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Music

Gilles Peterson is excited about the British jazz explosion

In The Big Issue this week, The Connor Brothers celebrate all that is good and emerging in Britain. Here they invite Gilles Peterson to hail a new wave of musical talent.

I am excited. Never before has there been such a strong community of amazing young jazz musicians in the UK.

For decades this country has led the way musically and never more so than now. I moved to the UK as a child and quickly fell in love with the diverse music scene here. London is the best city in the world in so many ways but especially for music, and I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else.

In the last five years though, the UK – and particularly London – has undergone something of a musical renaissance.

Young UK musicians who have grown up on club music, from drum ’n’ bass and reggae to grime and hip-hop and yet have still mastered their instruments, have started forming bands based on jazz but with elements of everything else thrown in.

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This has created a scene of exciting new music that first exploded here but increasingly has started to go out to the rest of the world. Bands like Kokoroko, Ezra Collective and The Comet Is Coming have become the next generation of British exports, and are just as easily found at a festival in Italy or a venue in New York.

While the pandemic meant an 18-month hiatus to touring, the musicians just honed their skills and have definitely not gone away. The small amount of shows and festivals we have been able to have this summer have shown that they are still very much a force to be reckoned with and sounding even stronger than before.

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I would like to say my radio station Worldwide FM and my BBC 6 Music radio show have contributed to this explosion in creativity, but of course I am only able to reflect what is already out there.

The uniquely British mixture of a legacy of great music and a rich diversity of immigration and different cultures have all played their part in this new wave. As I say, I am excited. The next few years will be very interesting!

Gilles Peterson’s show is on BBC 6 Music on Saturdays at 3pm and on BBC Sounds

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