"Clearly, this festival is all about love," Gregory Porter says near the end. Under South Downs skies which by Sunday were pure blue, Love Supreme's fifth year certainly lived up to its name more than ever. If its 2013 prototype was jazz fans' Woodstock moment, 2017 was a wider coming out party. Among a sell-out, 28,000 crowd, jazz and popular music were reacquainted after a long and painful separation, and tribalism and hate in the world beyond Glynde was repeatedly rejected. This was Love Supreme's finest weekend so far because the new jazz frontier it has nurtured is now so undeniably strong.

Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings' three Saturday gigs deliberately crown him as British jazz's new king. His marathon begins around lunchtime with his South African group, Shabaka & the Ancestors. The crowd sway to a polyrhythmic simmer, while Siyabonga Mthembu mixes gospel chants with raw, raging denouncements of imperialism and racism, confronting more than communicating. The knots of young dancers at the front are the band's real message, anyway. By the evening, as shirtless young ravers lose it to a tuba solo by Sons of Kemet's Theon Cross, it's clear that this new audience has no preconceptions about jazz, roaring on solos and sweating on the dancefloor in a way hardly seen since the 1980s. This continues for the triple-bill's climax, The Comet Is Coming, with its explosions into wide open, Afro-futurist uplands. The soft-spoken, fiercely purposeful Hutchings leaves as a generation's underground icon.

Love Supreme's careful alchemy between its mostly soul and funk main stage and jazz's fringe then sparks with Michael Wollny's outrageous talent, to atomic effect. As soul survivor Lee Fields finishes under sun-kissed skies, curious hundreds fill the Big Top. They find Michael Wollny's Trio zigzagging from early 20th century composer Alban Berg's 'Nacht' to the rave crescendo of 'God Is A DJ', musical norms splintering under his eager assault. But it's when his hyper-agile technique and his band's A-train urgency drop away, leaving him in a clearing of limpid solo beauty, that the crowd hush, and are his.

Herbie LWormsley 1

Herbie Hancock (above) arrives to the thunderous reception this ever-questing great deserves, but there's no sense of the 77-year-old resting on his laurels. Much as I love where Miles went in the 1970s, there's much in the fusion sound which often follows tonight which leaves me personally cold, the vocoder and electric piano sometimes seeming clunky, even ugly, compared to the newly-sharpened visions elsewhere. That's my problem, though, as Hancock explores the possible byways of 'Cantaloupe Island', here interspersed with a tune by guitarist Lionel Loueke, and returning to the soul-jazz head only after far-flung, curious adventures. Hancock wields his keytar for 'Chameleon' with the eagerness of a teenage axe hero, and gets a hero's farewell, too. Another veteran, George Benson (below), will play just enough guitar later, in between 1980s nostalgia.

Benson LWormsley

In the smaller Arena, Mammal Hands represent a similar UK school to their former labelmates GoGo Penguin, tending towards cyclical modes, till Jordan Smart's sax is lifted by another receptive crowd into freer, Coltranesque flights. Earlier, J-Sonics satisfy a big Friday night crowd with roiling Latin and Afrobeat rhythms.
New Orleans' current favourite son Christian Scott struggles for focus, till he talks about his upbringing as the grandson of an Afro-Indian tribal chief, and the social conscience this forged in a world of soul-wounding neglect. 'The Last Chieftain' leaves him hunched over, his trumpet's imploring wail repeating, unsatisfied. At the same moment, Kamasi Washington is bathing a large, main stage crowd idling in deckchairs with spiritual jazz. "Don't worry what happened before me. I'm here," Patrice Quinn comforts in 'The Rhythm Changes', like a loving God, or some other shoulder to rest on. Similar healing is at work with Miles Mosley's (pictured top) branch of Washington's West Coast Get Down. His new soul protest album Uprising leaves more room live for his Hendrixesque, distorted double-bass solos, alongside rousing melodies and humane sympathy. He seems certain to return a star.

OldJellyRollers LWormsley

Gregory Porter knows all about that. His great success can leave him taken for granted. Porter respects his talent and audience too much to do the same. "Mr. Policeman - God bless him," he improvises, finding unironic mercy for a uniformed killer in the riot for which '1960 What?' becomes a gospel prayer. His momentary assumption of elderly, thick-tongued huskiness helps keep the song alive. In front of the sound-desk, meanwhile, a row of young people are dancing like loons to Porter's band. Something's happening here.

– Nick Hasted
– Photos by Lisa Wormsley

The news that Geri Allen has died from cancer at the age of just 60 is tragic for many reasons. She was in a creatively rich phase of her own impressive career, playing solo, and working closely with Teri Lynne Carrington on her Mosaic Project, which, although women-focused, was important to male and female jazz artists alike. Gender issues were prominent in Allen's life nonetheless. When I met her in the late 1990s she made a point of telling me about the place of women such as Lil Hardin, wife of Louis Armstrong, and Mary Lou Williams in the history of modern music. She saw the necessity of recognising their work.

Born in Pontiac, Michigan, Allen was thoroughly immersed in Detroit's bebop and soul traditions, and one of her first significant gigs as a sidewoman was with Motown legends Mary Wilson and the Supremes. But it soon became clear that Allen was intent on engaging with the entire spectrum of black music, in both art and pop incarnations, and that led her to reflect the influence of Cecil Taylor and Bud Powell as well as Stevie Wonder and Ornette Coleman in her own work. After graduating from Howard University and the University of Pittsburgh Allen settled in New York in the early 1980s, working with avant-garde legends Lester Bowie and Andrew Cyrille, who featured on her auspicious 1984 debut The Printmakers.

Allen became part of two landmark collectives, the Black Rock Coalition and M-BASE, and made a vital appearance on recordings by the latter's founder Steve Coleman and Cassandra Wilson. Yet she really came into her own as a composer and improviser on the albums she cut in the 1990s, such as the politically charged Maroons, Eyes In The Back Of Your Head, featuring Ornette, and the superb The Gathering, a session that reunited her with BRC colleagues like Vernon Reid and struck a perfect balance between funky immediacy and probing introspection.

Allen married trumpeter Wallace Roney, combined her musical activities with motherhood, and also nurtured many young players. She had an all-encompassing approach to piano and keys that enabled her to move from the sweetest of melodicism to the most turbulent abstractions, and this 'Open on all sides in the middle' aesthetic was a notable prelude to the arrival of the likes of Robert Mitchell and Craig Taborn.

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo courtesy of Anthony Barboza

Iconic jazz keyboardist Herbie Hancock has just been confirmed for two nights at this year's 25th edition of the EFG London Jazz Festival, appearing at the Barbican on 13 and 14 November. Touring the European jazz festival circuit this summer, which includes a headline performance at this coming weekend's Love Supreme Jazz Festival on 1 July, Hancock has been premiering new material with a band featuring emergent sax/keys man Terrace Martin plus longstanding bandmembers such as guitarist Lionel Loueke, bassist James Genus and drum heavyweight Vinnie Colaiuta. This will be Hancock's first appearance in London since his spirited duo concerts with Chick Corea in 2015, and precedes the release of his much anticipated new studio album that is rumoured to feature contributions from Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Robert Glasper and Jacob Collier. Tickets for these London dates will be on-sale from 10am this Friday 30 June.

This show joins those already announced in Jazzwise (media partners of the festival), which include Pat Metheny Quartet (Barbican, 10 Nov); Jazz Voice (RFH, 10 Nov); Keith Tippett Octet with Matthew Bourne (Kings Place, 10 Nov), Michael Janisch Quartet with Rez Abbasi, Henry Spencer's Juncture, Zhenya Strigalev Trio (Rich Mix, 10 Nov); Tomasz Stańko's New York Quartet (Cadogan Hall, 10 Nov); Zakir Hussain's Crosscurrents with Dave Holland and Chris Potter (Barbican, 11 Nov); Average White Band + LaSharVu (RFH, 11 Nov); Andy Sheppard Quartet (Kings Place, 11 Nov); Brad Mehldau/Chris Thile (Barbican, 12 Nov); Roland Perrin Trio with the Blue Planet Orchestra (Barbican, matinee performance, 12 Nov); Led Bib, Schnellertollermeier and WorldService Project (Rich Mix, 12 Nov); Marcus Miller (RFH, 12 Nov); Richard Pite's 1957: A Jazz Jukebox (Cadogan Hall, 12 Nov); Knower (Scala, 13 Nov); Paolo Conte (RFH, 13 Nov); Abdullah Ibrahim/Hugh Masekela Jazz Epistles (RFH, 14 Nov) and Terrence Blanchard with the BBC Concert Orchestra (Barbican, 19 Nov), among many others.

– Mike Flynn

Full listings and tickets at www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

Ciro-Portrait-1-2The Love Supreme jazz festival enters its fifth year as a unique, fixed point in the UK jazz calendar. Reviving the lost tradition of green-field jazz gatherings, it again brings together the cutting-edge names of the moment with more mainstream jazz, soul and funk acts, in the unbeatable downland setting of Glynde Place, East Sussex. As the festival's director Ciro Romano (pictured) tells Jazzwise, though, Love Supreme's first year was almost its last.

"We lost a lot of money the first year – I mean a lot!" he laughs ruefully. "It was definitely touch and go." The day was saved by Nile Rodgers' Chic, booked before a career revival capped by his televised Glastonbury triumph the week before Love Supreme. This "massive stroke of luck" accounted for 25 per cent of that year's 10,500 attendance. "It gave everyone hope for the festival. Usually, the plug would have been pulled, with the numbers that we lost."

Romano's original vision was inspired by attending Rotterdam's massive, indoor North Sea Jazz festival in 2011, with its mix of top names from jazz and its more commercial borders. He wanted to adapt this to a "classic British camping festival", allowing a "communal" experience. "Everyone said jazz people don't camp, it's not a big enough market. And on paper, it didn’t make sense. There aren’t any jazz acts playing the O2.”

Whether by luck or intuition, though, Love Supreme was perfectly placed to plug into vibrant new jazz movements, which have surged overground since its start. “The most interesting acts are playing out and engaging more, they look different,” Romano says. “A lot of the smarter acts embrace the new, and different textures from other genres, with jazz as the core. What's happened since we started in 2013, and I like to think we're partly responsible, is that the amount of interesting jazz- and jazz-inspired acts playing 1,000-2,000-capacity venues has increased hugely. GoGo Penguin, Sons of Kemet and Shabaka Hutchings' stuff generally and Kamasi Washington have expanded the audience a lot. When we booked Snarky Puppy in 2013, they were playing to 200-300 in London, now it's 5,000-6,000 at Brixton Academy. There's no way that would have happened five years ago."

This year's Saturday headliners, The Jacksons, though, like past names such as Grace Jones, draw complaints that Love Supreme simply isn't jazz enough. "Our booking criteria has never changed," Romano argues. "A main stage with more mainstream soul and funk to bring in the casual, local audience, a big top with more classic jazz for the core audience, and the Arena for edgier, developing stuff, to bring in a younger audience for whom jazz is a vibrant thing. From the beginning, we've tried to bring together different tribes. We spend a lot of time on the interlinking of it all."

Attendance will be around 28,000 in 2017, more than doubling its near disastrous debut. Such setbacks, like the last-minute switch from its intended location on the beautiful but wind-blasted downland peak of Devil's Dyke, are in the past. Six fields are earmarked for further expansion. The odds Love Supreme has beaten are even shown by its name, which so perfectly evokes its ethos.

"Not everyone thought that at the time!" Romano laughs. "We live in this world where everyone knows who John Coltrane is. Actually, most people don't, and they certainly don't know the spiritual element of that particular record [A Love Supreme]. The more sniffy jazz fans are aghast at our use of it. The only worse thing would have been the Kind of Blue festival!" Such barracking came from both sides. "I was under huge pressure to take out the words 'jazz festival' after the first year. And I had to keep saying, 'We're nothing, if we're not that.'"

– Nick Hasted

– Photo of Ciro Romano by Johann Perry

The Love Supreme Jazz Festival takes place from 30 June to 2 July - for line-up, info and tickets visit www.lovesupremefestival.com

oli

British soul-jazz singer/pianist Oli Rockberger is set to release his new album, Sovereign, on 20 October on the Whirlwind Recordings label. Rockberger has recently relocated to London after an extended stay in the US where he toured and recorded extensively with the likes of Carly Simon, John Mayer, Steve Gadd, Randy Brecker, Steve Jordan, Nathan East, Becca Stevens, Louis Cole and Chris Dave's Drumhedz.

The keyboardist now divides his time between touring with Jazz FM Award-winning singer Laura Mvula and leading his own band, which for several UK dates to support the album release features drummer Marijus Aleksa, guitarist Giorgio Serci, vocalist/fiddler Hannah Read and bassist Michael Janisch. Dates are: Soundcellar, Poole (12 Oct); The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh (18 Oct); Pizza Express Jazz Club, High Holborn (19-20 Oct) and EFG London Jazz Festival @ Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho (14 Nov).

Ahead of all that Jazzwise has an exclusive first look at the live video for 'My Old Life' 

For more info visit www.whirlwindrecordings.com/oli-rockberger

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