Coventry’s Belgrade Theatre will present the UK premiere of playwright Peter Arnott’s jazz-inspired WII drama, Propaganda Swing, from 13 to 27 September. The story follows how Nazi Propaganda Ministry official, Karl ‘Charly’ Schwedler, managed to justify performing with his jazz orchestra in spite of working within the anti-American and especially racist society of 1930s Germany.

The Nazis viewed jazz as decadent and impure yet by reworking popular jazz standards with pro-Nazi lyrics, Schwedler had his music approved, even publically funded, and was then able to continue playing the music he and his orchestra loved and capitalise upon ally and enemy nations’ love for jazz radio. Writer, Arnott, states “it was exactly that paradox that struck me as incredible and I knew that within that paradox lay the origins of a fascinating human drama”.

The show will feature a live and on-stage swing band and eight actor-musicians including Chris Andrew Mellon, Clara Darcy, Callum Coates, Miranda Wilford, Paul Lincoln, Tomm Coles, Bradley Clarkson and Jonny Bower. After a two-week run at the Belgrade (13-27 September) the show will move and continue at the Nottingham Playhouse (2-18 October).

– Tom Wright

For more info go to www.belgrade.co.uk or www.nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk

 

Bassist Vicky Tilson will complete recording her third studio album, Mojo Risin’, in early August with her long-established originals quartet that features alto saxophonist Dee Bryne, guitarist Stuart Fiddler and drummer Reinis Axelsson. Citing Charles Mingus, Dave Holland and the late Michael Garrick among other influences, the new album explores odd meters and contemporary harmony.

Tilson has performed with the likes of Tony Kofi, Henry Lowther, Quentin Collins and Kate Williams, while bassist and Whirlwind Recordings boss Michael Janisch has said of her work: “Her compositions are warm and inviting, her bass playing is also very controlled, lyrical, relaxed and supportive. I look forward to hearing where she takes her music in the future.” Mojo Risin’ will be released early 2015.

– Tom Wright

For more info go to vickytilson.com 

 

The inaugural Jazz Promotion Network conference, held in Manchester during the Manchester Jazz Festival, has just drawn to a close. Peter Bacon of thejazzbreakfast.com reports on the some of the key themes for Jazzwise

“Jazz is the ultimate indy music.” That’s the view of David King, drummer with The Bad Plus, as he explained at a conference in Manchester earlier this week. King amplified his statement: “I got into jazz because it felt more indy than alternative rock music. I still think it should be seen as the ultimate, hipster indy music, because that is what it was, and that is what a lot of it still is.” And he suggests this could be where jazz should be looking to develop its audience.“If you are going to hear Mogwai or Sonic Youth, why not listen to Ornette Coleman? There’s a bridge there.”

The indy principles of working outside the mainstream, employing a DIY mentality and surviving in the margins struck a chord with King’s audience at the inaugural conference of the Jazz Promotion Network (JPN). They ranged from small jazz clubs and individual musicians to promoters operating in some of the finest concert halls in the land, as well as broadcasters and bloggers.

Over two days they heard inspirational stories of trans-Europe collaborations from Dave Morecroft (Match & Fuse) and received advice on fund-raising from former Band On The Wall development manager Najia Bagi, found out more about how to get to know their audiences from Quirin Gerstenecker of Opera North, and how to crowd fund in a time of crisis from Gill Wilde of Grimsby Jazz Festival.

Individual conference attendees were invited to pitch their own ideas and give snapshots of what they were up to. They also divided into discussion groups to help establish the priorities of this new organisation, formed to increase jazz activity in the UK, and spread the jazz word.

As the conference heard from Soweto Kinch (pictured), it’s all about having a story to tell. The working party that had got JPN up and running and so written the opening chapter of this story included Tony Dudley-Evans (Birmingham Jazzlines/Cheltenham Jazz Festival), Amy Pearce (Serious/London Jazz Festival), Nod Knowles (ex-Bath Festival) and Steve Mead (Manchester Jazz Festival).For how the JPN story develops, watch this space…

– Peter Bacon

thejazzbreakfast.com

 


Jazz-folk singer, Melissa James, is performing a series of intimate church concerts on a tour of London and South England this month and into the autumn. Joined by guitarist Tom Gamble, the singer started the tour in the small community church – St Augustine, Thorpe Bay on 12 July and is set to next appear at St John’s Church, Fulham on 25 July.

Having enjoyed much success with her debut album, Day Dawns, and since performing at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival Fringe James has held a number of charity-fundraising ‘pop-up’ concerts. This latest project of hers hopes to involve a local artist of each church as support acts to her performances.

The singer commented on this series: “I grew up going to church as I come from a family of church-goers but it has been a while since I went to church myself. The idea of performing in a spiritual space and connecting with those in the local area… really appeals to me”.

Upcoming Church dates include: St John’s Church, London (25 July); St Bartholomew’s Church, Suffolk (16 Aug); St Mary’s Church, Fishponds, Bristol (27 Sep); and St Pancras Old Church, London (27 November).

For more information go to www.melissa-james.com 

Tom Wright

 

The Playtime team, who stage weekly jazz sessions at the Outhouse in Edinburgh, have announced an expansion of activities during the city’s Fringe festival.

Beginning with pianist Dave Milligan on Monday 4 August, guests including saxophonist Julian Argüelles, organist and former Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year Pete Johnstone, and bassist Brodie Jarvie will feature in a programme that runs until 21 August in the Outhouse’s congenial, intimate loft.

Situated just round the corner from the city centre terminus of Edinburgh’s new tram system, the Outhouse has proved a popular Fringe jazz venue over the past few years, with American singers Barbara Morrison and Lillian Boutté among those who have enjoyed successful residencies there, and the Playtime series will supplement similar residencies this year with early evening and late-night concerts.

Saxophonist Martin Kershaw (pictured top), who launched the Playtime sessions with guitarist Graeme Stephen, bassist Mario Caribe and drummer Tom Bancroft as the resident band and who will also be appearing regularly during the Fringe run, said: “The loft is a really good space to play in and it’s allowed the regular team to develop new music as well as inviting people who happen to be in town to come and play. We had a memorable night with some visiting Ghanaian musicians and when one or more of the team can’t appear due to other work commitments, there’s a ready supply of players who are willing to step in and give the Thursday sessions continuity.”

The Fringe series also features Graeme Stephen directing new live soundtracks to silent films Nosferatu and Faust, keyboards player Paul Harrison and drummer Stuart Brown’s jazz-electronica project Herschel 36, and Stephen, trombonist Chris Greive and drummer David Harrison continuing the gleeful deconstruction of Led Zeppelin that Stephen and Greive began with maverick trio NeWt.

– Rob Adams

For full details of the programme go to www.playtime-music.com

 

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