Feedback Loop - Monk Montgomery - It's Never Too Late - Motown/Chisa Records  

Released in 1969, Monk Montgomery decided it was time for the bass guitar to come to the front of the ensemble and play the role of lead instrument. Joined by a large ensemble formed around a core of Jazz Crusaders, Montgomery’s thick bass sound takes the listener through a journey of swing jazz, Philadelphia soul and African grooves.  

The album opens with Big Boy. A swinging 12-bar blues which sees Montgomery take a lengthy solo. Throughout the album, Montgomery’s bass sits right at the front of the mix. His bass tone is round and full. The combination of his right hand technique, flat wound strings and his regular use of legato techniques gives the instrument a fretless sound at times. He slides in and out of notes with ease. This may be been a way for him to emulate the sound of the upright bass which was one of his initial goals with the new instrument. The presence of synthesised bass allows Montgomery to leave space in his solo lines and let them breathe.  

Although this album, Monk’s debut as leader, has a strong roster of jazz musicians, many of the tracks are given a pop arrangement. Sunday Stroll is a straight-feel composition with a soulful core.  Montgomery plays the melody line over a light backing played by flutes and strings. There are no improvised solos. This follows the career trajectory of Monk’s younger brother Wes who went on to record a number of albums aimed at a wider market.  

Can We Talk To You? is a sunshine pop composition with a wholesome heart accentuated by the string arrangement. Montgomery adds a bluesy touch by bending notes as the piece moves in a funkier direction. This is followed by Your Love which is driven along by 16th note hi-hat patterns.  

A Place In The Sun opens with a short rendition of the melody on unaccompanied bass. Montgomery creates more legato effects by hammering on and pulling off notes. Throughout the album, the leader takes phrases and repeats them as a solo hook. They are often built around pentatonic scales, suiting the harmonically static material.  

The slow moving melody of It’s Never Too Late is played in unison with the keyboard. A bass ostinato continues relentlessly underneath. Tension builds in the middle section as the ensemble crescendo through a passage of quavers. Montgomery begins to use double stops in his lines which brings another dimension to his improvisation.  

Arranged by trumpet player and record label owner Hugh Masakela, The Lady has a distinctive South African feel. This is another performance with a pop-like commercial feel. Montgomery does include an occasional blues lick in to the otherwise diatonic lines.  

The album features two jazz standard compositions. Montgomery plays the melody of Toots Thielman’s Bluesette. He continues into an improvised solo which contains more traditional jazz language than he uses elsewhere on the album. How High The Moon is given a slow grooving straight feel. The piece does burst out in to swing with Montgomery playing bass lines (a rarity on the album). Over this, the woodwind play the melody of Ornithology, Charlie Parker’s popular contrafact. This is the only piece on the album where anyone other than Montgomery is featured as a soloist. Even when playing an accompanying role, Montgomery’s bass remains at the front of the mix and he spends much of his time playing in the high register.  

It’s Never Too Late would set the trajectory of Montgomery’s solo output for the next few years. The double bass had been used as a featured instrument in jazz music. Most notably on Paul Chambers’ Blue Note album Bass On Top. Using the bass guitar in this manner was unusual at the time and would preempt Jaco Pastorius’ more famous example by 6 years.  

John Marley

The Record Store - Pitch 22 - York  

York has always been a stronghold for independent record stores in the North of England. Residents of the city will become dewey eyed and nostalgic when you mention Track Records, Red Rhino, Ark Records, Wild Cat, Inkwell or Hellraiser.  Shops that have supplied the general public’s insatiable musical drug habit in the pre and post internet age. 

Residents of many regions can barely locate one pale skinned vinyl dealer to hold off the shakes. The people of York are comparatively spoilt for choice as a fourth independent record shop has popped up on the outskirts of the city. 

Location tells a tale about the difficulties that face brave and passionate vinyl entrepreneurs. One of York’s record havens is tiny (and has all the more character because of it) and two have chosen to set up shop outside of the city centre in order to keep expenses at a minimum. These would appear to be smart business moves as the three senior record shops have been open several years. No small achievement in an ever changing digital world. 

Pitch 22 caught this writers attention as he drove around the city on the inner ring road. An illuminated location for a shop wanting to avoid the high rents inside the city walls while remaining visible. The words Records Books Art stood out like a beacon, glowing amongst the bleak landscape of Ford Fiestas and Transit vans. 

Those who are planning a pilgrimage to this holy site of art and culture be warned that it is only open from Wednesday until Saturday from 10am-4pm. For visitors taking a day trip to the city, Pitch 22 is only a 10 minute walk from the city centre but it would be a disappointing journey to a locked door. 

Records Books Art is an accurate description but due to the size of the shop, the selection is, well, select. The records are centrally located in a manner of controlled chaos. Stock is roughly arranged by genre or price although the lack of labelling creates enough tantalising unknowns for hardened crate diggers. Frustration could ensue in a bigger shop but Pitch 22 is cosy enough that an efficient vinyl archeologist can have the excavation work done in 15 minutes. 

After having politely asked what genre wet my particular musical palette, the owner kindly grabbed a trowel and dug on my behalf, finding every scrap of jazz vinyl from the bargain crates for my perusal. This was a worthwhile endeavour as he sold a stack of it at a very reasonable price, along with an irresistible copy of Crescendo International magazine from 1975 for a very reasonable £2. 

Art adorns the walls over a selection of books which are primarily focused on music, modern art, poetry and academia. There is a broad range of content in the music section, covering topics from classical history to amplifier construction and Kirk Hammett guitar transcriptions. Stacks of vintage magazines provide a cheap hit of nostalgia to keep you longing for the glory days of analogue and mullets. 

One of the beautiful things about independent record stores is the personal attention that is lacking from the majority of modern commerce. My visit led to a pleasant conversation about records and education with a promise from the proprietor to contact me if a much sought after record appeared on his racks. A promise rarely given in the faceless world of the internet, or one not believed without eye to eye contact. Make Pitch 22 a destination on your tour of York’s record stores. 

John Marley.

The Record Store - Sound It Out - Stockton On Tees  

People succumb to the weight of the post-festive world like a national flu epidemic. Grey skies weigh on the spirit and over indulgence weighs on the gut. Attempts to fight off the bug appear in easily abandoned exercise regimes and alcohol abstinence. Great for social media gloating, disaster for struggling pub landlords. 

Instead of treating January as a painful endurance test, perhaps we can embrace it and find its hidden qualities. The streets are quieter, parking is easier and retailers are practically craving our attendance. Go to any smaller British town on a cold and overcast day and you’ll find an atmosphere that can be a comforting, post-Christmas reality check. Everything is coloured like a faded childhood photograph. 

Stockton-on-Tees is a market town in the north east that fills some easily spouted stereotypes. Charity shops dominate the high street, small businesses are housed in post-industrial shells and the market is still an important, reasonably priced supply line for the local community. The people are noticeably chatty. If you walk in to a shop, there’s a good chance you’ll get a conversation with the proprietor. Not a pushy sales pitch, just a friendly chinwag. 

Sound It Out Records is one of the independent business that are so important to the economy of such towns. They may not be turning over millions each year but they attract people like myself to places we might have not considered going otherwise. 

Situated on a small street, next to a boxing academy and across from a cheap and cheerful pub, Sound It Out is a vinyl lovers paradise. The shop was the subject of a fascinating documentary film by Jeanie Finlay. Released in 2011, the film not only told the story of the shop and its owners, it gave a loving and respectful account of the customers and their home town. 

Sound It Out prioritises vinyl over other formats. There is a small section of CDs but in order to maximise room for stock, they no longer provide cases. This is a minor inconvenience but an acceptable sacrifice for the massive selection of vinyl. Most genres are well represented. They have a large amount of jazz, soul, indie, punk and metal records. 

Where Sound It Out really stands out is in its embrace of the 7” record. Many record shops completely ignore the format. Perhaps seeing it as unprofitable, the 7” is not as attractive sitting on a shelf as a shiny gatefold LP with full colour artwork. The fact that Sound It Out stocks 7” records tells its own story. Catering for music lovers and serious collectors, the shop attracts dedicated regular customers who make music a large part of their life. It is not just a shop for young professionals who feel like they should have a Joy Division album on vinyl for their Instagram profile. 

If you plan to visit the shop, put some time aside and take it slowly. The racks are bursting with thousands of records and the staff are happy to chat and offer assistance. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, I’m convinced they would do their best to find it for you. 

Live music in record shops is becoming a thing of the past. In-store performances used to be a way for the artist and fan to meet and connect, giving the listener a unique attachment to the music. Sound It Out are holding the fort in this respect. I’m yet to attend one of their in-store shows but it’s sitting anxiously on my to-do list. 

Go out, embrace the winter weather, feel a chill, rush into the warmth of the record shop and you’ll surely feel the benefit. 

John Marley.

Feedback Loop - Monk Montgomery - Bass Odyssey - Motown/Chisa Records  

Released in 1971, Monk Montgomery’s second album as leader took him in new directions. On Bass Odyssey, the electric bass pioneer sat on top of the mix and came to the fore as both performer and composer. Joined by members of The Crusaders, the band created a fuzz-laden, groove heavy trip into the world of jazz psychedelia. 

Journey To The Bottom is an appropriate title for a track with two bass players. Double bassist Andy Simpkins steadies the band from the bottom up while Montgomery takes the lead. The harmony is predominantly static although it briefly moves through a chord cycle which is emphasised by Montgomery’s melodic outlining. A riff-like melody is the focal point of this, and many of the compositions on the album. Montgomery’s solo becomes increasingly frantic as he utilises his pick to produce explosive flurries. Drama builds behind him which is essential when the solos are taken over one tonality. Due to the sound of the fender bass with flat wound strings, the use of double stops doesn't bring a great deal of colour to the sound. It brings a heaviness and a subtle rhythmic impact. Joe Sample’s electric piano solo uses motivic development and off-beat stabbing to keep the energy levels high. 

Personage is a relaxed bossa nova with longer and more fluid lines from the leader. The piece is spacious as Montgomery is the only bass player and spends much of the performance playing the lead role. He draws a singing quality from his bass by sliding from position to position. His use of legato gives the Fender bass a melodic quality which is wasn’t associated with up to this point. The whole performance is a showcase for Montgomery’s lead playing. His solo lines are predominantly diatonic to the key although he does adopt chromaticism and uses the blues scale on moments of minor harmony. The band bring the piece to a close with a cross rhythm, playing powerful hits grouped in threes. 

Montgomery plays a soulful melody over the descending chord sequence of Sister Lena. Beautiful in its simplicity, drummer Nesbert Hooper drives the groove along. He catches hits in the melody and fills musical breaks with gentle rolls around the toms. The beat itself is a simple soul rhythm where tasteful embellishment attracts the ear to the performance. 

On Fuselage, Pt. 1, Montgomery uses a fuzz tone on the bass to play a four note melodic riff. The ensemble sit on a forceful minor groove that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Led Zeppelin album. The riff is broken up by a suspended chord which builds the tension before the release back into the main groove. Fuselage, Pt. 2 has a more experimental edge. A wall of distorted sound is created by the onslaught of frantic, fuzzed out bass exploration. Rather than being a frame for solo improvisation, the composition remains a rock-influenced infectious groove. 

Foxy Gypsy opens with a solo bass cadenza over a backdrop of colourful percussion and spacious electric piano. Montgomery’s use of harmonic minor trilling evokes Eastern images. When the four chord minor groove begins, Montgomery takes an extended solo. He continues to use legato techniques as well as double stops and extended rhythmic development. Another cadenza concludes proceedings with the leader sliding emphatically up and down the neck. 

Monk Montgomery continued to play more traditional forms of jazz and helped to encourage its performance through the Las Vegas Jazz Society. However, he was not afraid to experiment with his instrument, fusing jazz harmony with rock riffing, funk grooves and soulful melodies. Bass Odyssey was a large step forward for Montgomery as a unique but sadly overlooked voice on the bass guitar. 

John Marley

York Zine Fest - 21st July 2018 - The Crescent Community Venue  

York is regarded as one of the most culturally rich cities in the north of England. This is true in some respects. However, the type of riches have historically been quite limited. The city has three large theatres, several orchestras, an abundance of museums and a passion for early music. Despite this healthy count of artistically enriching blood cells, the city has had a few vital mineral deficiencies. 

The artistic merit badges that the city boasts are generally of a high-brow nature. There is certainly nothing wrong with that, so long as it is balanced with art for a more diverse cross section of society. York is an affluent city when compared to some of its neighbours, but this brings its own social and financial pressures. Not all of its citizens can afford to take the family to the theatre or immerse themselves in the world of baroque music. 

This situation seems to be changing. There has always been a healthy live music scene in the city but it has hardly been the most cutting edge. New venues are appearing which are willing to push the boundaries of the inherent cultural parameters. The Crescent Community Venue is one of these. Promoting dance music, post-rock, experimental jazz and free improvisation, the zine fest is the latest addition to their programme of DIY events. 

It was once feared that the dominance, perhaps control, of the internet over many peoples lives would kill the zine. Unexpectedly, the opposite seems to be occurring. The vast majority of the developed world can, and do self-publish online. Has this made online publishing less special, less personal and less exciting? 2018 has seen the rise of more zine fairs in Yorkshire than this writer can remember in his thirty-some years. 

Running for the first time, the York Zine Fest is an exciting addition to zine culture in the north. As soon as I walked through the door, I was given a friendly and enthusiastic welcome from the organiser who seemed genuinely grateful to everyone who had taken the time to attend. The room was laid out with the familiar rows of tables and stalls. Despite the standardised lay out, attending these events never fails to excite as you never know what you will be leaving with. I feel the same excitement as I do at a car boot sale. I enter with some change in my pocket and leave with something I never knew that I wanted. 

It is also fascinating to meet the zine creators and interact with such a range of personalities. Some sit quietly and offer a polite ‘hello’. Others bubble with extrovert enthusiasm and can’t wait to tell you about their creations. I even had a lengthy chat with one stall holder about hardcore punk legends Siege and their influence on Napalm Death. A great way to start the weekend. 

After a slow saunter up and down the aisles, I left with a mound of self-published literature tucked underneath my arm. A collection of polaroid pictures taken on an American adventure, a personal account of family holidays, a guide to miniature golf courses on the Yorkshire coast, tips on coping with life changing illnesses, collections of found material, an examination of the corrupted benefit system and a comic about a violent battle for a milkshake are just a few of the items I acquired. If I had no control, I could have left with much more. 

Hopefully this will be the first of many zine fairs in York. The city centre location was perfect, the atmosphere was fun and friendly and the material on offer was as diverse as anyone could hope for. Importantly, it is another friendly but forceful shove for the arts in York. Pushing the whole thing a little closer into the middle. 

John Marley.

Bradford Zine Fair - 30th June 2018  

Bradford City Library is an inconspicuous building. Based in Centenary Square, this sleepy institution is cloaked by corporate cafes, busy bars, optimistic street vendors and children playing in the fountain. Despite its unassuming presence, the library still offers a helping hand for much of the community. 

Talk a walk around your public library and you may no longer find hordes of hungry literature fanatics, devouring all flavours of the written word. However, you are likely to find people making use of services that are being pulled further from their reach. People seeking work write curriculum vitae’s and the elderly make a desperate attempt to become computer literate as more & more services disappear from the high street. The library may no longer be the heartbeat of the community but for many, it is still a vital organ. 

It is in the City Library that the Bradford Zine Fair takes place. Bradford is one of the most multicultural cities in the north of England. Since a post war surge in immigration, different ethnic groups have lived side by side. The process of integration has not always been peaceful but it has been predominantly stable since the 2001 race riots. Zines and independent publishing thrive in areas where diversity creates a quiet tension and people crave an outlet for their opinions, experiences and emotions. 

As you head up to the first floor of the library, you are presented with a small but exciting selection of tables and stalls where Bradford’s diversity is represented. The selection of zines, books and artwork may not be massive but there is enough variety to draw the attention of attendees and library users. Music, politics, LGBTQ+ culture and art are well covered with publications such as How Do We Get Through This? which offers readers an optimistic route through austerity and Shariah Don’t Like It…?,  an overview and examination of the Indonesian punk scene. 

All of the above make fascinating reading and are an essential part of zine culture. However, one of the joys of attending zine fairs is finding the curiosities…the zines and publications that have you reading about topics which would never normally tease your consciousness. Thanks to the zine fair, this writer spent his evening studying the process of dying in B Is For Bodies from Claire Industries. 

A sense of local personality is brought to the occasion by writers and illustrators such as Mike Barrett and Khair Din. Barrett’s surreal tales of roaming wild beasts and genocidal cults are laugh out loud funny. His comedic writing offers a subtle commentary on the deprived areas of the city. Khair Din’s story A Teaspoon Of Shampoo is published by Bradical, a group which aims to expose writing by brown people in the city. 

Three talks take place during the day, the first of which this writer is able to attend. In a cosy lecture room, Kirsty Fife offers a useful assessment of the zine collection at the National Science & Media Museum. Fife is clearly devoted to independent publishing and this enthusiasm shines through her presentation. When discussing publishing relating to pirate radio, Fife sparkles with excitement. She gives an illuminating insight into one zine’s willingness to discuss sexuality and race in broadcasting. It is encouraging to hear about the archive work taking place at the museum. 

Bradford Zine Fair has bravely stepped in to the spotlight and has delivered one of the most unique zine fairs in Yorkshire. The emphasis on local culture, environment and diversity has created an essential platform for the talented writers, visual artists and creatives who work outside of the mainstream in this post industrial northern city. 

John Marley


A Beginner’s Guide To Noisecore 

Noisecore is a musical endgame. Displaying an unrivalled level of nihilism, this is a style of music which takes elements of punk, metal, jazz and free improvisation and compacts them into highly charged sonic bullets.  

The genesis of the genre lays in the hardcore punk scene which took traditional song form and turbocharged it. This culminated in Napalm Death’s scathing masterwork Scum. Released in 1987, the album combined impassioned political commentary with memorable riffing and blasts of noise which enter the eardrum like an ice pick.  

One track in particular resonated with audiences ears, albeit not for very long. Clocking in at around 1 second, You Suffer disregarded all rules of form, length and structure. During the late 80’s, fellow British grinders Sore Throat, Intense Degree and Extreme Noise Terror also produced memorable slabs of distorted wax. Championed by Radio One DJ John Peel, the grindcore genre received an unprecedented level of public attention.  

Several bands would take this blueprint and use it to build a new, even more obscure form of music. Lärm from the Netherlands had been adopting this short and fast formula from the early 80’s. Anal Cunt and the Meat Shits from the USA and Seven Minutes Of Nausea from Australia would play with the genre, each creating unique aural identities.  

You may wonder how much personality can be packed into a 2 second blast of noise. Although many of the tracks may be sub-atomic in size, the particles create a solid form which is as full of character as the individuals who create them.  

Held in high esteem in the noisecore world, Anal Cunt began cramming as many tracks as humanly possible on to a 7” platter. The 5643 Song EP took layers of hard grinding noise and layered them on top of one another, creating a hypnotically nihilistic collage. The band went on to use more identifiable riffage, finding the extremes edges in their deliberately antagonistic lyrical content.  

The Meat Shits followed a similar musical approach to Anal Cunt (albeit with a drum machine) but focused on extreme sexual imagery. One of their contributions to the genre was a heavy use of movie samples, often chosen for their humour as much as their controversial content.  

More bands stayed true to the initial blueprint and followed a line of left-leaning political commentary. This was, and remains to be true in the Brazilian scene. Bands like Noise and Industrial Holocaust use an unpretentious lo-fi philosophy to create fascinatingly bleak releases which ooze mystery and rage.  

The DIY production values of many noisecore bands, along with the heavy emphasis on freely improvised music allows them to have prolific outputs. Many bands have discography’s which stretch into the hundreds. Canada’s Deche-Charge being one notable example.  

The age of digital media has penetrated and manipulated most musical genres, finding new audiences and moving people away from physical products. Noisecore has remained relatively immune to this. While grindcore and hardcore punk attract millions of listeners around the world, noisecore has remained steadfastly underground. Bands clutch on to the cassette format and trade releases as though the last 30 years never happened.  

New bands continue to arrive and shred the ears of younger audiences. Japan’s Sete Star Sept being one of the most active bands currently in the genre.  

Delving in to the world of noisecore cannot be done by clicking a few buttons or loading up Spotify. It demands patience, curiosity and dedication, but it will deliver a whole new world of sounds which will test your tolerance and prejudices. Sometimes humorous, often dark…Noisecore exists like a musical Chernobyl. A place which many find fascinating but refuse to enter.  

10 Noisecore Releases To Check Out (If You Can Find Them) -  

Sore Throat - Disgrace To The Corpse Of Sid   
Anal Cunt - The Early Years  
Meat Shits - Bowel Rot  
7 Minutes Of Nausea - Cancelled  
Noise - Demo Tapes 1991-1995  
Nihilist Commando - Noisecore Violations 2002-2008  
Beip - I Like Penis  
Deche-Charge - Disgrace To The Corpse Of Seth   
Industrial Holocaust - The Holocaust Continues  
Lärm - Extreme Noise 

John Marley


The Jazz Scene - Hull 

Although it may come as a surprise to many, Hull has a vibrant jazz scene that dates back to the 1960’s. On an average week, there are at least 4 opportunities to hear live jazz in the city. Local musicians and enthusiasts have been integral in creating some of the longest running jazz clubs in the north.  

Hull Jazz Club can be traced as far back as the 1960’s when it was run by the local legend John ‘Blind Lemon’ Holborn. Still performing, Blind Lemon is one of those characters that make local music scenes great. Always immaculately dressed and full of wit, Lemon regularly appears at jam sessions in the city to play his signature blues Frankie & Johnny. Hull Jazz in its current form was launched in 1983 by bassist and banjo player Ken Ford who sadly passed away last year. A grassroots promoter in its purest form, Ford brought some of the biggest names in British jazz to the club as well as running regular players nights. Since his passing, the club is being kept alive by a small group of hard working volunteers. Running on a Wednesday at The Goodfellowship Inn on Cottingham Road, upcoming highlights include the Hull Big Band on October 18th & Route De Django on November 29th.  

Another long running jazz session happens at Pave Bar which is located in the fashionable Avenues area of the city. The jam session, which has taken place every Tuesday for a decade sees guest musicians join the Rob Law Trio. The front liners include vocalists Jenny Smith & Kate Peters as well as horn players Ben Lowman, Rod Mason & Stuart Garside. Due to the bar’s location and the lack of admission fee, the jam has a varied and vibrant audience that is made up of jazz fans, drinkers and students. Pave also runs a Sunday afternoon session with smaller ensembles for diners to enjoy. Georgina Barr, Dan Edwards and Martin Jones are amongst the regular rotation of performers.  

The most recent gig to emerge in Hull’s jazz scene takes place at 4.30pm every Sunday at the Humber Street Gallery. Humber Street is an artery of the old town that has seen a great deal of regeneration in recent years. When the sun is shining, the street has a bustling atmosphere with a heady mix of shoppers and culture vultures. The gallery jazz session takes place in the cafe and features duos. Organised by bassist George Beastall, he is regularly accompanying musicians such as Nicki Allan & Thom Whitworth.  

One of the biggest events in the Yorkshire jazz calendar is the Hull Jazz Festival. In recent years the festival has been split into 2 parts with a Summer and Winter edition. This year, they are celebrating their 25th anniversary in style. Jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny will be leading a quartet to open the festival which will also features performances by GoGo Penguin, Arun Gosh and Andy Sheppard.  

One of Hull’s most famous jazz connections comes not in the form of a musician but that of a writer. Philip Larkin was a librarian at The University of Hull, during which time he wrote many of his most well known works. As well as his poetic compositions, Larkin was also a keen jazz fan and the jazz critic for the Daily Telegraph. His outspoken jazz reviews were often full of controversy due to his his criticism of modern jazz. Larkin favoured early styles of jazz performance and this preference is apparent in his writings which have been compiled in a book, All What Jazz: A Record Diary 1961–1971.  

For those looking to do further reading on the history of Hull’s jazz scene, a fascinating book was released in 1991 entitled Hull Jazz and Jazzmen. Compiled by Laurie Dex, the book features interviews with local musicians who have been part of the scene since its beginning. The book gives a powerful insight into the development of a local music scene from those who helped to create it.  

John Marley


Useful Links -  

Jazz In Hull - 

Pave Bar - 

Hull Jazz Festival - 

Humber Street Gallery - 


Leeds Zine Fair 2017  

In 2017 we are walking the line between a golden age and the darkest days of independent publishing. With the growth of the internet and related technologies, anyone and everyone can publish their thoughts in an instant. This can be a great thing. Positive and well thought out articles can be sent into the world to counteract bias in the mainstream media. Social media is like an irritating wasp buzzing around Rupert Murdoch’s head and it’s one which he hasn’t managed to swat or tame just yet. However, for every well constructed article, there are ten more which are ill informed, hastily put together and full of misinformation.  

There has been a fear that the domination of the internet in our lives would spell the end of zine culture and independent publishing in print. It could be argued that the opposite is true. An article on the internet can be written in an instant and forgotten about even quicker. A zine is different. A zine is a commitment. It often takes weeks to write, weeks to assemble and much of the writers hard earned money to put in to production (most of which they will not recuperate). This means that a zine by its nature must contain two things that internet articles sometimes lack, namely passion and sincerity. You may not always agree with what is written in a zine but it would be difficult to question the writers integrity. In these days of disposable media, fake news and short attention spans, a zine should be cherished more than ever.  

Leeds Zine Fair is a celebration of zine culture and the scenes which they are regularly associated with. Now in its seventh year, the fair is held in the Left Bank building on Cardigan Road. Left Bank is a grade 2 listed former church building which is run as a charitable organisation. The event, organised by the Footprint Workers Co-Op, hosts stalls run by zine makers and distributers from across the UK. The event has a friendly and supportive atmosphere with the zinesters visiting each others stalls and offering words of encouragement.  

The material on offer ranged from classic punk booklets and vintage horror magazines to art prints and less conventional writing. There was a heavy leaning towards vegan, anarchist and feminist literature interspersed with tour diaries, Lovecraft inspired horror writing and a nihilistic take on vintage computer games. Some of the people behind the stalls were outgoing and talked enthusiastically about their creations. Others were more reserved, happy for visitors to fan through their booklets and to let their thoughts come out in print.  

As well as reading the fascinating literature on offer, visitors could indulge in a vegan cake, have a drink or take part in creating a zine themselves. Independently published print media has been integral to the growth of many subcultures. Punk, metal and free improvisation are three musical genres that have relied heavily on dedicated fans to document the music in zines. It seems that other genres could benefit from the a similar level of involvement.   

John Marley.

Left Bank -

Footprint Workers

The Jazz Scene - York  

York is not a city well known for its musical exports when compared to other parts of the county. However, it has a friendly and welcoming jazz scene which has been growing steadily in recent years. The resurgence of jazz in York could be traced to the renovation of The Phoenix Inn which is located just inside the ancient city walls.  

When it was reopened in 2009, the new landlord endeavoured to promote as much live jazz as possible. The popular Wednesday night jam session found a new home at the pub and continues to the present day. All players are welcome to sit in with the house band which is fronted by trumpeter James Lancaster. The Phoenix Inn has been host to several vocalists on a Monday evening including Kate Peters, Rachel Croft & Marlena Rose. The Sunday night slot is shared by contemporary jazz outfit The Firebird Quartet, The Georg Ruschmeyer Trio and guest bands from across the region. On a Friday evening, Karl Mullen plays solo on the pub’s upright piano.  All events at The Phoenix are free entry.  

Another pub which hosts a weekly jazz session is The Eagle & Child on the opposite side of the city to The Phoenix Inn. There is a regular rotation of bands led by James Lancaster, Kate Peters, Karl Mullen & Ron Burnett. Ron has been an integral part of the York jazz scene for many years having played in the city since the 60’s and written the jazz column in the York Press. He also leads bands at The Cross Keys on Tadcaster Road. This session is on a Thursday afternoon and is hosted by various traditional jazz musicians and organised by the trombonist Alan Bramley.  

Gypsy Jazz is well represented in York through the Wednesday night jam session at The Victoria Vaults which is close to the train station. This fortnightly jam has been running for several years and has an atmosphere closer to that of a folk music session. Many of the musicians involved in the jam play at other venues across the city including a monthly slot at the tiny & appropriately titled bar The Nook.   

The longest running regular jazz event in the city takes place at Kennedy’s Bar on Little Stonegate every Sunday at 1pm. Having taken place for the best part of a decade, the restaurant has seen hundreds of musicians pass through its doors. The instrumentalists who play there currently include guitar virtuosos Adrian Ingram, Nik Svarc and Jez Platt.  

Opportunities to see touring jazz musicians come predominantly through two venues. The National Centre For Early Music always includes jazz as part of their programme. The venue is a converted church which makes it more suitable for acoustic performances. Christine Tobin & Andy Sheppard are visiting the NCEM in the coming months.  

One of the success stories of 2017 is the Basement Jazz Club which is located below the City Screen cinema on Coney Street. The club brings in cutting edge bands such as Flying Machines, Perpetual Motion Machine & Taupe and just as importantly, it consistently brings in a substantial audience with many events selling out. Gigs are happening at the club with increasing regularity and they bring in a young audience which is vital to the survival of live jazz.  

Another success story of the York jazz scene is the York Jazz Initiative. Spearheaded by trumpeter Ian Chalk, YJI runs several ensembles including three youth big bands, a funk band, an adult big band and a jazz choir as well as organising educational workshops. Although it has only existed for a short time, several of its alumni have gone on to study at highly respected institutions such as Leeds College of Music and Chetham’s. This has led to the YJI becoming an educational partner of Leeds College of Music and receiving funding from the Ronnie Scott’s Foundation. A monthly showcase event is held at The Post Office Club and the ensembles have also played across the regions jazz clubs and festivals.  

York University also plays an important part of the city’s jazz scene. Visiting lecturers at the university include Nikki Iles, Steve Watts, Iain Dixon and Mike Walker. A weekly Monday night jam is held on campus at V Bar during term time and the night always has a lively atmosphere. The University Jazz Orchestra plays two annual concerts with guest soloists. Over the last 12 months, the orchestra has been directed by the Canadian composer John Warren. A resident of the city, John is well known for his albums with John Surman & Stan Sulzmann amongst others.  

For those wishing to learn more about the York jazz scene, you can visit the website which lists all of the jazz events in the city. Although not as well known as its neighbours to the west, York has one of the fastest developing scenes in the north of England.  

5 Gigs For Your Diary -  

Tom Millar Quartet - Basement Jazz Club - 19th September  

Laginha, Argüelles, Norbakken Trio - York University - 11th October  

Christine Tobin Trio - National Centre For Early Music - 11th November  

Andy Sheppard Quartet - National Centre For Early Music - 13th November 

Kate Peters Big Band - The Post Office Club - 3rd December  

John Marley.