by Don Crispy
The English tastemaker teams up with a longstanding friend
and a special guest
The word DJ takes on ever broader meaning. At
its root, it still boils down to a disk jockey who spins vinyl
for a living. But under the DJ rubric are radio DJs, club
DJs who beat-match tracks, as well as turntablists
who scratch. Many DJs are also creators who DJ to supplement
their livelihoods and get their tracks out to audiences, while
others take on roles as tastemakers, influencing the public
through compilations and record labels.
English DJ Gilles Peterson is perhaps the ultimate expression
of the latter style of DJ. From his early days as a club and
pirate radio DJ through his more recent incarnations as label
boss and BBC radio host, Peterson has shaped tastes through
an untiring crusade to spread the side of the dance music
spectrum occupied by jazz, funk, soul, hip-hop, Latin and
Peterson got his first introduction to black music growing
up in the 70s in South London, where he was exposed
to the budding jazz-funk scene. In 1981, he and a friend set
up a sound system and began to spin at a local wine bar while
transmitting on short-range pirate radio.
His skills soon got noticed, and he was invited to join Londons
Invicta station, at the time the citys largest pirate
jazz-funk radio station. He was also frequenting a record
shop run by a DJ named Paul Murphy, at the time the leading
figure in Londons jazz-funk community. He was
doing the full-on dance bit, playing mad jazzy shit,
Peterson recalls on his Sony website. I was going into
the shop, making a nuisance of myself and being irritating.
It was by being an irritant that I got myself a gig.
Peterson was invited by Murphy to take his place at Camdens
Electric Ballroom, and so found himself at the center of Londons
jazz-funk scene. At this time he also began to release records,
working with seminal US labels like Blue Note to create a
series of Jazz Juice compilations.
In 1986, he began a Sunday residency at a club called Dinwalls
that ended up lasting seven years, while another residency
at the Royal Oak brought him together with other future stars
of dance music. Id play upstairs with Chris Bangs
and downstairs it was Rampling, Oakenfold, Holloway... Out
of that scene came nearly everything we have today in the
In the late 80s, Peterson launched the first of what
would be two immensely influential labels. Acid Jazz, which
would be the platform for bands like Incognito and the term
for a musical movement, actually began as a joke. We
put on this old 7-inch by Mickey and the Soul Generation...
I started speeding it so it sounded all warped. Chris Bangs
got on the microphone and said, If that was acid house,
this is acid jazz.
Peterson was approached in 89 to set up a new label,
leading to the birth of Talkin Loud, onetime home to
the Brand New Heavies, Jamiroquai, Roni Size and 4 Hero, and
spawning five Mercury Music Award nominations in the process.
His radio activities also continued apace, with a show on
Kiss FM from 90 to 98, after which he joined BBC
Peterson has been a frequent visitor to Japan since the 90s,
and has formed key relationships with like-minded Japanese
DJs. One of these is Toshio Matsuura, who through his United
Future Organization DJ trio has focused on the more soulful
side of dance music via their influential Jazzin nights for
over a decade now.
Representing the new jazz-funk generation is the nights
special guest. A gifted keyboardist, Jazztronik has worked
with a range of international and domestic artists to issue
some of the best albums of the new millennium in the jazz-funk
Between Peterson, Matsuura and Jazztronik, Yellow should have
one of the funkiest nights its seen in a good long while.
Sep 25, from 10pm, ¥4,000
w/1d. Yellow. Tel: 03-3479-0690.