BBC Radio 3 Publicity confirmed to me today the rumours which have been circulating:
the BBC has indeed withdrawn from running its Jazz Awards this year.
Jazz is supported, valued, well promoted and well done, and in each case diffrently, by both Radio 2 and Radio 3. Our hardy plant finds the ground on which to grow wherever it can…
But in the final analysis, neither 2 nor 3 is a “jazz station.” This output is on the margins of what each station does.
If I were looking for one single factor – other than general pressure on budgets – which might have shifted the balance towards cancelling, I would point to the passing away last year of Humphrey Lyttelton. Humph’s programmes regualarly had the highest radio audiences in the BBC’s jazz output.
When I ran JazzDev, I had an informal audience with Prince Philip, and a lively trumpeter from Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, whose badge said he was called Richard Fairweather. HRH told us that one reason that he, and indeed other members of his family liked jazz was because they adored Humph.
How do you replace a cornerstone like that?
I completely relate to Woody Allen’s hatred of Award Ceremonies (see Annie Hall). Just 5 seconds of watching the BAFTAs or some other orgy of insincerity is enough to have me excruciated by the sheer awfulness of it all. But . . . awards bring rewards and it’s a great shame that BBC is withdrawing funding for the Awards. Could they not perhaps reduce the hours of one of their gazillion functionaries to pay the £500 they allocated to the Jazz Awards???
To be frank, I am not very upset that this preposterous award ceremony is being dropped, at least for a year. All must have prizes – or at least all the “favourites” of whom?. So-called jazz singers, a pool of sax and trumpet players take it in turn to pick up the award, always the same few, and it is littered with fringe artists of all sorts. A waste of time as well as a waste of money
Is the BBC really relevant or necessary to Jazz any more anyway. Surely the internet is where all the best stuff is most easily found, and without celebrity presenters painfully reading their scripts. Stations like WWOZ for example, where real enthusiasts play music they love; that's the future.