The Billy Jenkins Listening Club

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Series Four

1. Musical miles...

Martin France with road map. Photography by Beowulf Mayfield

It's the first episode of Series Four and we've covered a lot of ground so far, but that's peanuts compared to the travelling drummer Martin France got up to during 1993. In this episode Billy and Beowulf ponder on the back-straining mileage Martin and his drum kit put in that year... But, as Billy points out, that's what drummers do. Listen

2. Forty albums of madness...

Tony Messenger reading about Don King. Photography by Beowulf Mayfield

Record producer Tony Messenger returns to Billy's shed to recall his first meeting with Billy and the genesis of their recording collaboration. We take a listen to part of the 1994 album Entertainment USA which featured saxophonist Martin Speake and the voice of former US President Ronald Reagan. Listen

3. Strange meeting in suburbia...

Billy Jenkins with signs pointing west. Photography by Beowulf Mayfield

Beowulf "Wulfie" Mayfield casts his mind back to early 1994 and the day he ventured out to Mottingham where London's deep southern suburbia blurs into Kent to witness Billy recording with the Voice of God Collective and the Fun Horns of Berlin. Listen

4. "There is no glass..."

Charlie Hart and Billy Jenkins in Equator Studio. Photography by Beowulf Mayfield

Former Voice Of God Collective member turned record producer Charlie Hart explains explains the philosophy of Equator Studios, his personal approach to recording and the making of Jazz Gives Me The Blues. Listen

5. Messages from the Other Side...

Ghostly image of Billy Jenkins at the piano Photography by Beowulf Mayfield

Our presenter, hunting for the spiritual energy of recording sessions past, returns to Equator Studios and encounters 'William' - the ghost who communicates by tapping Morse code on the piano keys... Listen

6. Sharing the Musical Vision

Trumpet player and bandleader Chris Batchelor. Photography by Beowulf Mayfield

Trumpet player Chris Batchelor recalls his memories of recording with the Voice of God Collective on the 1988 album Motorway At Night, and describes his use of Billy's music in his teaching work and with Pigfoot, his own 21st Century Avant Trad band. Listen

Series Three

1. Going back to hell...

Picture of guest performer Daniel Lemmard and vintage photo of the young Billy Jenkins

We're travelling back through the years to Bromley at the time when the 1950s were rolling over into the 1960s... It was then that a young Billy Jenkins was taken from his happy world in the back garden to the church hall and cast into the hell that was nursery school... Listen

2. Terror on tour...

Billy Jenkins smells the foul breath of impending doom. Photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

It must be so great living the life of a travelling musician... heading off to exciting places, staying in top notch hotels, enjoying exotic local food and drink, the harmony of sharing life on the road with fellow virtuoso musicians and the inspiration to be found by working with the local players as well... and getting paid for it. Oh, and all those wonderful encounters with adoring fans... how could anyone ever tire of that? Listen...

3. A stick in the wheel

Mike Pickering at The Vortex, London, in 2016, photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

One technique that is a constant in Billy's music is the "stick in the wheel". One method might be use a skilled musician playing an unfamiliar instrument, another approach is to have two drummers using stick and drum kits. Beowulf Mayfield asks drummer Mike Pickering how he approached - and whether he enjoyed - playing alongside another drummer... Listen

4. Teenage Bill Cleans Up

Billy Jenkins with press cutting about Barry Mitchell and Wing Music, photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

As a teenager in Bromley Billy Jenkins made himself useful first as a part-time cleaner and later a part-time guitar teacher at Wing Music, a music equipment and instrument shop run by the late Barry Mitchell. In this episode we hear teenage Bill perched on the speaker stacks telling an even younger Beowulf Mayfield about those times and listen to what might have happened if keyboard giants James Taylor and Django Bates had wandered into the shop with bass king Mike Mondesir and drum legend Martin France... Listen.

5. Navigating a sea of turmoil...

Billy Jenkins by The Thames at low tide. Photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Billy's 2005 album When The Crowds Have Gone was described by music critic John Bungey, writing for The Times, as the guitarist's "darkest record yet...". Set against a backdrop of change in domestic circumstances and alterations to the UK licensing laws on musical performance, life for the musician - and life as a musician - was passing through turbulent times... Listen.

6. In Defence Of Music...

Billy Jenkins faces Judge Beowulf Mayfield. Cut outs and photography by Beowulf Mayfield

Being a creative musician can lead to trouble. Disgruntled concert-goers demand their money back, critics frostily dismiss performances and recordings that fail to conform to their expert definitions of "Jazz", others may complain that the music isn't being treated with the gravitas that the "serious" listener is surely entitled to expect. So what has Billy got to say when presented with these accusations? He's not exactly breaking the law but some sort of apology might be in order, wouldn't you think? Listen.

Series Two

1. When artists meet...

Billy Jenkins and Maggie Day photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Billy believes you can always recognise a fellow artist. It's obvious from the way they talk about their work, just listen to what they say - you can never mistake it. Well... almost never. Special guest performer and Channel 4 First Dates sensation Maggie Day stepped up to the microphone to read Billy's account of the time when two artistic minds didn't quite agree... Listen

2. A tough lesson...

Billy Jenkins and souvenir bull photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

When Billy performs away from home, he takes great care to learn as much as he can about local opinion and sensitivities. In this story we hear about the time, earlier in his career, when Billy put his foot right in it... Listen

3. A teenage ambition fulfilled...

Mike Pickering at the drums photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

When drummer Mike Pickering was a teenager he told a careers adviser that he wanted to be a drummer in a blues band. He had to wait a few years but in 1995 Billy Jenkins made that dream come true when he asked Mike to be part of the "holy trinity" at the heart of the Blues Collective. In this episode he recalls his part in that history... Listen

4. Those scary strings...

Billy Jenkins and teddy bear Bot photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

There's something out there in the darkness... It sounds like a scary film soundtrack is sneaking through the dark suburban streets... Don't worry, Billy assures us, it's only a string quartet - members of the Gogmagogs musical theatre group to be exact, and they only sound scary to consumers of the mainstream media... Listen

5. It's all too much...

Billy Jenkins playing guitar in a supermaket car park. Photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

There's too much going on in the world - too much information, too much noise, too much social pressure and too much of everything! In this episode Billy describes how the irritations of suburban life inspired one of his most stamping, stomping and comical blues songs...Listen

6. A fight to the bell...

Billy Jenkins and Tony Messenger square up in the boxing ring. Photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Of all forms of jazz, free improvisation is possibly the most challenging for audiences. Billy recognises this and to make things a little easier for listeners he devised his musical Big Fights - inspired by the sport of boxing. Two improvisers face each other and, when the bell rings, they come out of their respective corners playing. When two or three minutes have passed, the bell rings again and the playing stops. It's really very simple - but it's not so simple to record, as producer Tony Messenger recalls... Listen

Series One

1. Rage Against the (mp3) Machine

Billy Jenkins covering his ears photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Billy confirms that he is still alive, explains the intricacies of the low strung guitar and mourns the decline of traditional analogue recording... Listen

2. Billy Jenkins sees the light

Billy Jenkins lit with blue light photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Billy describes how, and why, he embarked on his musical journey back to his blues roots after many years of playing jazz... Listen

3. 'Anything could happen'

Charlie Hart photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Multi-instrumentalist, bandleader and record producer Charlie Hart describes meeting Billy through Wood Wharf studios performing with the Voice of God Collective in the late 1980s... Listen

4. Did you lock the back door?

Billy Jenkins locks up for the night photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Billy discusses the constant pressures imposed by the forever-connected, immediately responding digital world. There's so much to take in it's no wonder he can't remember if he's locked the back door...Listen

5. The pain of smooth jazz

Billy Jenkins models Sade-style lips photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Billy explains his philosophy of "aural cartoons" and describes how an overdose of so-called "smooth" jazz can really grate on the nerves. It might be exploring a form of torture but there's no connection with the Marquis de Sade - really... Listen

6. A life-changing collaboration

Tony Messenger in his psychadelic-wrapped car photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Record producer Tony Messenger jumped into his amazing psychadelic-wrapped car for the trip to leafy Brockley to talk about his long association with Billy Jenkins and the challenges of capturing the essence of his musical ideas on record... Listen

Bonus Features

Series Four Box Set Bonanza - people get talking...

Images of Billy Jenkins and a laptop computer screen photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Series Four involves a lot of people talking about Billy behind his back. Collaborators talk about working with Billy on both sides of the studio partition, the challenge of playing his music and Billy has a few things to say about a well-travelled drummer... Watch and Listen

Series Three Box Set Bonanza - with time-travelling video adventure!

Images of Billy Jenkins and a laptop computer screen photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Series Three involves a lot of travel. It's a journey through time zones to the distant past and London fare zones far from the comforts of Listening Club home territory... Watch and Listen

Series Two Box Set Bonanza - with extra video pleasure!

Billy Jenkins Listening Club on a laptop computer screen photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

To celebrate the completion of Series Two, we compiled another box set for binge listening and this one's a bonanza for the ears and eyes...Watch and Listen

Series One Box Set Binge Video

Billy Jenkins Listening Club on a laptop computer screen photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

We all love a bit of binge listening and, on the completion of Series One of the Billy Jenkins Listening Club, we reckoned we'd made one of the best box set listening binges going - we even made a video to go with it...Watch and Listen

The Ultra Trendy Preview

Billy Jenkins at the microphone photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

The internet seems to be plastered with previews and trailers for films, television shows and albums these days, so we did one as well... Listen

Stay in touch

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Club Credits

Beowulf Mayfield at the piano. Picture by Billy Jenkins.

The Billy Jenkins Listening Club webcast is presented by creative photographer and former jazz columnist Beowulf "Wulfie" Mayfield, pictured bashing out Billy's music on the piano.

The music played in the video is the title track from Jazz Gives Me The Blues.

Chris Batchelor photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Trumpet player and bandleader Chris Batchelor has made use of Billy's music in his teaching work and his band Pigfoot dedicated a whole night at the Vortex jazz club in London to Billy's music.

Martin France photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Long-time Billy collaborator, drummer Martin France can be heard keeping time in Series Four, Episode One.

Series Three introduces a very special guest performer, Daniel Lemmard, Billy's grandson. When Daniel, then six years old, heard his grandfather's voice on an earlier snapcast, he was so excited he asked if he could take part in an episode. Since Billy is someone who definitely puts the "grand" in grandfather he devised an episode especially for Daniel's podcast debut. And we had a very good time recording it.

Among the young voices heard in Episode Six of Series Three is Roxanne Hoyle (nee Messenger), daughter of the track's producer Tony Messenger. Roxanne's musical career shot to fresh heights in December 2018 when her husband, Mark, took her into the studio to record a festive charity single We Built This City On Sausage Rolls. Mark Hoyle is famous online as LadBaby. Created to raise money for The Trussel Trust, the single made it to the coveted 2018 Christmas Number One slot. The 2019 festive follow-up, I Love Sausage Rolls, also hit the Number One slot. All at the Listening Club HQ are very proud of Roxanne and her family's efforts!

Tony Messenger photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Record producer Tony Messenger worked with Billy during the 1980s and 1990s, recording many of Billy's most famous albums including the True Love Collection, which is ranked in the BBC's 50 Greatest Jazz Albums playlist.

Mike Pickering photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Drummer Mike Pickering was part of the "holy trinity" rhythm section at the core of Billy's Blues Collective. After driving and jetting around many parts of the world, he's got plans to use his feet more by leading a marching band...

Charlie Hart photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Multi-instrumentalist Charlie Hart was a member of Billy's Voice of God Collective and played on Uncommerciality Volume 2. He's also produced several of Billy's most recent albums.

Maggie Day photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

The story that opens Series Two is read by performer Maggie Day, sensation of Channel 4's First Dates in May 2017.

Billy Jenkins photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Guitarist, bandleader and composer Billy Jenkins is currently on an open-ended sabbaitcal from live performance. The Listening Club podcast provides an alternative outlet for his creative energies.

For further short audio-visual pleasures, have you seen the Billy@60 music sn-apps?