No other genre can divide people as strongly as jazz.

A (jazz hating) friend of mine said once: “It’s like they are hitting the notes and just hoping for the best” which is hilarious and I don’t totally disagree sometimes.  It can feel unstructured, chaotic and unpredictable (and some days I definitely can’t hack it).

My dad loves jazz, so growing up hearing it often I found a love for it, but for a good few year’s it dropped off my radar.  I was far too deep into rave, house, electronica.  I subconsciously knew when I was “older” I would come back to it, however, I didn’t realise then just how much jazz was a heavy influence on a lot of the music I was listening to.

Any DJs reading, I can’t tell you anything you don’t already know about samples and re-edits etc.. I am just someone who really loves music.   I can’t quote you facts and figures about it, however, I have discovered a new thrill (and sometimes dismay) when discovering tunes I love, are in fact samples.  I’m now constantly listen to music thinking… “I recognise this from something else, what is it. I must find it!”

Circles by Adam F, was what started it for me.  As I had spent many a dark sweaty night dancing to it, to discover it was a cover of a jazz track just blew my mind.

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Adam F “Circles” samples jazz track by Bob James “Westchester Lady”

LTJ Bukem & Roni Size a couple of the other big producers of that time, known for their heavily jazz inflected albums.

So who is Bob James?

Bob James

He is in one of the most sampled jazz artists of all time, he was even once referred to as “The godfather of hip hop” yet this, now 81 year old, had zero relationship with hip hop and for a long time was completely unaware his music was being sampled.  An American jazz keyboardist, arranger, and record producer. He founded the band Fourplay and wrote “Angela”, the theme song for the TV show Taxi. Music from his first seven albums has often been sampled and has contributed to the formation of hip hop.

One of the most famous examples was DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince sampling Westchester Lady on A Touch of Jazz from the duo’s wildly successful 1987 debut album Rock the House — without having any conversation with Bob James. He sued and eventually won the case as both DJ Jazzy Jeff and Will Smith realized this would be even worse for them if they fought it. It was his music, after all

Here are some other popular tracks that have used his music:

De La Soul “Keeping the Faith” & Warren G “Regulate” samples his “Sign of the Times”

Run DMC “Peter Piper” samples his “Take me to Mardi Gras”

Arrested Development “People Everyday” samples his track “Tappan Zee”

The British Jazz scene has been reimagined and reinvented these last few years, so I encourage all you “jazz haters” to give it another try, I am confident you will change your mind.

Checkout some of this year’s artists reinventing the scene:

There are literally thousands of jazz samples used in popular music, turns out you might just love a bit of jazz but were hoodwinked into it.   Nice!

Thoughts from Ninjo 🙂


*image of Bob James By ElxanQəniyev – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

True Tone speakers are a synthesis of a passion for sound and a love of design.


The founder, Robbie, has spent the last decade as a professional sound engineer touring the world with some of the music industry’s biggest names, designing and tuning sound systems on a multitude of scales.

He combined his road tested ‘sound’ with prop-making skills, from a previous life in the film industry, to form the foundation for True Tone Speakers.  The result is the True Tone Classic – a versatile active 2-way speaker, just as happy as a high quality studio monitor as it is in a bookshelf looking and sounding amazing.

The True Tone Classic is being launched for pre-order on Kickstarter, each speaker is assembled by hand, constructed from sustainable, high grade birch plywood which is then finished in a wood or coloured lacquer.  The speaker is active and bi-amplified with a dual 125W amplifier powering a 5.25”carbon fibre woofer and a 19mm dome tweeter. You can connect with XLR, RCA, WiFi and Bluetooth 5.0 (on-board for Kickstarter versions) and there is user adjustable DSP for room correction and preference.

The feature grilles are easily removable and the bass reflex enclosure can be turned into a sealed enclosure via the port plug.  The speaker provides a full-range experience with a true and natural sound image and sound larger than their size.

Our summary…a fantastic blend between a hi-fi and monitor speaker. Compact and beautifully made, with the clarify of a good studio monitor but without the harshness.

Great value and rumours are they are making an 8inch sub that will really give that full sound for a much bigger room.

We love them! Find out more here:

Over forty years ago, a group of scientists, artists and writers gathered in New York to work on the most important compilation ever conceived.  Not from one person to another; it was from Earth to the Cosmos.

In 1977 NASA sent Voyager 1 and 2 on a Grand Tour of the outer planets, a 40’000 year journey to explore Jupiter and Saturn.  NASA felt compelled to include a message for any being that may come across the Voyager’s and so commissioned astronomer and Cornell University professor Carl Sagan (and a small team) to create a message of peace to whomever should listen, could this be the best ever intergalactic mix tape?

And so, the Golden Voyager Record was born…A 12” inch gold-plated copper disc, the worlds (and universe’s) rarest and probably the most expensive record.

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A 90-minute playlist of music from across the globe, a sound essay of life on Earth, spoken greetings in multiple languages and more than 100 photographs and diagrams.

What made the final cut?

It contains spoken greetings beginning with Akkadian, which was spoken in Sumer about six thousand years ago, and ending with Wu, a modern Chinese dialect, a total of 55 dialects.

Earth sounds were included, from footsteps, laughter and heart beats to birds, hyenas and volcanoes.

Then an eclectic 90 minute music selection of jazz, blues, Bulgarian and Azerbaijani folk music, Chinese zither, electronic compositions by Laurie Spiegel, and more.  Rock ‘n’ roll from Chuck Berry (‘Johnny B Goode’) was included too, at Druyan’s insistence.  According to Ferris, Carl Sagan had to warm up to the idea of including Chuck Berry’s 1958 hit “Johnny B. Goode” on the record, but once he did, he defended it against others’ objections.  Folklorist Alan Lomax was against it, arguing that rock music was adolescent.

“And Carl’s brilliant response was, ‘There are a lot of adolescents on the planet,’” recalls Ferris.

Finally, the record also included message of peace from US president Jimmy Carter, facts, figures and dimensions, all encased in a golden box.

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“This is a present from a small, distant world, a token of our sounds, our science, our images, our music, our thoughts and our feelings. We are attempting to survive our time so we may live into yours”.

What is it made of?

The record is constructed of gold-plated copper and is 12 inches (30 cm) in diameter. The record’s cover is aluminium and electroplated upon it is an ultra-pure sample of the isotope uranium-238. Uranium-238 has a half-life of 4.468 billion years.  Each record is encased in a protective aluminium jacket, together with a cartridge and a needle. Instructions, in symbolic language, explain the origin of the spacecraft and indicate how the record is to be played. The 115 images are encoded in analogue form.

With an inscription reading “To the makers of music – all worlds, all times” hand-etched on its surface

And incredibly and most importantly, this golden record may be the only remaining evidence of humanity.  To prove not only there was life on earth but to capture the essence of what it means to be human.

To us this makes the most valuable record in the entire universe and beyond!

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The story of these unique records is also the subject of Jonathan Scott’s book  The Vinyl Frontier.

Full info on the Golden Voyager can be found here:

A lovely video overview of the story on YouTube:

We find the people behind Varia Instruments interesting, with their quirky retro designs and a reputation for great sound quality. We love the layout of their first 4 channel rotary mixer and would love to get our hands on one, however, they come at a premium price. First mixers will be delivered by October 2020, they promise.

Finally it’s back! Kaidi’s killer 2008 Japan only album gets reissued – Serious gear. As featured in our jazz show playlist.

Bringing groove back to the forefront, Wu Hen oscillates between celestial jazz, funk, rap and r&b reinforced with the rugged beat-heavy attitude of grime, jungle, house and garage – a self-styled fusion Kamaal describes as Wu Funk.