The Jools in BBC2's crown

Steven Poole
Thursday 11 May 1995 23:02

Jools Holland's had a bit of a rough time lately. A monstrously green-eyed hack berated him for being a successful mediocrity, a British stereotype in the vein of Eddie the Eagle. Well, that's hardly fair. Jools is no Art Tatum, but as far as that boogie-woogie stuff goes, he's played with the best.

The fact is that if Jools were a superhumanly talented modern-day Liszt, he'd be wearing thick glasses and squeezing his spots at home, rather than presenting the country's finest music show. As Brian Eno keeps shouting from every virtual hill-top: "Process not product!". That is to say: artistry is to be found not only in the artist who creates an object, but also in the artist who creates the conditions necessary for new art to flower.

As an artist in the latter sense, Jools Holland reigns supreme. What other music host would conceive the potentially disastrous "opening jam", where four or five amplified bands follow Jools's piano into a four-chord riff while the camera spins crazily and the audience dance in bewilderment? No one, that's who. It works superbly as a mood-setter for the rest of the programme, which often features other unusual comings-together, and only Jools could do it.

Later with Jools Holland (11pm BBC2) is back tonight. Courtney Love, Marianne Faithfull and Massive Attack are on it. Cool.

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