Monday, February 18, 2019
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Barry Witherden

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I first started to enjoy jazz when I was about nine through watching films like The Glenn Miller Story, The Benny Goodman Story and anything with Gene Krupa on drums. In my early teens I began to delve into modern jazz: first Stan Getz, the MJQ and Dave Brubeck, then the likes of Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean and Ornette Coleman. When I was 15, disgusted by the general drubbing that my hero, Brubeck, got (from the critics, not the public) I submitted an article defending him to Jazz Journal. The legendary Sinclair Traill, founder and then-editor of JJ, disagreed with everything I said but enjoyed the article and published it. Soon after, I had pieces published in Jazz Monthly, International Times, Jazz and Blues and several fanzines. In my late teens I was, for a while, Secretary of the British Institute of Jazz Studies and contributing editor of its magazine. Then I dropped out of the fanzine scene, but at a Christmas party in 1985 I met the late, much-missed Richard Cook. He had just been appointed editor of The Wire and, remembering some of my earlier writings, invited me to contribute to the magazine, which I did for about a quarter of a century. I subsequently contributed to Jazz Review, Jazz on CD, Jazzwise, Gramophone, Music Week, Classic CD, Avant, The Rough Guide to Classical Music and The Guinness Who's Who of Jazz (for which I wrote 45,000 words without the aid of free samples from the sponsor) and currently contribute to BBC Music, allaboutjazz.com and, of course, Jazz Journal. I currently present a jazz show and a “left-field” show (which often features the more outré reaches of jazz and improv) on my local radio station, 10Radio (105.3 FM and www.10radio.org).