Jazz FM invites musicians to be ‘guest Head of Music’

    Nu-jazz newcomer Emma-Jean Thackray, drummer Makaya McCraven and British soul singer Mica Miller will present their favourites

    Emma-Jean-Thackray, ready to guest on Jazz FM

    The London-based jazz radio station Jazz FM has invited a number of musicians to serve as what they call “guest Head of Music”. The scheme begins this Friday, 19 August, when Emma-Jean Thackray, who won the station’s 2021 UK Jazz Act Of The Year award, appears on the station. Other musicians scheduled to guest in the coming months are American drummer Makaya McCraven and British soul singer Mica Miller.

    The initiative was announced today in a press release subtitled “Jazz FM artists to take over the radio station and programme the music on a monthly basis”, which might suggest that the guests would decide all content for a month. It’s not clear, however, given frequent references to “across the day”, that the artists will control programming over an entire month. Rather, it seems, they will appear at some point in each hour of the one day on which they guest to play some of their favourite music and then take charge of a complete hour from 6pm.

    It would interesting indeed if one musician were to decide the entirety of Jazz FM’s output for a month, but a statement from full-time Head of Music Christian Bragg seems to clarify these that these will be cameo appearances: “Giving the artists behind our music the chance to come and help programme the music on the station for the day is a fantastic chance for them to show us what’s on their personal playlist right now.”

    The selections by the fusion-oriented multi-instrumentalist and singer Thackray (hailing originally from Yorkshire, now based in Catford, London via jazz studies at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama) will include Herbie Hancock, Hiatus Kaiyote, Donald Byrd and The Supremes. She says of the radio gig: “I’ve never had an office job before and I can’t wait to nose through the filing cabinets, get involved in office politics, get frustrated at the coffee machine and choose my favourite music across the day.”

    Jazz FM describes itself as the largest commercial jazz station in the world, “celebrating the complete spectrum of Jazz in all its colourful forms”. It adds that is “on a mission to entertain, promote and celebrate all that’s great about Jazz”. When it was launched in 1990 it caused some controversy in the jazz community for its focus on the smoother end of the spectrum and the inclusion of a good deal of soul-flavoured material.