An entertainment and copyright litigation lawyer by profession (now retired!), and an across-the-board music lover by passion, John started playing records in and around London in the late 70s, after a Eureka moment at one of the first New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festivals in the mid-70s, from which he returned with interviews from everyone from Allen Toussaint to Betty Carter (many of which were published in the now-defunct Jazz & Blues Review). His first dj residency was at the Belsize Park Town & Country Club (60ts & northern), followed by Greek Street’s Beat Route club (jump blues and 40s r &b), and the Whisky-A-Gogo (before it became the Wag).
He was probably the first UK selector to present fully-focussed tropical dance music events, with 10-year weekly residencies (1984-1994) at the legendary Bass Clef Jazz Club in Hoxton Square, playing a mix of Afro, zouk, Brazilian beats, Konpas, reggae, dancehall, soul, soca, salsa, afro-cuban, hip hop and jazz – even Punjabi bhangra for a while.
Other regular residencies followed at the 101 Club, Club Mankind (now Oslo, in Hackney), Bossa’s African Paradise Kingsland Road, Havana Hanover Square, Cuba on High Street Kensington, Guanabara in Covent Garden, and others too numerous to mention. He’s played at many festivals and major event throughout the world.
In 2008/9, John wrote, devised, and presented BBC Radio 2’s Viva Latino – which brought a fully-dedicated latin music show to the BBC airwaves for the first time , with worldwide listening figures for the 14-part series reaching 9 million at one point.
Over the last 30 years, he’s put together approximately 200 compilations of latin, afro, zouk, Brazilian music, soul, flamenco, Irish traditional music, and even rockabilly, Cajun, zydeco and rock & roll – making him one of the three or four most prolific compilers in the UK.
He has lived in and around Hackney for the last 30 years and is currently involved with the running of The Institute Of Light, London Fields.
The African beat has always been essential to Brazil’s music. But now the new generation of musicians, singers and rappers are tweaking the basics of Fela’s funk to fit with samba swing, bossa tempo and nordestino nous. John Armstrong’s new…