|Keith Loxam at the Scottish Jazz Awards 2011|
Photo credit: Louis de Carlo
Thirteen turned out to be lucky number. I was invited to be interviewed at BBC Scotland for a new Jazz Programme to air on Radio 3 from April 2000. At that time I was still living in Oxfordshire. So on the morning in question, I booked an 8am rail ticket to Glasgow to the “formal interview” at 2pm. Incidentally the subway train that took me from Glasgow Buchanan Street to Hill Head was Train 13.
As with all job interviews you remember very little but I do recall being asked “ how you find this programme integrating into Jazz Scene”. My reply was to activity be involved with festivals, make unique studio recordings, instigate our own public concerts and give mainly British jazz the reflection and platform it deserves on the Radio.
Just 4 hours later I was hurtling down the tracks back to Euston and a mobile phone call came in from BBC Scotland offering me the job, 13 years later I made the hardest decision of my life to offer myself to leave the BBC as part of the reduction of positions across the corporation.
I did not create Jazz Line-Up. That was the job of senior producer Lindsay Pell; my first show was programme 3. Claire Martin alternated with Stacey Kent and even now there have only been four full time presenters. Helen Mayhew followed Stacey and then Julian Joseph. Kevin Le Gendre is our first dep call, yet he is a regular for features and interviews. The first session was Jim Mullen and his “Burns” project recorded at the BBC Maida Vale studios.
I am sure the Jazz on 3 programme will confirm it’s the best job in the world to call a musician and offer a recording gig or concert. I remember as a young lad going to Maida Vale to see Jazz club being recorded and on many occasions found it full. I am proud to say that I kept that tradition alive in Line-Up with many audience shows at Maida Vale and you were lucky to get a ticket.
Working in the UK jazz scene is so exhilarating we are all on the same track, bizarre hours crazy lifestyle unbelievable music. I particularly salute the smaller festivals who are 100% committed to UK Jazz and to the musicians themselves. My visits to Southport Winters Weekend, Scarborough , Wavendon to name just three three, The courageous Bill Kyle in Edinburgh who stages jazz seven nights a week gives the younger players a platform and even supports a big band, no wonder we was nominated for the Services To Jazz Award at the 2012 Parliamentary Jazz Awards. The enterprising Steve Rubie at the 606 is an inspiration to us all and Ross Dines at Pizza Express was a joy to work with when recording some of his sets, the list goes on and on.
I am sad to leave this amazing, stimulating vibrant and constantly evolving scene, and am sure that Muslim Alim and Sushil Dade continue to support you. I will be there, yet in the audience and I might even buy a CD!
Keith Loxam’s farewell production of Jazz-Line-Up will be a recording the BBC Big Band directed by Julian Arguelles at Glasgow’s City Halls, on Saturday 22nd June. Transmission date is Sunday 30th June at the usual time of 11pm. Claire Martin will be presenting. Well-wishers can either add a comment, or send us an e-mail which we will be happy to forward.