love-supreme2014
Love Supreme Festival’s
brave debut last year as the first green-field UK jazz festival in many years had blazing sunshine to match its beautiful South Downs setting. Early, steady drizzle this time showed it’s weatherproof, as the jazz and soul tribes mingled in celebratory mood, in numbers 50% up from last year.

Courtney Pine, a rare jazz presence on Sunday’s Main Stage, pulled out all his considerable crowd-pleasing stops, proving one of the weekend’s biggest draws under by now perfect summer sun. “If you know anything about jazz,” he preached in evangelist mode, “we’re about unity – especially the way the UK is going.” Pine’s Coltranesque soprano sax honks were just part of the party, proving jazz’s potential when powered by heart and talent this huge and open.

That’s true, too, of Gregory Porter, who headlined Sunday’s Big Top to a crowd spilling far outside it, and was treated as a pop star. A familiar set-list had fresh arrangements heavy on soul-powered brass punch, with Yosuke Sato’s blistering sax ensuring improvisatory potency. Porter, too, kept his artistic head above the growing industry clamour, remaining majestic on ‘1960 What?’, and reminding you how he’s vitally weaved gospel-soul earthiness and new popular songwriting back into jazz. Snarky Puppy’s British keyboardist Bill Lawrance mixed classical solos into their brew of fast latin funk shuffles, swaggering brass and singalong riffs on Saturday’s Main Stage. The Love Supreme ‘effect’ was at its most powerful when Phronesis were dumbfounded by roared encouragement to their airily spacious acoustic jazz, inspiring drummer Anton Eger to head-banging, hand-grenade pyrotechnics. Bassist Jasper Høiby asked for the cheers to stop so they could continue. “I’ve been waiting all my life to say that,” he sighed.

Christian McBride’s more straight-ahead bass-led piano trio benefited from a Big Top partly packed with curious post-Soul II Soul listeners, who approved every post-bop solo. Best of all was a section of the set by Dave Holland’s Prism, when the bassist’s oppressive, depth-bomb-heavy duet with drummer Eric Harland suddenly had the light let in by pianist Craig Taborn, who made the music breathe and swing, more than John Scofield, who followed Prism, as his Überjam band switched easily between jazz, electronica and rock’s pleasures, instead of fusing them. Such fleet-footed dances were second nature at Love Supreme.

Nick Hasted  

 Read the full report with exclusive photos in the August issue of Jazzwise - in shops 24 July


Filing on to the Barbican’s capacious stage, grey-suited and smart, their ties colour-coordinated, a smiling Wynton Marsalis in the lead, the JALCO instrumentalists earned their first ovation of this, the last night of their latest UK visit. If earlier London concerts had concentrated on cross-cultural interactions, notably with the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, this was a re-affirmation of the band’s roots in powerful jazz creativity. Badged as The Best of Blue Note Records with Wynton as both soloist and interlocutor, their tribute ran the gamut from Horace Silver’s earthy hard bop through to the more cerebral offerings of Woody Shaw and Wayne Shorter. Along the way, British interests were represented and expectations exceeded with the appearances of altoist Nathaniel Facey and vibist Lewis Wright as special guests, of which more later.

Sat in the section, Wynton was both ring-master and arranger for the opening ‘Appointment in Ghana’, a Jackie McLean piece, his extended solo like a compendium of possibilities, embracing tough riffs and sudden darts contrasted with extended figures, the band’s classy rhythm section locked into swing. ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ by Shorter proved to be a harder nut to crack, Ted Nash’s chart colour-blocked and heavy, although sparked initially by pianist Dan Nimmer’s neat Monk-inclined patterns. The band’s sole British member, Norwich-born trombonist Elliott Mason showed off his more solemn side on Shaw’s ‘The Moontrane’, before ramping up his solo as the bravura trumpet flourishes powered in, lead-man Kenny Rampton’s high-note alacrity as good as could be. Silver’s ballad, ‘Peace’ then introduced Facey, complimented straightaway by Wynton both for his sartorial and creative qualities ­– “he plays as well as he dresses” – and indeed he did, unpacking ideas in a seamless flow, the applause from both bandstand and audience leading into Wright’s arrival, his four-malleted outpourings on ‘Senor Blues’ momentarily making even the seasoned JALCO players blink in awe. And he looked sharp, too.

More good things followed, four more pieces arranged by four more band members, with trombonist Chris Crenshaw’s version of McCoy Tyner’s ballad ‘Search for Peace’ an elegantly shaded and eloquent reading featuring baritone saxophonist Paul Nedzela (standing in for the absent Joe Temperley), his perfect sound and tonal command impressing everyone, the audience held rapt. Facey and Wright returned for Joe Henderson’s ‘Inner Urge’, up on their toes and unphased by drummer Ali Jackson’s carpet-bombing, Mason joining them to make a powerful, all-Brit front-line. More ovations proffered. If ‘Free For All’ was the expected, storming closer with tenorist Walter Blanding at his congenial best and Crenshaw playing good, hard-swinging trombone, we knew somehow that there might be more to come, even as the bandstand cleared.

In New Orleans, there’s a custom called ‘lagniappe’, that little bit extra on the side of the plate and Wynton gave us it in musical form, staying on with the rhythm section to play as nifty a solo sequence on an up-tempo blues as you could want, moderating to a ballad feel when Blanding sidled on. Cue standing ovation and cheers, and why not? A grand night for swinging, for sure.

– Peter Vacher

 

The final few tickets are now on sale for The London Art Collective’s tribute concert to Sun Ra and his 100th birthday year at London’s The House Of St Barnabas on Monday 7 July.

The collective includes the Black Top duo, Pat Thomas, Orphy Robinson, flautist Rowland Sutherland (pictured), saxophonist Rachel Musson, percussionist Maurizio Ravalico and others who will perform music from Sun Ra’s extensive repertoire.

This exclusive, and probably explosive, performance, in affiliation with The House Of St Barnabas charity for homeless people, is part of a series of three summer jazz evenings that will take place in The Chapel at The House Of St Barnabas, Greek Street, London, W1. For more info go to hosb.org.uk

– Tom Wright

 

Arts Council England have announced its funding plans for 2015-2018 and while funding for many National Portfolio Organisations (NPOs) that support and promote jazz either remains stable or has been newly awarded, significantly Jazz Services has not been granted any money for this period, having previously received funds in the region of £340,000 per annum. John Norbury-Lyons of Jazz Services told Jazzwise that it’s “business as usual” until March 2015 and the organisation will be launching an appeal against the decision while this statement was posted on the Jazz Services website:

“The Arts Council England today released its funding portfolio for the period 2015-2018, and unfortunately Jazz Services has not been selected to receive NPO funding from April 2015 onwards. Jazz Services is obviously extremely disappointed with the decision. This is a huge blow to the UK’s jazz artists, promoters and audiences, as without Jazz Services’ extremely popular and successful funding schemes – the National and Rural Touring Support Schemes and the Jazz Promoter Awards among them – it leaves large portions of the country without provisions for funding and support for grass-roots jazz music.

One has only to look to the fantastic support we’ve received from the jazz scene itself to appreciate the worth of what Jazz Services offers. We are the only independent, impartial national organisation representing the interests of jazz across the whole of the UK, and we strongly believe that to cut our funding jeopardises the wellbeing of the music. We will be in talks with the Arts Council to appeal the decision and address a number of factors relating to their response to our bid, as well as continuing to explore alternative funding options as we have always done.

In the meantime, we have just accepted the latest round of National Touring applications for the October-December 2014 period, completed another brilliantly successful Made In The UK series in North America and Canada, and look forward to the latest crop of new artists releasing their debut albums funded through our Recording Support Scheme. With our current funding agreement confirmed until March 2015 we will keep providing for the music while we assess the situation, and Jazz Services will continue to do everything it can to ensure the entire jazz scene is fully and fairly represented on the UK’s musical landscape.”

Successful NPOs in this latest funding round for 2015-2018 include Jazz North who are awarded £190,000; the Manchester Jazz Festival, £90,500; Birmingham-based Jazzlines, £80,000; East Midlands Jazz stable, £77,000; National Youth Jazz Collective, £124,000; Serious, £453,000; and Bristol-based SoundUK, £100,000. New additions to the NPO list are Notting Hill-based Jazz Re:freshed who promote gigs at Mau Mau Bar on Portobello Road, London who receive £95,000; the National Youth Jazz Orchestra will now be funded directly (instead of via Jazz Services) receiving £125,000; Café OTO affiliated OTO Projects receives funding for the first time; Brownswood Music, owned and run by DJ/producer Gilles Peterson, is to receive £89,000 per annum; and Tomorrow's Warriors see a 17% increase in their funding to £209,000 per annum.

Many musicians have reacted angrily across social media, and are dismayed at the decision by the Arts Council to cut all funding to Jazz Services – a petition has been et up on Change.org to have the funding cuts reversed - click here to sign the petition.

– Mike Flynn

For more info go to www.jazzservices.org.uk and
www.artscouncil.org.uk

 

Birmingham’s annual Jazz and Blues Festival, which focuses on traditional and mainstream styles, celebrates its 30th anniversary from 18-27 July with 185 performances across 10 days in 70 venues – and most of it is free entry. In what the organisers have described as a city ‘take over’, performances will take place at Victoria Square, The Red Lion, The Kings Head, Berkleys Lounge, Garden House, Blue Piano and many more venues throughout the city.

Highlights include: Bruce Williams Quartet (18 July, Barber Institute of Fine Arts); Simon Spillett Quartet (pictured left, 26 July, The Mailbox); Lady Sings The Blues with Val Wiseman, Roy Williams, Brian Dee, Len Skeat, Bob Sydor and Bobby Worth (19 July, StarCity); Art Themen Quartet (23 July, St Paul’s Churchyard); Derek Nash (25 July, Garden House); Mike Sanchez Band (24 July, The Jam House); Digby Fairweather (25 July, The Kings Head); The Bratislava Hot Serenaders (Slovakia) (21 July, Electric Cinema); Budapest Ragtime Orchestra (24 July, All Bar One); The Magnolia Sisters (Louisiana, U.S.A.) (26 July, Botanical Gardens); and University of Southern Florida Jazztet (19 July, Victoria Square).

– Tom Wright


For more info go to www.birminghamjazzfestival.com

 

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