Attending a concert staring Dave McMurray, Bob James, the Rippingtons and Eric Marienthal in London is a rare pleasure, especially if you are living in Germany, the diaspora of Smooth Jazz. We booked tickets, a hotel and flights on the internet without hesitation after hearing about this upcoming event. When will you have the chance again to see such an exclusive high-profile ensemble at one event ?

After our arrival in London and some initial sightseeing I had the opportunity to meet Stephen Southam at an Italian restaurant near Paddington station in the evening. Stephen is the A&R representive of Silva Sreen Records, a record company mainly producing film music collections with which they are very successful and well-known. But they are also the parent company of the remarkable label Hip Bop Records, created in 1994. Their talent roster includes great trumpeters such as Tom "Jamaica" Browne, Michael "Patches" Stewart or Freddie Hubbard, and also Lenny White, well known for his participation as the drummer on the landmark Miles Davis "Bitches Brew" album, and his collaboration with Chick Corea, Stanley Clark and Al DiMeola. Another supergroup which records for the label is Metro with Chuck Loeb, Mitchel Forman and Wolfgang Haffner. Their current album is "Metrocafé".

Hip Bop Records' outstanding artist is, you guessed it already, Dave McMurray. In 1999 Dave released his first album for the Hip Bop label called "Peace of Mind". This album was often played on Jazz FM. They called it an airplay favorite. On the 10th anniversary of this famous radio station in March 2000 Bob James and Dave McMurray together performed three UK concerts. 

Many Bob James fans remembered these concerts fondly and impatiently awaited his new appearances in 2002. In 2001 Dave released  his second album for Hip Bop Records called "Soul Searching". Just click on the links and you can read the reviews of both albums. My relationship with Hip Bop Records began through these reviews and bore fruit on the evening of my meeting with Stephen.

He gave me the new Metro album called "Grapevine", which will be released in July. My first impression: a great jazz fusion album with some smooth moments, very experimental but still accessible. It's more sophisticated than their previous album. In other words they play what they like and not what certain radio stations want to broadcast. The other album I received is "Area Reservada 2". On this album Hip Bop Records presents Dave McMurray featuring Bonnie Peele with the song "Killing Me Softly With His Song" in two versions, a true classic, Urbanator with "Magic" and Tom Browne with Soul 2 Soul's "Back To Life".

Last but not least Stephen handed me a printed email with Dave's address in London together with an invitation to meet Dave on Saturday at 10 AM. You can imagine that my pizza tasted immediately better that moment. After a superb meal and a long discussion mainly about smooth jazz and music in general,  Stephen said a hearty goodbye.