Having been introduced to jazz from an early age by my late father, the music has been central to my life for close to 50 years. After undergoing a genuine moment of epiphany in the late 80s at a blazing gig by David Murray while studying in the Midlands, I developed a strong bias towards the avant-garde and set out on a path that subsequently led me towards concert promotion, a failed attempt as a gigging musician, and ultimately to music criticism.
After completing my studies I returned to my native North East in 1991, eager to follow my calling. Co-opted onto the committee of Britain’s oldest grant funded promoter, Jazz North East, I worked alongside the late Chris Yates for almost a decade. With his considerable forbearance we brought many exciting acts to Tyneside. Derek Bailey, Peter Brötzmann, Ken Vandermark, Jemeel Moondoc and John Fahey all passed through. I also co-founded no-fi, an organisation that showcased an eclectic range of left-field musics including jazz, improvised music, post-rock, electronica and beyond. There were many special nights in the company of such luminaries as Sunny Murray, Squarepusher, To Rococo Rot and the Chicago Underground Duo - the latter even slept on my lounge floor to cut back on overheads.
My short-lived musical career as the skronking tenor saxophonist with avant Afro-beat ensemble Erratica didn't set the world alight, but some still recall the sax-drums assault of Erratica splinter-group Mr Warthog with fondness. Eventually settling for the more sedate life of a critic, good friend Brian Marley (The Wire) got me a break as a contributor to underground fanzine Rubberneck in around 1997. Next came Trevor Taylor’s Avant, and after an introduction to Richard Cook’s Jazz Review by fellow JJ contributor Andy Hamilton I eventually found my way here.
My current tastes are far broader than in the 90s, but I have a special bias towards contemporary European jazz. Most importantly, I still get excited every time a new batch of review discs lands on my doormat...