Rebirth of The Jazz Rooms

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The Jazz Rooms in Brighton is probably the place I had the most fun DJing – and dancing. Straight No Chaser magazine called it ‘a legendary affair that all should attend’, while Ross Allen, who wrote the Destination Out column, used to refer to it as the longest running club night on planet Earth. That’s a pretty accurate description given that The Jazz Rooms ran for more than 25 years before its creator, DJ Russ Dewbury, put it on hold when he moved to Australia.

Russ always said he used ‘jazz as the starting point’, which was true. But what always seemed the common theme to me was congas. Amid the rare funk, latin jazz, batucadas, afro-beat, and occasional rock or Hip-Hop track, there were always congas – usually from the original record but often also supplied by a live percussionist in amongst the tummy-touching (Saul), leg-twitching (McDisco), and head-grabbing (Nick) dancers. The key was percussion-heavy music, played on a really good system, that you didn’t hear elsewhere. That’s what made people queue up – all the way down Ship Street every Saturday night for more than two decades – just to dance all night in a dark, dingy basement.

And everyone played there: Gilles Peterson, Kevin Beadle, the Soul Jazz crew, a host of others from that scene, and of course Russ Dewbury himself, often accompanied by Stuart Chalk, another Brighton local. I was lucky enough to DJ at The Jazz Rooms several times and have posted a few tribute mixes in the past but thought I’d collect them all together here now that Russ has returned to Brighton and the night’s back on. Most of these feature records I actually played there – a few are recent acquisitions that will get an airing next time I’m back there.

Appropriately, this first starts off with Gangstarr’s Jazz Thing – in this case the remix that samples Kool & The Gang’s Dujii, into which it segues. The standout track for me is probably my favorite funk/jazz record, That Ain’t Too Cool from Johnny Pate’s Outrageous (it always amazed me that You’re Starting Too Fast seems to be considered the big track on this LP), but Get Down With The Get Down by the late Melvin Sparks runs it close. Other real killers in there are Silly Savage, which I can thank Oli Stewart (aka Casbah 73), Madrid’s number one record dealer, for hooking me up with, and Salena Jones’s Keith Mansfield-produced belter Right Now, which I will always be grateful to the late Neil Suddes (aka Towny) for first playing me.

  1. Jazz Thing – Gangstarr
  2. Dujii – Kool & The Gang
  3. Los Barbaros – Cal Tjader
  4. Aleluia – The Jazz Crusaders
  5. Lunar Funk – The Fabulous Counts
  6. That Ain’t Too Cool – Johnny Pate
  7. Etude In The Form of Rhythm and Blues – Paul Mauriat
  8. The Frog – Joao Donato
  9. That Ol’ Bus Smell – Rhythm Combination & Brass
  10. Close Shave – Keith Mansfield
  11. Ronnie’s Groove – Library Vultures
  12. Neighbor Get Your Own – The Rimshots
  13. Get Down With The Get Down – Melvin Sparks
  14. Evil Ways – Richard Groove Holmes and Ernie Watts
  15. Freeway Exit – Guido Carnagy
  16. Silly Savage – Adam Ross Reeds
  17. Right Now – Salena Jones
  18. Off The Wall – Budd Johnson

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The next mix features the great Hawaiian funk group Society Of Seven and perhaps the best of all the KPM library tracks (which feature on many of my mixes): the theme to the Dave Allen Show, Studio 69. I have to credit El Grito for telling me about the LP with the Gonzalez track, though typically it’s not a track he’d ever listened to! Finally, I can’t not mention the synthesizer-demonstration record Orbit III (rumor has it Sun Ra plays on this) and Kenny Clarke’s jazz dance monster Big Bang from the great Italian label Horo.

  1. Bright Star In The East – David Frost and Billy Taylor
  2. Tin Tin Deo – Ray Barretto
  3. Watermelon Man – Maynard Ferguson
  4. Into The Fire – Wynder K Frog
  5. Boo – Richard ‘Groove’ Holmes and Ernie Watts
  6. Bora – Peter Reno
  7. Tellin’ Lies – Ballin’ Jack
  8. Gonzalez – Gonzalez
  9. Superstar – Society of Seven
  10. Studio 69 – Alan Hawkshaw
  11. Orbit III – Orbit III
  12. Gimme Shelter – Cal Tjader
  13. Tamanco No Samba – Tamba 4
  14. Consola Coa – Larry Willis
  15. Big Bang – Kenny Clarke
  16. Young Rabbits – The Jazz Crusaders

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Another band that features in several of these mixes is the Jazz Crusaders, vastly underrated and way better than their subsequent jazz-funk incarnation, The Crusaders. Sweetwater is a nice little jazz dancer in the next mix, and they do a nice job with Sly’s Thank You. A hat tip to Russ Dewbury for the brilliantly cheesey Koniec track, while Bryony’s James’s sublime Summertime came from Max Rees‘s now long-gone record store Hot Numbers in Cambridge (UK).

  1. Sidewinder (Intro) – Kai Winding
  2. Sweetwater – Jazz Crusaders
  3. Good Humor Man – Freddie Hubbard
  4. Spear For Moon Dog – Jimmy McGriff
  5. Pass It On – Pieces of Peace
  6. Smoke (Koke) – Tribe
  7. Hey Doc Help – Jean-Claude Pelletier
  8. Action Replay – Alan Hawkshaw
  9. Business is Business – Ted Atkins and His Orchestra
  10. Black Brothers – Tito Puente
  11. Groovy La Notte – Koniec
  12. Thank You – Jazz Crusaders
  13. Goodbye To The Empire – Maroon Town
  14. Ajo – Peter King
  15. Been To Canaan – Alice Babs
  16. Bayou Bayou – The Aquarians
  17. Laia Ladaia – Tony Hatch and The Satin Brass
  18. Summertime – James Last
  19. Summertime – Bryony James
  20. It’s Over – Nanette Natale

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Someone who’s turned me on to a lot of great records over the years is another Madrid resident, Heavy Usker. He was the first to play me Simbarere, which is on this mix, and I should thank McDisco for getting me Ira Schwartz’s Golden Dream. The real gems here for me are the super rare Wynder K Frog track (I can thank Max Rees for that one, though he probably won’t thank me given how little I paid!) and Plimsoll Sandwich (Jack White Organs of Norwich sure did a nice job on that recording…). Never met anyone else who owns that one but I’d guess there are a few among the VG+ crowd.

  1. Big Noise – Pressure Drop
  2. Blues for Brother George Jackson – Archie Shepp
  3. Ira Schwartz’s Golden Dream – Clark Terry and Gary McFarland
  4. (I Know) I’m Losing You – The Soulful Strings
  5. Backlash – Freddie Hubbard
  6. The Thing – The Jazz Crusaders
  7. KC Drive – Tommy Wills
  8. Hold On, I’m Coming – Wynder K. Frog
  9. Thrills and Spills – Alan Hawkshaw
  10. Oye Como Va – Plimsoll Sandwich
  11. Simbarere – Antoni Carlos and Jocafi
  12. Akiwawa – The Village Crusaders
  13. No. 1 – 20th Century Steel Band
  14. Moody Junior – Junior Walker and the All-Stars
  15. Podaruj M Troche Slonca – Bemibem
  16. Comin’ Home Baby – The Peddlers
  17. Berimbau – Sonny Cox
  18. Light My Fire – The Gerald Wilson Orchestra

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Antonio Carlos & Jocafi feature again here with killer Brasilian psych funk track Quem Vem La, along with the Belgian monster funk track Lupita and another gem from the Polish Brasilian-jazz outfit Bemibem. I think pornmeister Tim ‘Love’ Lee was the first to play me Jan Jan, but it might have been Napolean “I’m not heterosexual or homosexual just sexual” Saulo, who definitely turned me on to Wade In The Water by Peter Herbolzheimer’s Rhythm Combination and Brass, another band who appear in several of these mixes.

  1. Song For My Father – Young Holt Trio
  2. Conquistadores – Chico Hamilton
  3. Saoco – Mongo Santamaria
  4. Cuban Fantasy – Machito & His Orchestra
  5. Evil Ways – Cal Tjader
  6. It’s Your Thing – George Semper Rhythm Combination
  7. Jan Jan – The Fabulous Counts
  8. Subway Joe – Joe Bataan
  9. I Hear It Through The Grapevine – Electric Indian
  10. Ode To Billy Joe – Louis Bellson
  11. Midnight Magic – Sandy Nelson
  12. The Riot – Barry De Vorzon
  13. Money Runner – Quincy Jones
  14. Lupita – Nico Gomez And His Afropercussion Inc.
  15. Quem Vem La – Antonio Carlos & Jocafi
  16. Wade In The Water – Rhythm Combination and Brass
  17. La Batea – Little Joe & La Familia
  18. Jajecznica – Bemibem

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Last but not least is my first Jazz Rooms mix. I put this one together a long time ago and it might even be the demo I sent to Russ before I first played down there. There’s a bunch of classics in here. The Peruvian psych madness of Traffic Sound is another Towny discovery and I think I first heard Sitar Soul on a Jazzman cassette. It’s aways hard to pick the best version of Burning Spear. The Soulful Strings’ take was the first I heard and most people would probably opt for the rawness of the S.O.U.L. version, but for me it’s the entry of Jimmy Smith’s screaming Hammond B3 that wins it. The mix also features my favorite track from the De Wolfe library, Silver Thrust. I first heard Russ play this down at the Jazz Rooms and is one of many he played that immediately entered the little black book of ‘must haves’.

  1. Radiation – Brother Jack McDuff
  2. Burning Spear – Jimmy Smith
  3. Sitar Soul – Phil Upchurch
  4. Fever – Certain Lions and Tigers
  5. No Hay Problem – Art Blakey and His Jazz Mesengers
  6. Tabu – Shorty Rogers
  7. Cocoa Butter – Roy Ayers
  8. Ade – Hugh Masekela
  9. Hippopotamus – Yambu
  10. Hippopotamus – T.N.T.H
  11. Silver Thrust – P. Reno
  12. Investigation No. 1 – Carl ‘Sherlock’ Holmes
  13. Slow Down Sunset – Blues Magoos
  14. Meskalina – Traffic Sound
  15. La Odesia De Tito – Tico Allegre All-Stars
  16. Corean Chick – Peter Herbolzheimer’s Rhythm Combination and Brass
  17. Wack Wack – Maynard Ferguson

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~ by ricardosevere on 03/17/2013.

9 Responses to “Rebirth of The Jazz Rooms”

  1. Monster post Ricardo – pure gold. Miss those Jazz Rooms sessions; pre-session dinners in Brighton peppered with lexicographical confusions; wondering whose breasts Monkey Boy would make a lunge for next; slopping beer on the floor for slippery footwork madness; chin jutting; minesweeping; congas congas congas; disintegrating toilets; and walking up stairs cool off outside, with steam rising off me; and the best music since TLSS. Happy days (will come again — this time with my perfected West African dance moves).

  2. […] and kick-started a vinyl addiction that has lasted to this day. After paying tribute to the Jazz Rooms in an earlier post (my ultimate ’90s venue), I thought I’d do the same for the Mud Club […]

  3. […] a trip to Brighton (UK) next year, I thought I’d post a new successor to the Jazz Rooms mixes, again with the accent on percussion as KPM’s Syd Dale might say. Many of the tracks on this […]

  4. […] Jazz, a few ‘new’ tunes…and lots and lots of soundtracks. If the sound of the Jazz Rooms was congas, the sound of Back On The Streets was wah wah guitars. It started out with me and Saul. […]

  5. […] sorts of nights – when it’s a party crowd rather than punters there just for rare 45s/jazz, and the sound system usually leaves a bit to be desired – I always think 12″s work […]

  6. […] played it to him so he could tell us what it was) while Jingo got play everywhere, including the Jazz Rooms. Hamilton Bohannon, who hip hop heads mainly know for Save Their Souls, contributes the first of […]

  7. […] music played at clubs like Dingwalls, the Mo’ Wax sessions, That’s How It Is and the Jazz Rooms. The mixes below remind me of that time – a time when the only beards in evidence were […]

  8. […] earlier Jazz Rooms mixes have often featured Brazilian tunes, but I wanted to do a Brazil-only one to remind me of […]

  9. […] twitter post from Russ Dewbury about the new incarnation of his classic Jazz Rooms night, now called Soulful Strut, prompted me to post another Jazz Rooms mix. McDisco, Saul and I […]

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