Alyn Shipton

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Alyn Shipton (born 24 November 1953) is an English jazz author, presenter, critic, and jazz bassist.

He became interested in jazz in his youth and formally studied cello, but also played double bass in a school jazz band. After winning an open scholarship to read English at St Edmund Hall, Oxford, he ran the university jazz club. During that time he played with many guests who appeared there, including George Melly. The trumpeter with Melly, John Chilton, dates Melly's decision to go on the road with the Feetwarmers to their appearance with Shipton in Oxford in 1973.

On leaving university, Shipton played bass in the New Iberia Stompers, subsequently joining Sammy Rimington's band and the group led by jazz traditionalist Ken Colyer. In the 1980s, he became the publisher of Grove's Dictionaries of Music. His own first book, a biography of Fats Waller was published in 1988. He began broadcasting on the Oxford local radio station Fox FM in 1989, going on to join BBC Radio 3 the same year with a series based on his Waller biography. For six years he was a presenter on the BBC World Service's Jazzmatazz, and was a regular contributor to (and then co-presenter of) the BBC Radio 3 series Impressions, which was mainly hosted by Brian Morton during its run from 1992 to 1998. In 2001 Shipton was named "Jazz Writer of the Year" at the British Jazz Awards.[1] From 1998 to 2001 he presented the late night programme Jazz Notes for Radio 3, going on to introduce many editions of the documentary strand Jazz File. From 2007 until 2012 he presented Jazz Library on BBC Radio 3, before taking over the long-running programme Jazz Record Requests in May from Geoffrey Smith.[2]

The author of biographies (in addition to Waller) of Bud Powell (co-author), Dizzy Gillespie, and Ian Carr, his New History of Jazz first appeared in 2001; a revised edition was published in 2007. Shipton was critical of Ken Burns′ 2000 Jazz documentary.[3] Shipton has also published biographies of Jimmy McHugh (2009), Cab Calloway (2010) and Harry Nilsson (2013).


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