by Edgar HR Roman
Millennium Jazz Music (MJM) is a label and service provider based in London and home to talent from across the UK, France, and SouthAfrica. MJM was founded in 2003 with the main focus of providing production, sound engineering for artists and producers and music workshops for young people. – MJM Site
Last week we hosted one of MJM’s most revered projects, The Jazz Jousters musical collection series, in where MJM combined the musical expertise of various international beat-makers from around the world to pay homage to 8 great jazz legends; Chet Baker, Bob Brookmeyer, Bobby Hutcherson, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Chick Corea, Grant Green, and Miles Davis. The following is an exclusive interview from the good folks over at Millennium Jazz Music.
First off, I want to thank you for granting me this interview session with the Millennium Jazz Music label. I came across MJM while cyber-digging for records and I was blown away by what you guys are doing with the Jazz Jousters volumes. Congratulations on your success!
You’re welcome. Thank you for taking the time to share MJM’s movements with your followers.
For the folks that have not heard of Millennium Jazz Music and the Jazz Jousters, can you please let us in on who Millennium Jazz Music is as a label, and who the Jazz Jousters are?
Millennium Jazz started as a production name I used in ’99 when either putting music out on a very small scale or when doing workshops with young people and helping artists with the mixes and completing their projects. Later in 2007/8 I started to get a bit more serious with it as an independent label as the name had got around over the years and artists began sending in demos. Though the first release was my ‘The Appetizer’ EP back in 2003, this was basically the beginning of a long trail of releases from new artists and producers that came along, such as Louis Unseen, Awakening Dawn, Slugga Tee, Deeflux, Esdee, Natural Selection, Dem Man, Le Reveur aka Skence, DJ Zen-C, Ed XL, Diligent Fingers, Blue Buttonz, Skinnista aka Nu Balance and obviously the Jazz Jousters collective etc.
The Jazz Jousters originally came from an idea of starting a private Facebook group and inviting a load of Jazz fusion/Jazz talent that I knew to have a more respectful approach to “sharing” their music in hope of it possibly sparking off some ideas of doing some kind of collaboration work. There’s potential for many other things to come from this, but for now you’re seeing the first idea with the producers coming together and sampling one of the Jazz greats. But don’t sleep; there are a lot of musicians, poets, DJ’s, rappers and vocalists that you are yet to hear.
For now I must give a shout out to our regular contributors. Producers like Mr. Moods, Wriggly Scott aka DJ Solo, B 3 N B i, DRTYDRDZ, Organiq Creator, Blue Buttonz, Skinnista, Es-K, Joe Davies, DJ Mentos as well as the Spoken Word and vocalist Emma Louise, and rappers MarLikNun & Awakening Dawn.
I’m curious, what’s the meaning behind Millennium and why the Jazz Jousters name?
It’s pretty random really. I always come up with random names or titles for things. Millennium Jazz was actually a song I wrote in ’99. At that time I had a lot of people saying that they never knew which direction I was going to take the music next. One minute it’s laidback, then it’s up tempo, then it’s on a battle tip, then story based, or sometimes deep. I thought to myself, “hmm, spontaneous, like Jazz” as my uncle James, a Keyboard player, used to say. So from then I decided to go into the new century being open minded musically, having fun and keeping to messing with different styles and techniques and be as free as I was when I first started, hence, “Millennium Jazz Music”. As for the Jazz Jousters, that was completely random as well. For some reason I’ve always liked the words “Joust”, “Jouster” or “Jousting”, I even made a track for one of Computer Music magazine’s remix competitions in 2003/4 (I came in joint second) and named the track ‘Papermate Jousting’. But again, the Jazz Jousters was just me being random until I heard myself say it and thought it was pretty catchy.
I noticed that the albums have the name of one song, are you guys putting together albums with variations of a particular jazz song by various international beat-smiths?
Yes, that’s exactly what we’ve been doing when making the Jazz Jousters material. It’s good that you ask as I’ve recently noticed that a lot of bloggers and webzines have thought that we sample different tracks by a single artist, where as it’s more a case of us sampling a single song by a single artist. It all started with us all sampling ‘Almost Blue’ by Chet Baker and then we called the project ‘Almost Blue – The Jazz Jousters Tributes Chet Baker’. We’ve managed to keep naming each release using the same formula until recently releasing vol.7 where we used Grant Green’s version of ‘My Funny Valentine’, but we couldn’t use that title so I just thought of using some wordplay and called it ‘Granted – The Jazz Jousters Salutes Grant Green’.
How did you meet the producers involved with the Jazz Jousters? Seems like a lot of staying up late and waking up early to catch everyone, right?
Haha yeah sometimes there are some late nights involved, but mostly when finalizing the projects, the podcasts or just keeping up to date with someone out of your time-zone. Though truth be told, once we’ve sorted out the plan for the latest session everything pretty much comes together quite smoothly as everyone is so professional in what they do.
I’ve known some of the Jousters for years via collaborations or mutual respect of each-others music. Some I’ve worked with in the past both online or in the studio. Some are actually MJM producers (Skinnista, Diligent Fingers and now Blue Buttonz) and other members have introduced others in the Jousters group.
Which countries do these beat smiths represent?
So far the Jousters that have contributed to these releases are in England, France, South Africa, Dubai, Canada, USA, Australia, Poland and Germany, but there are a lot of other members that are yet to make their first appearance. So watch this space…
What do projects like this mean to the international trip-hop/hip-hop jazz scene in terms of unifying various cultures of these musical genres?
I’m not sure if I’m the man to answer that question accurately, but in my opinion on the international scene or community that I see, I think it’s making a lot of us aware of each other and bringing us closer as fellow music makers or music lovers of in general. I used to think I knew a good number of people that make or are fans of this kind of Jazz fusion as I’ve always shared my take on it musically and have worked with various people that are still actively putting out material, but since starting the Jousters community I’ve been introduced to all sorts of new and old music from more Jazz orientated talent.
Even now as we put out the material, the Jousters have kind of grown into a collective that’s seeing the response from people from all over the world. All sorts of people are popping up on our pages from various countries introducing themselves and talking about how much they’re into MJM and Jousters the projects. Some send me messages showing me what they’re doing to spread the word in one form or another, or even ask what they can do to help. I have to give a shout to the party and radio DJ’s, radio stations, bloggers and webzines writers for what they have been doing. So yeah, personally I’ve never been a part of something that has brought so many good people together as much as this one seems to be doing right now. It’s amazing!
Considering that there’s an array of jazz musicians, what’s the inspiration behind Chet Baker, Bob Brookmeyer, Bobby Hutcherson, Bill Evans, Stan Getz, Chick Corea, and Grant Green?
Basically each week one of us will pick which artist and song we will use for the next session. Suggestions and choices sometimes come from general group conversations while sharing our favorite Jazz piece, instruments or performances by a particular musician. Some of us have gone as far as studying the lives of these artists and found their stories to be the inspiration and reason for the next session choice.
You guys keep releasing music so fast I cannot keep up as a publisher, ha ha! What can we expect from MJM and the Jazz Jousters in the future?
Haha, a few people have said that recently. Well it’s a blessing to be working with good people who believe in what they’re doing and have a good work ethic. It definitely keeps me inspired. For the record the Jazz Jousters projects are something we do collectively as an exercise, but pretty much all involved are putting out Singles, EP’s, Albums and doing shows in the their own right. People should also check out each artist in between the Jousters releases.
As for Millennium Jazz in general, there’s a hell of a lot more music to come. Before the year is out we’ve got an EP to come from Awakening Dawn. A production project from Blue Buttonz, More from the Jousters, including material introducing some artists and musicians you haven’t heard of as yet. I have a production project myself, possibly some vocal stuff and a few other things up my sleeve if all goes to plan. Much more to follow from the rest of MJM, but you’ll have to come with us in 2013 for that.
Can you elaborate on what other jazz musicians MJM will be paying tribute to?
Depending on when this goes out, the next tribute (part.9) is to Ella Fitzgerald. It’s too early to say who we’ll pay homage to after that, although, as a lot of people are becoming active on the Jazz Jousters update page I’ve been thinking of seeing if some of the listeners would like to make a suggestion. I used to do this on my Gadget update every now and again on a Sunday and that worked out ok, so we’ll see.
Will we be expecting to hear a full Jazz Jouster-esque album with one single artist/lyricist or a group of artists, perhaps rappers/singers in the near future? You’ve given us a small dose of Awakening Dawn and Emma Louise, can we expect to hear more of them perhaps?
At this point I’d say its best not to expect one from a single artist. That said with the type of people involved at the moment don’t be surprised if it’s announced a little way down the line. But watch this space for a project from a group of artists and producers, that’s easily done!
How can other international beat smith’s get with MJM on the future projects?
For general contact, all MJM info and contact details go out with every release, unless you’re unfortunate to download our free projects from one of those bloggers who delete all our info and then upload our work to their blogs with their own links and nothing but the mp3’s. I don’t understand this, but yep, they’re out there!
Again, I want to thank you for your time, any final thoughts?
I’d just like to say big up Edgar and STERYO for supporting MJM, and if people want to know what’s going on with MJM and the Jazz Jousters to find us on the following:
or email us at
THE JAZZ JOUSTERS COLLECTION SERIES (click on picture)