Now back in Manchester, I’m noticing how the change in location from South to North has coincided with returning to music I’ve not picked up for a while, and at the same time led me to look in new corners I would have passed by before. It seems like a bit more freedom exists up here to mix and match different styles together just for the sheer love of it, not just for the dancefloor but also with people’s individual tastes. Music trends are obviously still as prevalent as elsewhere but genre labels seem to me to matter less.

Also, the financial doom times we’re in at the moment can only be good for music. I’ve always held to the idea that great music is born out of hard times – Blues music during the emancipation from slavery, the desertion of inner city Detroit aiding the birth of Techno (Derrick May genius here) and rise of Manchester’s clubland, acid house growing as a reaction to late 80s Thatcherism. Music for escape more than identity.

My latest sonic travels have been with Jazzanova’s new album. Being a long-time fan of their output, especially “That Night” (with Wahoo’s amazing remix) and their remix of Mr Scruff’s “Boom Clicky Boom Klack”, I was looking forward to discovering the direction they had taken in 2008, what seems to be a year where attention is perhaps more than ever, on the producer. From sunny vibe of “Gafiera” to the Ronson-esque (but better) drum breaks of “I can see” featuring Ben Westbeech, they’re obviously pushing the jazz in Jazzanova, with production opening up a live sound rather than letting samples do the talking. There’s no overdoing it with the noodling however – this is solid soulful stuff, with vocals not just tacked on as an after thought, but entwined with the production. “Let me show ya” is one of the standouts of an album with no filler. Well worth checking.