in this ambition. 

Where are these dedicated, jazz-loving professionals performing? The survey’s findings highlight unequivocally the importance of small venues: “Over three-quarters (78%) of respondents to the online audience survey had visited small music venues (under 350 capacity) for live music in the past 12 months, and three-quarters (74%) had visited pubs and bars (for live music). Two-thirds (67%) of respondents to the musician survey had performed in small music venues in the past 12 months while nearly two-thirds (64%) had performed in pubs or bars 31%)” 

Here in Brighton we are lucky to have a scene that is supported by so many dedicated musicians, where the audience is eclectic, sophisticated and willing to engage with niche music, and where there is a plethora of grassroots venues. The Verdict deserves special recognition as a dedicated, musician-friendly venue, where musicians can stage their own concerts, playing the repertoire they want with the band of their choice; but equally, the flourishing pub and bar scene plays a part in developing new talent and sustaining existing players. Research from PRS for Music shows that live music can be a very good way of increasing publican’s sales; 24% report an increase of 25 to 50% in sales on music nights and 71% reporting an increase of 10 to 25%. This economic viability provides a different, parallel model to ticketed gigs, where there is a constant risk that the promoters/musicians may sustain a loss if they fail to sell enough tickets. As jazz audiences are small, jazz musicians can be particularly susceptible to this risk, and the readiness of landlords willing to offer a fixed fee for a free-entry gig provides a secure alternative. The danger, of course, is that a free-entry gig will deter audiences from a door charge gig – in addition, the economic realities of the licensed trade in Brighton (and across the UK) mean that the fees offered by landlords can never in practice approach the MU recommended minimum. This tension provokes lively debate within the community; we would suggest that, as with the scenario with recorded music detailed above, astute musicians will use the available resources to manage their careers to their best advantage. The casual, free-entry pub session has been a long-established feature of the jazz landscape, with a tradition traceable back to the 1950s at least; ticketed gigs will thrive on their own merits if they offer something exceptional; both have a role to play in the wider picture to progress both careers and audiences. The challenges of wage stagnation, competition and venue closure are all too familiar to anyone who works in the sector, and all are detailed in the report, but perhaps further citations are un-necessary. While you have been kind enough to spend time reading this column, gentle reader, some jazz musicians in your area have been rehearsing for a gig, setting up for a gig, playing a gig, or packing down from a gig and preparing for the next one – why not find out where they are, and set out to join them? If we don’t use it, we’re sure to lose it, so let’s Keep Music Live. 


Read the full report: here  

The Moving Finger Writes

“Anyone lucky enough to receive the Performing Rights Society’s regular magazine will no doubt have been intrigued to see an article headed ‘What’s going on in British Jazz?’, and even more intrigued by the following introductory quote from saxophonist Pete Wareham:

‘Jazz? I don’t know much about it. I haven’t been following it for ages…… I’ve been listening to a lot of Diplo and Mykki Blanco’.”

The moving finger, as Mr Fitzgerald reminded us, writes and then moves on, and its cancellation policies are even less accommodating than those of a budget airline. But let’s cast our minds back to September 2013: a month scarred by the unhappy manifestations of violence in Kenya and among the long-suffering people of Syria, which we need not dwell upon here, and by other more easily digestible events; an ancient company called ‘Microsoft’ purchased another equally obsolete entity called ‘Nokia’, Gareth Bale transferred to Real Madrid for a record fee of 85.3 million GBP, Breaking Bad swept the Emmys and Angela Merkel swept the polls to election triumph, while Ed Miliband struggled with his bacon sarnie and Mr Cameron wondered if a referendum might be the very thing to deliver him the result he wanted on Scottish independence. Set against this dramatic backdrop of world events, the Sussex Jazz Magazine was launched, and while the fortunes of all those mentioned above have dipped and swayed, SJM continues to thrive.

In a bold editorial decision, the first edition was dedicated to local bass players; and the lead quoted above was the first tentative overture of this column. It might be interesting to catch up with Mr Wareham, who has been gratifyingly busy in the intervening time with the latest incarnation of his Melt Yourself Down project, aided by local sticksman supreme Tristan Banks, and see if his enthusiasm for Diplo continues unabated. For an artist to proclaim a love of EDM from within the jazz pigeonhole was quite unusual back in 2013, when any mention of jazz in the UK still tended to draw the catchphrase from that Fast Show sketch from the general public, despite the efforts of Roller Trio, Portico Quartet and such hyperborean animals as GoGo Penguin and Polar Bear to dissolve the boundaries between the tradition and the welter of contemporary sounds newly accessible via the wonders of streaming. It’s instructive to look back on the last five years worth of issues and see how they chart the development of the music that, for want of another viable title, we still call jazz; and satisfying to see how many of the reports have been positive. 

SJM was set up to serve the local jazz community, both players and listeners, and its growth has mirrored the growth of the scene. Early editions of this column touched on the popularity of jam sessions and the healthy grassroots scene of casual pub gigs; both have continued to thrive. Later issues explored the tricky questions of financial remuneration and the economic viability of the jazz musician’s life, the debate around free-entry gigs, and the responsibility of both players and audiences to support the scene – these issues continue to evade simple resolution. However, let us pause to list some of the achievements recorded in SJM since its first issue. Love Supreme has confounded the cynics and naysayers to survive, and grow in size and stature, and the Bandstand stage continues to provide an accessible platform and a bridge into the local community. This resolutely commercial mothership touching down outside the city has been mirrored by the emergence and rapid success of a pair of home-grown events catering to different wings of the disparate muse – the South Coast Jazz Festival celebrates the evolving tradition with a clear eye on the richness of the UK’s own musical legacy, while the Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival does what it says on the label by bringing home the joyful noise of the music’s outer fringes. Three major jazz festivals establishing themselves around the city in the last five years is indication enough of a healthy scene; this year sees the establishment of the Splash Point Jazz Festival in Eastbourne and the continuation of the Rye Jazz & Blues Festival as well, while both Jazz Re:freshed and Jazz In The Round are expanding their London-based operations to bring exciting new jazz to Sussex. Our 2013 issue lamented the closure of Jazz Services; now exciting developments are afoot for a new publicly funded umbrella organisation for jazz in the South. Back in 2013, The Verdict had only just opened, and the candid will admit that its future was not universally seen to be secure; yet here it still is, as summer 2018 draws to a close, still open for business and putting on more bands than ever. It’s been a pleasure to have been involved with the New Generation Jazz programme and, thanks to the support of the Arts Council, to have brought so many wonderful young players to The Verdict to experience the unparalleled warmth and enthusiasm of the crowds, the inexhaustible ebullience of  indefatigable host Andy Lavender, and the exciting vagaries of the house PA system. 

A transparent plug for New Generation (New season just announced! Get your tickets for Fraser Smith and the Alibis now, folks!) leads us from the local to the national scene, and the unavoidable rise and rise of a new generation of young musicians emerging from South London over the last five years. Nubya Garcia, Moses Boyd, Ashley Henry and Ezra Collective were all relatively unknown when they made their New Generation debuts back in 2015 – since then their profile, and that of the scene of players emerging from Tomorrow’s Warriors collective, entering the London conservatoires and exiting again to pick up vibes via club nights Steez and Total Refreshment Centre, has risen to the level where the national press, always hungry for a new ‘movement’ to promote, have seized upon it. National broadsheet articles have led into borderline-hyperbolic features in Rolling Stone (‘Jazz’s New British Invasion’) and the New York Times (‘Shabaka Hutchings Brings London Jazz Into the Spotlight’). While Kamasi Washington has led the way, crossing over into mainstream festival audiences both in the US and here at such hipster-friendly UK events as Field Day, it’s inspiring to see UK jazz lauded as the cutting edge, rather than following in the lead of the US. Such media attention brings in its wake the inevitable questions; the UK is brimming with talent, and as the bright light shines into on one set of players it will unfortunately cast a shadow over other, equally deserving hopefuls. Nevertheless, there’s an undeniably heady rush of excitement at the sight of UK jazz artists at the centre of a media storm; a young generation for whom referencing club music and the jazz tradition together is no longer an anomaly, and who are prepared to embrace notions of mainstream success that have the potential to reach beyond the sometimes impenetrable-seeming boundaries between jazz (whatever that is) and popular music (aren’t they meant to be the same thing?). 

This summer, Jazz Re:freshed, the multi-faceted promotional crew at the heart of the new movement, reached out from their London base to stage their first all-day event at Brighton Dome with an array of stars of the new wave, with a stunning 1,500 tickets sold and free admission for the under 15s. The crowd were an eclectic mix of youngsters checking out their peers and older fans, some of whom would surely have remembered the last Brit-jazz boom (also fuelled in no small part by Tomorrow’s Warriors) that brought to our attention Courtney Pine, Ronny Jordan, Steve Williamson, Orphy Robinson, Gary Crosby, Denys Baptiste, Jason Yarde and so many other great players. All media hypes conform to the same cycle of boom and backlash, but true talent and commitment can ride the wave and translate into career longevity. Last month’s column brought unwelcome news of the closure of Total Refreshment Centre, and a licensing threat to the Mau Mau Bar, both crucial incubators of the scene, and a reminder of how fragile a musical renaissance can be, and how difficult the commercial climate remains. Past columns have explored the dire state of the recorded music industry for jazz and the continuing precariousness of the existence of the jazz clubs and the musicians who play in them. So let us close this five-year review, brimming as it is with optimism for both the local, the national and the international development of the music we all love, however we choose to define it, with a warning that if we don’t use it, we’re sure to lose it. Get out to a gig tonight – or if not tonight, then tomorrow. There’s sure to be something on in town – jazz is booming. 


    Many thanks to all those who have had the patience to read this column over the last five years, and the kindness to tell me that they have enjoyed it. Your encouragement, support and advice is very welcome. 

Bees Mouth - September 2018

Sept 24th

OMG!! Everyone’s gone conference crazy!! Out on the dusty fringes UKIP were really digging into their special thing, angrily floating ideas like big shit-filled balloons to burst over their own screwed up faces, while not even Vince’s erotic spasm could make his lot seem sexy, but that’s small stuff compared to terrifying Brexity monsters now crashing around in the political arena… centre yourself amid the tension by getting down to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH and taking a deep healing breath, cos we’ve got a lasting mandate to deliver real liberation to everyone everywhere for ever thanks to the steady eye and fearless hand of man like Luke ‘Crypto” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “Cash Is King” Thomas (drms) as they demonstrate pure freedom of movement and, like, totally harmonised regulation to deliver another summit meeting of hot swing, cool funk & all kinds of good stuff crossing and recrossing the frictionless musical borders in between, aided by me on bass, while fearless buccaneer Captain Jack Rowan and his crew batten down the hatches and prepare to ride out the Prolonged Period Of Uncertainty with their precious cargo of the finest liquors known to man, while Jezza and Big Mac dressed as dandy highwaymen try to ride multiple horses at once, everyone threatens to deselect everyone else, while the Maybot grins fixedly at you from the centre of her burning bush, while Boris sharpens his knife in his stinking basement and everyone else waits to see just what the hell is going to happen next, cos it could go any way, couldn’t it? Don’t sit at home like an unexpected item in life’s bagging area, don’t watch the Bodyguard again, join us, Libdems or mandems, lovers, losers, fighters, baby sharks or tiny dancers, this is real life and it’s happening RIGHT NOW… jack jack jack jack your body.

Sept 17th

It no joke, is it? Beavering away at the digital coalface, trying to keep on top of the torrent of incoming while sharing your outgoing in the hope that someone somewhere cares, sticking your head up above the virtual parapet so your voice gets heard above the susurrus, hurly-burly, mounting hubbub and general frou—frou, as all your bitcoin turns to shitcoin and a host of digital platforms rise and fall like the waves on a boundless boring ocean… JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH is back to give you a big healing dose of IRL so cut yourself loose and put that spring back in your step, cos we’re back on the regular thanks to the tireless musical audacity of Luke ‘Homeboy’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “Cash Is King” Thomas (drms) as they weave another web of good grooves and hot licks for you to get wrapped all around your poor aching frontal lobes, while the fearless buccaneers of the Bee’s Team stand by under the command of their captain Jack Rowan, ready to repel boarders and belay any un-called for argy-bargy to keep the vibe sweet, and the streets outside are alive with all kinds of bad boys, badmashes, movers, shakers, tricksters and fakers, travellers from antique lands, followers of false prophets, dawn treaders and easy riders, and Lib Dems in search of a purpose..... as the spectral calm of summer’s end drifts down from the shining cerulean, as the kids go back to school to try and learn what to do next, what to do next, as the Mercury nominations for Best Artists Previously Nominated For The Mercury Prize remind us all of the simpler days of Myspace, food hashtags and lolcats, as May and her band of backstabbers play Deal Or No Deal with all our futures, as we all seem to be waiting for the next BIG THING to drop, you should take the time out and come and join us

Sept 10th

Holidays are over, you muppets, time’s getting on, there’s no time for any wishy-washy namby-pamby flip-flopping - important steps need to be taken and they need to be taken now by the Adults In The Room, and that means YOU! Time to set your jaw, clench your fists, grit your teeth and buckle up, double down, upscale, downsize and get your sh*t together, and when you’re done, take a deep breath and get down to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH cos we’ll be flying higher than Elon Musk at a shareholder’s meeting thanks to the magical talents of Luke ‘Laserquest’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Youthquake” Thomas (drms) as they send all bad vibes off for mandatory deselection, adopt all the internationally recognised definitions of Hot Swinging Grooves, and fill the air with music … I’ll be along on bass, fearless captain Jack Rowan will be at the helm with his crew of buccaneers to man the pumps and serve up libations of the finest liquors known to man, the pallid creatures of the night will shuffle past outside, the Bad Boys will be flipping tasty burgers and the local badmashes will be parking illegally just for lulz… as we all wait for Mr Johnson to put his dogwhistle to his lips and cry, you know, havoc n stuff, as Mars burns bright in the sky above, as the earth shifts again on its axis and the sap runs slower, as the last swallows dart low over the drying stubble, let’s keep the faith, people…come an join us, let’s make some noise.

Sept 3rd

As you hang, breathless, poised like a diver on the summers furthest brink, ready for the breath of autumn to bring you crashing down down down, your heart heavy with nostalgia, your skin burnt by the sun... let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH ease your passing into the next phase, cos we’re gearing up for a phenomenal autumnal shitstorm of sound bites as those busy little orange hands peck at the tweetdeck, Eurocrats get their resting bitch faces on for the next round, everyone stocks up on rotten tomatoes for Conference Season,Mr Corbyn mumbles something ineffectual into his beardie beard, Mr Putin smirks into his tea but doesn’t drink it, Netenyahoo spits into his own eye, Boris, “Tommy” and Blotchy Steve B exchange sexy winks, all manner of unholy alliances congeal across the greasy wastes of cyberspace, and the Maybot dances, dances, dances her way along the corridors of power with the grace of a spavined horse... take heart as the team of Luke ‘Boethius’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Fortuna’s Wheel’ Thomas (drms) return to spin a web of theology, geometry and musical good vibes just for you, aided by special guest maestro Nigel Thomas on bass, and all your fave local characters come out to play ..mustachioed Byronic hero Jack Rowan will be heading up the mighty Bee’s Team of fearless buccaneers, the music will be hot, sweet and vital, mars will be burning bright in the sky above, and you should come, you really should. 

Bees Mouth - August 2018

20th August

There you are, chasing down the last days of summer in your gender-neutral floral lycra outfit, keeping it real at the barbie with some Jamie’s Jerk Rice, getting wavy like William Hague, editing your insta beach selfies at the airport, laughing with salad, living the dream… but is it all enough to keep the existential terror of your inevitable extinction at bay? Not quite? Let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH step in to fill the howling vortex that lurks behind your resting bitch face, cos we’ll be back for reals with those classic-yet-contemporary avatars of vernal positivity Luke ‘Big Trouble In Little China” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘The Last Airbender” Thomas (drms) as they give vent to artistic expression of pure swinging good vibes to promote that healing feeling out into the ether, so you can just step right up and diver into it like it’s some kinda clear limpid lagoon fringed with coral sand.. I’ll be there on bass doing some stuff, the legendary Bee’s team will be standing by with trans-dimensional libations of quality liquor from deep within the centre of the multiverse, the Bad Boys will be flipping tasty burgers as the cornerstone of any nutritious breakfast at any time of day, that psychotic east African dude will be on the corner, ministering unto his disciples with his little radio, the players will cruise past in their muscle cars and the regular working stiffs will be cutting loose and the night shift will be revving up.. don’t stay trapped in the quiet lacuna between the sheer animalistic Id-fest frenzy of Love Island and the rigidly heirarchical Super-ego domination of Bake-Off, get with the beat and come and join us, join us, the time is now.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi

While our public life remains mired in irreconcilable division and the prolonged period of uncertainty we were promised continues unabated, at least we’ve had a nice long spell of hot weather, to the delight and relief of all those involved in running or attending outdoor events.

Festival season is upon us - we can sympathise with those involved with Camp Bestival, forced to close the site after they were hit with the only wet and windy weekend for 55 days, while unpleasant stories are emerging of WOMAD artists being deterred from performing after encountering a hostile environment when applying for the necessary visas - let us sincerely hope that this is not a foretaste of a post-Brexit musical landscape where foreign music will be deemed to have been rendered un-necessary, and is actively discouraged as detracting from our own, deservedly beloved indigenous folk-singing tradition.

Closer to home, however, the sun shone on two contrasting but equally satisfactory events. Love Supreme is rapidly consolidating its uniqueposition as the UK’s only greenfieldfestival for jazz-and-related-musics; numbers have increased to the point that the organisers have announced that a cap will be placed on further expansion to preserve the intimate feel, and while there was an irregularity with the beer supply, and an unfortunately ailing Elvis Costello was perhaps not universally appreciated as a choice of Saturday headliner, the festival is eminently succeeding in its aim of bringing jazz and audiences together. It’s particularly gratifying to see new wave artists like Nubya Garcia and Ezra Collective returning year after year to play to ever bigger crowds
- Garcia filling the 4000 capacity Arena tent to the seams, after performing on the Bandstand only three years ago. Along the coast, and catering to a different but equally essential end of the jazz spectrum, the Swanage Festival rose from the ashes thanks to the herculean efforts of guitarist Nigel Price in his role as festival director and benefitted from his expanded vision to add a little more razzmatazz to proceedings.

As the market value of recorded music as a commodity has dropped precipitately, the live sector has continued to grow, as consumers both young and old are increasingly ready to spend money on experiences rather than consumer durables. It’s good to see that jazz is keeping up with this trend by providing a wider range of festivals - the major players like London, Gateshead, Cheltenham, Glasgow and Edinburgh being joined by a wave of new or revived smaller affairs. Here in Sussex the South Coast Jazz Festival continues to expand its remit, the Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival stages a triumphant return with major name headliners, and exciting new developments are afoot as both Jazz Re:Freshed and Jazz In The Round have moved out of the capital for the first time to advance the vanguardof the new London thing into the Brighton Dome and St. Mary in the Castle in Hastings with exciting one-day events. But this good news, though welcome, is not universally distributed.

Portsmouth Jazz Club ceases activities in December; a message on its webpage announces “audiences have dwindled over the past three years and trying to ‘drum up’ new people to come along, etcetera, has become a thankless task and added to the pressures of our personal commitments, has become untenable.” Behind this story we can detect a set of factors at work across the scene; a club run on wafer-thin margins, sustained by the enthusiasm of a group of passionate devotees but unable to regenerate itself to ensure progression of the next generation of audiences. Jazz prides itself on its long and rich heritage, and retains its audiences through the decades, but outside the major cities the uptake among younger generations can be slow. The annual British Jazz Awards are collecting votes at the moment - the shortlists as ever feature a rich array of talent, but the pool of players is narrow, scarcely changing from year to year. While this in no way disparages the skill and artistry of the nominees, it provides an insight into the conservatism of the grassroots club-going audiences, and this can be an inhibiting factor in development. Even in the major cities, other negative pressures are at work - this month has also seen announcements of the closure of the Total Refreshment Centre in Hackney as a live venue, and a licensing threat to the Mau Mau barin Portobello Road, reminding us of the fragility of the club scene as profits are squeezed and developers wait hungrily in the wings.

Jazz education can help develop the skills and knowledge of the next generation of players, the jazz festival can showcase new talent and bolster established reputations, but the club is historically where jazz has developed and where it must find both its true voice and its connection to the audience. Let’s ensure that the sun continues to shine upon it.

Bees Mouth - July

July 30th

As Brighton braces itself before the approaching Tsunami of fabulousness about to splash onto our pebbly shores in a rainbow coloured wash with Britney riding the spume like a blinged up Nereid, the fainter hearted amongst us may be tempted to bolt for the holiday break like our noble and hardworking politicians, taking back control by doing nothing at all, but before you hit the open sore that is Stansted in your pursuit of the sun, stop off at JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where you’ll find the heatwave is still in full effect thanks to the unwavering front of high pressure created by those masters of groove Luke ‘Gulf Stream’ Rattenbury (gtr) and special guest Tristan ’T-Bone’ Banks (drms) as they get busy at the molecular level to set up a forcefield of good vibrations for you all to come and shelter in … I’ll be doing whatevs on bass, the immaculate ascended beings of the Bee’s team will be waiting, poised in the scented shadows behind the well-stocked bar, the creatures of the night will come and go, come and go on the crowded pavement outside, the velvet darkness above the crumbling rooftops will be alive with stars and possibilities, and you should really get out of that subreddit you’ve been stuck in, shitposting your way to loneliness, and come and join us as we celebrate whatever the hell is going to happen next, leave your hangups at the door and come and get down with the good groove, you know it makes sense…

July 23rd

The lambent cerulean envelops us, stretching above like a giant resounding bell sending waves of heat in a noiseless tocsin to drown the petty concerns of our time-snarled mortality, each second swollen with warmth into a motionless moment, the only movement from the screaming swifts riding the soaring updraughts… which is just as well, as our mortal affairs have never been in such a hopeless frickin mess, so it’s just as well that JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH is here once again to provide a moment of clarity in a world where ‘would’ means ‘wouldn’t’, ‘Deal or No Deal’ is now a current affairs programme, no-one understands whether a ‘Tory Rebel’ is one of the idiots in a top hat or one of the other idiots trying to thwart them, and the only credible opposition to it all is too busy arguing about how rude you can be to Jews to get themselves together… luckily we have the united front of Luke ‘Chief Whip’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Black Rod’ Thomas (drms) doing their thing to create a better world by filling our little corner of it with a force field of hot swinging blues-to-bop-to-whatever, aided in some manner by me on bass, and the embodied vibrations of positivity known on this plane as the Bee’s Team standing by ready with the quality hooch to ease your troubled mind… don’t hunker down in a dingy basement, stockpiled with Huel against the coming Brexitopalypse, waiting for the invisible worm that flies in the night in the howling storm to seek out YOUR bed of crimson joy, don’t watch another youtube video as long as you live, don't forget the petrichor will return, don’t give up, don’t lose that number, just grab yer axe off the shelf and come and join us, let’s do a thing.

July 16th

As the sun beats endlessly down from the unblemished cerulean, is there a shadow starting to cloud the edges of your overstimulated consciousness? Maybe all those plastic straws you used in the 90s have precipitated the next level of climate change, maybe the Love Island bods are just bots, maybe the internet isn’t really a force for good, maybe it won’t be alright after all? Thanks god it’s Monday and JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH is back to offer a safe haven in the ominous shitstorm brewing up outside, where nothing’s coming home except Brexit, as the government crumbles away into a puff of acrid dust, the inflatable Trumpkin and Mr Putin snicker and pass each other secret love notes at the back of the class, and Elon Musk reveals himself to be every bit as spiritually stunted as we all suspected, cos we’ve got Luke ‘Lightsabre’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Cosmic Vibrations” Thomas (drms) sending out a counterblast of pure musical good vibes to top up your feelgood factor and send you out ready for whatever new example of howling idiocy the week may have in store… I’ll be along doing something on bass as per, Captain Jack will be at the helm with his trusty Bee’s crew ready to slake your thirst with libations of top grade hooch, all kinds of good things will be happening, so hang up your hangups, get on the good foot and come and join us, let’s make it happen.

July 9th

Off they go hand in hand… exit from Brexit Island for Mr Davis AND Bojo in their Union Jack bikinis, (but who’s getting mugged off here?), entry for the invincible head of Mr Maguire on his enchanted inflatable unicorn of magical footballing wish fulfilment, while the giant inflatable Trumpkin prepares to treat us all to a round of maximum high-security golf .. if you can’t possibly imagine what might be about to happen next, don’t get stressy, let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH be your anchor, cos we’re back once again like the D4 damagers spreading peace, love and power to the people through the medium of hot swinging blues-to-bop-to-whatever thanks to the tireless efforts of Luke “Renegade Master’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Ill Behaviour” Thomas (drms) as they lay out a magic carpet ride powered by good musical vibrations to lift you high over the sun-scorched rooftops, baby seagulls, daredevil scaffolders, boy racers, paddle boarder show offs, those wierd leathery old men like desiccated mummies in tiny tiny cut-off shorts who only appear on the beach when there’s more than three days of consecutive sunshine, sweating unhappy goths waiting for the darkness to return, a thousand jubilant geezers sporting their deepening salmon tans, and the acrid smoke and stench of scorched flesh from the beach barbecues, as the radiant sun beats down from the peerless azure until Venus hangs low over the horizon and the languid zephyrs kick up the dust…I’ll be doing something or other on bass, the supernatural ascended beings of the Bee’s team will be laying out the quality hooch, your favourite creatures of the night will all be there, so quit lolling about in from of your overheated screen, lurking behind your digital blackface as you seek further shitposting opportunities, quit casting about for a Bojo joke that hasn’t already been made, quit your fruitless brexitty speculation and bask in the knowledge that no-one knows anything anymore, get back on the good foot and come and join us, be a shining star and keep your head to the sky….

July 2nd

England in, Germany out? Willy Hague frees the weed, sun shining on bank holidays, double Dyer whammy enriches our cultural and political lives as Dani weeps and Danny deploys his finest geezer vocab to elucidate the finer points of Brexit in ways that poor Maybot can only dream of as she slowly withers away like a witch with a chimney on her.. if you feel you’re living in a dream world where anything is possible, JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH returns to reassure you that it’s all part of the plan, so come and bask in the permanent zone of high pressure created by those masters of the musical isobars Luke ‘Heatwave’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Scorchio’ Thomas (drms) as they scoop up all the millions of notes left lying around in heaps after the weekend’s Love Supreme jazzfest and refashion them into delicious slices of cool swinging bop-to-blues-to-whatever to slake your parched cerebellum, plus maybe some souped-up bossa (dependent on final score) … I’ll be there playing something on bass and yelling like a nutcase, between the sun-baked stucco cliffs the streets will resound with the rubbery whisper of the flip-flops of a thousand excited/despondent latinos, the golden denizens of the endless ultraworld known in this dimension as the Bee’s Team will be waiting in the scented shadows behind the well-stocked bar to slake your thirst with some quality liquor - don’t bother trying to get wavy like a rebel for the last time before they make it legal, don’t be a sulky Messi, be an exultant Drogba, grab yer axe and come and join us, let’s celebrate.

Tenor Madness

This month brings us not only a welcome blast of authentically summery sunshine - just in time for Love Supreme at Glynde, folks! - but also a double hit of delicious vinyl issues by a pair of statement tenor players. While many in the jazz world work hard to promote egalitarianism in all things, there remains a heirarchy of instruments, to the extent that trumpeters tend to predominate over, say, players of the harp, oboe, tuba, or even the bass (shame!) in most people’s lists of jazz luminaries, and the tenor sax has traditionally been up the top of the list as the vehicle for many of the music’s most important statements. No-one stands taller in this tradition than John Coltrane, and the unearthing of a ‘lost’ album by his classic quartet is a thrilling event; and no-one is currently crossing boundaries and making waves like Kamasi Washington, whose latest, typically grandiosely titled ‘Heaven And Earth” hits the shops in follow up to the equally epically named ‘The Epic’ triple set.

Washington’s work comes supported by some major investment, packaged in lush triple vinyl and bedecked as before with the full orchestral array of strings, woodwinds, brass and choirs. Such is the scale of the production that Washington’s own sax playing is perhaps the least discussed aspect of his output, which is a shame as his is an intriguing contribution to the tenor legacy. His powerful, hard and clear- edged tone and killingly precisetiming indicate the influence ofhis employment with hip-hop artists like Nas, Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamarr, but his harmonic language is both broad and deep, and the assimilation of hard R & B, contemporary jazz language with the sweep of 1960s style ‘cosmic jazz’ is both artistically convincing and accessible. This record features a version of ‘Hub-Tones’ which is a nod towards the post-bop tradition not seen since his early self-released records. While the production’s lush expansiveness make this perhaps an easier listen than the more radical jazz devotees might appreciate, anyone seeking to dismiss the Kamasi phenomenon as well- marketed kitsch should check his appearance on Jools Holland’s Later. The sheer intensity of the compressed performance of ‘Fists Of Fury’ blazed forth from among the usual motley selection of rock and pop acts - over a thunderous, even chaotic assault from the twin drummers, Kamasi and keyboardist Cameron Graves played furious impassioned
solos as vocalist Patrice Quinn chanted ‘Our time as victims is over; we will no longer ask for justice, instead we will take our retribution’. The combination of wild solos, overpowering rhythm and stark, uncompromising political messaging is one that hasn’t been heard at the forefront of jazz-and-related-musics for a long time.

The Coltrane release is an unexpected discovery, and poses its own further questions - how could a major label (Impulse, funded by the mighty ABC) lose an entire recording by its priority artist? Apparently Coltrane was engaging in some musical subversion of his own; according to producer Bob Thiele, he was under contract to produce two records a year, and simply wasn’t enough to contain all the music that was bursting out of him.

Like Prince many years later, he was under pressure to record less rather than more, and Thiele would book him studio time without alerting the label execs. Coltrane also used his access to recording budgets to reward his musical collaborators - records show that when bassist Art Davis’ outspoken demands led to him being ‘whitelisted’ by Thiele, Coltrane listed him as a leader/ arranger on his invoice so that the bassist would get paid double scale - and he was scrupulous in ensuring overtime payments for his band to support themwhen they were off the road. This recording survived the loss of the masters in the clearance of ABC’s archive thanks to the practiceof running off a 1/4 inch tapecopy for the artist’s own personal use - fortunately preserved by the family of Coltrane’s wife Naima. At the time, Coltrane was working two veins at once - commercial sessions at the behest of Thiele yielded collabs with Duke Ellington (‘In A Sentimental Mood’ from that album is Trane’s most streamed Spotify track by a massive margin) and Johnny Hartman (recorded the day after this session), while on the bandstand and under his own direction in the studio he was pushing against the boundaries of the music. This release is titled ‘Both Directions At Once’ and the track listing reflects this sense of a musical crossroads. There’s a couple of untitled blues, (one with a rare extended arco solo from Jimmy Garrison, bass fans), a version of the pop-jazz standard ‘Nature Boy’ and an unexpected exploration of ‘Vilia’ from the light-operetta ‘The Merry Widow’. The New York Times describes the album as “something close to the breadth of what Coltrane and his associates were delivering onstage” and pianist and scholar Lewis Porter comments “You get a lot of that musical meat, but
in a context that will be more accessible to a lot of listeners.”

Perhaps the gem of the collection is the inclusion of four versions of ‘Impressions’ one of Coltrane’s most widely played tunes. At the time it had been a centrepiece of the band’s live show for two years, but is still untitled on the tape box - later in the year a live version was released under its familiar title in the album of the same name but no other studio versions are known to exist. The composition has a complex genesis; Coltrane’s superimposition of the melody
of Morton Gould’s ‘Pavanne’, as interpreted by Ahmad Jamal, (and also claimed by others as diverse as Dr Lonnie Smith and the Rocky Boyd/Kenny Dorham band) over the chord sequence of Miles Davis’ ‘So What’. The latter could be seen as a typically mordant comment by Davis on the constrictions of the AABA 32-bar standard song format, reducing the harmonic movement to a single shift that is simultaneously the closest to and the most dissonant from the tonic, and it seems to form an important step in Coltrane’s journey away from explorations of harmony and into wider and wilder spaces.

Coltrane’s live gigs are now a distant memory, fortunately preserved on a handful of recordings; Kamasi Washington continues to tour his own show around the global festival circuit.However, anyone wanting a fix of tenor action this weekend need look no further than Glynde Place outside Lewes where the man who played with Trane and whose influences are clear to hearing Washington’s work will be performing on Saturday night - Pharoah Sanders is headlining the Big Top at Love Supreme this year. If you’re there, come over to the Bandstand Stage and the Friday Arena to check out a feast of the best artists from around our area, and say hi to the New Generation Jazz team - we’ll be delighted to see you!


Bees Mouth - June

June 18th

How will you feel by 9.30 tonight? Like a fearless lion taking back control, setting the agenda, cutting your own deals on the world stage, basking in the fierce heat of the big golden dividend? Or like a miserable cringing loser, cowering and snarling like a whipped cur at the big dogs strutting past and ignoring you as you tremble and piss yourself under the table? Or are you just going to make out like you’re so evolved that you just don’t care? JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH will be there to help you celebrate in ways the clean cut yet manly Mr Kane* can only dream about, or wipe away your bitter tears of defeat, or just generally help you deal with the feels, cos we’ll have the true dream team of Luke ‘The Golden Striker’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Crusher’ Thomas (drms) ready to lay out another hot & spicy gumbo of simmering blues-to-bop-to-whatever to satisfy whatever craving you may be afflicted with, I’ll be doing some kinda something on bass, plus the interdimensional A-listers of the Bee’s team will be ready to lay out the quality liquor at your command, and the usual cast of waifs and strays, hucksters and hipsters, high rollers and low riders, and the nameless denizens of the liminal spaces just glimpsed out of the corner of your eye at the end of the echoing street will be dropping by to check out the vibe… now that gamers can prove that they’re addicts like everyone else and not just regular dweebs or schlemiels maybe we’ll even see some of their pasty little faces as well… come one, come all, grab yer axe and come and sit in with us, the time is now. 

*“He does not go to nightclubs, preferring to use his free time to play golf.” Parker, Sam (3 June 2015).Esquire. Retrieved 27 August 2015.

June 11th

As London still reels from the weekend’s triple whammy of Nazis, nudists and suffragettes, like a Lars Von Trier movie in reals, and Brighton resounds to the whisper of chafing flesh and clicking gears as the Naked Bike ride and its display of liberated, predominantly male sex organs on wheels retreats into the bruised collective unconscious for another year, how are YOU on this sunny day? Let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH take over for the evening, be you chipper, or fearful and tearful, like bad things coming, cos we’ll be here once again in our vibey little heterotopia thanks to those master enchanters Luke ‘Sun’s Out’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Guns Out’ Thomas (drms) as they weave another web of good grooves, hot licks and pure bop-to-blues-to-whatever to wrap yourself in and reconnect with the huge ever growing pulsating brain that rules from the centre of the ultraworld…. I’ll be up to something on bass as per, the nodes of pure cosmic energy that manifest themselves on this plane as the Bee’s Team will be waiting to make with the quality liquors at your weary, hopeful request, the nameless creatures of the night will awaken to pace soundlessly past on the warm, stained asphalt outside, high in the darkening cerulean the swifts will fly in tireless pursuit…. maybe the upcoming footerfest will inevitably descend into yet another example of the UK making a disorderly retreat from an international organisation, maybe Kimmy and Donny just won’t be able to play nicely together, maybe you’ll never be beach body ready, don’t worry, don’t get mad, come and join us, it’s gonna be a stone groove…

June 5th

The festival is finally over, taking it’s ladyboys, ukeleles, and calculatedly artless Shrigleyesque whimsy away with it for ever and ever, and now you’re here in the sorta-sunsine, still nervous about getting trampled underfoot by the whisper-quiet rampaging of the sinister cult-like Silent Disco crew, but alive, that’s the main thing… fill the suddenly yawning cultural chasm in the centre of your life with a visit to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH, where instead of watching Love Island for the next eight weeks glued to the soiled coverlet of your tawdry sofa you can boost your own internal ratings and recouple with the wellspring of hot swinging bop-to-blues-to-groove-to-whatever that finds it’s physical expression in the sculpted forms of Luke “By Royal Appointment” Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz “Fire In The Hole” Thomas (drms) as they smash out another evening’s worth of enriching musical good times …. I’ll be doing something or other on bass, the Bee’s team will be attentive, yet respectful, like the multidimensional ascended beings they are, so come and join us all, parents celebrating the end of half term, pedagogues worn and jaded from composing another mountain of admonitory feedback in the relevant boxes in the submission software, nutcases, swagmen, barkers, mountebanks, smugglers, scramblers, burglars, gamblers
pickpocket peddlers, even panhandlers, come and join the carnival, it’s not over, it’s not nearly over, it’s the beginning of the rest of what’s to come.

Hot fun in the summertime

Summer  officially begins  once the June issue of SJM hits your inbox, and with it a crop of festival events to tempt you to spend your hard earned dollar on tickets, folding chairs, real ale in plastic beakers and all the other usual accoutrements  of civilised outdoor fun. The big one in Sussex is of course Love Supreme, now back for its fifth year to prove conclusively that everyone who said a greenfield jazz festival just wouldn’t work are now even more wrong than ever. We’ve touched on the subject of controversial headliner policies before – regular readers of this column will know that we take an ecumenical view, believing that there is a season for everything and that music can indeed be a universal language if freed from the burden of snobbery, so we’re eager to hear from anyone who witnessed Mr. Rick Astley’s performance with the Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra at Cheltenham to hear how the famously constant crooner got on with the standards repertoire.         

   Love Supreme’s big draw this year is Elvis Costello, and some of our older readers, who may remember Mr. Costello as the sneering new wave firebrand of the angry 1970s, have found this an unusual choice, but let’s remember that his daddy was Ross McManus, trumpeter for Joe Loss, his missus is Diana Krall, and Burt Bacharach is one of his best buddies, and keep an open mind. Those of us resistant to the charms of his undoubted talent will find plenty of other treats, from a host of new wave Brit jazz artists like Nubya Garcia to undisputed titans Dave Holland and Pharaoh Sanders, plus the usual prospect of intriguing new discoveries waiting to be made. New Generation Jazz will be back once again to programme the Bandstand and the Friday Arena with a host of superb local and upcoming talent and we’d be very happy for you to just spent the whole weekend with us. 

    Looking ahead, there’s the Rye Jazz and Blues Festival in August with an ever more impressively designed website reflecting its increasing reach and stature. Details are still arriving on this one but there’s usually a good representation of artists from our locality. The equally idyllic summer destination of Swanage is also still firmly on the Summer jazz map, thanks to the heroic efforts of guitar supremo Nigel Price to keep the show on the road in his role as the new festival director, while still somehow keeping his diary full with his own gigs. Look out for the special gala event at the Mowlem theatre: The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars feat. James Pearson and Alex Garnett – ‘The Ronnie Scott’s Story’ with live jazz, narration, rare archive photos and video footage documenting the gritty history of the legendary London club with support from our own local megastar Claire Martin OBE and Nigel himself on guitar. It’s scheduled for Friday 13th July, so what could possibly go wrong? 

Bees Mouth - May

28th May

How are you, as this Bank Holiday draws to a close? Feeling blessed as some “New Look” royals at their wedding disco? Running for cover from big Brexity thunderclouds getting ready to dump their sh*t all over your sh*t? Lost as Taylor in Swansea, smashing it like Stormy D, raging like Ramos or sad like Salah? Quit your kvetching and get yourself down to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be living it large and colourful as the last reflected embers of the sun sinking into the glassy sea, thanks to the tireless talents of Luke ‘By Royal Appointment’ Rattenbury (gtr) and special guest Angus ‘The Dank Commander’ Bishop (drms) as they take us on a magic carpet ride of swinging blues-to-bop-to-whatever, high, high into the air over the scarlet castellated ramparts and crimson minarets, into the pellucid vault where the swifts dart, the scented air alive wth their tiny cries, the towering nimbuses edged with gold, the first star hauling into sight above the darkling forests of the horizon… I’ll be doing something or other on bass, the nameless legions of the night will come and go in the echoing street outside, the immaculate naiads and dryads of the bee’s team will be on hand to make with the quality beverages, we’ll be playing some stuff and you can come and join in so don’t sit in the smelly darkness getting your measly data harvested yet again by some non-GDPR compliant digital vampire, put on yer huaraches and come and give it yer all, time’s a-ticking.

21st May

There’s no more Great Escape to fill the streets with the musical expression of a thousand pairs of introspective skinny jeans… there’s no more expensive pageantry for Republicans to practice their furious indifference on… even French Montana’s new Boohoo line seems to have run dry of creative inspiration.. it’s enough to make you click on ‘Opt-Out’ on the big GDPS e-mail of life as we go back to the dreary unspooling Brexit farce .. but wait half a mo! JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH is still there, waiting behind the numinous shimmering warmth of midday til the evening comes and we unleash another dose of electric kool-aid acid test sound and colour thanks to the positively synaesthesic talents of Luke ‘By Royal Appointment’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Jean-Paul Marat’ Thomas (drms) as they turn on the taps to release an endless refreshing torrent of hot licks and cool grooves to speak to your own inner kandy koloured tangerine-flake streamline baby….I’ll be doing something on bass, the regular Bee’s team will be there to make with the libations of top-notch hooch, the nameless legions of the night will be doing their thing on the endless pavement outside, and we’ll all be pulling together to keep our microcosm on the good side til the End Times come to take all the hate mongers away so put the sweary fun of Deadpool 2 aside for a little longer - if you’re lost and alone, if if your feelings about Rapture-inducing embassy relocations can no longer be expressed by even the dankest of memes, if you’re caught in the irreconcilable culture gap between Solo and Deadpool 2, don’t sweat it, grab yer axe down off the shelf and come and join us, join us, it’s gonna be ok.

14th May

Ahoy! Time to cast aside the creative ambiguity and make with the positive engagement cos summer is sorta here, we’re nearly done with shivering in the chilly Spiegeltent and wondering at the timeless grace of non-binary performers from the exotic east, our beaches have already been blessed with the scarlet-and-blue of tattooed sunburn and perfumed with the chemical stench of disposable barbecue, and JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH is rolling on it’s way in Helios’ scorched wake into the depths of the awaiting summer, with those prophets of the canicular days Luke ‘Lightspeed Champion’ Rattenbury (gtr) and special guest Angus ‘Phew Wotta Scorcher’ Bishop (drms) ready and eager to whip up a storm of hot swinging blues-to-bop-to-whatever, aided by me on bass, as the aetherial beings of the Bee’s team wait, more radiant than ever, poised in majestic readiness behind the well-stocked bar… if you seem to hear a thousand twangling instruments humming about your ears, that’s just the inevitable massed ukeleles of the fringe festival, and if in dreaming the clouds seemed to drop such riches upon you that when you waked, you cried to dream again, well we’ve all had weekends like that, haven’t we, but don’t let them get you down, the Trumpkin hasn’t managed to blow everyone’s house down yet no matter how he huffs and puffs, so grab yer axe off the shelf and come and join us, join us, life’s what you make it.

Forward to Victory

The New York Times ushered in the New Year with a blog feature from its pop critic Jon Caramanica in cahoots with  Giovanni Russonello, who covers jazz for The New York Times, and Natalie Weiner, a staff writer for Bleacher Report who writes about jazz for Billboard and JazzTimes. The presence of a female journo was perhaps not accidental – among the topics they covered in their overview was the issue of female representation in all areas of the jazz world; or rather the way that the continuing lack thereof is increasingly attracting attention as societal attitudes towards gender continue their accelerated evolution. This column glanced at the issue earlier in 2017 in the context of some rather ill-judged remarks by Robert Glasper as reported on Ethan Iverson’s blog, and the ensuing online furore that left both men seeming rather baffled and, eventually, conditionally repentant. Not to overlook the towering presence of the unique Val Wilmer, it must be conceded that the UK scene certainly has similar issues to deal with – promoter/musician Issie Barratt’s sterling work to raise awareness deserves recognition here, both through her own campaigning and with her Interchange project, and it was great to see her welcomed by South Coast Jazz Festival to deliver a seminar as part of their inspiring additional events programme. 

It’s equally gratifying to see that our New Generation Jazz concert and workshop series is able to make bookings that reflect  the shift in attitudes among the rising generation – the first, sell-out show of 2018 featured the superbly precocious trumpeter Alexandra Ridout; previous gigs have been led by Nerija,  Nubya Garcia, Cassie Kinoshi, Trish Clowes and Camilla George, and looking ahead we’re excited to be welcoming pianist Sarah Tandy among many others – watch this space!

The NYT article was headlined ‘Is Today’s Jazz Finally Outrunning the Past?’ – a deliberately provocative leading question which we’ll allow you to unpack at your leisure. A move away from gender stereotypes was acknowledged and welcomed, but that wasn’t the only eye-catching statement contained within. As well as noting the 2017 centenary of such unassailable titans as Thelonious Monk,  Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald and Buddy Rich, the writers also pointed up what they saw as the most vital flourishing contemporary jazz scenes. One was Chicago – the other was London.  For New York’s leading quality paper to feature the UK scene over its own backyard is surely something to celebrate back here at home. Another article in this month’s issue of venerable cultural gatekeeper Rolling Stone is even more explicit in its linking of London, jazz and feminine empowerment; under the no less loaded headline “Britain’s New Jazz Vanguard is Funky, Fun, Vibrant and May Cross Over” it writes “Nubya Garcia’s solo debut, Nubya’s 5ive, shows what really makes the London scene distinct from most of its American counterparts: a holistic embrace of women as bandleaders and instrumentalists.” 

It’s a direct consequence of the efforts of the JazzRe:Freshed crew to promote a sector of the UK scene – or, more specifically the London scene – to overseas audiences. In August they took over a package of UK artists led by ubiquitous reedsman Shabaka Hutchings and drummer/leader (and another former New Generation booking) Moses Boyd, and the resulting gig made waves in NYC’s brimming pool of talent. In December, Nubya and drummer Yussef Dayes were in São Paulo, Brazil, with Jazz Re:freshed – later this March she’s in Austin, Texas at the SXSW Festival with Boyd, Zara McFarlane, Blue Lab Beats, Ezra Collective, and Ashley Henry – the latter three all previous New Generation artists. 

It’s a particular vision of jazz that, in the wake of Kamasi Washington’s breakthrough success, has crossed over to the kind of young and diverse audience that throngs cities around the globe. Many of the same artists can be seen on the bills of cross-cultural festivals like Brixton’s Field Day, and news reaches us that all-female jazz sextet Nerija have been signed to the uber-hip indie label Domino, whose eclectic vision encompasses everyone from Robert Wyatt to Franz Ferdinand but which has not previously been noted for embracing the jazz scene with any enthusiasm. Jazz Re:Freshed’s  Justin McKenzie has stated “We had a space for musicians who were in the jazz world and wanted to experiment, or who were doing stuff that the jazz world was frowning on” and while players like Boyd and Hutchings are as steeped in the tradition as any of the regulars at a Ronnie’s Late Show it’s their youth-orientated, dance-friendly interpretation of that tradition that is deliberately reaching out across the barriers that the jazz world sometimes seems to have erected around itself. This sets this particular group of players, despite their burgeoning international reputation, as a minority within the wider UK jazz scene, which sometimes seems to exist within a somewhat hermetic environment of its own devising. 

A regular feature of the jazz calendar are the flurries of carping comments that swirl around the internet like returning swallows as the major international festivals announce their headliners – inevitably to have those headliners derided for not possessing sufficiently echt jazz credentials to satisfy sectors of the community. One can sympathise to an extent – jazz music is a deep and complex art form requiring a lifetime’s devotion, and it can indeed appear galling when a pop star suddenly adopts its idiom, seemingly as casually as changing a stage costume, and is instantly elevated to the top of the bill above truly dedicated practitioners of the art. Jazz, however you define it, does mean to many people a musical form that is qualitatively different from other genres, and which requires its own delineated space, away from the supposed vulgarities of the mainstream,  in which to flourish. You can’t argue with people for liking what they like, of course.  Yet it is also true that the Great American Songbook has its origins in commercial ditties that were created as part of popular musical theatre productions and meant for ordinary people to enjoy, and the founding figures of jazz were equally concerned with making music that would be popular, so that regular people could listen and even dance to it. It seems unnecessarily self-limiting to see music as a zero-sum game, where the success of one artist, one scene or one genre must be at the cost of all the others. Jazz can be unfairly stereotyped as inward-looking, elitist and obsessed with its own self-defined history – surely the path towards the future lies in preserving its heritage while embracing the forward motion towards a diversity that surely encapsulates its free-thinking, untrammelled spirit.

Bees Mouth - April

16th April

Spring is here, the blackcaps have returned, the blossom is heavy and sweet upon the bough, Kenny won Masterchef, and best of all, we’ve chilled out on the the complete-Armageddon-mutually-assured-destruction trip that was really negging our vibe over the weekend, so better celebrate by getting your unfragged corporeal envelope and it’s precious spark of ineffable essence down to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where you can celebrate the continuing existence of that much contested entity, Western Civilisation, with all it’s cute little quirks that generate up so many of your status updates, and bask in the otherworldly aura shining forth from those twin supernovae Luke ‘Lightspeed Champion’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Dark Matter’ Thomas (drms) as they sketch out glittering arcs of musical radiance through the heavily scented air, aided by me on bass, as the ever-ready Bee’s team wait, poised, in the velvet dusk behind the well-stocked bar, ready to slake your well-earned thirst with all kinds of quality hooch…. time to leave your newsfeed to it’s dreary little sockpuppets, the pointlessly depressing spectacle of Mrs May weeping softly in the cupboard under the stairs, Mr Corbyn dithering away like the dear sweet useless old thing he is, Mr Trump huffing and puffing like a morally corrupt hippopotamus, Mr Putin doing… what, exactly? - what is he doing? A murrain upon them all, come and jam some swinging shit with us, keep on keeping on. Ketogenic marathon survivors welcome, come and put yer feet up.

9th April

Face up to it, you feel dirtied even looking at fb now that we all know that your carefully curated persona is just grist to Mark “Who, ME?” Zucker’s data mill, and your lovingly tended feed, so artfully garnished with American Chopper memes and links to stuff that nonchalantly signals all the right types of virtue, is actually sticky with the grubby fingerprints of the nameless trolls who brought you BrexiTrump… time to sashay out of cyberspace and into JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH, pausing only to post to say you’re leaving fb, then sharing to insta and all other platforms - you know it's guaranteed to refresh your flagging sense of self-worth cos that’s where we’ll be feeling the feels for real thanks to the unwavering commitment of Luke ‘No Filler’ Rattenbury (gtr) and special guest salty dog Tristan ’T-Bone’ Banks (drms) as they make the softness of the vernal night come alive with a rushing torrent of bebop creativity, underpinned by my efforts on bass, while the shimmering ascended beings of the Bee’s team stand by ready to offer healing libations of quality liquor to our valued customers and to soothe the inevitable influx of late night nutcases with their soft words and jedi mind control powers… it’s time to re-connect with the good stuff, leave all the pointless negging to the pickup saddos, gird your loins, reset your shattered visage and get back on the good foot…. don’t wait, don’t hesitate, join us, join us..

2nd April 

How will YOU be taking back control this glorious bank holiday? Basking in the gallant British rain? Hastily whitewashing over a fearless British mural? Greeting your macho Aussie pals by pretending to cry like a girl? Quit all that sorry shit and get along to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where you can rediscover your bad self as the layers of quotidian bullshit get scoured away quicker than a car-park valeting service under the inspirational jet-wash of pure musical good vibes wielded by those masters of free-flowing hot licks and good grooves Luke ‘Riptide’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Babyfather’ Thomas (drms), plus me on bass, while the intra-dimensional beings manifesting themselves on this plane as the Bee’s Team stand by ready to make with the quality liquors at your request ... don’t hide away watching the indie-flick antics of whimsical stop-motion dogs, don’t expend more of your precious energy on yet another convoluted fb justification while those busy little algorhythms strip-mine a little more of your soul, liberate your mind and come and join us, celebrate good times, come on.

Bees Mouth March 2018

March 26th

So spring is here, Big Brother is finally revealed to be a camp pink-haired Canadian, the Beast From The East continues to gain depth as a metaphor while Stormy Daniels is revealed as far, far more than a high-pressure weather front, Zizzi has become the edgy frontline of a new cold war amidst the outrage of the nation’s saturday shoppers, and Nigel F*cking Farage is still with us, pissing about with some dead fish….. confused? Let JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH provide your disordered cerebellum with some context to sort out the wheat from the chaff and the sheep from the goats, by sending a rushing torrent of musical good vibes in your direction thanks to the tireless ministrations of Luke ‘Sturm’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Drang’ Thomas (drms) plus me on bass, and the regular crew of highly evolved multi-dimensional beings waiting behind the well-stocked bar to pour you libations of the finest liquors known to man, plus the regular crew of shimmering shapeshifters, nameless creatures of the night, schlemils and schnorrers, schmoes, weepers, jeepsters, souses, hopheads and the occasional stuffed shirt…. if the turgid sludge of disinformation pushing it’s way onto your compromised newsfeed is messing with your vibe, if all your data has migrated onto the darkweb and is now trying to kill you, if you just can’t tell which way is up any more, then just remember your device isn’t implanted yet, hit ‘off’, grab yer axe off the shelf and come and join us… soon the voice of the cuckoo will be heard across the land, the woods at dawn will be alive with the wild cleansing cacophony of tiny cries, out across the swelling tide the herring will begin to spawn, the world turns on it’s axis, we’re still here and so should you be…

March 19th

Bored of weather that only climate change deniers are enjoying? BoJo’s Latin tags failing to raise a smile? YouTube’s freshest face plants barely raising a callous smirk? You need to get out more, so photoshop yourself into a big furry hat and snowshoes and get down to JAZZ NIGHT AT THE BEE’S MOUTH where we’ll be raising the temperature with the torrid stylings of Luke ‘Fahrenheit 451’ Rattenbury (gtr) and Loz ‘Thermonuclear Sweat’ Thomas (drms) as they cut loose with another turbulent yet perfectly choreographed melee of bop-to-blues-to-beats-to-whatever, aided by me on bass, guaranteed to warm your non-gendered cockles despite the unintelligible protestations of that chilly Dr Peterson and his online army of intersectionally aggrieved gonks, while the lambent pellucid denizens of the mysterious shadows behind the well-stocked bar wait, vibrating imperceptibly, to pour you a libation of quality liquor under the watchful eye of dauntless fret-meister Jack Rowan... quit pining for the carefree Zorbing days of summer, stop your twitchy little fb fingers delivering the last vestiges of your so-called personality into Cambridge Analytica’s bottomless maw, put yourself and your opinions temporarily beyond the reach of Vladdy ‘Laughing Boy’ Putnik’s busy bots ... don’t get mad, don’t even try to get even, just get down to where the good vibes are, we’ll be waiting.