""British music is bland and tame" : Harvey Goldsmith

When I saw the sentence above as the headline for AN ARTICLE IN THE EVENING STANDARD ON THURSDAY

…I rushed off a reply in great haste which did get published, in edited form, and was pointed out to me by a few readers – thank you – in Friday’s Evening Standard, so I guess some good did come of it.

Here’s the full text of my reply:

Harvey Goldsmith (“British music is bland and tame”, Standard, 8th March) knows his music industry backwards, but is looking in the wrong places to find the energy and creativity – and the evidence of hard work – which he misses in the current music scene.

On any night of the week in London’s jazz venues, large and – mostly – small there is a constant buzz of precisely the kind of risk-taking he believes has fled the scene.

– In the house band at Ronnie Scott’s he can be captivated most nights by the fire in the soul and the twinkle in the eye of 23-year old Portuguese house band drummer Pedro Segundo.

– Every Sunday night at the North London Tavern he can be surprised by the bands which promoter Jack Davies unearths from around the ex-conservatoire scene.

– Or he might catch one of the hard-working American bassist Michael Janisch’s Anglo-US bands on the London hop of a European tour.

And that’s just three for starters.


Sebastian Scotney, LondonJazz, Kings Place, N1

Categories: miscellaneous

5 replies »

  1. Patrick Hadfield writes by email:

    Every time I try to read that Standard article on my phone, it crashes my browser! So I haven't read what Goldsmith actually said…

    The last three gigs I've seen – three bands at Jazz in the Round, Abram Wilson and Nu Civilisation Orchestra – were anything but bland. And aside from Abram himself, wholly British.

    The British jazz scene is vibrant – apparently lots going on in Manchester, Birmingham, Bristol as well London. Scotland has some really exciting music, creating a music infused with local influences (Colin Steele, Phil Bancroft and Tommy Smith for starters – Tommy alone has created a whole jazz ecosystem).

    So maybe Mr Goldsmith needs to get out more. Or just open his ears!

  2. We could go on and on with the examples. There are so many. I see them most nights, and listen to many too.
    Perhaps then the question is: “Why do the likes of Harvey Goldsmith – and Boris Johnson who has booked him – not register anything to do with jazz?” It's not even dismissed by him!
    It seems to have become a worldwide thing so engrained in the psyche of the media and the music industries. Nevertheless, I am heartened by the energy of so many involved who fight back and keep going. We are so much the stronger for not relying on the judgements of the likes of Harvey Goldsmith.

  3. To be fair, Harvey Goldsmith seems to be referring very specifically to the popular music scene – the list of genres he doesn't mention is far, far longer than the list of those he does 'dis' [as I believe young people may still say]. And I am happy to agree with him, as far as the names that make it on to TV and [most] wireless shows are concerned.

    Sadly, a Hyde Park concert featuring Evan Parker, Phronesis and Gwilym Simcock-for example-just won't pull in the punters like Bob the Builder and Fireman Sam will. If Boris booked Harvey to sell 50000 tickets a day, then Harvey's probably done his job well.

Leave a Reply