News for Billy Jenkins
The War Of Jenkins’ Ear(phones)!
A new album due to be released on the 28th April highlights the marginalisation of musicians in this technological age.
The nuances composers and tunesmiths bring to their art is rendered impotent by digital sound which is more often these days relayed through narrow audio range earphones.
‘To truly appreciate the power of music’, says 57 year old guitarist and composer Billy Jenkins, ‘it has to be a whole body experience. It needs air to breathe. Headphones offer no more than reference – much like a post card of an oil painting.’
Jenkins, over the last thirty years, has written his critically acclaimed gloriously idiosyncratic jazz and blues tinged music especially for the sound carrying medium.
Certain things recorded music lovers may not know:
Vinyl - did you know that there is less bass frequency as the groove nears the centre of the disc? On his 1988 vinyl album ‘Motorway At Night’ he actually incorporated ‘surface noise at motorway exit’, by widening the groove during the disc mastering).
Cassette - was the consumer ever aware that no tape machine ran at exactly the same speed? Jenkins underlined his introduction to the 1993 première at the National Sound Archives of his ‘Actual Reality - Music For Two Cassette Machines’ by stating that ‘no playback is ever the same’ – he had composed it building in a plus or minus 10% speed and pitch variation).
CD – the wider than vinyl frequency range has meant that two many albums mastered for CD have been mastered at such a volume, the compression necessary to iron out highs and lows reduces the emotional resonance. Mr Jenkins’ many CD releases have minimal compression.
Digital sound – it has been said that ‘analogue recording approximates perfection. Whereas digital recording perfects approximation’.
Digital processing arbitrarily ‘takes’ what it wants of the sound source. Music made wholly by machines works well in the digital domain. But when it comes to music where every single note comes from the heart, hand and ear of the player – chip technology just doesn’t ‘get it’.
So, as social and economic lifestyles evolve at high speed, how does the musician reinstate their art?
For Jenkins, it means bringing out an unreleased album he recorded nearly twenty years ago.
These days, after a lifetime on and off the road and in and out of the recording studio, leaving him with an intense dislike of travel and a sensitivity to noise, he now scratches a living creating and conducting humanist funerals (‘nothing’s changed really’, the guitarist notes dryly, ‘I stand up in front of folks and they all start crying..’).
Uneasy with the sound of digital download, Jenkins feels that the album ‘The Semi-Detached Suburban Home – Music For Low Strung Guitar’ (VOTP Records) is actually one that works on tinny headphones.
Captured in close microphone by long time Jenkins producer and engineer Tony Messenger, listening to it, one becomes the musician – every nuance can be heard - wire, wood, skin, nail and breath – all thrown into silence to create invisible audio images of everyday household objects and events.
‘We, the music creators, need to make folks understand, ‘states Jenkins, ‘that trendy coloured headphones are just fashion accessories. And by using them, especially when out in public, you are not only tempering the wonder of the world around you, but also consigning the wonder of music and musicians to history. And just like Neil Young and many other musicians have stated, I too agree that Apple, who led the digital revolution with their iPod, stand guilty of helping to destroy the spirituality of music. And with it, musicians’ livelihoods and purpose’.
Although this download album is not available here at jazzcds.co.uk, VOTP Records heartily recommends you spank your mouse in the direction of some of Billy’s available CDs.
Buy them whilst stocks last – they will not be repressed!
Musicians. Do you remember them....?
Used to pass through the Watford Gap Services at 2am.....
And when musicians get together to play - sparks fly and the resonance warms the heart.
Especially Billy's music.
He's likened his musical interactions to 'one night stand group sex - but without body fluids or a trace of guilt.....'
He painstakingly picks an ensemble, has a quick briefing, talks everyone through the musical charts, gets them together in a recording studios, red light on and it's GANGBANG style!
Music making how it should be.
Do you remember music...?
Used to touch the head, heart and feet - totally drawing one into a sonic landscape.
It wasn't just an aural accessory for electronic visuals.....
So treat yourselves or a loved one to one of Billy's CD's this festive season!
Do you remember CDs?
Like MP3 but with full spectrum audio and every breathe, scrape and twang preserved.
And in these austere times and the light at the end of the tunnel having been switched off, once more we remind you you can get
THREE FOR THE PRICE OF TWO!
The lovely folks at jazzcds.co.uk are excited to make available especially for your holiday entertainment (UK orders only) three Billy Calling Card CD's for just
£19.99 (inc. postage and packing)!!
I Am A Man From Lewisham,
BORN AGAIN (And The Religion Is The Blues)
Jazz Gives Me The Blues
All come in digi-file free standing card wallets (see below), are dispatched directly from Billy HQ!
Remember, when you read this, you'll be older that you were when you first woke up....
Thank you for listening and winter well!
'Entertainment USA' - Celebrating Independence Day!
July 4th marks adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring American independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain.
In the old days, it was celebrated by thirteen gun salutes, double rum rations for soldiers and, in 1783 in Salem, North Carolina, a 'challenging music program' was performed.
And, just over two hundred years later, an independent musician from Great Britain created his own 'challenging music programme' - 'Entertainment USA', which was released on CD in 1994 and features the wonderful Martin Speake on alto saxophone (who has a 'baker's dozen' worth of wonderful albums avaiable here at jazzcds), Roy Dodds on drums and Steve Watts on double bass.
Oh, and some great twangy Stratocaster guitar playing from Jenkins himself!
Then treat kith and kin to some aural cartoon-ery by sending them a copy via jazzcds!
All copies sold via jazzcds get a personalised signed Billy postcard!
Ye - HAH!
'Violent Lewisham' Confuses Jenkins!
The leafy SE London borough of Lewisham has statistically just been proven to be the 'least peaceful' and 'most violent place in the UK'.
But long time proud resident Billy Jenkins recommends listening to his 'I Am A Man From Lewisham' CD.
'It's full of life affirming energy, community spirit and feel good factors', says the 56 year old guitarist and composer.
But this contradicts with elements of his work. Does not the title track feature gun shots and short-wave radio police messages?
'Maybe not many folks can tell the difference between a gunshot and a Royal Enfield 350 cc single cylinder motorcycle backfiring....', offers Jenkins.
'And if you really listen and understand the phonetic alphabet - the police are actually discussing which takeaway to visit. And, to that end, I'm not inferring the police are not doing their job. Far from it. Perhaps they police our borough so effectively, the statistics are no doubt accurate - thus zooming lovely Lewisham to the coveted Number One slot!'
Find out what on earth Billy is talking about by treating yourself or a friend to a copy of the critically acclaimed 'I Am A Man From Lewisham'- available on the Billy cds pages here at jazzcds.co.uk!!
As it says in the album sleeve notes - 'Love wherever you live!'
'The south Londoner's eruptions of punk-improv guitar-playing, knack of assembling gloriously incompatible ingredients, and his underlying ire about the urban downside always cut through. I Am a Man from Lewisham is the surreal, chaotic and disarmingly charming result.'
John Fordham / The Guardian
'Blues Al Fresco' - The Live DVD Ten Years On!
Folks keep lamenting that Billy isn't performing live anymore.....
So whilst Antonio Rui Ribeiro's superb documentary 'The Religion is The Blues' (see News story at www.billyjenkins.com) does the round of commissioning editors and film festivals, in the interim, why not treat yourself, or a friend, to a copy of 'Blues Al Fresco' - the Blues Collective live in concert beautifully filmed ten years by director Philip Vallentin?
Its never been shown on network television or YouTubed on the web - it's only available on DVD here on the Billy pages at jazzcds.co.uk!
Austerity Aural Art!
In 1992, VOTP Records issued the Billy Jenkins First Aural Art Exhibition.
It was the guitarist's first CD release on his own label.
Like a visual art exhibition, it featured ten 'works' from the previous decade of vinyl and cassette releases - selected by a panel of sixteen keen Billy listeners.
Twenty years on, we at billy.com are excited to announce that 'due to the economic downturn - and the fact that 'the light at the end of the tunnel has now been switched off'...., VOTP are offering a special austerity package of the available three Billy Calling Card CD's for just £19.99 (inc. postage and packing)!!
I Am A Man From Lewisham, BORN AGAIN (And The Religion Is The Blues) and Jazz Gives Me The Blues all come in digifile free standing card wallets, are dispatched directly from Billy HQ and this special offer is only available here at jazzcds.co.uk.
Why you should take up this generous Calling Card Collection offer:
A chance for you to explore, or to introduce a friend to the music of Billy Jenkins.
Treat your family & friends to a unique Billy musical greeting card - one that sits free standing on the table or mantlepiece!
His music uses real musicians. Do you remember them? Every single note scraped out of silence and every note created with the heart, mind, hand and ear. Often in an ensemble spontaneity that mixes written music with instant creativity. A kineticism that is being eroded in this tick box accountability culture.
The musicians who work with Billy are very special people. Most of them have devoted their lives to their aural artistry. They do not steal, insult, hurt or offend anyone. Music is a medium that enriches. Billy and his wonderful record producers and engineers capture every facet of their art.
Music isn't what most folks perceive it as these days - half heard from myriad environmental sound sources - be it a passing car, shop muzak, a smartphone, a n open window, background candy on a television trailer or the neighbours....
The sonic range of music on a CD far outstrips that on MP3 download.
Although all Billy's albums are created and constructed 'symphonically', to be listened from start to finish, why not give yourself to just one Billy track at a time. Place yourself stereo centre in front of a modest hi-fi system. Do not use headphones! Feel the resonance and drink in the imagery. It will feel good deep inside.....!
£19.99 isn't too much to help bring real music back into your life or that of a loved one or friend! Get thee to the Billy CD page now!
Billy J., Kramer & The BBC Big Band!
Two lovely misunderstandings have been brought to our attention.
Firstly, a delightful email from Billy listener Mark Callan in North Shields. He espied online what he thought was a new Jenkins release.
"....Entitled "The One & Only", it clearly promised to be - what, exactly? Greatest hits? An East German bootleg? A gem plucked from time's great misfiling cabinet?
To avoid any disappointment on the part of my fellow aficionados, I think it only fair to announce that said item is in fact Billy J KRAMER's greatest hits....
And what made it worse was that I emailed the sellers to complain (mildly), at which they apologised profusely and promised to send me the item I had ordered. It arrived today. It was, again, Billy J KRAMER'S greatest hits...
But then I thought: Billy J. ENKINS could just as well do "Little Children", "Trains & Boats & Planes", "Boys Cry" and "Do You Want To Know A Secret?". So how's about it, guys and gals, is Billy J. ENKINS looking for a new project?"
Mr Jenkins replied:
"......Not such a daft idea J. Enkins sings J. Kramer - sort of 'True Love Collection' revisited. I used to quite like BJ and the Dakotas actually....! Nice quiff too!"
And we at billy.com duly dispatched Mr Callan a complimentary CD for making us smile. And we were delighted to find that Billy J. Kramer is still very much live, well and musically active!
The second misunderstanding is a most generous album review in the July issue of 'Jazzwise' - the number one most read UK monthly jazz mag.
As a 'thank you' to those in the media who championed Billy's music over the last year, we presented them with private listening copies of the BBC Big Band Plays Billy concert, recorded by BBC R3 'Jazz Line Up' on the South Bank last November.
Whilst most flattered by the kind words written by that most excellent jazz journalist Andy Robson, for what was, indeed, a most memorable concert, we must stress that there is no album of that name available for purchase.
Meanwhile, the new album 'Jazz Gives Me The Blues' on VOTP Records (VOTP VOCD 116) can now be ordered here at jazzcds!
Orders from jazzcds come straight to the Billy Office - so, not only are you supporting the musicians, but you can be assured of a First Class delivery and personal attention to your order!
Middle Aged Album Imminent!
July 5 2011. Billy Jenkins turns 55. What could be more appropriate than a retro 'Fifties late night jazz album - a celebration of that thing called jazz - another cliché in the land we call jazz. NO! STOP! We don't want no more of that groovy dinner jazzy lounge piano soft-focus wide screen smooth talking tasteful jazz thang. Man, jazz gives me the blues! Jazz is the blues. Blues is the new jazz.
Billy takes these old jazz standards and does unmentionable things to them, lyrically and musically metamorphosing them into something new and strange - reinterpreting the hackneyed old images, injecting anger where anger never was, blueing the jazz. The guitar, that guitar, still strikes like lightning, illuminating as it incinerates, but the emphasis here is on mood - a fifties late night mood for a fifty-somethin' guitarist.
Recorded and produced by Charlie Hart in one take real time, the album features:
Billy Jenkins – electric guitar, voice, harmonica
Finn Peters - alto saxophone & flute
Jim Watson – NORD organ
Mike Pickering – drum kit
The album is called 'Jazz Gives Me The Blues'on VOTP Records (VOTP VOCD 116) and you can pre-order soon by spanking the artist CD page!
A Happy New Year To All Billy Listeners!
Mr Jenkins wishes everyone who has been supporting and listening to his music a fascinating and rewarding 2011!
For the guitarist, the Billy 10 campaign will be hard to top in terms of creativity and he has much to thank his inspired creative team of Fiona Wootton, Mike Gavin and Steve Shepherd for overseeing two new album releases, five download re-release albums, a BBC R3 'Jazz on 3' session, an appearance on the flagship BBC R4 'Midweek' programme with Libby Purves......the honour of being a 'Listed Londoner' on Robert Elms much listened to BBC Radio London.... show a documentary 'A Man From Lewisham' about his music and humanist funeral officiating made by Antonio Rue Ribeiro and a climactic performance with the BBC Big Band with arrangements by Iain Ballamy - and many other exciting events.
What now for 2011?
Producer Charlie Hart is currently mixing the new album 'Jazz Gives Me The Blues' featuring award winning organist Jim Watson and award winning saxophonist and flautist Finn Peters. This third album in the 'Calling Card Collection' is provisionally scheduled for a Spring release... the BBC Big Band concert will be broadcast on Radio 3 on 30th January, preparatory work is taking place on the following album entitled 'Blues Is The New Jazz'; Antonio Rue Ribeiro continues to film Billy to lengthen the documentary, whilst the bandleader carefully studies 'long tail' marketing strategy and ruminates on the 'validity' of downloaded music and whether to implement another clutch of download re-releases; researching the relevance of music in today's 'over noisy, tick box, mouse click' fast moving world - whilst also undergoing continued professional development as a humanist funeral officiant and creating and conducting ceremonies throughout SE London and local environs.
To that end, there will be very few live performances in 2011.
Keep in touch with all Billy's musical activities by visiting www.billyjenkins.com and signing up to receive his occasional e-newsletter! - and may 2011 be all that you wish for!
And keep getting your Billy CD's from this site - jazzcds supports the musicians and all orders are processed directly from the Billy Office - so you can be assured of a first class, personal service!
New Blues Album Out Soon!
The new CD recording 'Born Again [and the religion is the blues]' will be released on VOTP Records on 8th November.
Containing nine Jenkins original 'inner suburban blues morality tales', it features the guitarist and blues shouter with his all new 'Trio Blues Suburbia' with the award winning jazz organist Jim Watson and Blues Collective drummer Mike Pickering.
Recorded by legendary long time Billy collaborator and producer Charlie Hart at his Equator Studios in Jenkins' leafy locale of Brockley, SE London - the album is top and tailed with two tracks originally recorded ten years ago for the 'LIFE' album (VOTP VOCD 023)- available here on jazzcds.co.uk!
More information to follow soon.
Visitors to jazzcds will be able to purchase ahead of the official release date!
Billy, Ballamy and the BBC Big Band!
Legendary British guitarist/composer Billy Jenkins will bring his 2010 renaissance to a climax at the London Jazz Festival by performing for the first time with the BBC Big Band.
Following the release of his new album, 'I Am A Man From Lewisham' and the forthcoming Born Again (and the religion is the blues) that demonstrate the Jenkins' Mojo is still working to full effect, this is a rare and timely London appearance.
The concert, at The Purcell Room at the South Centre on Sunday 21st November will feature three adventurous large scale arrangements (newly commissioned by BBC Radio 3) of Billy's music by Iain Ballamy.
Ballamy, one of the world's finest saxophonists and a long serving member of Billy Jenkins' extended musical family, will also guest as a soloist.
The first half will feature Billy's new Trio Blues Suburbia with guest Iain Ballamy, before welcoming the BBC Big Band onto the stage for the second half of what will be a truly momentous meeting of disparate energies.
The concert will be recorded by BBC R3 for future transmission.
Full details available on the Live Dates page at www.billyjenkins.com
An Apology To Those Awaiting Orders
We at billy.com extend our profuse apologies for customers who are awaiting paid orders. There is an unforgivable communication breakdown with the Babel Label, who have doggedly refused to communicate for the last two months with various folks working on Billy's behalf.
The three albums in question are 'Still Sounds Like Bromley', 'S.A.D.' and 'When The Crowds Have Gone'.
We are trying our utmost to resolve this deadlock and sincerely hope it will be resolved shortly.
This issue does not affect VOTP CD releases.
Move Over Ben 10 - It's Billy 10!
billy.com is proud to announce that 2010 will see the launch and re-launch of a number of Billy Jenkins albums supported by a concerted media campaign and live events designed to promote the great guitarist as a national treasure and one of the unsung British musicians in any genre.
The releases will be in four batches:
New CD I Am A Man From Lewisham and reissue of two titles: Sounds Like Bromley (1981) and Greenwich (1985) digitally reissued for the first time (direct from virgin vinyl!). These three titles continue Billy’s cycle of recordings inspired by his South East London manor.
Reissue of the Uncommerciality series (three volumes 1986 – 1992) as digital downloads (previously these three releases were only available on chocolate box cassette).
Late Summer 2010.....
Reissue of the live Jazz Café Concerts Vols 1 & 2 (1990) and Wiesen '87 (1992) - previously only available on cassette - as digital downloads.
New blues album Born Again (and the religion is The Blues..)! and first digital download issue of the three Blues Collective albums sadtimes.co.uk (2000), Blues Zero Two and LIFE (both 2002).
Taking advantage of the promotional activity that will surround these releases, and as a focus for the year a concert or mini-festival celebrating Billy’s music through the extended musical family that is and has been the Voice of God Collective.
Billy has collaborated with some of the finest young jazz players through his long serving collective and has worked with the cream of British jazz talent. The concept is to get as many of these players as possible together to create a kind of mini-Meltdown with Billy curating (and playing) – a tribute to Billy and a celebration of the Voice of God diaspora.
The new CDs will benefit from a full press campaign (PR guru Fiona Wootton has agreed to spearhead the campaign for I Am A Man From Lewisham) including specialist and general, national and local print media, online and new media outlets, radio and TV.
For all Billy 10 campaign press and communications contact Fiona:
E: Fiona@sebandfiona.com M: 0793 953 3183
BBC Apologise To Billy!
Thanks to some diligent reporting by local SE London journalists Mark Chandler (The Newshopper) and Lawrence Conway (South London Press/Mercury), the BBC have issues an apology for having two video clips of Billy's 'Songs of Praise' ensemble removed from YouTube.
The Billy Office was contacted and spoken to by the charming Robert Brosgill on the telephone and also sent the following email:
Dear Mr Jenkins,
Further to our conversation a moment ago, I can confirm that the BBC takes no issue with your use of the name "Songs of Praise" for your band.
As I explained, the BBC actively seeks to protect the copyright in its programmes and routinely flags copyright infringing content on Youtube and other such sites for takedown by the website administrators.
It recently came to the BBC's attention that a great deal of footage from the BBC's "Songs of Praise" programme is being made available on Youtube in breach of copyright.
It appears that, in dealing with the high volume of BBC "Songs of Praise" content on Youtube, your legitimate content may have been accidentally flagged for removal. I can assure you that the BBC makes every effort to ensure that only infringing content is flagged and there was no intention to remove your legitimate clips.
With kind regards.
BBC Litigation & Intellectual Property Department
The clips are now available to view, listen and enjoy on Youtube via www.billyjenkins.com/links
New Live! CD Released
Song of Praise Live! has just been released on the Babel Label - Billy's first release for over two years.
Recorded very live and dangerous off the desk last autumn, it offers a 'forward thinking retrospective collection'. Jazz funk, free form danger, corny pop tunes and serious political work all wrapped up with a blanket of blues....
Musicians on the recording are:
Billy Jenkins - guitar, shouting and singing
Nathaniel Facey - alto saxophone
Dylan Bates - violin
Gail Brand – trombone
Oren Marshall - tuba
Charles Hayward – drums
This is real live music making in the raw. And you’re hearing it from within the mixing desk. For the live sound engineer for The Wardrobe, Martin Hudson didn’t know on the night of this concert on 11th October 2006 that his artistry too, would be documented on CD.
Thus, the sound you hear is mercifully far away from the safe, manicured and over produced blandness that makes up most recordings these days.
Everything is inside out. Because Mr Hudson was mixing for the room, the drums are slightly down in the PA mix, here and there a quiet violin becomes overloud. It’s Billy’s take on compression – where loud becomes soft and soft is turned into loud. But it’s of the time, for and with the music.
There’s a method in Billy’s recording madness, but it works. He previously used this ‘closed miked voyeuristic upside down inside out aural experience’ on ‘Mayfest ‘94’, recorded live in Glasgow and released by Babel in 1995.
Don't forget, by purchasing one of Billy's recordings, you'll be helping him continue his life's work!
AVAILABLE HERE AND NOW AT JAZZCDS!
Blues Is A Healer!
Those of you who have enjoyed the delicate yet emphatic drumming of Mike Pickering with the Blues Collective, or heard him adding his intuitive and complimentary hand, stick and brush work to such fine artists as vocalists Claire Martin, Christine Tobin or saxophonist Jason Yarde, might be interested to know that he is also a first class osteopath. His final dissertation focused, unsurprisingly, on musicians' injuries.
Having spent the last eighteen months working as both a sports masseur and associate osteopath at the famous Garry Trainer Clinic in Primrose Hill, where the great and the good from the entertainment and sports world flock, he has now opened his own practice in East Dulwich, London SE 22.
And to get his new base off the ground, Mike (who also is a qualified acupuncturist) will be offering special deals for the next few weeks. Just tell him Billy sent you!
Contact Mike on 07966 505872 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
YouTube Going Billy Mad!
There suddenly seems to be a plethora of Billy video clips on YouTube.
Five stand alone songs from 'Here Is The Blues!', the guitar duo with SE London bluesmeister Steve Morrison; a snippet of the Songs of Praise band from their recent gig at the Leeds Wardrobe: ten minutes and three songs from the Belgium Blues Collective and, perhaps of most interest, the 2001 spoof documentary made by maverick director Craig Duncan 'A Virus Called The Blues' can now be viewed in three parts.
Centred around the Blues Collective's season at the Blue Elephant Theatre in South London, it not only captures the band offstage but also zones in on Billy's rather bizarre attempt to improve the street lighting by the power of the blues......
Hilarious and uncomfortable in equal doses - it's well worth investigating.
You can get straight to the sights via the News page at www.billyjenkins.com
HELP BILLY ZOOM UP THE YouTube CHART BY REMEMBERING TO RATE EACH VIDEO!
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