Thursday, 8 October 2015

Our Top Picks for London Jazz Festival 2015

It's only a month away from the 2015 London Jazz Festival and we've selected our top picks for those of you making the journey down south.

Andrew Linham Jazz Orchestra (15th November, 8pm - Spice of Life)

Saxophonist and composer Andrew Linham is an alumnus of Leeds College of Music and was named a Yamaha Jazz Scholar in 2010. His jazz orchestra features some extraordinary talent and this gig will premiere some new music - The Theme Music of Anarchic Animals.

Corey Mwamba/Rachel Musson and Colin Webster/Andrew Lisle (14th Nocember, 1pm - Barbican)

Cath Roberts and Dee Byrne are doing inspirational things in London with LUME and these gigs are programmed by LUME to showcase the improvisational talents of vibes player Corey Mwamba and saxophonist Rachel Musson and of saxophonist Colin Webster and another LCoM alumnus, drummer Andrew Lisle. A pair of completely improvised gigs, this will definitely be a highlight.

Jazz & Surgery: Professor Roger Kneebone and Ollie Howell (16th November, 8pm - Cockpit)

Exploring the unlikely parallels between jazz and surgery – with live music and a simulated brain operation Improvisation. Jez Nelson (presenter of BBC Jazz on 3) hosts a special Jazz in the Round event exploring the unlikely parallels between surgery and jazz, with former trauma surgeon and Professor of Surgical Education Roger Kneebone and drummer Ollie Howell. Join them on the operating table as The Cockpit's unique theatre space transforms into the setting for a simulated brain surgery – an interactive experience intertwined with live music and discussion.

Kenny Wheeler - An Evocation (19th November, 7.30pm - Cadogan Hall)

This concert will celebrate the huge contribution to jazz trumpeter Kenny Wheeler made in a career that spanned over 60 years. His close friends and collaborators will perform including Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Norma Winstone, Ralph Towner and the last quintet members — Stan Sulzmann, Chris Laurence, John Parricelli, Martin France.

Of course, this just scratches the surface of the full programme, which can be found on the London Jazz Festival website.

New Radio Show on JazzFM to showcase British Jazz

JazzFM have announced that a new weekly show on their station will focus solely on British Jazz.

True Brit will run each Thursday at 6pm and will be presented by Nick Pitts. There will be regular guests from the British Jazz scene and music from the archives of UK Jazz as well as new releases.

With the wealth of releases by British acts, there is a huge potential playlist for a programme like this and we hope it helps celebrate the rich and varied UK jazz scene.

Artists who wish to submit music for airplay should either post physical CDs and press packs to 75-77 Margaret Street, London, W1W 8SY or visit the Contact Us page of the JazzFM website for links to email contacts for mp3s and EPKs.

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

Funds available for Jazz Education in Sheffield

Sheffield Music Hub has announced that they are to commission a number of Jazz/World education projects for spring term 2015.

£15,000 has been made available to support projects and is open to schools, music co-operatives and organisations. Although freelance musicians are not able to bid for the funding themselves, eligible schools and organisation can apply on their behalf, naming specific musicians as project leaders.

There two brackets of projects Sheffield Music Hub wish to support -

1) Sing@TheHubClub - Vocal improvising provision for children aged 5-7
2) Improvise@TheHubClub - Classroom improvising using voice and instruments for children aged 7-11 or 11-14.

A meeting will be held on October 12th at Sheffield Town Hall (Committee Room 3) from 6pm until 8pm to provide further information on this funding. Attendees should register by emailing Colette Dutot at

Applications will be accepted through the YORtender website and the deadline for submission is noon on November 6th 2015.

Visit the Sheffield Music Hub website for more information on the activities currently offered.

Jazz at the Head of Steam, Huddersfield & Leeds

An important part of the jazz infrastructure in the North are the weekly and monthly residencies held by groups in bars and restaurants that act as a host for visiting horn players and singers. The Head of Steam pubs are very conveniently located next to the train stations in Leeds and Huddersfield and each runs a weekly jazz night.

The Leeds night is run by saxophonist and educator Brendan Duffy and runs each Sunday evening from 7pm. This gig is a showcase for jazz vocalists and October will be see performances from up-and-coming vocalist Georgina Barr as well as Jamie Hammond, Emily Brown and Yorkshire's favourite, Kate Peters.

The Huddersfield night takes place each Wednesday from 8.30pm, led by drummer Paul Smith. Paul's gigs feature both vocalists and horn players and upcoming gigs feature Rod Mason and Ian Chalk, Loretta Scott, Dave Hogan and Lee Hallam, as well as another appearance from Georgina Barr this time alongside Ben Lowman.

Information on these venues can be found at the Head of Steam website.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Empty Shops filled with music and art in Durham

There isn't a single town or city in the North of England (or anywhere else for that matter) that doesn't have at least one or two shops standing empty. These buildings can often go for years unused. Empty Shop is an organisation set up in Durham that utilises these spaces for art, theatre and live music.

Running for the past 6 years, they've put on over 300 events and with a volunteer team of 135, they continue to host a full programme of events in space around Durham.

On October 15th, jazz vocalist Lindsay Hannon will bring her band to one of these spaces as part of a regular jazz night hosted by the organisation.

Lindsay Hannon has a wild musical spirt. Her singing is gutsy and bluesy with a heightend sense of drama - Christine Tobin

The gig takes place at Empty Shop HQ (35C Framwellgate Bridge) on 15th October from 8.30pm. Tickets cost £5.

Visit their website to find out more about the work they do and to view the full calendar of events. Food for thought for jazz promoters looking for new venues in other cities perhaps?

Tantz Release Long Awaited Debut Album, Voytek

In recent years, Tantz have been one of the busiest bands in the country. They have built a loyal fan base all over the country and abroad with their energetic kletzmer and gypsy jazz peformances and infectious delight they have for being on-stage.

After many thousands of miles travelling to and from gigs and festival appearances that must total 500 or more, the band are finally releasing their first album, Voytek (the bear).

On 29th October, Tantz will launch their album with a rare Leeds show at the Belgrave Music Hall and Canteen.

DJ Lubi says...

A Tantz gig was not just a gig, it was a party. As they ventured further afield and word spread about them, the band's sound evolved over the years into this roaring blend of the traditional and the new that has seen them working non-stop at all kinds of events. World music festivals like WOMAD, rock/electronic gatherings like Bestival and Kendall Calling, clubnights like Balkanarama and Soul Rebels. They even played at the Brit Awards After Party 2014. The great thing is they rock every gig like it's their last one. Bottle of rum onstage, "1-2-3-4, let's go" count and they're off. Then it's a 90 minute ride of pure musical maelstrom that encompasses thumping bass lines, frenetic violin fiddling, in-yer-face drums and percussion, ska-punk chopped guitar and stratospheric soaring clarinet solos played so fast Charlie Parker would be proud of them. 

Doors at at 8-m and music begins at 9pm. Tickets cost £7 plus a booking fee from Crash or Jumbo Records or from the venue.

More information on the new album and other live dates can be found on the Tantz website.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

JazzUK, the new face of Jazz Services

There has been much uncertainty in the UK jazz community since it was announced that Jazz Services would not receive arts funding to support its activities. The organisation has gone through significant restructuring and spent time researching how a future Jazz Services would fit in and truly benefit the jazz scene.

Recently, it has re-emerged under a new name, JazzUK (though this was the name of the listings magazine that they used to distribute so not entirely new), has a new website and has announced the first phase of plans for the next few years.

There appears to be three main strands - Community Jazzlabs, Dissolve JazzLab and #4Jazz festival in Conventry. The North is mentioned in the Community JazzLabs strand, with a two year programme of community and improvised music hubs being developed in Northumberland as well as in Coventry and South Cornwall.

Dissolve JazzLab is part of their Learning and Participation thread and aims to increase provision of jazz education and improvised music for young people of diverse cultures and backgrounds.

JazzUK has not yet mentioned any projects that will take place in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland and so far, the UK in their name refers only to England.

For further information, visit their new website.

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Jazz Coffee Morning for MacMillan Cancer Support in York

Jazz In York is a website run by bassist John Marley. As the name would suggest, it keeps audiences up to date with all the jazz going on in York. On November 14th, Jazz In York will be running a Jazz Coffee Morning in order to raise money for MacMillan Cancer Care.

John says...

On Saturday 14th November, we will be having a coffee morning with live jazz for Macmillan Cancer Support. The event will take place at Clements Hall which is located close to York city centre. The Kate Peters Trio will be performing and guests musicians are more than welcome to play as well.

Please come along and help raise lots of money for this great charity....and enjoy some coffee and cake while you're at it!


MacMillan Cancer provides valuable support to those diagnosed with cancer and their families. For more information on the work they do, visit their website.

Jazz In The Round & Rising Stars at Seven Jazz

With autumn upon us, jazz venues in the North are launching their new season of gigs. Seven Jazz in Leeds has taken this opportunity to introduce two strands of gigs in their programme - Seven Jazz Unplugged and Seven Jazz Introduces.

The Unplugged series has grown from their experience presenting gigs at the Inkwell and will feature a programme of groups playing acoustically. Pictured above is the Matt Anderson/Jiannis Pavlidis Duo at the first of these gigs and as you can see, the audience will be able to be in amongst the action with the new Jazz in the Round lay-out.

The Seven Jazz Introduces strand features the wealth of talent produced by the jazz course at LCoM (plus some students from the music department at Leeds Uni). There are a range of gigs on Sunday afternoons featuring these groups and the main Thursday evening programme will also have support slots led by student groups.

Below is the gig listings for these two strands - visit the Seven Jazz website for more information on these and all other Seven Jazz events.

Unplugged Gigs

4 October : “The Kumpus Quartet” -Higgins, Mulvenna, Blackstone, MacDonald
18 October : Bad Ass Brass (pictured)
1 November: Tom Rivière’s Family Band

Seven Jazz Introduces Gigs

October 8th - Georgina Barr/Calvin Travers (pictured)
October 22nd - Ben Powling/Will Powell Quartet
November 12th - Sam Dutton-Taylor Quartet
November 26th - Johnny Tunnard Trio
December 3rd - DS Murray Quartet
December 10th - Sam Hamstead/Dan Clarkson

Friday, 25 September 2015

Laura Kinsella and Ben Crosland premiere new work at Marsden Jazz Festival

The 2015 Marsden Jazz Festival is fast approaching (9th-11th October). The festival are committed to supporting new music and each year commission artists to produce new work to be premiered at the festival. This year, these commissions come from vocalist Lauren Kinsella and bassist Ben Crosland.

Lauren Kinsella's project is called What Window Do You Look Out Of? and features Tom Challenger (sax), Dan Nicholls (keys and electronics), Conor Chaplin (bass) and Simon Roth (drums).

I've been inspired by so many different aspects of culture over the past few months. An important starting point was the documentary 'Salt of the Earth', a beautiful film about photographer Sebastião Salgado and his work through a political, social and cultural lens. What his pictures convey about the world and human suffering are some of the most moving images I've ever seen.

The music was also inspired by other artists and writers, including Marsden-born poet Simon Armitage and his book 'Gig' and Patti Smith and her autobiography 'Just Kids'. Lastly and most importantly, I am inspired by the wonderful musicians in my ensemble that will play with me at Marsden.

Ben Crosland will present his interpretation of songs by the Kinks' Ray Davies. He is joined by John Etheridge (guitar), Dave O'Higgins (sax), Steve Lodder (piano) and Sebastiaan De Krom (drums).

I began my musical education at 13 by taking up the drums and the Kinks’ singles were constantly on as I played along in my bedroom. Fifty years on, as a bandleader and composer, I am again discovering new subtleties and strengths in these wonderful compositions. 

Ray Davies is a songwriter whose work is rooted in the blues, music hall, popular song, variety and musical theatre. His songs provide the perfect vehicles for jazz interpretation. He is self-evidently one of the greatest ever British songwriters. To my knowledge, no one has yet undertaken a serious study of his work in a jazz context.

Ben performs on Friday 9th October at the Marsden Royal British Legion with tickets costing £14. Lauren performs on Saturday 10th October at the same details and tickets cost £7. 

Full details can be found on the Marsden Jazz Festival website. 

BlueJam Arts team up with NYJC

BlueJam Arts in Cumbria are teaming up with the National Youth Jazz Collective for their first collaborative weekend starting tomorrow. As part of the project, they are running a CPD event for music educators interested in developing their jazz education skills.

Led by Issie Barratt, this music educators CPD initiative aims to improve the provision and accessibility of jazz education for young people across the country. There are four sessions, the first on September 26th and then subsequent sessions on 14th November, 23rd January and 27th February.

Sessions will cover -

  • Comping on guitar and piano
  • Diatonic harmony jazz standards
  • Grooves and feels
  • Support in choosing appropriate repertoire with a list of 100 graded tunes each linked to a spotify folder. 
Plus much more. It costs £100 to attend all four session and concessionary rates are available. Those who wish to attend only one of two of the sessions should get in touch with BlueJam to discuss costs.

This event is part of a larger collaboration with NYJC which will see 4 intensive weekend workshops taking place in Cumbria for young jazz musicians.

Full information on these events is available on the BlueJam Arts website and their facebook page also contains up to date info. 

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

PRS Open Funding and Women Make Music - September 28th Deadlines

There are two funding programmes through PRSF that will close for submissions on September 28th so ensembles and composers are advised to get their application in soon for a chance at financial support for an upcoming project.

Women Make Music is a scheme open to female music creators in any genre and will award up to £5000 to a project. Their aim is to raise the profile of female composers and musicians in the industry and support the creation of new work and collaborations. They wish to break down gender stereotypes and support female role models for future generations.

Deadline: Monday September 28th 

PRSF's Open Funding scheme is, as the name suggests, open to individuals and composers creating new work in any genre. This could the commission of new work, touring, recording or creative residencies for example. Again, up to £5000 is available for a project (those who have previously been successful in receiving PRSF funding are able to apply for larger amounts of money).

Deadline: Monday September 28th

Both of these schemes have two stage application processes - those successful at the first stage will be invited to progress to stage two.

Full information on eligibity criteria, previously funded projects and access to the application forms can be found on the PRSF website. Best of luck!

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

The Big Score - Jazz On The Screen

Jazz on the the big screen. Actual films about jazz notwithstanding, many motion pictures have been enhanced by scores featuring and/or written by jazz musicians. Think Ascenseur pour l'échafaud and Miles Davis, Duke Ellington's score of Anatomy of a Murder and more recently Antonio Sanchez's solo drum score for Birdman.

On October 7th, music historian Chris Phipps will give a talk in Newcastle (Bewick Hall, City Library) entitled The Big Score - Jazz On The Screen. The talk will explore the links between jazz and film, looking at the contributions made by composers and improvisers to movies over the past 50+ years.

Music Historian Phipps is no stranger to interesting events; last year he teamed up with a Newcastle City Centre restaurant Two Fifths to run a series of events with music-themed menus and talks. (Read more about that here)

The event starts at 6.30pm on Wednesday 7th October and tickets can be booked via the Newcastle council website or by calling 0191 2774100.

Monday, 21 September 2015

Calling All Emerging Jazz Talent - Peter Whittingham Award 2016

Help Musicians UK have opened submissions for the 2016 Peter Whittingham Award, marking its 25th year supporting emerging jazz talent in the UK.

The award is presented each year to a musician or ensemble to support a career-building project with a cash prize of £5,000. An expert in survival medicine, Peter Whittingham was also a pianist who enjoyed the music of Gershwin, Porter, Sondheim, Bernstein, Shearing and Peterson. After his death in 1987 his family set up this award in his memory – and their connection with the award continues.

In recent years, musicians from the North have dominated the recipient list - Roller Trio, Reuben Fowler, Phil Meadows and Stretch Trio (pictured above) from 2011 to 2014.

Auditions will be held at Premises Studio in Hackney, London on December 2nd and the deadline for applications is Monday 2nd November at 6pm.The award is open to musicians in the first two years of their professional careers or those in higher education.

For more information, visit the Help Musicians UK website.

Friday, 18 September 2015

How To Run A Jazz Club with NORVOL

It's the Lancaster Jazz Festival this weekend and if previous years are anything to go by, expect a lot of high quality music and lots of sold out performances. We reported on the festival a while back and listed our highlights, but check out the Lancaster Jazz Festival website to see what's going on.

NORVOL Jazz are going to be holding an event on Saturday September 19th as part of the festival entitled How To Run A Jazz Club. It's a free seminar event aimed at encouraging new people to become jazz promoters. (It's fitting that the event should be held at Lancaster Festival as the director Matt Robinson is a prime example of an ambitious young promoter really making a difference to the scene).

This event is aimed at people who want to become jazz promoters, or who may already do some jazz promotion and want to do it better. You may be a musician wanting to develop venue for people to play, a volunteer with an interest in jazz, or a promoter in other areas of the arts wanting to include more jazz in your festival or programme. This event will help you achieve that.

The seminar will focus on: finding a venue, developing an audience, planning a programme, developing the local jazz community through workshops, masterclasses, jam session and paying for it all! It also provides a prime opportunity to network with successful Northern Jazz promoters.

Find out more on the festival website.