Through his labels Acid Jazz, Talkin' Loud, and latterly Brownswood Recordings, he has been associated with the careers of countless well-known artists of the 1990s such as Erykah Badu and Tony Rich plus Jamiroquai. He is also well known as a radio DJ. After starting out on pirate radio, and having shows on various legal London-based radio stations, most noticeably including Kiss FM dance music station, he was recruited to the BBC's youth-oriented Radio 1 in 1998. Peterson is known for his eclectic musical selections, and has even been occasionally mentioned as the new John Peel. However whilst the late John Peel had an "anything goes" range of tastes displayed on his show, Peterson's focus has always been Jazz music, generally Modern Jazz, with a strong emphasis on its use in a club environment, mixed with associated music styles. So you would hear him playing anything from dub and reggae through jazz, nu-jazz, funk, soul, neo soul, quality R&B to drum and bass, house, broken beat, hip-hop, Jazz-funk, latin, bossa nova, samba and beyond.
Widely acclaimed as a musical tastemaker, he spreads his influence on music listeners around the world mostly through his Worldwide radio show on BBC Radio 1 which is also broadcast live on the Radio 1 website and available for audio streaming online for seven days from broadcast. He also does another version of the show which gets syndicated to radio stations all over the world, such as FM4 in Austria and Radio Helsinki in Finland, and does a British Airways in-flight entertainment show too. Parallel to this, his frequent DJing gigs around the world also have cemented a worldwide following -- perhaps rather apt, given the name of his radio show is Worldwide. He has recently been involved with the start of new record label Brownswood Recordings, named after the road in North London where the house he used to live is, though he has since had to move out of after his record collection became too big, and which now acts as a warehouse for his enormous collection of vinyl records. Incidentally, this new label should not be confused with Talkin' Loud, the previous label he was involved with, imprint label called Brownswood Records (note: Records NOT Recordings) which was used to release music from the United Future Organization as well as other Japanese associated projects.
On October 8, 2006, both Gilles & Patrick played at a one-off show at the old site of Dingwalls (now a Jongleurs comedy club). A compilation album of popular songs from the club was also released at the same time, titled Sunday Afternoon At Dingwalls.
Gilles then moved over to Kiss himself, having been fired by Jazz FM for making anti-war comments during the first Gulf War. His shows on Kiss were legendary, playing acts as diverse as Josh Wink, Gang Starr and Horace Silver in the space of a single programme. He was then hired by BBC Radio 1 in 1998 and still takes great pride in the show's concept of 'joining the dots' between different styles of music.
In August 2004 the show moved from Wednesday (midnight til 2am) to an earlier Sunday slot (11:00 to 01:00) with a spectacular live outside broadcast from The Big Chill at Eastnor Castle Herefordshire featuring Bugz In The Attic performing a DJ set, and interviews with house DJ Tom Middleton and Mr. Scruff.
One of the highlights of the new format BBC Radio 1 show was the special sessions from the BBC's legendary Maida Vale studios. These have included artists such as Roots Manuva, Outlines and Platinum Pied Pipers to name but a few.
Radio shows and DJing gigs continue to fuse hip-hop, jazz and soul with the newer styles of broken beat and nu jazz alongside the odd dub plate and drum and bass track. He has also released several DJ mix and compilation albums. Peterson is a regular at the Southport Music Weekender, and plays regularly at London's Cargo at a night called Independent Mix, which takes a similar format to Dingwalls with guest DJ's and bands.
In September 2006, Peterson's show on Radio 1 was moved from Sunday night to Wednesday night (more precisely the early hours of Thursday morning), 02:00 to 04:00 (GMT). The first show included a live appearance from Lupe Fiasco.
In 2002 he released a compilation album titled Impressed with Gilles Peterson, featuring rare and forgotten about British Jazz from the 1950-1960's, that Peterson had collected over the years. This was met with critical acclaim and led to many of the records being re-released to a new audience. This in turn led to a series of concerts featuring some of the artists, including Stan Tracy, and a documentary about the history of British Jazz - Jazz Brittanica. This series was so successful it led to further Britannic projects (Soul, Folk etc).Worldwide Winners, which listeners of his radio show can vote on via the Radio 1 website to get down to a final top-10 list of winners. In recent years, from 2004 onwards, this has been expanded into the Worldwide Winners Awards with an event held at a London club venue; Cargo in 2004 and onto the bigger Koko in Camden in 2005, with full outside broadcast coverage by Radio 1, and expanded sections like "Best Clubnight", "Best Recordshop", "Best Compilation Album", and a special award called "The John Peel 'Play More Jazz' Award" given to an artist, often newcomer, who has displayed special noteworthy work over the year.
The label drew it's name from the James Brown track Talkin' Loud & Sayin' Nothing that had inspired the name of his club at Dingwalls. The roster of Talkin' Loud included Nuyorican Soul (a side project of the producers Masters At Work), Courtney Pine, MJ Cole, Young Disciples, Incognito, Terry Callier, The Roots, Galliano and Roni Size's project Reprazent. Courtney Pine, Young Disciples, MJ Cole & 4 Hero all received nominations for the Mercury Music Prize, and in 1997 Reprazent actually won the prize.
Peterson's most recent record label, Brownswood Recordings, was launched in 2006. To date the label has released records by British singer/songwriter Ben Westbeech, 45 piece live act The Heritage Orchestra, Japanese punk jazz band Soil & "Pimp" Sessions, Brooklyn based pianist Elan Mehler, jazz vocalist José James, and two volumes of a soulful compilation album series called Brownswood Bubblers.
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