For a music fan, and especially a live music fan, London is a great city. On any given night, one has the choice of so much music to see. The range is amazing, unknown emerging acts always have a willing audience, and the big venues are always packed. There is so much discussion about the confusing state of the record business, that I just wanted to comment on how alive the music business is. Music itself seems to be thriving. There is more discussion about music than ever before, more sharing, great live events, and some of the digital services have reported record sales in the last few months. At our digital label, we experienced our best October in 10 years.
The last 2 weeks marked one of my favorite festivals that I look forward to every year, The London Jazz Festival.
It is organised by an amazing company – Serious, who do so much for the London and world-wide music community. Their support of other important genre’s such as World Music and Folk, is highly appreciated by the global music community. The festival last week was musically rich and diverse, there was truly something for everyone. I attended a show almost every night, sometimes 2 shows in one night. Some highlights to mention – opening night I couldn’t miss a musician I always see when he comes to London – Tunisian singer and oud player Dhafer Youssef, who did an amazing collaboration with Joanna MacGregor and Britten Sinfonia. The next night we had to see 2 shows – the iconic guitarist Bill Frisell, and also the amazing Norwegian pianist and experimentalist – Bugge Wesseltoft. I have often traveled to Oslo for Bugge’s yearly events and for the Jazzland celebrations. Norway is an inspiring music community. The weekend was capped off with one of my favorite bassists of all times (being a bassist myself), Cameroonian Richard Bona, and opening the evening, Panamanian pianist Danilo Perez, who I had seen at an unforgettable performance with Wayne Shorter at the North Sea Jazz Festival. The Monday night was a tough decision as I love the Norwegian pianist Ketil Bjornstad, but I had seen him recently, so we caught a most brilliant performance by one of the world’s most respected drummers – Manu Katché and his band. We see see these players on tour with artists like Sting, but to see such talent in their own original setting and limelight, is truly magical. An artist we will be hearing a lot more from is the new star of Flamenco – Buika. Luckily, the wonderful Southbank Center has 2 venues right next to each other so I could pop in and catch a collaboration of Milton Nascimento and the Jobim Trio. A highlight of the week, was the Herbie Hancock Sextet. Almost 3 hours of musical bliss, with an amazing band. Guitarist Lionel Loueke is worth checking out. The week ended with a rousing show, the last show of their EU tour, Chick Corea and John McLaughlin Five Peace Band With Christian McBride, Kenny Garrett & Vinnie Colaiuta. Multiple standing ovations, sold out, huge venue – a musical feast!
Not to mention all the other shows and emerging and new bands and artist discoveries I got to experience throughout the week. Innovator – Nitin Sawhney at the IMAX theater. Aruba Red at an impromptu daytime performance at the iTunes office, and who we will see opening for Fat Freddy’s Drop next week at the fabulous Roundhouse Venue. New artists I’m excited about, seeing and listening to this week are; Pandering and the Goldiggers, Ruarri Joseph, Sara Schiralli, Delta Maid, Zarif and a great new artist Ive just invited to London from New York City – Francis and The Lights.
In summary, the picture of music itself is robust and hopeful. Artists are learning to be resourceful and innovative now. New financial models are being discovered. The music industry from the artist perspective is brand new. Its like a new format is being invented and uncovered. Its not one thing, its a unique multi-dimensional discovery of music meets fan, with unexampled methods of financial models. But one thing I do know – MUSIC IS ALIVE AND WELL.