Gilles Peterson has seen, heard and done it all across three decades of working in music.
A DJ famed for his eclectic and all-encompassing love of a variety of genres, he has also run a variety of hugely successful and influential record labels.
His latest project has seen him oversee a remix competition, in association with Havana Club, where the UK winner, Rukaiya Russell, will travel to Cuba to work with Gilles for 10 days in Havana, producing and recording original tracks with Cuban artists. Click here to listen to Rukaiya's entry, and listen to all the winners via this playlist.
Meanwhile Gilles will release Sonzeira - Brasil Bam Bam Bam , a feast of music performed by an array of Brazilian artists, on May 19th, which will be the first release on Talkin' Loud Records in over a decade.
We spoke to Gilles to find out his Ultimate Playlist; his selections, and the stories behind them, are below.
Favourite Song From a Movie Soundtrack
That's gotta be from Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, when they're on the bicycles. The Burt Bacharach song - it's just the most ultimate moment of everything! Freedom, happiness, the calm before the storm, love. Yeah, brilliant!
Favourite Club Anthem
A record that I've always liked, and I still don't dislike it considering how many millions of times I've heard it is Cheryl Lynn - Got to be Real. It's a song I've heard ever since I started going to clubs, back in the mid-80s and every single DJ from Steve Walsh and Chris Hill, all the way through to hearing people like Jackmaster or someone like that playing it in 2014. They've all played it.
Favourite Song to Hear at a Wedding
Another song, in a way, that always sounds brilliant to me is Never Too Much by Luther Vandross. Luther works everywhere - especially as a DJ, you never get a complaint over Luther. Whether it's the rude boy in the corner, or the granny in the kitchen, everyone's always happy to hear a bit of Luther.
Favourite Current Song
I'm gonna go Pharrell. Why not? At the end of the day, me and Pharrell - I've been his number 1 fan since N.E.R.D. really and been fortunate enough to have interviewed him many times and even worked with him in the past and I just think that he's someone who's a proper survivor in the game, he's always had a really good sense of melody and there's a real feelgood factor in his music. I'm just really glad for him that he's on a massive revival, it's going really well for him.
Favourite Song From Your Childhood
Probably listening to a lot of French chanson - because my mum's French. Listening to people like Françoise Hardy...my dad was really into classical music, so I was lucky enough to hear a lot of great music - Shostakovich, all the way through to the Mahlers and all those sort of people. So a combination of French chanson and European classical music.
Favourite One-Hit Wonder
It's gotta be Martha and the Muffins - Echo Beach. That was just like a post-punk, pre-punk, during punk, just fun surf, sort of punky record. I was really into all that stuff, it was such a brilliant track.
Favourite Lyric From a Song
My Favourite Things. Oscar Hammerstein - the whole lyric. Again, it's just so pretty. Another good lyric I like...I'm not really a lyric person overall, but I would go for a group called Galliano and a track called Power and Glory and the fact that he can drop the lyric 'Doug and Jean, they tell a story, power and the glory'. The fact that they can actually mention Doug and Jean Carne in a lyric I thought was really great.
Favourite Song That No One Else Has Heard Of
I spend my entire life looking for those! There's one song that I can't find at the moment myself - my most sought-after record is a record by a guy called Jose Prates. It's an album called Tam Tam Tam and it has the original, first-ever version of Mas Que Nada on it and that's from 1968. I will pay any money for that!
Favourite Sad Song
There's a song called Mystery of Man by Sarah Vaughan, which was written by the Pope - Pope John Paul II - and I'm not sure if it's necessarily a sad song, I just think it's the most beautiful and emotional song ever and the fact that it's sung by Sarah Vaughan makes it all the better, because to me she is the ultimate songstress. And funnily enough it's also a song that I just did a new version of on an album I just recorded in Brazil this week. That's what I'm just finishing at the moment - an album that I recorded in the first three weeks of January, in Rio. And we did a version of that song with a Brazilian singer called Martinalia. Now I can't say that our version is better than the Sarah Vaughan version but the inspiration was definitely her! And in terms of a song that I'd put on at those moments of sadness or, y'know, a song that I'd want at my funeral or something like that, I think that would be the song.
Favourite Song From Your Own Music
I think the record that I was most sort of proud of being a part of was probably the Nuyorican Soul album. It was a project that I put together on a label called Talkin' Loud that I had and it featured Masters At Work, the DJs from New York and it was a collection of artists that we managed to get together for it, including Roy Ayres, Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri and Jocelyn Brown and George Benson. It was just a superstar dance record and it's a record that still, to me, sounds good, in 2014. I still go back to it, so it's definitely a record that I'm very proud to have been a part of.
(Images: Havana Club/Rex)