Day in the life of… BBC Radio Producer Thomas Rees

30th October 2018

Once a month, we find out what it is to experience a day in the life of someone behind the music… 

J to Z — hosted on rotation by Jumoké Fashola, Julian Joseph and Kevin Le Gendre — airs every Saturday on BBC Radio 3. As the station’s prime time jazz programme, broadcasting every Saturday from 17:00 – 18:30 GMT, it elevates a selection of Jazz from past, present and future. Ahead of J to Z’s free London Jazz Festival show on 17 November, Thomas Rees (pictured above with Roy Hargrove) takes us through his typical day as an assistant radio producer. 

 

09:00 Every week the J to Z production team have a planning meeting to map out future episodes of the show. We record regular studio sessions at BBC Broadcasting House, as well as gigs and special live shows at venues around the country.

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10:00 Listening time. I spend a lot of my week listening and keeping up with the best new releases. We also play classic tracks on J to Z, which is a nice opportunity to dig into the archives.

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11:00 Programming the show. Brainstorming this week’s running order with producer Dom Tyerman and one of our presenters – Kevin Le Gendre, Jumoké Fashola and Julian Joseph – and working on the script.

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12:00 Recording the show, either a script recording to accompany a concert we’re broadcasting or a full studio session at BBC Broadcasting House. We’ve had some amazing ones – Sons of Kemet, Tigran Hamasyan, Maisha and Norma Winstone, to name a few.

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15:00 Prep for a feature recording. Every week we invite a musician to share some tracks that have inspired them and influenced their work. In the past few months we’ve had Chick Corea, Kamasi Washington, Chris Dave, Vijay Iyer, Linda May Han Oh, Marcus Miller and Lizz Wright. Along with the sessions, this is one of my favourite parts of the show. You get amazing recommendations out of if it. Roy Hargrove introduced me to a Freddie Hubbard album called ‘The Hub of Hubbard’ which has become a favourite, and thanks to Kiefer I’m now obsessed with Egberto Gismonti. You also get brilliant insights into the music itself – an insider’s take on what makes the jazz greats so great.

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16:00 Record the feature. We play out the guest’s track choices in the studio and discuss what’s interesting about them. Essentially a nerdy jazz chat and chance to get deep into the music i.e. the dream.

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17:00 Edit the feature. These are really fun to make and allow for some creative editing. We run the tracks behind the guest’s voice so you hear them pointing out interesting features and reacting to the music, as they did in the studio. Sometimes they sing along. Keyon Harrold scatted an entire Clifford Brown solo perfectly.

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18:00 The rest of my time is taken up with admin and odd jobs – arranging sessions, hiring drum kits, keeping the webpages up to date and doing social media for the show. A chance to listen to some more music in the background.  

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19:00 After work I often go and check out a gig. The Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet at Ronnie Scott’s (which we recorded for the show) and the Steam Down Orchestra at the Jazz Cafe are a couple of recent favourites. I listen to a lot of podcasts as well. I’m a huge Song Exploder fan.

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20:00 I do a lot of writing (about music, travel and the arts) alongside my radio work. I’ve been to Haiti a couple of times recently and I’m becoming increasingly obsessed. There’s nowhere else quite like it. I’ve been doing a lot of reading and listening around that lately and trying to teach myself some Haitian Creole. I’m also a very-out-of-practice trumpet player.

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21:00 You can have too much of a good thing and I think it’s important to take time away from music to avoid fatigue. You want to stay fresh and inspired. I love cooking and I cycle a lot. I find it quite mindful. The rush of the wind is good for blowing out the cobwebs. My girlfriend finds jazz “stressful” so that helps. Her mum says it makes her feel sick. I might make her a mixtape for Christmas.

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