2017 saw Colin Curtis celebrate his 50th anniversary as a DJ, a career that started out in his mid-teens at Newcastle-Under-Lyme’s Crystal Ballroom, before making his all-nighter debut at Stoke’s hallowed Golden Torch, one of Northern Soul’s foundation venues, eventually becoming one of the scene’s leading figures as a result of his legendary ‘70’s partnership with Ian Levine at the Blackpool Mecca. This is Colin’s own story:
By 1979 the development of Jazz rooms at major Soul / Funk Alldayers was providing a much-needed outlet for the more discerning collectors and the fanatical Jazz dancers. The UK Jazz Funk scene began for me in earnest in 1978 when I moved from the Blackpool Mecca to Manchester’s Rafters nightclub on Oxford Street. The clash of new imported Soul, Funk and Jazz music coming out in the USA and being shared with a fresh new audience in clubs like Rafters Manchester, Chaplains Birmingham, Locarno Birmingham, Rufus Manchester, Cassinellis Standish Leeds Central and Nottingham Palais was creating a potpourri of music fashion and dance styles.
I had started to experiment with the jazzier side of dance tracks at Blackpool Mecca in around 1976 with artists like Patrice Rushen, Bill Summers, Azar Lawrence, Charles Earland, Johnny Hammond, Donald Byrd etc, all artists I had discovered using the inner sleeves of Blue Note, Fantasy, Prestige and Mercury labels. As a collector of all styles of black music including Soul, Funk and Jazz my interest was being drawn more to albums and particularly Jazz albums as my brain, as proven with 60’s and 70’s soul, had an unquenchable appetite for knowledge and unearthing new music. I was thriving on searching out more of this amalgamation of Jazz styles adding fusion, percussion, vocals and tempo to this burgeoning genre.
As the Jazz room identity increased within this environment for me Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, Manchester all became prominent in their enthusiasm for Jazz Dance. The fashion, passion and dance began to take on almost a religious aura combined with the unique camaraderie and respect. Out of this grew a passion amongst certain dj’s in the midlands and the north of England to start digging a lot deeper for music in the Jazz Fusion / Dance category. Baz Fe Jazz, Chris Reed, Shaun Williams, Simon Mansell, Jonathan Woodliffe, Paul Murphy, Eric & Floyd, Hewan Clarke and many others were willing to push the barriers. This Jazz Dance explosion spread across the country with Dj’s like Dr Bob Jones, Colin Parnell & Boo Sylvester adding to the London connection via clubs like The Electric Ballroom and The Horseshoe. This scene thrived for me featuring club nights devoted to Jazz Dance and an increase of Jazz rooms and Jazz breaks on the AllDayer circuits drawing in both interest in the music and the voyeurism of watching the dancers and their individual interpretations.
So this compilation acts as an introduction to this electric, cool and uplifting music that was affecting so many enthusiastic dancers and Dj / collectors. All the tracks on here are taken from one of the most prolific and emerging labels for this genre Muse Records that offered the complete spectrum of styles to fit in with this emerging scene crossing over with Jazz Fusion, Be Bop, vocals, electric keyboards, and percussion.