Wit, Wisdom, Pith or Bunkum...?

You decide!

 Sources quoted if known....


Never forget that performance is performance and recordings are recordings....


'To survive as a musician, it is essential to fall mutually in   
love with someone who has a disposable income.....'

   You can only create what you hear..’
 ‘Saturday Live’, BBC R1 3.11.1984

“Miles Davis was to jazz what Mel Blanc was to cartoons.”
Wire Magazine
November 1991
    “Miles dying was a good thing for the jazz scene. It freed up about fifty per cent of the budget of every jazz festival in the world for other musicians....”  
    - quoted during a lecture at the Royal Academy of Music September 1995

The true improviser should only perform once.
Some people go to improvised music concerts
- some people have children.
    On asked how he got into improvisation BJ replied,
‘Lack of education’.

‘Mixing It’ BBC R3 (1.2.93)

The trouble with education... 
is that people become educated.

smily academic 
'The educational system has been a lot more benevolent towards jazz,
but if there's any change they're coming out slicker and blander...'

- 'Jazz Express' November 1992

'If you look at my video collection, you'll see most of them are motor sport crash videos. Nobody gets hurt, though; it's all to do with the making of a piece of art and the mangling of it. That kineticism to me is the essence of  jazz, and it's been totally forgotten...'

  - 'Guitar' December 2000                     
car crash

Bemoaning the  loss of a personal ‘buzz’ which had seemingly disappeared from
live work in the early 1990's a friend gasped,
....but that means you’ve achieved Zen!”
BJ replied,
“Well it’s f**king boring. Give me another mountain to climb!!

“Every day since we’ve been born, Daddy, you’ve played the same two tunes.   
What are they called?”, enquired a ten year old twin.
    “Scales, girl - and arpeggios.”

‘I like heavy metal because it’s a wonderful, adolescent pantomime - unashamedly so. And heavy metal’s good for the badge industry...’
 - Wire November 1992


bearded man

"If you don't shave, you can save three days a year - I think it's roughly 15 minutes per day.
So I did it once, I saved up and I was gonna spend my three days at Christmas but
then I found I was stooping..."

 - 'Jazz Express' November 1992

         'A guitar is just a desk to work on.' 

- 'Jazz Review' January 2000

guitar and hand

'...reviewers and writers on the popular music press must take a more objective look at the inspirational merits of the performer and consider whether atmosphere is created by the person themselves or the machines they are operating.
The human spi
rit must not be lost.'

- 'Musician' January 1982

- this written before computer games, the web and downloading even existed....

'The music industry seems locked in a downward slide towards self-extinction.
We are only too award that leisure time is becoming more important
- visual, audio-visual and physical outlets are
taking the initiative away from purely aural pleasures.

- 'Musician' December 1987

spider web

I love fairy stories and myths. But they’re just that.
And remember  – all men are cremated equal…

- Jazz UK February 2010

"Surely it’s more important to face up to reality. I like to think you get
more satisfaction from things real than things imagined.
Certainly when it comes to copulation I’d say that was the case.”

                      - The Wire March 1988.

      ‘I like opera. It’s a great employer of people.’

On Rock music in the 1980's:

    ‘It only takes two fingers on a synthesiser, a rhythm box, automatic bass and chording, baggy trousers and a puppy fat free jowl and you could be the Human League, Blancmange, Spandau Ballet or Tears For Fears [or seemingly any rock/pop group from the early ‘80’s].
    Anyone or all of them - they’re all playing the same rhythms in the same key tones - except the handsome Robert De Niro lookalike saxophonist who is probably called ‘Zoot’ and sounds like you’d wish he’d hurry up and reach eighteen so he’ll  be given the key...’

- from One Two Testing December 1983.

Never let the rhetoric override the reality.

"I don't think folks realise just how much ‘proper’ musicians (i.e. those who take responsibility for every single note they play) are marginalised in our society. For the MP3 digital generation, ‘music’ is just background comfort sounds or a ‘style accessory’.
It has been said that “analogue sound is about ‘approximating perfection’, whilst digital is about ‘perfecting approximation’...” 
                                                                     - Jazz UK February 2010

      There is a fine line between respect for ones forefathers’ music
and profiteering from nostalgia.


"Jazz is the greatest music of the 20th Century and will be the classical music
  of the 21st  and 22nd..."
- Jazz UK January 2000

"We [the English] are a melancholic race. We live on an island with
seven different weather fronts. We've got a right to sing the blues!"         

- Blues in Britain October 2011 



On 3rd February 1987 a letter appeared in The Times highlighting the problems of artistic freedom a Soviet rock musician was having with the (then) authorities.

The following unpublished letter was immediately dispatched:

    It was very kind of Mr. Smith to bring to our attention the plight of a Soviet rock musician.
    But are your readers aware of the many British musicians and composers who, for want of a better description,
    are also under virtual
‘house arrest’ due to the rigid and competitive obligations of the music industry today.
    To speak one’s musical mind can only be done at one’s own expense.
    The musical output from major record companies is so stylistically narrow, the free thinking musician can only  
    ‘compete’ by spending huge amounts of money on promotion and, more pointedly, by musically ‘toeing the line’ and
    ‘playing the game’ - in much the same way a ‘dissident’ is advised to act in the Soviet Union.

    I cannot help feeling we have a position now where the Arts Council in Great Britain does for musicians here what
    Amnesty International does for ‘those outside’ in Russia!

    Please forget prisoners of conscience momentarily and consider the suppressed conscience of our own (musical) 

    We have a right to freedom too!

‘McDonalds’ is the metaphorical icon. The figurehead for all that is rotten. Every child born carries the highest hopes. But there are less and less choices. Whilst aspiring to be a top chef, somehow the towel gets thrown in, you give up and end up serving up fast food fast.

The only truly delicious thing about this icon is that the more capitalism is profit led,
the more it becomes like communism. Which, again, suggests that system led societies
need individuals who have the guts to  grab  the thrown towel and use it  to gently wipe away
such long term cancers.

Don’t boycott such businesses. Enjoy them once in a while, but never, ever apply to the University of Hamburgerology.  Let teenagers work in them - they’ll never eat another one again."

- notes for 'Scratches of Spain' 1987

The true musician must fully understand the meaning of silence.

If one was faced with dance, intellectual analysis or death, I would chose dancing - then death.


"I checked out Charles Ive's 'Variations On 'America’ '.
Written in 1891 for organ when he was 17.
To us, the tune is‘God Save The Queen’.
The 20th Century composer had been gazumped....."

- Venue Magazine March1996

Labelling of musical style only fuels divisions in society.
My cat eats dog food.
He doesn’t know it’s dog food because I take the label off and I haven’t told the little bastard it’s dog food.
  -  'One Two Testing' December 1983.


Machines are like people really. They’re messy and they break down.
They say that today’s newspaper is tomorrow’s
fish and chip paper - now, the digital news is tomorrow's micro-chips....

Listening to music on headphones is like taking a bath by just dipping one's feet in the water.....
"They like the blues in Germany.
They can learn English because the first line's always repeated twice."

- Birmingham Post  27.3.1998
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