1986 was a watershed year for the so-called ‘1980s Jazz Revival’.
Indeed it was one of the few positives in a fairly duff year for music. Style magazines like The Face were on board and DJs such as Baz Fe Jazz, Patrick Forge, Gilles Peterson and Paul Murphy were spinning Blue Note sides for a young, energetic dancefloor crowd at The Wag and Dingwalls.
Courtney Pine and Miles Davis even got into the pop album charts. Later in the year, the Soho Jazz Festival (later to morph into the hugely successful London Jazz Festival) took place to great acclaim, spawning a great documentary called ’10 Days That Shook Soho’.
On 21 March 1986, Blue Note legend Art Blakey appeared at the Shaw Theatre as part of the Camden Jazz Week with the London-based dance crew IDJ. It was one of the drummer’s final London gigs. He was amazed to discover that his 1960s music had been adopted by a hip, young crowd, dancing to tracks such as ‘Ping Pong’ and ‘Cubano Chant’.
I was taken along by my dad, and the gig was a mind-blower. During this version of Jackie McLean’s ‘Dr Jekyll’, made famous by Miles Davis, what you don’t see is the audience going crazy, dancing, whooping it up. Things were never quite the same again for the London jazz scene, and sadly Blakey passed away just a few years later.