The Vortex Jazz Club celebrates its 25th anniversary this weekend with a lively all day, outdoor event in Gillett Square this Saturday, 22 September, from 2pm until late into the evening. Consistently voted one of the best live music venues in London, making Time Out’s ‘Best live music venues’ Top Ten earlier this year, and included in Downbeat magazine’s 150 most important jazz clubs worldwide, the Vortex opened in 1987 and was run by former taxi driver David Mossman in its original location in Stoke Newington. It was forced to find a new home in 2005 when property developers wanted to sell off the building, and moved to its current location inside Dalston Culture House, overlooking Gillett Square.
The Vortex has since become part of north east London’s thriving cultural map that includes improv music venue Café Oto, Rio Cinema and Arcola Theatre. Run as a not-for-profit, volunteer-led organisation the Vortex continues its mission of promoting the best music from the jazz, world, experimental, folk, rock and alternative music scenes. Providing a platform for emerging talents, its played a key role in breaking many new bands in recent years including Polar Bear, Acoustic Ladyland, TrioVD, Led Bib, Empirical and Portico Quartet and continues to feature some of the most forward thinking musicians from around the world. The venue continues to host a monthly residency from iconic British saxophonist Evan Parker and London’s longest running improvised monthly music session, Mopomoso.
This anniversary weekend sees the Vortex take over Gillett Square with a specially built stage and eight performances from a diverse programme taking in several generations of musicians and multifarious jazz, world music, rap and electronic sounds. Topping the bill are the storming funk and Afrobeat-fuelled Nostalgia 77 (pictured above), led by composer/bandleader/producer Ben Lamdin, his long running unit gleefully mash scorching grooves and serious jazz soloing into a danceable whole. The current line up includes original bassist Riaan Vosloo, alongside saxophonist James Allsopp, drummer Tim Giles, trumpeter Fulvio Sigurta and keyboardist Dan Nichols. The bill also includes grime MC Afrikan Boy, trombonist Annie Whitehead’s World Music Workshop, legendary 1960s improv group The People Band (still going strong today), the joyously uplifting Afro-jazz stalwarts Township Commets featuring saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, while Electric Jalaba, Seeds Of Creation and DJ Koichi Sakai provide electronic and global grooves.
As well as music there will be a specially curated Vortex Museum, which will be showing unseen archive footage from many of the venue’s historic performances, and the square will also host food and drink stalls, a real ale bar, barbeque and a secondhand record stand from Bradbury Street’s Eldica Records.
For more info go to: www.vortexjazz.co.uk
– Mike Flynn