The UK has always been brilliant for music culture, with all the elements that have come out of dance music through the years. The current UK jazz scene is exciting according to Gilles Peterson for several reasons.
The broadcaster, DJ, and record collector argue that the main element of what makes the current UK jazz scene so exciting is the melding and crossover with other genres.
“That’s what gives the UK a bit of an edge. We’re unique here”, notes the host of the weekly prime-time Saturday afternoon show on BBC Radio 6 Music.
Jazz music is growing among young listeners with all the different elements that have come out of dance music through the years, whether that’s the original acid house spirit, Northern soul, grime, dubstep, drum n bass, and all the things that have come out of the UK and had an impact globally.
Peterson has had a pivotal role in supporting forward-thinking underground music in the UK and beyond over the past three decades. He says that UK jazz artists have been influenced by music from further afield, as well as by fellow homegrown talent.
Yazmin Lacey for instance incorporates RnB, soul, reggae, and even garage into her contemporary take on jazz. The UK jazz-soul singer grew up in East London, but found her musical beginnings in Nottingham.
The soul singer has been nominated for the Mercury Prize, and her Morning Matters EP is the most accomplished offering yet that showcases her growing abilities and confidence.
As the title suggests – Morning Matters is inspired by new dawns and fresh starts. The album is dedicated to anyone that’s ever struggled with getting up and out in the morning, and for everyone doing work on themselves and trying to live a better life.
Gilles explains that it is Britain’s rich multicultural history that has informed UK jazz’s melting pot sound. Throughout his career, Peterson has promoted the new frontiers of jazz, hip-hop, and electronic music.
Gilles was quoted by the BBC saying that all those influences are very much in the DNA of all these new jazz musicians.
The broadcaster who has been recognized for the A&R Award from The Music Producers Guild in 2019 adds that the UK cultural background is what is giving new jazz musicians a natural feeling of that culture coming through their music.
Another element that is lowering the average age of jazz enthusiasts is the UK’s club culture, according to Gilles Peterson.
He says: “I think the great club culture here is what makes a difference too, you can hear obscure African tracks in a club in England – it’s almost part of everyone’s record collection now.”
Gilles notes that this is an important moment for jazz is its stars are more relatable now. He points out that these days, jazz fans have artists they can relate to as well.
“Like any scene, you need great leaders and great role models,”, says Gilles, who founded the Steve Reid Foundation in memory of the legendary jazz drummer in 2011.
The UK’s jazz scene has some great spokespeople whether it’s Shabaka, Nubya, Moses, or Femi Koleoso who are brilliant people that better communicate the message.
“They are really powerful and strong, confident and intelligent, and smart, but also they don’t take themselves too seriously.”, concludes Gilles Peterson.