'Scratches' a Top Twenty Re-issue of the Year in Jazzwise...Billy Takes Over BBC R3.....Music
Sn-Apps Emerge.....Vortex Jazz Club Celebrate Billy.......London Jazz
News Features Billy....Humanism, Blues & Bereavement....'Violent
Lewisham' Confuses Billy...One Step
On from the Blues....Austerity
Aural Art.....Jenkins Hanging Round Pub
Toilets.....Billy with Ginger Baker CD
emerges.. ..and much more!
News Archive by spanking your mouse here!
The Billy Jenkins Calling Card Collection
A collectable 3
Enjoy Some 'Retail' Therapy!
The guitarist, composer and bandleader has never been concerned with
style labelling or ‘niche’. He’d gather musicians and people together to
Yes, it would come out like jazz, blues, rock or classical – often all
at the same time. He just called it ‘aural art’. Often the music was
created especially for the medium it would be available on - be it
vinyl, cassette, CD or digital download.
2021 celebrates 40 years since his first 'aural art' recording - and is now available exclusively from Billy own own bandcamp site.
‘Retail’ is a carefully constructed 42 minutes of recycled
(thus eco-friendly) sound, featuring eight previously available recorded
works ranging from 1981 to 2018.
Featuring two generations of not only some of the world’s finest improvising musicians, but also:
- Performers who have featured on at least five Top 10 pop hits (including four number 1’s);
- Skilled musicians encouraged to play instruments they are not technically familiar with;
- A solo ‘low strung guitar’ extract:
- Concludes with the guitarist playing solo ‘composer’ piano.
to his acute hyperacusis (a hyper-sensitivity to sound), Jenkins is
currently (but stoically) silent. And so, for his most recent recording, ’Ghost Music’, recorded in 2018, he returned to the solo piano (for the first time since the vinyl album ‘Piano Sketches 1973-1984). Although mostly played ‘sotto voce’, that resulted in not only three days of vertigo but, of much more interest, an extraordinary prophetic piece entitled ‘Peopleless Towns’…..
Listening to ‘Retail’ is like consuming a Chinese takeaway.
Digesting this album curiously leaves you wanting more – which is
exactly what a ‘sampler’ should do!
Unsettled, worrying but life affirming times deserve an unsettling, worrying but life affirming soundtrack - enjoy some ‘Retail’ therapy!
'Retail' is available exclusively from his own bandcamp site and by purchasing, you'll be
helping Billy to continue his life's work.
Made In Brockley Is Now Your Unique Online UK CD Outlet!
Shop local, they say....
We at billy.com are delighted that the musician's locally basedMade In Brockley
online outlet is now exclusively selling actual CD copies of the the last five Billy albums remaining in the VOTP warehouse - 'sadtimes.co.uk', 'LIFE', 'I Am A Man From Lewisham', 'Born Again (and the religion is the
blues)' and 'Jazz Give Me The Blues'.
If you live in London SE4, SE14 & SE8, Made In Brockley will deliver free.
Otherwise, there is a small post & packing charge - but deliveries can only be sentto UK addresses only.
Unless you download FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files from Billy's (slowly developing) Bandcamp
site, you cannot guarantee the audio quality.
But, on CD, you can be
assured that the recordings and full tonal spectrum are exactly as the composer intended.
Thirty years after it was first released on cassette, 'Land Of The Free', the closing meditation of 'Uncommerciality Vol.3', featuring the haunting alto saxophone of Mark Ramsden,
is a sadly fitting soundtrack to the images capturing the madness of
the storming of the US Capitol building in Washington DC on the 6th January 2021.....
Sad to report that yet another one of Billy's fabulous promoters, Alec Sykes, slipped away from us all recently.
Alec and his beloved wife Faith founded the Wakefield Jazz Club
in 1987 running it until 2004 and it continues to thrive to this day.
Over the years, Billy had the unforgettable pleasure of performing there
on several occasions..
By way of tribute, we at billy.com reproduce a piece that the
guitarist wrote for a celebratory 21st Birthday Magazine in 2008. It
offers an unseen insight into that special relationship twixt a
performer and a superb promoter for whom one always (literally) tried to go that extra mile:
One off Friday night shows in Yorkshire are always a problem for us
southern softies and such is the pleasure of playing Wakefield Jazz
Club, many London based players willingly do a one off 400 mile round
trip. It really is that special.
But as WJC regulars know from various late arrivals over the last
twenty years, travel up the M1or A1 on a Friday night is never easy.
So for our Blues Collective show in April (29th) 2005 we took no
chances. Drummer Mike Pickering and myself set off from SE London at
noon, picking up violinist Dylan Bates at Victoria.
Three and a half hours later we ground to a halt in Worksop as we tried
to cut across from the A1 to the M1 south east of Sheffield.
Now, I can tell you a lot about Worksop.
The back streets, the double glazing, the front gardens, the school
run, the corner shops with children milling outside, the stupid
stickers on the back of the car in front, the roundabouts, the one way
(always the wrong way) streets. But I won't.
I never, ever want to spent another moment there.
I want to tell you
about Wakefield Jazz Club and that fateful April evening when we rolled
into the Sports Club seven hours after leaving home.
I hadn't eaten for nine hours - no time to stop.'Try the Steak & Guinness Pie', advised guitarist Richard Bolton -
a man who knows his food.I did. It did indeed looked and smelt fantastic.
Two mouthfuls in and I was pole axed by the most painful indigestion.
Micky Pick, being a man somewhat conversant with body mechanics showed
me how to stick a finger down my throat to regurgitate on account of
stuck in my gullet'.
Lying on what looked like a psychiatrist's couch which is strategically
placed in the upstairs dressing room area, I surprised myself at just
how good I was at this new, exciting sport.
Only there was nothing to throw up into and anyway, all the other
chaps were chomping merrily on their own grub and would hardly welcome
the arrival of some warm vomit.
Mouth full to bursting in best Dizzy mode, I rushed down the stairs
towards the Gents. A bearded, beaming face popped up out of nowhere and blocked my path.
"Billy! We've come to see you! How are you!?"
"Mmm, mmmm, mmm, mm," I replied, hastily pushing past and onwards
to the big white telephone where I bid goodbye to my pie.
And so I took to the stage (well, it's a floor really, isn't it) still
starving and still with the most terrible indigestion now on top of
incredible hunger pains.
Oh yes, how you all laughed. You thought I was joking. Truth is, I never
joke. You just think it's funny.
Well, the Wakefield magic did it's stuff and by 11pm I may have been
shaking and exhausted from lack of food but I was happy that the room
was happy and replete and Richard, Dylan, Thad Kelly and Mike had
lifted hearts and feet.
Now, the odd thing is (and somehow this is typical of the uniqueness of
the WJC) the man I bumped into on the stairs with a face full of bile
(me, not him - have you been paying attention!?) was John 'Marsden' Quail.
I have to tell you, having been on and off the road for over 30 years
my body doesn't take the timeshift strain so well and over the last
dozen years various physical and mental oddities have resulted - one
being bad indigestion if I don't eat regularly.
And one such time I got it bad was at the 2000 Marsden Jazz Festival.
And who was the man who advised me to 'massage my bowel', spoke
soothing words to ease my woe and made sure I returned to some sort of
Why, none other than John 'Marsden' Quail!
And when I look out across the Sports Club room at people like John,
Alec, Faith, Chris, Bootleg Eric, the Leeds Jazz Mob and many other
familiar faces, I know the Wakefield Jazz regulars are
seriously hardcore about their music.
You can't coast, fake it or pretend.
Which is why us southern softies love it so.
Real people get real music - and there ain't nothing like it where we
Thank you for inviting me and my wonderful musicians.
Billy sends his heartfelt thoughts and thanks to Faith, family, friends and all at Wakefield Jazz.
Amongst many other words of thanks from musicians online , there is a fitting tribute to be read on the Wakefield Express website.
Very hard to get one's head round the fact that John Cumming, one of Billy's (many) favourite promoters, died a while back in May.
It would not be far from the truth to say that John was one of the mover
and shakers that ensured, over the last few decades, that jazz and
improvised music had a stage to perform on in the UK. He promoted not
only many national musicians but the cream of the worldwide jazz (and
much more) music scene.
Despite an attempt to 'send in the jazz police' to 'arrest' John in
about 1990 - when the guitarist gate crashed into what was then
his organisation's office in Soho with his young twin daughters dressed
in full police officer fancy dress, John always ensured that, if Billy
approached him with a project, he'd find a suitable slot, over many
years, on one of his festivals - be it the Bracknell Jazz Festival (x2)
Crawley Outside In (x4), Camden Jazz Festival (x2) and The Purcell Room
on the South Bank - where he promoted was has been been, to date,
Billy's last public music performance with the BBC Big Band in 2010.
There are many deserved obituaries and memories online - especially from life long friend and fellow promoter Ros Rigby (Londonjazznews), Richard Williams (The Guardian) and John Fordham (jazzwise).
Billy sends his heartfelt thoughts and thanks to Ginnie and daughter Katie.
We at billy.com are grateful, in this time of Corona Virus, to Beowulf Mayfield - for not only reminding Mr Jenkins that, in 1994, he recorded a short solo guitar piece entitled 'Washing Hands' (which was released in 2014 on'The
Semi-Detached Suburban Home (Music for
Low Strung Guitar)', but we are also flattered that he's created another one of his touching videos, which you can enjoy here.
This time he enjoys another cup of tea at Equator Studios, as musician, engineer and producer Charlie Hart talks to Wulfie about the transition from playing with the guitarist to engineering and producing his music.
The guitar albums were created with a focus on frequency and pitch. Now,
the composer takes to the piano to address changes in the listening
habits multi-use technologies have inflicted on our ever evolving modern world.
It was created as a music for background listening, but it comes towards you, the ear drawing in, becoming mid- field music.
And then, as one starts to appreciate the overtones, ambient noises and
piano mechanics, it ends up as near- field music. Music that will haunt you.
For after several plays, you will start imaging you’re hearing it in the background.
But it’s not playing....
Imbibe Beowulf Mayfield's evocative 90 second promotional video here:
'Ghost Music' is available from his own bandcamp site and by purchasing, you'll be
helping Billy to continue his life's work.
BBC Music Jazz Radio
'Greatest Ever Jazz Albums' Puts Billy At
As part of the 2016 EFG London Jazz
Festival, the BBC and Jazz
FM ran a five day pop up 24 hour
digital radio station.
Four programmes were dedicated to The
50 Greatest Jazz Albums,
as nominated by the jazz community -
including BBC and Jazz FM presenters, jazz
musicians, critics and journalists.
And, in amongst jazz legends like Benny
Goodman, Sonny Rollins, Thelonious Monk,
Duke Ellington, Miles Davis, Louis Armstrong
and many other 'greats' - up popped Mr
Jenkins and his 1998 release 'True Love
With 2016 being Billy's 60th year, we at
billy.com had some fun sprucing up Ian
Bolton's beautifully built
'digital cavern of curios and
activist, promoter and writer Ian
started the Webzine towards
the end of the last century.
Although it's been pretty much a
locked site for several years,
this impressive labour of love
contains a treasure trove of
Billy-ness - all created to
increase your enjoyment and
understanding of his work over the
last four decades and counting....
Find out just how
many musicians Billy has been
Just what did
the guitarist do to get chased out
and learned essays on Billy's work by
musician Richard Russell...
Pick apart epic
verbatim interviews by respected
anthropologist Matthew Engelke and
painter Maxwell Jay and others...
Read public Vox
Pop response to some of Billy's artistic
And much, much
An 'old school' web page layout and
deliberately designed as a 'get lost in'
site, there is now a page looking
at the sixteen years of Big Fights!
new recently released download album
highlights the marginalisation of
musicians in this technological age.
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
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.’
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:
- 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
- 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).
– 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.
sound – it has been said that
‘analogue recording approximates
perfection. Whereas digital recording
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’.
as social and economic lifestyles evolve
at high speed, how does the musician
reinstate their art?
Jenkins, it means bringing out an
unreleased album he recorded nearly twenty
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
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
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
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.
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
with it, musicians’ livelihoods and
have no shame in continuing to flag up an
article about Mr Jenkins and his work
which appeared in the prestigious Financial
Times in November 2010.
with depth, great sensitivity and
understanding by fellow musician and
writer Mike Hobart, it is very
flattering that Billy was chosen as one of
only two artists to be previewed for the London
Jazz Festival - the other musician
was jazz legend Herbie Hancock.
is delightfully ironic that a man for whom
commerce, marketing and business remain
'black arts' should be worthy of such
microscopic attention by one of the
world's leading financial newspapers.....
Jenkins is currently in the habit of
apologising to to interested live
promoters saying that he is 'unable to
accept your kind offer as I am fully
focused on a distant journey to Planet
Recording, Planet Marketing and Planet
Conducting Humanist Funerals...'
teased lots of little 'out of this world'
thoughts from Mr J. in his secret garden
and there are four short clips posted on
Browny Meets Billy Jenkins
When Did You Leave Heaven?
On White Van Man
is 'one man’s quest for the ultimate
waste of time…because wasting time is
not the same thing as time
is dedicated to "how we all waste time
or what we do when we’re not
‘working’." Created by a group of
like minded middle-aged men, Planetbrowny
aims to be a place where they can have
everything they want under one roof.
music, sport, fast cars, bikes and
technology. They also like poker, great
days out, flying and much more. And the
music of Billy Jenkins......
Jenkins can be heard partaking in 'lively
and diverse conversation on the
flagship BBC R4 'Midweek'
radio programmewith Libby
Purves and other guests writer and
naturalist Sir John Lister Kaye,
fashion designer Caroline Charles
and former Masterchef winner Thomasina
live discussion, with Billy talking about
his music and conducting Humanist funerals
took place on Wednesday 24th February2010 and can still be listened to
and enjoyed by spanking this 'Midweek'