The Bill Evans Trio on BBC’s ‘Jazz 625' (Complete Registration)

On the all-too-rare occasions when jazz gets an outing on television, many viewers make inevitable, and often unfavourable, comparisons with ‘Jazz 625’. A well-informed presenter, a superb sound balance and an uncluttered approach to camera work and direction all combined to set a gold standard in the televisual representation of jazz. It was also in the right place at the right time. The end of the long-standing deadlock between the Musicians’ Union and the American Federation of Musicians meant that big names from the US were coming over to Britain for the first time since the 1930’s.

Bill Evans on Jazz 625

Many shows of its era are ill-represented in the BBC archives, as they were either junked after transmission or, if broadcast live, not recorded at all. Happily, this is not the case with ‘Jazz 625’. With video tape recording still in its infancy, machines were in heavy demand. So, many programmes, particularly in the drama field, were ‘telerecorded’ onto 35mm film, from a feed of the studio output. This method made editing a lot easier, and has aided the survival of programmes recorded in this way.

Recorded at the BBC Studios, London, on March 19th, 1965

Bill Evans - Piano
Chuck Israels - Bass
Larry Bunker - Drums

BBC documentary: Sun Ra, Brother From Another Planet

Sun Ra was born on the planet Saturn some time ago. The best accounts agree that he emerged on Earth as Herman Blount, born in Birmingham, Alabama in 1914, although Sun Ra himself always denied that Blount was his surname. He returned to Saturn in 1993 after creating a stunningly variegated and beautiful assemblage of earthly and interplanetary music, most notably with his fervently loyal Arkestra.

Sun Ra and his Arkestra were the subject of a few documentary films, notably Robert Mugge's 'A Joyful Noise’ (1980), which interspersed performances and rehearsals with Sun Ra’s commentary on various subjects ranging from today’s youth to his own place in the cosmos. 

Today’s documentary, Don Letts' 'Sun Ra, Brother From Another Planet’  from 2005, reuses some of Mugge’s material and includes some additional interviews.

Documentary: ‘The Jazz Baroness’

Storyville, BBC Four’s flagship international documentary department, aired this beautiful documentary about Pannonica Rothschild de Koenigswarter on March 12th, 2010. The film is rare and not available online, so I’ve uploaded it from my personal collection to my youtube channel for all of you to enjoy.

Pannonica Rothschild was born with everything she wanted, got married and had five children, but a man she had never met inspired her to leave and start a new life in America: Thelonious Monk.

Nica first met Monk in Paris in June, 1954, during the ‘Salon du Jazz 1954’ concert. She was introduced to Monk backstage by a mutual friend, pianist Mary Lou Williams, and remained lifelong friends. 

For periods of time, the Baroness supported for Monk, his wife Nellie and his family; she helped get his cabaret card reinstated after it was revoked on at least two different occasions, and provided financial assistance when Monk had trouble finding getting work. Then there was the notorious incident of the drug arrest in Maryland. She took the blame. But whose drugs were they?

In 1972, when Monk became so ill that he needed special attention, he moved into a room in the Baroness’s New Jersey home. Nellie came to the house most days to cook and take care of Monk. They both continued to take care of him until his death in 1982. 

The exact nature of Nica and Monk’s relationship is still a source of fascination. Were they lovers or friends? Was she a patron or a groupie? This film solves the problem by giving the opinions of close friends and his relations.