Meeting Roy Ayres and Jamal Edwards

Guest Blog by Mez Galaria

Tonight I’m going to see Jamal Edwards at Leeds College of Art and Design and then Roy Ayres at Leeds University.  Jamal Edwards is the creator of SBTV. (The UK’s leading on-line youth broadcaster.) A site that definitely contributed to the rise of UK grime scene. Jamal is from an area of London that has a similar rep to Bradford. He’s just released a book entitled ‘The Self and the Vision’ and Leeds College of Art and Design have been astute enough to invite him up to promote the book and talk about his success. Why him? Because his business is our business, because we dance it, wear it, hear it, spray it, live it, say it. And he has managed to turn that into a growing business. We walk into the room, the excitement is palpable, the guy we’ve all come to see is just sat very casually signing copies of his book. He’s young, calm and composed. He stays back so we can take pictures of him before we all head into a auditorium where he speaks freely about how he’s got where he is today and I come away with well, a little more self belief.

Ayres on the other hand is a little older. He’s often cited as the founder of acid jazz. He comes from sunny California but most of the band are from New York, bringing with them that east coast street vibe. As he plays my brain is full of summer blossoms that melt in my mouth like a psychedelic dream. I float away on rhythms and chords of 70’s sugar, transported but not as far away as you’d think from the UK grime scene. Roy’s work has been sampled continuously by a whole heap of Hip Hop producers like Redman and Snoop Doggy Dog to name a few. But he’s not just someone to be sampled. He’s definitely someone I want  to dance, hear, spray, wear, live and say. He’s pushing 72 with no sign of slowing down. Whipping up the crowd, sending them higher and higher with preacher like mastery. The delicate sounds pour forth as if the gates of heaven themselves have flung open and maybe on this occasion they really have. Suddenly there’s an exchange of discrete glances, shuffles and whispers that seem to have nothing to do with the music. Twitter is awash with condolence messages – Nelson Mandela has passed away. The band know it and so do the audience. The band plays on in celebration of his life.

It’s been a really good night. Both Jamal and Roy have been boss. I’ll definitely be keeping my eyes on Leeds University Union Events Facebook page and www.leedstickets.com but after this bittersweet night, I dedicate this to the great man Mr Mandela. The world will miss you.

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