mercurical pundits

Prizes: how the pundits love to debate and judge. There does seem to be a jazz album (just the one..) on the Mercury shortlist each year, but who could argue that Kit Downes wasn’t a worthy nominee? I started listening to jazz because I heard music that moved and excited me, it caught my imagination and I wanted to hear more. I was rather entertained by the pundits on the Mercury Prize show last night when they were asked for their views on Kit Downes. Having been eloquent and incisive about the other acts they were suddenly at a loss, and then got strangely defensive and protested that they felt stupid – as if the music was an accusation.  After a bit of mumbling about token jazz albums (doh!), one of them then professed to have been ‘drawn in’ by the live performance. That, it strikes me, is the instinct to follow – respond to the live-ness and spontaneity of the music and listen to what draws you in and makes you feel something.  And maybe opine a bit less


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