In 1955 at the age of ten, Bryan Ferry developed a passion for jazz music. Listening to his radio in Washington, County Durham, he was transported from rural North East England to 1920s New Orleans and Cotton Club, New York. British Trad Jazz was booming, with Humphrey Lyttelton, Chris Barber and Ken Collier offering a gateway to the 'yellow cocktail' music of Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington and Charlie Parker.
Now Bryan has returned to his earliest musical love with 'The Jazz Age', a record that remakes and remodels some of his biggest Roxy Music hits in the style of instrumental 20s jazz standards.
Bryan takes us back to his first concert at Newcastle City Hall to see the Chris Barber band and reveals how a performance of St Louis Blues caught his imagination. Trombonist Chris Barber describes how he brought music from the Deep South to rapturous British audiences.
Newcastle music historian Chris Phipps traces the mythical connection between the Mississippi and the Tyne, while Bryan shares his memories of a vibrant, modernist city where he studied fine art. The city still shows traces of its jazz heritage, including J G Windows, the record shop where Bryan bought his 78s including the Charlie Parker Quintet's EP whose solos he learnt by heart.
It wasn't just the jazz age of the 20s that inspired Bryan, but its literature too. He recently contributed to the soundtrack of Baz Luhrmann's Great Gatsby, the film of one of his favourite novels.
With live recordings from his recent UK tour with The Bryan Ferry Jazz Orchestra, Bryan reflects on Roxy Music's early years and explains how his grounding in jazz helped him lead one of the most influential British bands of all time.
Producer: Paul Smith
A Just Radio production for BBC Radio 4
Still doesn't explain why he sings the way he does, though...