NEWS: Emma Smith, Soweto Kinch and Al Ryan confirmed as presenters of new BBC R3 show Jazz Now (first broadcast Apr 4th)

L-R: Emma Smith, Soweto Kinch, Al Ryan

BBC Radio 3 has announced details of the presenters and the content of the first shows of their new Monday night 11pm contemporary jazz programme Jazz Now. The presenters will be SOWETO KINCH, EMMA SMITH and AL RYAN (short biographies below).

(Quoting directly from the press release from here on).

Jazz Now will examine the vibrant new and underground Jazz scene which is taking the genre forward and introducing jazz to new audiences alongside established ones. From less traditional spaces like car parks and dance music clubs through to break-through artists in established venues, the presenters of Jazz Now, who are all performers in their own right, will get under the skin of how jazz is moving forward and the names to watch-out for.

The programme will launch on Monday 4 April at 11pm with an exclusive broadcast performance by British trio Malija, MOBO jazz act winners Binker and Moses and an on-the-road interview with Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen.

The show will regularly feature concerts and in-house sessions specially recorded for the programme, together with in-depth artist features, record reviews, and news reports from around the world on jazz happening now. Also, a regular spot in the show will include masterclasses with instrumentalists and singers, starting with virtuoso saxophonist and composer Patrick Cornelius.

Jazz Now is one of four dedicated jazz strands on BBC Radio 3, the others are Jazz Line-up, Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz and Jazz Record Requests.

Soweto Kinch says: “Jazz Now’ our Monday night jazz show is a brilliant opportunity to reach out to new audiences, discover new voices, and to shake up our jazz world with a bit of controversy. On a personal level, I’m also hugely excited and grateful to get the chance to present my first ever jazz radio series for BBC Radio 3 which has such an important heritage in bringing jazz to listeners all over the UK.”

Alan Davey, Controller of BBC Radio 3 says: “The underground and emerging jazz and wider contemporary music scene is really exciting right now and Radio 3’s mission is to connect our audience with remarkable music and culture. We wanted to bring that scene to our audiences and through enlisting expert performers such as Soweto, Emma and Al I am confident Jazz Now will do just that.”

The programme is produced by production company Unique, a 7digital broadcasting company under the stewardship of executive producer Alyn Shipton and BBC Radio 3 editor Tony Cheevers. [..]

Monday 4th April 11pm – 12:30am

The first edition of Jazz Now features a concert set from King’s Place, London, by the new British trio Malija (Mark Lockhart, Liam Noble and Jasper Høiby) who are currently on tour in the UK. The trio talk to Al Ryan about their formation and how their original compositions came about. Meanwhile Emma Smith meets saxophone and drums duo Binker and Moses, and follows up how their music has developed since they won last year’s MOBO award for best jazz act. Soweto Kinch catches up with Norwegian pianist Tord Gustavsen on the road with his current trio featuring vocalist Simin Tander and drummer Jarle Vespestad, and digging back into the tradition, he also talks to producer Woody Shaw III about the newly discovered recordings of organ legend Larry Young, just released and featuring Woody’s father, one of the most innovative trumpeters in jazz.

Monday 11th April 11pm – 12:30am

Soweto Kinch joins American saxophone virtuoso Patrick Cornelius for a masterclass at Birmingham Conservatoire, where he is working with young players on music from his newly issued suite “While We’re Still Young”. They discuss what is means to be a jazz composer today, and then explore tricks of the trade for alto saxophonists. Meanwhile Al Ryan meets keyboard and electronics wizard Bugge Wesseltoft at his sole Spring 2016 UK concert appearance at the Turner Sims Hall in Southampton. As well as music from Bugge’s concert, we hear him talking to Al about his New Conception of Jazz, twenty years on, and he unveils his new all-female line-up. Emma Smith is joined by John Etheridge to review new guitar CDs.

Monday 18th April 11pm – 12:30am

Trumpeter Ralph Alessi is fast being hailed as one of the brightest emerging talents in the USA. His new quartet with Gary Versace (piano), Drew Gress (bass) and Nasheet Waits (drums) makes its only 2016 UK appearance at London’s Pizza Express, launching the group’s new CD “Quiver” with music from this album and its predecessor, “Baida”. Soweto Kinch meets the band members and talks to Ralph about finding a distinctive musical voice in today’s crowded jazz scene. He’s also joined by Peter Erskine, legendary drummer with Weather Report, who has just produced and released for the first time a compilation of the band’s live concerts. And Soweto also looks forward to next month’s televised final of the BBC Young Musician 2016 Jazz Award with 2014 winner Alexander Bone and leader of the backing trio, Gwilym Simcock.

Monday 25th April 11pm – 12:30am

Pianist Hans Koller has long admired the late American theorist and jazz composer George Russell. In tonight’s show from the CBSO Centre in Birmingham, we hear the World Premiere of Hans’s new composition “Twelve Re-Inventions for George Russell”. Compositionally, it combines elements of Russell’s Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organisation with the serial techniques of the Second Viennese School. Koller’s quartet with innovative New York saxophonist John O’Gallagher and influential UK-based American drummer Jeff Williams are joined by members of the Birmingham Contemporary Music Group for this first performance. Soweto Kinch presents the concert and talks to Hans about how the work drew on such diverse influences. He also meets veteran US pianist Ran Blake, who has just issued a new album on Impulse, but whose back catalogue has recently been reissued a giant boxed set. Emma Smith has more news about next month’s televised final for the BBC Young Musician 2016 Jazz Award.


SOWETO KINCH is an award-winning saxophonist and MC, who is one of the most dynamic jazz musicians on the UK scene, having twice won MOBO awards as Best Jazz Act. He has presented BBC radio programmes on the history of Harlem, Caribbean jazz and Joe Harriott, and also curates concerts and events across the world. His latest album “The Legend of Mike Smith” is inspired by Dante and the Seven Deadly Sins.

EMMA SMITH is one of Britain’s most accomplished up-and-coming jazz singers, having appeared in a range of contexts from Sir John Dankworth’s band to the Jazz Vocal Project alongside Bobby McFerrin. The third generation of a family of musicians, she began her singing career at 14, and the year after joined NYJO as featured vocalist. She is now a member of the Puppini Sisters, and also appeared at the 2015 BBC Proms.

AL RYAN is a well-known Irish trumpeter and bandleader who now lives in the UK. He was a producer and presenter of jazz programmes for RTE and Lyric FM in Eire, including coverage of all Ireland’s major festivals, notably Cork Jazz, for nine years. He now broadcasts regularly for BBC Radio Oxford, as well as leading his own 17-piece big band in the UK and Ireland.

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