Seymour Nurse (The Bottom End)

Seymour Nurse’s love affair with Jazz started at the age of 5, mainly through Films and TV scores from composers such as Quincy Jones, J.J. Johnson, Ennio Morricone, Henry Mancini, and Burt Bacharach. Seymour started buying mainly Soul and funk 45s at 11 years old, as he would spend his school dinner money on them. Some people think that it is quite unique or special that Seymour was listening to Jazz, Soul, and Funk as a young child, but he explains,
“There’s nothing special or unique about that at all! I came from a Black-African-Caribbean family, so listening to Jazz, Soul, and Funk (Black Music) at such a young age was as natural as being brought up on chicken, rice, and peas and plantain.”

Seymour started going to places that played Jazz at 12 years old which exposed him more to that kind of music. “I had Herbie Hancock’s “Headhunters” album (specifically for the track “Sly”) at 13, as this tune had an incredible impact on me that motivated me to dig deeper into this kind of Jazz.” It was the “Jazzifunk Club” at the Electric Ballroom, which for Seymour was ‘the greatest club ever’ as well as “It’s About Time” at The Spot (his actual No.1 and favourite Jazz session with Nick Hosier and Andy Ward) that inspired him the most. “I remember walking into that Jazz Room at the Electric Ballroom as a 15 year old, hearing “Veracruz” by Jayme Marques, and being moved in a way that words cannot express.”

Seymour’s favourite track at the Electric Ballroom (as well as “Veracruz” by Jayme Marques and “Samba De Rhoda/Dave” by The New Dave Pike Set and Groupo Baiafro) was a very mysterious tune simply known as “The Bottom End”. “I absolutely loved (love) that track! There was something so special, so unique about it. This was a wonderful improvisational jam session with the most exquisite vocals at the end.” There was so much mystery behind “The Bottom End”, for nobody within the Jazz Dancers Movement (so it seemed) knew anything about this obscure record which was many dancers favourite and an anthem at the Electric Ballroom.

This set Seymour on a 23 year quest to find out the identity of the artists of his favourite tune. He finally solved the mystery of The Bottom End (“Get Off The Ground”), revealing the names of the musicians, Baaska & Scavelli (Don Baaska & Valli Scavelli) featuring Jamie Faunt and Ken Park. Seymour was “absolutely ecstatic” when he finally found out who the artists were. Gilles Peterson said regarding The Bottom End / Get Off The Ground, “This Tune is our history!”

Seymour has been dancing to Jazz from the age of 12, and the real high point for him was performing solo with Flora Purim and Airto Moreira at The Barbican on Saturday 21st September 2002 for a very special concert celebrating The Music Of Milton Nascimento.
” That was an extremely emotional performance for me and a real honour to share the stage with Flora and Airto. Flora had asked me to dance with them a few months earlier, and she felt that the Milton Nascimento concert was the right time for us to perform together. I clearly remember a moment when I was having a ‘face-off’ with Airto, looking him straight in the eyes and being locked in this zone with him. That was an extraordinarily powerful experience!”

Seymour has also been DJing for a number of years and has played at Jazz clubs such as
“The Bottom End” (Electric Ballroom), “It’s About Time” (The Spot), “The Hi-Hat” (Blue Note/
Jazz Cafe), “The Vox” (Brixton), “Out To Lunch” (Nottingham), “The Message” (Amsterdam), as well as many other gigs, and is currently a host of the enduring “Shiftless Shuffle” session (Trapeze Bar in Shoreditch). “I remember sitting in a meeting with Perry Louis and Phil Levene at the “Point 101 Bar” (Tottenham Court Road) in 2001 discussing the idea of a new Jazz Dancers Club. During the meeting we were deciding whether to call it “Sly” or “Shiftless Shuffle”, obviously because of our love of Herbie Hancock’s music. Perry made the decision to call it “Shiftless Shuffle” because the name also tied in nicely with the dance class he planned to do before the club session. Phil Levene and I were the original hosts, and DJ Simon Mansell and I did the very first “Shiftless” at “Under Solo” (Inverness Street in Camden Town) on June 10th 2001. It’s wonderful that this session is still going strong after 13 years, for Perry and the team have worked extremely hard to achieve this.”

On December 19th 2004, Seymour hosted the first ever Jazz session where the legendary
Paul Murphy (Horseshoe/Electric Ballroom) and Gilles Peterson (Electric Ballroom/Dingwalls) played together. This was a most memorable occasion for Seymour (“Mr. Shiftless”… a name given to him by Perry Louis) sharing the turntables with Murphy and Peterson DJing together for the first time at Shiftless Shuffle! “It actually felt quite surreal and seemed inconceivable to me that Paul and Gilles had never played together in a Jazz Room for the hardcore dancers. I really enjoyed DJing with them that day, and my most memorable moment was when Murphy excitedly rushed to the decks when I played Valli Scavelli’s other version of “Get Off The Ground (The Bottom End)” for the first time.”

7 years later Seymour reunited the original Electric Ballroom and Horseshoe DJs Colin Parnell and Boo, again hosting this session at Shiftless Shuffle on January 16th 2011 for another historic occasion. After connecting with Boo, Seymour asked him if he would be interested in doing a special reunion with Colin, and much to Seymour’s delight they agreed. This was the first time Colin and Boo had played together in a Jazz Room for nearly 30 years! “That was a great gig! People had been searching for Colin and Boo for years as they had created quite a legacy in Jazz Club history, so the significance of playing with them that day was very special for me.”

As a DJ Seymour’s philosophy is:

“Enjoy what you do but do not take yourself too seriously, for some people in the room will be into what you play and others will not. We DJs are merely presenting ‘other’ peoples work, so do not get too possessive or egotistical about ‘their’ music. Play the music that you genuinely love, and that which is closest to your heart. This philosophy keeps me grounded.”

Seymour Nurse is currently involved in Jazz Journalism, which has connected him to the artists that have inspired him so much from childhood such as Flora Purim, George Duke, Baaska and Scavelli, Janet Lawson, Barry Miles, John Klemmer, Byron Morris, Jeff Lorber, and others. Seymour also co-writes the story for the exciting “Legends Of The Underground” Project with his twin brother Gary Nurse. Checkout Seymour’s website at www.thebottomend.co.uk

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