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The monthly Tea Break is a series of short, fun items in What's New Magazine that also gives jazz musicians and others an opportunity to update us with what they are doing.

Jon Newey (Jazzwise) - September 2017


Jon Newey



In the spring of 2017, Jazzwise Magazine celebrated its 20th birthday with a week-long anniversary festival at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. Jazzwise has its roots in a jazz education company founded in 1984 by guitarist Charles Alexander to distribute jazz educational books and video and run the Jazzwise Summer School. Jazzwise magazine was launched in April 1997 as a monthly consumer jazz magazine and Jon Newey re-launched it in Feb 2000. In 2013, Jazzwise became part of the Mark Allen Group, an independent Jazzwise magazinepublishing group which produces more than 50 magazines in business, healthcare, education and, since 2013, a growing music division that now also includes The Gramophone and Songlines. In 2001, the website was launched and in 2011 Jazzwise became the first jazz magazine in the world to have a digital app edition available. Now it is said to be the UK’s biggestselling jazz monthly magazine, aims to be the leading English language jazz magazine in Europe and is exported to over 30 countries.

Behind the continued success of Jazzwise is Editor in Chief and Publisher, Jon Newey. Growing up in London, Jon has been associated with the music industry for many years, first as a musician from 1970. From 1977-1991 he worked on the weekly music paper Sounds where he was part of the core team that grew the title to become the biggest ABC audited circulation UK music weekly in 1981. From 1991-1999 he was Publishing Director of Tower Records’ TOP magazine and also Editor/Publisher of the Tower Records Guide to Jazz. He was a writer and consultant for Jazzwise since its launch issue in 1997 and he became Editor / Publisher from January 2000.

Jon has written for a wealth of other jazz and rock publications, books and album / DVD sleeve notes and his contribution to jazz has been recognised by his twice receiving the Jazz Journalist of The Year Award at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2006 and 2012. Jazzwise itself has twice been named Jazz Publication of The Year at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2007 and 2010; Jazz Publication of the year at the Ronnie Scott’s Awards 2007 and Best Jazz Media at the Jazz FM Awards 2013. Jon was awarded Honorary Associate of the Royal Academy of Music 2014 for his Services to Jazz.

His activities in journalism tend to overshadow his other contribution to music as a drummer / percussionist. Since 1970 he has played and recorded with psych-blues band, They Bite; psychedelic funk band Crew; England’s Glory (pre-The Only Ones); soul funk band Bandana; funk/reggae/jazz sextet Jabba; Nick Kent’s Subterraneans; Chris Jagger’s Atcha and currently with Latin-jazz band J-Sonics, whose album Different Orbits we reviewed here.

Getting such a busy man to stop for a tea break is no easy task.

Hi Jon, tea or coffee?

Italian expresso please.


Milk and sugar?

A sugar lump always had a particular appeal.


You seem to have been at the helm of Jazzwise for ages. How did you get involved?

I was one of the core group of writers from Jazzwise’s launch issue in 1997 along with Brian Priestley, Kevin Le Gendre, Stuart Nicholson and the late Keith Shadwick. At the time my day gig was publishing director of TOP magazine, owned by Tower Records, and I also wrote its Jazz Fusion column and edited the Tower Records Guide to Jazz. I and took over the publishing and editing of Jazzwise in January 2000.


I think a lot of people don’t know that you also play congas and percussion with the Latin-jazz band, J-Sonics. I really enjoyed the 2015 Different Orbits album. Is the band still active?

It’s been our busiest year yet. In 2017 we have so far played Ronnie Scotts, Pizza Express Jazz Club Dean Street, the 606, and played the opening nights of the South Coast Jazz Festival and Love Supreme Jazz Festival with more gigs lined up into 2018. I’m also involved in the two Jazz For Labour gigs in Brighton during the Labour Party Conference at the end of September. I toured as a full time musician from 1971 prior to joining the music press in 1977 when I started at SOUNDS music weekly.


J-Sonics featuring Grace Rodson playing Ed Motta's Banareira at The Hideaway





Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or digestive biscuit?

Take them away, quick!


I caught part of an interview on the radio recently with some chap who had been involved in newspapers for many years. He was saying that he feared the days of the newspaper were numbered with online news. I disagree; I think there will always be people who enjoy reading print. I see many people taking their time with newspapers and Waterstones in Wells is always busy with people buying books. I think there is room for both and people use them differently. Do you find that?

When TV was invented they said it would be the death of film. When downloads and streaming were developed they said it would be the death of CD. It’s always the death of something or other, which never actually comes to pass. I’m a hard copy lifer, whether it’s magazines, newspapers, books, vinyl or CD. Online is fine for soundbites or to sample music, but to digest and enjoy anything properly you simply have to experience the real deal. The tactile nature of magazines, newspapers and books is irreplaceable, hence the huge fall-off in Kindle sales. Book sales are now on the increase just like vinyl, and CD sales still outstrip all streaming and download sales. But there’s room for both. Jazzwise has a digital edition and website with daily breaking news as well as the print mothership, which incidentally is growing subscriptions and copy sales, both here and in the USA. Good writing, like good music, doesn’t come free


Jazz is clearly alive, well and thriving. I see Dinosaur have been deservedly nominated for this year’s Mercury Awards, but the award scene appears to be changing. The prestigious JazzFM Awards seem to be very big now - international and including Blues. The Parliamentary Jazz Awards, that you hosted last time, have been more intimate and locally focused, but have been put back to October.

The Parliamentary Jazz Awards are taking place just a bit later this year and will be on 10 October at the new Pizza Express Jazz Club in Holborn. Considering the duplicity over Brexit and what I think have been the lies of the Leave campaign, maybe it’s better the event is away from the House of Commons at this juncture. The jazz community might want to go headhunting after a few beverages!


Miles Davis and John Coltrane




If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?

I know it sounds a bit obvious but I’d like to brew up for Miles and Coltrane.


What would you ask them?

Amongst other things, I’d enquire as to what awaits us on the other side?






Of course it took Miles Seven Steps to get to Heaven. That reminds me of buying singles, you knew what was on the 'A' side but the other side could sometimes be a surprise. Perhaps we should ask The wise 'Colonel'? Each month in Jazzwise you have a column written by ‘The Colonel’. Who is the Colonel, or is that subject to the Official Secret’s Act?

The Colonel lives on the Isle of Wight where he is involved in a local New Orlean’s revival band, the Ventnor Foot Tappers. Currently he is taking a sabbatical from his Jazzwise column as he has been instructed to reform the Isle Of Wight Home Guard and refurbish the local air raid shelter due to the increased tensions between countries that possess nuclear weapons. However he has promised to send the odd postcard to Jazzwise and assures readers that he is keeping his eyes on the jazz world to make sure decent values aren’t forgotten.


Here's Miles Davis playing Seven Steps To Heaven
with George Coleman (tenor sax); Herbie Hancock (piano); Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams(drums)




What can we look forward to coming up in Jazzwise?

The September issue is just out with a fantastic cover feature on Arun Ghosh and his electrifying new album, plus in depth features on Mike Gibbs who celebrates his 80th this year; singer and composer Zara McFarlane; flautist Gareth Lochrane, vocalist You Sun Nah telling Jazzwise about the album that changed her life; newcomers guitarist Rob Luft and bassist Olie Brice; over 100 albums reviewed plus the biggest jazz news section on the planet. We are in production with the October issue at the moment which will feature a cover story on the hottest new female vocalist of the past decade. Much more too but it’s all under wraps at the moment including a special London Jazz Festival issue coming up in November.


The LJF issue is always a treat. Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?

The superb alto saxophonist Camilla George and her band featuring guitarist Shirley Tetteh;


Jazz Jamaica with Camilla George and Shirley Tetteh playing Don't Stay Away at the Hideaway with Camilla George (alto sax); Denys Baptiste (tenor sax); James McKay (trumpet); Harry Brown (trombone); Ben Burrell (piano); Shirley Tetteh (guitar); Gary Crosby (bass); Pete Eckford (percussion); Moses Boyd (drums) and Guest Vocalist - Zara McFarlane.






John McLaughlin Live at Ronnie Scott's


John McLaughlin’s stunning new live album recorded at Ronnie Scott’s during the JazzwOrphy Robinson Astral Weeksise 20th anniversary festival week;

trailblazing New York drummer Mark Guiliana’s forthcoming new acoustic jazz album Jersey,

and vibist Orphy Robinson’s Spiritual Jazz Reimagining of Van Morrison’s masterpiece, Astral Weeks at the Jazz Café in Camden in October, to name just a few….





Are you sure you don't fancy a biscuit? I also have custard creams or ginger nuts.

Didn’t you hear!



Jon Newey

Picture: David Foreham


Utah Teapot


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Tracks Unwrapped
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