About Us


Derek Merrill

I was a privileged youth. I studied at a college in London which had a jazz club that presented the very best of contemporary British jazz – live. Not easy to find these days.

What I saw changed my life. This was no ordinary jazz club. I heard close-up the Don Rendell-Ian Carr Quintet with Michael Garrick on piano, the Mike Westbrook Band and many others. It was uplifting and inspiring music then and now, thirty five years later, it has been ‘re-discovered’ and re-released on CD.

The next step from that north London College was the journey south-west across London to the Bull’s Head in Barnes. There you could find live, high quality jazz every single night of the week. The club is still going strong today. It was at the Bull’s Head on one memorable hot summer evening that I saw Tubby Hayes play. This was intense and emotional music that made a lasting impression on me.

It was a long time before I came to present jazz on ICR. Along the way, I absorbed and enjoyed other musical styles including reggae, soca, soukous and salsa; but jazz has always been there. For me, there are links to the spirit of jazz in all these musical forms.

I’ve been with ICR since the very first broadcast. I co-presented Global Beats – which included jazz – but the new Cosmic Jazz format is particularly exciting. We have a solid jazz base but we’ll play any music that – for us – has a jazz sensibility. When we get the selections right – and we often do! – the mix is exhilarating. Check out the playlists on this website for more info.

We’re also part of the local jazz community, publicising the local jazz scene, playing the music of local musicians and welcoming into the studio guests whose knowledge and enthusiasm has brought new joys to our ears. But we’re outernational too – welcoming listeners from around the world – and maybe beyond…

Share our passions and listen to Cosmic Jazz.

Neil MacRae

Neil has been listening to jazz for as long as he can remember.

As they say, this is his story…

In 1973 I went for an interview in Oxford. I had some time to spare while waiting for a train and so I dropped into a local record store. Flicking through the jazz racks, I saw this sleeve.

Bitches Brew by Miles Davis.Bitches Brew - Wikipedia

I teased the sleeve out of its plastic wallet. A gatefold. Inside was an essay by Ralph J Gleason and a great colour shot of Miles. Back to the front cover. Right at the top it said “Direction in Music by Miles Davis.” And it was a double.

That cover – by Mati Klarwein – was clearly by the same artist as had provided the inspired cover for Santana’s Abraxas album, also released in 1970. Inside the gatefold was a list of the performers – Wayne Shorter on soprano sax (my favourite sound at the time), Joe Zawinul on electric piano, Bennie Maupin on bass clarinet, Billy Cobham on drums – and another photo of Miles. I had no idea what it would sound like – but I knew it would be my sound. Bitches Brew wasn’t the first jazz record I’d bought, but it was the best looking.

Thirty five years later, I still know each twist and turn on every track. Miles Davis is still the coolest man on the planet and I’ve had half a lifetime of listening to the greatest musical gift of the 20th century.

It’s claimed that Picasso once said “art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”  Duke Ellington called Miles Davis “the Picasso of jazz.” Go figure.

20 thoughts on “About Us”

  1. Very disappointed that you are no longer downloadable,cant listen to you on the way to work any more!

  2. Dear Eugene,
    I share your disappointment but I am afraid it is the result of the new practice at ICR FM. We can only make available the facilities they offer and they have chosen to use Mixcloud. I have forwarded your comment to Charlotte the station manager and it might help if you also contacted her (charlotte@icrfm.co.uk). Derek Cosmic Jazz presenter.

  3. Upcoming event at the Barbican, London:

    Jerry Dammers’ Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra (and Reggae Ensemble)
    with special guest Cornell Campbell and more tba

    Fri 18 Jul, Hall
    Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London EC2Y 8DS

    The Specials and 2 Tone’s founder Jerry Dammers takes his cosmic jazz orchestra into reggae, ska and rock steady territories, in ’the gig that keeps on giving’ (The Independent).

    At its last concert in Berlin the Spatial AKA Orchestra, containing some of the cream of Britain’s jazz players, expanded the scope of its repertoire. The original space sounds, funk jazz and cosmic blues have met strange library music and a strand of what Jerry calls the ‘lost summer’ of reggae, rock steady, ska, and the big band rhythm and blues which gave birth to it. Jerry offers his interpretations of all this music, with arrangements which sometimes salute newer styles such as hip hop, dubstep or drum and bass.

    Further info and booking details: http://bit.ly/TJBQL6

  4. Dear Derek/ Neil,

    My name is Olivia Castle and I have just started to pursue a career as a Jazz singer. I have a brilliant team of music industry professionals, such as managers and lawyers, in my team in London at the moment, but in the mean time I am based in Suffolk (Easton). For that reason, I was wondering if there was any chance any of my music would suit your radio show? I would love to come in to where you record and have an interview on air if you so wish too. Do you think this would be a possibility? When at University, I co-hosted a Radio show with friends of mine so I am familiar with the set up.

    My website is http://www.oliviacastle.com which should give you an idea of what I do and the kind of music I sing.

    I look forward to hearing back from you very soon.

    Best Wishes,


  5. Hi Neil and Derek!

    I would love to send you some info and download-links for new nordic releases. Do you have an email-address I can use?

    We would love to submit to you the newest release from the norwegian jazz ensemble; LEO – Love Exit Orchestra.

    More info about the band at http://www.leojazz.com.

    Wishing you a wonderful day!

    Greetings from Sheila Simmenes
    SHE Music

  6. Hi again!

    And thank you for your email. I have tried responding pr. email, but received a error-alert (posted below). Do you have another email-address I could use?

    Thank you again so much!

    Greetings from Sheila Simmenes
    SHE Music

    This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification



    Message will be retried for 1 more day(s)

    Technical details of temporary failure:
    Google tried to deliver your message, but it was rejected by the relay smtp.domeneshop.no by smtp.domeneshop.no. [].

    The error that the other server returned was:
    451 Temporary local problem – please try later

  7. Hi guys,

    Found you via a link from Ipswich Jazz Club. I can know listen to some decent music on my Mac, while working from home. Keep up the good work!

    Wondered if you could add the web link below to your links page. I’ll do likewise.

    As you’ll see from my profile info, I used to run jazz sessions at Colchester Arts Centre from 83-96. Been out of the loop for nearly 20 years, but know I’m back. We kick off next month (January 10th) with John Etheridge, Anita Wardell and Reg Webb Trio.

    Hope you can oblige.



  8. So What.

    Ms Badu uses the opening riff of So What from Miles’ classic Kind of Blue on her live album. I used this example on a friend’s daughter and my goddaughter of how, despite him now being in the ‘Heaven Sent Jazz Club’, his influence is still with us today.

    I’d play the opening bars of So What from Miles’ album, then put on Badu’s. They were quite impressed!

  9. Hi Steve
    Great link between Erykah Badu and Miles – I don’t know the live album but this has made me seek it out. Yes, Miles’ influence continues doesn’t it: as for many other writers and artists now, it’s the groundbreaking On the Corner album that is one of the biggest influences on artists in and out of jazz – rap, hip hop, new soul, electronica and more.
    Your open mindedness is very much in the spirit of Cosmic Jazz – thanks for your support and – keep listening!

  10. Hi Derek,
    Missed the Black Panthers doc, but wil catch up on iPlayer.

    I first came across Gil Scott-Heron when a friend of mine played me ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’. I subsequently bought ‘From South Africa to South Carolina’ and virtually all his albums on vinyl, one of my favourites being the live LP which features ‘The Bottle’.

    He influenced so many hip hop artists – from Chuck D (Public Enemy) to Kanye West, although he never wanted to be credited for that.

    How sadly ironic that having villified drug taking in some of his songs such as Angel Dust, he would succumb to it too.

  11. Hi Derek,

    Have you ever played any tracks by Partikel or Swiss group, VEIN? Both playing the club in May.

    Still impressed by the varied music you showcase – not all to my taste, but most is!

    Based on your recommendation and having checked out their website, hope to book Mammal Hands in 2018.

    All the best

  12. Hi Steve. No I Have not played them.. I am aware of Partikel but will have to look up VEIN.
    Hoping to come to Colchester again soon, great to hear about plans for Mammal Hands.
    Are you aware that both Dee Dee Bridgewater & the Brad Mehldau Trio are coming to the Norfolk & Norwich Festival in May?
    Thanks for the supportive comments.
    Best wishes

  13. Hello Derek,
    I’m currently researching for a TV drama series about RAR, set in Southall in the 1970s, and was hoping to talk to you at some point. I’d be grateful if you could you drop me a line when you get the chance, please.


  14. Thank you Mark for your comment. I am sorry that we are unable to put up the normal shows at the moment as the programme is recorded in a small studio in a community training/music workshop/small live music venue. Social distancing is impossible there and the place has had to close temporarily. We are trying to work out if we can record shows from home but we are still active on the site. We are posting music selections with commentary and YouTube clips of the music as well as other jazz features. My colleague Neil has recently added a substantial piece, with links to play the music, to celebrate the 80th birthday of Herbie Hancock. He has just added another very sad one on Covid-19 deaths of jazz musicians to celebrate their work and to hear some of their music.
    We will continue to add recommended playlists, commentary and links to the music and will do what we can to get the show going again. I am sorry that you are missing the normal show, so are we and it is encouraging to know it has been missed by others too. Thank you once again for your feedback and stay safe.

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