The Idler Guide to Jazz with Sandy Burnett

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Think jazz isn’t for you? Think again.

Join musician Sandy Burnett for a guide to the many sounds and styles of jazz which developed throughout the 20th century, from bebop to the avant garde and everything in between. Filmed in the Vortex jazz club in Dalston, East London, The Idler Guide to Jazz gives an overview of a unique musical art form which recently celebrated its 100th birthday.

Our host is regular Idler contributor Sandy Burnett, who is unusually both a classical and jazz musician. Having written The Idler Introduction to Classical Music and hosted online course The Idler Guide to Classical Music, he now brings his practical gigging experience as a double bass player to bear on jazz.

Sandy shows how jazz evolved decade by decade through the twentieth century and into the twenty-first, right up to the present day. While important elements of social history are included, the main thrust of the course is the sound and the style of this great musical genre. The Idler Quintet is on hand to offer invaluable assistance, bringing key works from each era to life right in front of the cameras.

By the end of this seven part course you will have got to grips with the different styles of jazz composition, you’ll know about the cultural movements that surrounded them, and you’ll have listened to examples of each as you go along.

Sandy Burnett is one of the UK’s most versatile music commentators, enjoying a career that combines broadcasting, performing and lecturing. After working as music director for the RSC, National Theatre and in London’s West End, Sandy spent a decade as one of the core team of presenters on BBC Radio 3.

The Idler Guide to Jazz features the Idler Jazz Quintet

The Idler Jazz Quintet is made up of some of the top players on London’s vibrant Jazz scene.

Alongside Sandy Burnett on bass we have:


Miguel Gorodi on trumpet. Miguel is a London based composer, teacher and trumpet player performing across a broad spectrum of jazz and improvised music. His debut album Apophenia, featuring a stellar nonet, is out now on Ubuntu. He currently leads and writes for the Miguel Gorodi Nonet, and co-leads the Gorodi/Ingamells duet ensemble and the Gorodi/Braysher Quartet.




Rachael Cohen on saxophone. Rachael is one of the leading voices of her generation. Head hunted by bass player Michael Janisch, Rachael became the first female to be signed to his now internationally renowned label Whirlwind Recordings, releasing her debut Halftime in 2013 to critical acclaim, MOJO magazine placing it in their top ten Jazz records of 2014. Rachael is a mainstay at London’s most famous Jazz Club – Ronnie Scott’s.




Matt Robinson on piano. Matt is a London based pianist, composer and improviser, working primarily in jazz and contemporary music. He is much in demand as a sideman and recording artist as well as performing regularly in various collaborations and original music projects. Matt studied at the Royal Academy of Music and was awarded the Edwin Samuel Dove prize and a Yamaha Jazz Scholarship upon graduation.




Dave Hamblett on drums. Dave is an award-winning drummer based in London. He released his debut album on Whirlwind Recordings to wide critical acclaim, garnering glowing reviews from the Guardian, the Evening Standard and the Irish Times and radio play on BBC Radio 3, Jazz FM, BBC Radio Scotland. He is a Principal Lecturer at Leeds College of Music.



The course outline:

Introduction (4:00 minutes)

Jazz: A Brief Introduction

Lesson 1: The Early Years (13:30 minutes)

The first examples of jazz up to 1927

Lesson 2: 1927 – 1939 (22:00 minutes)

The popularising of the jazz genre

Lesson 3: 1940s (18:00 minutes)

The birth of the bop style

Lesson 4: 1950s (15:30 minutes)

The Cool School and its performers

Lesson 5: 1960s (13:00 minutes)

Hard Bop and its pioneers

Lesson 6: Avant Garde (12:00 minutes)

Improvisation, fusion and the future of jazz

Conclusion (7:00 minutes)

A summary of the key figures on the timeline of jazz history

About the tutor

Sandy Burnett is one of the most authoritative broadcasters in the field of classical music. After working as music director for the RSC, National Theatre and in London’s West End, Sandy spent a decade as one of the core team of presenters on BBC Radio 3. He has written The Idler Guide to Classical Music and presented our online course An Introduction to Classical Music.