The Billy Jenkins Listening Club

Billy Jenkins and Tony Messenger square up in the boxing ring. Photographed by Beowulf Mayfield

Billy squares up with producer Tony Messenger. Photographed by Beowulf Mayfield.

A fight to the bell...

Of all forms of jazz, free improvisation is possibly the most challenging for the listening audience. Billy recognises this and to make things a little easier for listeners he devised his musical Big Fights - inspired by the sport of boxing. Two improvisers face each other and, when the bell rings, they come out of their respective corners playing - no biting, no gouging and absolutely no playing of standards! When two or three minutes have passed, the bell rings again and the playing must stop. This way, free improvisations are presented round-by-round in "bite size" portions. It's all very simple really - but it's not so simple to record, as producer Tony Messenger recalls...

Series Two, Episode Six: Big Fights - with Tony Messenger

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Club Credits

The Billy Jenkins Listening Club webcast is presented by creative photographer and former jazz columnist Beowulf "Wulfie" Mayfield, pictured above.

Watch the companion animated video on YouTube

Record producer Tony Messenger worked with Billy during the 1980s and 1990s, recording many of Billy's most famous albums including the True Love Collection, which is ranked in the BBC's 50 Greatest Jazz Albums playlist.

The music played in this episode is a snapcast exclusive from the Big Fights cassette series, not yet available in digital format.

More episodes

For further short audio-visual pleasures, have you seen the Billy@60 music sn-apps?