Winner of the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Media, 2019


BMJ Collective

BMJ Collective, “The Journey of Trad”, Livestream for Wall2Wall Virtual Jazz Festival, Abergavenny.

Photography: Photograph by Kasia Ociepa

by Ian Mann

December 10, 2021


For anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to be see the live performance back in August this stream still ticks all those boxes - "Enjoyable, entertaining and educational".

BMJ Collective, “The Journey of Trad”, Livestream for Wall2Wall Virtual Jazz Festival, Abergavenny.

First Streamed 06/12/2021.

Alex Goodyear – drums, backing vocals, Jack Mac – clarinet, tenor sax, lead vocals,
Luke Adams – banjo, guitar,, backing vocals, Clem Saynor – double bass, backing vocals


Since 2006 Black Mountain Jazz, headed by Mike Skilton, has been presenting regular jazz events in Abergavenny, utilising a variety of different venues over the years.

In 2013 the monthly club programme was supplemented for the first time by the weekend long Wall2Wall Jazz Festival. Usually taking place in early September Wall2Wall has since become an established annual event with a growing national reputation.

Needless to say 2020 was, of course, very different.  During the early stages of the pandemic it quickly became obvious that Wall2Wall in its traditional format was never going to be a viable option for 2020. Instead Mike and his fellow BMJ organisers opted for a ‘Virtual’ Festival, establishing a partnership with Mark Viveash of the locally based 47 Studios and Productions. 

Artists who had been scheduled to appear at the 2020 Festival, or who had had club engagements cancelled, were filmed to the highest audio and visual standards in Covid safe conditions during the summer of 2020 by Viveash and his crew and the performances were subsequently transmitted during the autumn to a global, ticketed audience. The artists were paid the same fee as for a live gig and the performances were augmented by informative interview footage. 

It all made for an excellent package, one that was enthusiastically received by jazz lovers far and wide and overall the 2020 Wall2Wall Virtual Jazz Festival could be considered an outstanding success. All of the 2020 performances have been comprehensively reviewed elsewhere on the Jazzmann.

They are also still available to view via the Black Mountain Jazz website.  Some of the music was also immortalised on the limited edition CD “Covid Jazz 2020”, which features a track from all of the artists that took part and which can be purchased via the BMJ website.

With Covid uncertainty still raging during the early months of 2021 it was decided that Wall2Wall would be a Virtual event for the second year running. However the gradual easing of restrictions during the summer ensured that it could eventually become a ‘Hybrid’ event, part live and part on line.

Five very different acts were booked, all travelling to Abergavenny during August to be filmed in performance during the day at BMJ’s regular HQ, the Melville Centre, by Mark Viveash and the 47 Studios team.

In the evening the artists then performed in front of a live, paying audience in the Barn at White House Farm in the nearby village of Llanvetherine. For many of the musicians involved this was their first performance in front of a live audience for over a year and they relished the opportunity to play to a real live crowd, especially in such a delightful, and highly scenic, rural location.

The Barn performances were scheduled on consecutive nights and I was unable to attend all of them. I reviewed the show by the duo of vocalist Ella Hohnen-Ford and pianist Joe Webb and also “The Journey of Trad”, presented by The BMJ Collective, a band led by the Cardiff based drummer and educator Alex Goodyear.

I’m grateful to guest contributor Nigel Jarrett for covering the performances by New Orleans inspired pianist Dom Pipkin and by pianist / vocalist Wendy Kirkland with her “Celebrating the Divas” show.

One live event was actually held at the Melville. Electric bass specialist Shez Raja’s “Tales from The Punjab” project was more reliant on musical technology and wasn’t really suitable to the Barn. After a day’s filming he then played two storming sets to live audiences, the ‘two shows’ format designed to allow for a degree of ‘social distancing’. I covered the second of these, for me the highlight of the Festival’s live programme.

It was originally intended that the ‘Virtual’ element of the 2021 Wall2Wall would be streamed in October but the decision to transmit during November and December, with the footage remaining available until the end of February 2022, makes sense, the long winter nights allowing greater opportunities for viewing.


I covered the live performance of this production at White House Farm and rather enjoyed it, despite my general antipathy towards trad jazz. Drummer and educator Alex Goodyear had put together a programme that managed to be “enjoyable, entertaining and educational”, to quote my good self. The full review of the live performance can be found here;

Cardiff based Goodyear, a graduate of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, has become heavily involved with Wall2Wall over the years. In 2020 he led the ‘house band’ at the ‘Virtual Festival’ and in more normal times led his own Bop Septet at the 2019 Festival. He has also appeared at BMJ / Wall2Wall events with pianist Guy Shotton, vocalists Beck Biggins and Sarah Meek and with bassist Nick Kacal’s Guerillasound group.

Assembled by Goodyear specifically for this Festival project the BMJ Collective featured the drummer alongside his fellow Cardiff musicians Jack Mac (Jack McDougall), Luke Adams and Clem Saynor. 

The Collective’s theme was “The Journey of Trad”, a chronological journey through the history of early jazz, from the American Civil War (or “War Between The States”) to the beginning of World War 2, the programme ranging from  “civil war songs to post depression laments”.

Goodyear is also an acclaimed educator and it is intended that the “Journey of Trad” will also be presented at local schools and colleges. Black Mountain Jazz has always been keen on youth development and on bringing the music of jazz to the wider community, and as the organisation’s ‘house band’ the BMJ Collective will fulfil an important role in this mission.

Essentially the streamed performance was the same production as the live show, the nature of the project entailing that the material had to be played in broadly chronological order, with only very minor adjustments to the set list.

For the stream Goodyear delivered his narrative straight to camera pre-performance, rather than from the bandstand. As with the Wendy Kirkland ‘Celebrating The Divas’ stream there were also occasional information panels superimposed onto the musical footage.

The now familiar “Filmed in Abergavenny, Streamed to the World” opening sequence featured the sounds of the Collective playing “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”.

We then cut straight to the Melville and Goodyear speaking to camera and promising us “a musical adventure”.

First up was the spiritual “Down By The Riverside”, the accompanying information panel informing us that this was a song sung by slaves during the time of the Civil War. Mac featured on vocals and clarinet, sharing the solos with Archer, who was playing a distinctive six string guitar-banjo.

From the same period came “The Battle Hymn of The Republic” (aka “John Brown’s Body”), introduced by Goodyear’s military style drumming and with Mac delivering the evocative lyric as well as soloing on clarinet.

Goodyear’s narration informed us that the War ended in 1865 with the victory of the Union (or Northern) forces. This meant that the slaves were now nominally free, but in the South the imposition of the notorious Jim Crow laws ensured that for African-Americans the cycle of oppression continued. The freed slaves would gather to sing and dance in New Orleans’ Congo Square, where they absorbed influences from other styles of music, particularly those of brass and military bands, with instruments often being acquired from pawn shops.

The spiritual “Wade In The Water”, an expression of defiance in the face oppression, was introduced by the sounds of Saynor’s unaccompanied bass.  Mac’s vocals invested the lyrics with as much authenticity as he could muster, while his instrumental solo found him deploying a bluesy, vocalised tone on clarinet. He was followed by Archer on banjo, a highly fluent and convincing soloist on this somewhat unfashionable instrument. At the heart of it all was Goodyear’s martial style drumming, subtly moving everything along.

“Here’s a pop tune from the 1890s”  declared Goodyear as the trio tore into an instrumental version of “Bill Bailey”, with Mac and Archer sharing the solos.

Goodyear then discussed the mysterious Buddy Bolden, the New Orleans trumpeter many consider to be the first true jazz musician. The word ‘jass’, later jazz, also emerged around this time, although its etymology remains unclear. It did however distinguish the sound of New Orleans from the more common ragtime style found elsewhere. Goodyear also discussed Bolden’s influence on such giants of New Orleans jazz as pianist Jelly Roll Morton, trumpeter Louis Armstrong and saxophonist Sidney Bechet.

After this discussion about the differences between jazz and ragtime it was perhaps ironic that an instrumental version of “Alexander’s Ragtime Band”, a ‘pop’ hit from the 1900s should be up next, with solos from Archer on banjo and Mac on clarinet. The live version, performed later in the day, also featured Mac’s singing of the lyrics.

Goodyear’s drums then introduced “When The Saints Go Marching In”, singing the lyrics in full, his bandmates backing him acapella on the verse commencing “When the band refuse to play”.  This song was performed as an encore at the live show, and in that context couldn’t really have been scheduled anywhere else. How could you end a trad gig without playing this? 

The blues were a huge influence on jazz and next we heard two songs from the pen of W.C. Handy, one of the great early jazz and blues songwriters. Handy also pioneered the publication of jazz tunes as sheet music, thus increasing its sphere of influence.

The first of the Handy tunes was “Beale Street Blues”, which incorporated solo features for Archer on banjo and Mac on clarinet.

Next came his most famous song, the enduringly popular “St. Louis Blues”, introduced by the distinctive sound of Goodyear’s hand drums, accompanied by banjo and double bass. Again this was presented as an instrumental with further solos coming from clarinet and banjo.

The first jazz recording is generally accepted as being “Livery Stable Blues” by the Original Dixieland Jazz Band, released in 1917. Wall2Wall celebrated the centenary of that release at the 2017 Festival with the event “1917 & All That Jazz”, which featured an all star cast of vocalists and instrumentalists plus a narrative written and spoken by Nigel Jarrett.

As a picture of the ODJB appeared on the screen Goodyear informed us that the success of that first release prompted a rush of jazz recordings that lasted throughout the 1920s. The Collective elected to play “After You’ve Gone”, a jazz standard written as far back as 1918. This was introduced by Saynor at the bass and featured Mac’s vocals alongside solos for banjo and clarinet.

The use of saxophones in bands such as the Fletcher Henderson Orchestra gradually saw the clarinet being ousted as the lead instrument in many ensembles. As if to illustrate the point Mac moved to tenor sax for an instrumental version of “Tea For Two”. His solo on the instrument was followed by a lively series of sax/drum exchanges between him and Goodyear.

Mac remained on tenor for the rest of the set. “Blue Skies” featured his singing as he also shared the instrumental solos with Archer and the consistently impressive Saynor.

The ballad “Sweet Lorraine” featured a gentler side of Mac’s tenor playing as he shared the solos with Saynor’s resonant, but melodic, bass.

Goodyear spoke of Fats Waller’s achievements as a musician and songwriter and the band played one of his most famous compositions, “Ain’t Misbehavin’” This was performed as an instrumental with Mac’s and Archer’s solos followed by a neatly constructed drum feature from Goodyear.

The Wall Street Crash of 1929 had disastrous economic effects for jazz musicians. From this period came the promised “Depression era lament”, an instrumental arrangement of “Buddy Can You Spare A Dime?” featuring solos from Archer on banjo and Mac on tenor.

As Goodyear explained we were now coming to the end of the journey. The increasing popularity of big bands in the 1930s led directly to the ‘Swing Era’ as jazz began to outgrow its New Orleans roots.

The performance closed with a rousing rendition of Duke Ellington’s “It Don’t Mean A Thing”. Mac’s introductory vocal was accompanied by the sound of double bass only, the rest of the band subsequently coming in to build the momentum and to end the proceedings on an energetic note with solos from Mac on tenor and Goodyear with an extended drum feature.

Like its live counterpart this was an enjoyable and informative event, enhanced by the quality of the playing from a highly accomplished young band. Of necessity it wasn’t that different (either in narrative or musical terms) from the live show and watching it on screen robbed it of something of the live frisson that I had enjoyed at the Barn. But for anyone who wasn’t lucky enough to be at White House Farm back in August this stream still ticks all those boxes - “Enjoyable, entertaining and educational”.

Details of the full line up for the 2021 Wall2Wall Virtual Jazz Festival appear below;

The wall2wall Jazz videos will stream at staggered dates between 27th November and 9th December. All videos will remain accessible until 28th February 2022. Full Festival line up attached.

Welcome to our 2021 Festival
Filmed in Abergavenny
Streamed to the World
Ella Hohnen-Ford & Joe Webb
A Tribute to the Great American Songbook
Streaming from Saturday 27th November 2021
The Dom Pipkin Trio
New Orleans Comes to wall2wall
Streaming from Tuesday 30th November 2021
The Wendy Kirkland Trio
With special Guest Annette Gregory
Celebrating the Divas
Streaming from Friday 3rd December 2021
The BMJ Collective
The Journey of Trad
Streaming from Monday 6th December 2021
The Shez Raja Sextet
With special guest Tony Kofi
Tales From the Punjab
Streaming from Thursday 9th December 2021
Each individual video is £8 and there is a Super ticket that gives access to all five for £30.

Tickets are classified ‘Single, Family & Friends’, which encourages watching with others and re-watching.  However, we do ask ticket purchasers that passwords are not shared.

Tickets plus full biographies of all performers at

You will see when you visit our website that we have included a Catch Up ticket for access to last year’s festival videos.






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