BBC4’s “Trad Jazz Britannia” Was Good, Very Good! Time for a Follow Up on the Emerging Younger Generation of Bands, Musicians and Fans?

Alan Hippsley

Now that the dust has settled on BBC4’s “Trad Jazz Britannia” presentation, so far as Jazz&Jazz is concerned, I would like to leave the final word to The Reunion Jazz Band’s ace trumpeter, Alan Hippsley.

Alan and I have touched base every so often over the months and I have a huge regard for his views on jazz, which he also shares in his contributions in Just Jazz magazine.

I emailed him that the general conclusion according to feedback I was getting on the programme was that, all in all, the BBC did a good job and asked him for his thoughts.


Alan replied:

“I agree, the programme was good, very good in fact, as were the contributions of the interviewees. Nostalgia reigned and a riveting hour flew by!

“The important point was included – that traditional jazz has continued to maintain a sizeable audience ever since its British heyday. Dissent amongst the ranks at its descent from ‘top spot’ at the hands of Rock and Roll and, to a minor extent, modern jazz, gave the impression to a friend of mine that traditional jazz aficionados tried to deny Joe Public (the piper) his right to call the tune and transfer his affections. A harsh conclusion to draw.

“In one of the BBC’s evening of jazz loaded offerings [the Beeb surpassed itself!] George Melly remarked that traditional jazz “will wait for a gap in the traffic”. I don’t agree. It will have to stop the traffic to regain anything of its past popularity – and I think all the signs are there that it will do so. A younger generation on both sides of the pond is currently being attracted to the delights of listening to and playing the music. For example, I am particularly impressed by what a band called Tuba Skinny is playing in New Orleans right now – and by its following. I suppose it was beyond Jazz Britannia’s brief to look to the future but I think it offers ample scope for a successful follow up programme!

“One final remark – I think it rather odd that the BBC decided not to screen it’s two programmes in chronological order [ie their programme on Rock and Roll was aired on the preceding Friday]. It would be interesting to know why.”

Alan followed up his remarks by sending me the message he had emailed to the Beeb’s Points of View programme:

Dear Points of View

“Congratulations on an excellent programme. Well researched and excellently compiled – but, but, but surely, because Traditional Jazz preceded Rock and Roll, the programme on each should have been screened in chronological order. Doubtless the BBC had a reason for not doing so and your explanation is requested.

“Incidentally, there is scope for you to make a further programme about the growing popularity of New Orleans Style Jazz as fine young jazz musicians on both sides of the pond are discovering its delights, so too their audiences. I would be pleased to provide you with links and more information if you wish to email me.”
Alan Hippsley

Alan followed this up by telling me that “if further information is requested by Auntie, my intention is to make reference to Just Jazz and your web site, as well as provide links to some young bands. I suspect, however, that the producer will have become aware of the two publications in carrying out his research for the programme.”

Youth in Jazz

Alan concluded his observations by referring me to his “YOUTH in JAZZ” article in the February, 2013, issue of Just Jazz (pp 29/30) which is well worth while reading, along with Jim McIntosh’s article “No YOUNG People: the truth… as I see it” in the June issue (which I refer to in my “Getting the Younger Generation Involved” post).

“Gentleman” Jim McIntosh

One of my key crusades on Jazz&Jazz is for an “infiltration” of the increasing number of younger jazz fans into UK jazz clubs to inject new enthusiasm. Alan went so far as to suggest to me that jazz clubs could put on additional sessions “exclusively for young people”. In fact I am currently working on the initiation of plans with a jazz club promoter to organise a very special club night with one of the UK’s top young bands – but with shared promotion by the club to its regular members and by the band to their younger fan base. In addition to that, possibilities for a Jazz Festival featuring just young bands – has been broached on Jazz&Jazz.

Alan concluded his comments to me, “All that those who care about the future of New Orleans style music need to do is ensure that as many young people as possible hear New Orleans style jazz. The rest will follow. The proof? It is already following – particularly in the streets, bars and clubs of New Orleans.”

With special thanks to Alan Hippsley

Peter M Butler
Editor and Owner of Jazz&Jazz

Photos © Peter M Butler, Jazz&Jazz

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  1. Trefor Williams says:

    I agree. It was a good programme and it was good to see some exposure of our beloved music on the box. I also agree that a follow-up programme on the new generation of jazzers should be on the cards. It’s an exciting future with fresh ideas and presentation. Unfortunately there has been a gap in media appreciation of the jazz scene. The fifties and sixties have been covered, but no mention of the contributions made by the professional musicians battling away in the tough seventies, eighties and nineties to keep the scene going and make a living. Guys like Sammy Rimington, Max Collie, Phil Mason, etc. We now are sometimes regarded as too young to be legends and too old to be included among the newer fellows, but we’ve still got a lot to say and the ability to do it. Please don’t forget us.

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