During 2006, Radio One ‘Worldwide’ DJ Gilles Peterson has consistently criss- crossed the planet, hopping from continent to continent, to play dozens of mind expanding club and festival sessions.
Fresh from spinning at the Coachella festival in Palm Springs, California in May 2006 he arrived in Brazil to play in both Rio De Janeiro and Sao Paulo. More importantly, he was there to present the Trocabrahma podcasts which have since introduced a new generation to the cream of Brazil’s bossa and post-bossa generation. In the old skool mix was Milton Nascimento, Roberto Menescal. Carlos Lyra, Joyce, Joao Donato, Lo Borges and Marcos Valle. From the nu-skool there was B+’s mindblowing Brasil In Time project featuring Madlib & co., Baile Funk DJs Mr Catra and DJ Marlboro and movie star and rootical sambista Seu Jorge. WORD: over 100,000 people have downloaded these podcasts.
In Japan, where he hosts a regular radio show on the influential J Wave, he recently touched down on the turntables at a dazzling Shape Of Jazz To Come. Held in a 21st century style club on the Tokyo bay, 3000 clubbers gathered to hear, amongst others, the inimitable Soil & Pimp Sessions, US horn player Joshua Redman and Detroit’s Kenny Dixon Jnr aka Moodymann.
In London town, Gilles’ two year long residency at Cargo in the thriving Shoreditch area, which featured a blinding array of global artists including Koop, Platinum Pied Pipers, J Davey, Nicole Willis, Max Cole, Jazmine Sullivan, Ed Motta and Airto Moreira came to an end in September. He celebrated his birthday at that final Independent Mix session and it was Jay Z protege, Lupe Fiasco, fresh from sharing the stage at the Royal Albert Hall with Jay Z and Beyonce, who led the audience in a lively version of Happy Birthday.
Scan the names of the musicians and singers include above, or the credits on the superb ‘BBC Sessions’ released on Ether, and you begin to get a picture as to the breadth of music that Gilles Peterson champions as both a DJ and broadcaster. It’s no accident that he competes with Chris Moyles for the highest amount of web traffic of all the DJs on the BBC Radio One website.
Gilles’ Worldwide Awards, sponsored by BBC Radio 1 in 2005, has developed into an ambitious annual event and having generated an enthusiastic global audience - all keen to vote for their fave tracks and artists. It has ensured the Worldwide crew are heavily engaged in planning an equally expansive follow up. In fact, the DJ / label boss is heavily committed to curating major innovative events like the acclaimed Jazz Britannia and his own longstanding night at the Montreux Jazz Festival. His most recent venture is the enticing, two day long, Worldwide Festival at Sete, in the south of France, that he hosted, programmed and launched in the summer of 2006.
2006 has also seen the DJ give a nod to the past in setting up his own Brownswood label. The name in steeped in GP history in that it was the name of Gilles’ flat and music studio back in the day, and was also the name he chose when asked by Japanese outfit UFO to name their label in the late nineties. That label closed its doors several years ago. And Gilles’ own Brownswood Recordings has now begun operations. It’s small scale, fervently indie and has already released a diverse array of music
from the acclaimed Heritage Orchestra, Japan’s blistering nu-jazz combo Soil & Pimp Sessions and singer/songwriter Ben Westbeech. An enticing compilation album, ‘Brownswood Bubblers’, gives us indication that there is much more to come in 2007 and beyond.
Since the Eighties and those ‘Jazz Juice’ albums, Gilles Peterson has notched up over 50 mix CDs/compilations. Always happy to go diggin’ into his unrepentently out-of-hand record collection, Gilles delivered the marvellous ‘Impressed’ compilations of innovative and deep, swinging Sixties UK jazz in 2005. He followed that with the much publicised and televised concerts at London’s Barbican Centre and has since then raided the vaults of the universally celebrated Impulse records to conjure up yet another classic selection of music.
Giving us a chance to re-assess Gilles Peterson’s no less eventful career as a label boss and A&R man, Universal have just re-launched a diverse stack of albums from the Talkin’ Loud catalogue. Over a five year period spanning the late Eighties and early Nineties, he and fellow DJ Patrick Forge ran their spiritually charged, musically explosive and now legendary Sunday afternoon session at Dingwalls in Camden Lock – Talking Loud & Saying Something. It was in 1989 that Gilles masterminded a new label for Polygram called Talkin’ Loud. He had already conspired with Eddie Piller to set up Acid Jazz records – their response to the tidal wave of acid house – and the vision for Talkin’ Loud was a label that worked with young producers and musicians who were destined to be the best of their generation.
Small but unquestionably successful, the label notched up an incredible five Mercury nominations including the Mercury Award winning ‘New Forms’ album from Roni Size & Reprazent. Quite an achievement but one that is not that surprising when one considers that the label roster included 4 Hero, Incognito, Nu Yorican Soul, Carl Craig’s Innerzone Orchestra, The Roots, Reprazent, DJ Krust, UFO, Young Disciples, Galliano, Omar and Marxman amongst others.
Since he ran a pirate radio station out of his back garden shed in south London during his teens Gilles Peterson has devoted his life to promoting the jazz spirit and it’s contemporary urban manifestations around the world. As a DJ he initially honed his skills and deep knowledge in the tough, jazz dance atmosphere of the Electric Ballroom, a club that thrived in the musical and lyrical shadows thrown by emerging electro funk and hip hop. He boldly expanded his influence by taking on the Monday nights at Soho’s bohemian Wag Club and maintained his "soul boy" links through the Special Branch, a club with a DJ roster that included Pete Tong, Nicky Holloway, Bob Jones, Chris Bangs and Danny Rampling. It was Talkin’ Loud & Saying Something at Dingwalls that provided the launch pad for world domination, it was a club that inspired a generation of DJs from UFO in Tokyo to Rainer Truby in the Black Forest to Nicola Conte in Bari, Italy to Giant Step’s Jonathan Rudnick and Maurice Bernstein in New York City.
Gilles Peterson’s experiences as a DJ for Radio One, KISS FM, Jazz FM (from which he was "sacked for playing peace jazz"), Radio London and those classic pirate stations like Invicta and K-Jazz continues to fuel a serious passion for broadcasting. Anyone who has sat in on a live’n’direct Worldwide broadcasts will testify that an alignment of pent up energy, deep knowledge and commitment to new music makes him capable of uniting totally unique diverse musical forces to create a deeply soulful, positive and ever expansive vibe.