Val Wilmer on BBC Radio 3

Listen up! Don’t miss this BBC Radio 3 programme at 18.45 on 4th March, then available on iPlayer A Portrait of Val Wilmer documents the life of the celebrated journalist, photographer, and historian of Black music. Contributors include publisher and broadcaster Margaret Busby, percussionist Andrew Cyrille, writers Paul Gilroy and Richard Williams, Val’s co-worker at Melody Maker in 1969, and Val’s brother Clive Wilmer.

This marks the republication of Val Wilmer’s groundbreaking book, the 1977 classic As Serious As Your Life: Black Music and the Free Jazz Revolution, 1957–1977, ‘the story of how a generation of revolutionary musicians established black music as the true vanguard of American culture. Placing the achievements of African-American artists in their broader political and social context … Wilmer evokes an era of extraordinary innovation and experimentation that continues to inspire musicians today.’ The book includes a chapter on women’s role that has been acknowledged as a pioneering move in gender studies.

Out on March 1st and available as paperback and ebook direct from the publisher, Serpent’s Tail. You can pre-order a copy now:

This book saved me from giving up. Even though the jazz musicians Wilmer wrote about were mostly male, their approach to music making, their passion and their activism resonated with me and showed me a way to move forward musically.’ – Viv Albertine

 We congratulate Val, valued friend of the Women’s Liberation Music Archive, on her achievements.

See more on this amazing woman and her work over 50 years, including this 1973 interview by Rosie Parker in Spare Rib:

excerpted interview of val wilmer spare-rib 17 1973

News from the Fuse: legendary Ivy Benson musicians reunion


A reminder of a great gig happening next week at the Vortex, Thursday 15 February.
Claudia Lang-Colmer, Crissy Lee  & Ann O’Dell (Ivy Benson Reunion band) come to ‘Swing the Vortex’
These legendary musicians are joined by special guest Alyson Cawley on tenor sax.
The Reunion Band played at the last two Celebrations of what would have been Ivy Benson’s 100th and 101st birthday.

Rare photo of Claudia Lang-Colmer playing electric bass in 1962
Claudia Lang-Colmer played double bass in the Ivy Benson band from 1954 and is still an in demand player in Cornwall today.
Crissy Lee joined Ivy Benson in the early 1960’s and is a renowned drummer, bandleader and teacher and has appeared on television many times.
After leaving Ivy Benson, Ann O’Dell played with Roxy Music, Blue Mink and Bryan Ferry as a piano player and arranger. She led her own band ‘Chopyn’ and has continued to play and tour with many groups.Plus Double double bass Claudia Lang-Colmer & Alison Rayner Two of the UK’s top double bass players in musical conversation. Also don’t forget that Alison’s group ARQ, return on Wednesday 21 February to Soho Pizza Express Jazz Club after their sell out show last June. We had school reunions and parties of friends coming down to this event last time and they were treated to infectious grooves, lyrical melodies, jazz with folk, rock, classical and other world music influences, at one of London’s best and friendliest jazz rooms in Soho. This is a rare London date for the group, so book your tickets here: INFO/BOOK Take a look at ARQ playing live at the Soho Pizza Express last time VIDEO


Friday 9 March The Old Church, Stoke Newington Church Street. Join us in celebrating International Women’s Day with one of the ‘world’s greatest cabaret singers’ Barb Jungr plus Solar Flares BOOK NOW