“Few people can have opened so many ears to such a variety of music over the last four decades as Charlie Gillett …” — so opens Richard William’s obituary for Charlie Gillett in the Guardian. Charlie Gillett certainly opened my ears to a much bigger world of music than i had realised existed. I am hugely grateful for his BBC World of Music show and the subsequent delight of listening again and again to music i first heard there. I am considerably saddened to learn of his death just over a week ago.
Gillett’s weekly radio show used to play on Tuesday nights on National Radio after the 11:00 pm news just as i was going to bed. The first arresting sounds i heard there were of the West African musician Daby Balde, and the promise of such new and different sounds kept me returning each week after. [Occasionally the sounds were too different to endure — such as the Kazakhstan wedding “music” — but mostly they were interesting and from time to time demanded pursuit and repetition. Which was where the opportunity to listen again to the show streamed on the internet from the BBC for a week afterwards, along with details of the play-list, was brilliantly useful.]
I shall much miss Charlie’s late night voice, his musical knowledge, and his composed yet enthusiastic love of the sounds and musicians he promoted.