Bruce Lindsay's up to date report about jazz in the UK.
The ReVoice! Festival--a celebration of the human voice--is five years old in 2014. Happy Birthday congratulations are in order for the jny: London based festival--this milestone anniversary is an indication of its success and of the wealth of vocalists in the jazz world and beyond. From small beginnings (just five concerts) in 2010 the festival has grown year on year. The 2014 festival program, running from 9-20 October, includes a total of 26 performances across 12 nights in four different venues. Its headliners include Rebecca Parris, Carmen Lundy, Ian Shaw and Claire Martin. It also reaches out beyond London for ...read more
Singing is possibly the most universal of the arts, certainly of the musical arts. The human voice is the most portable of instruments, always there, always available. It's also the most expressive of instruments: almost every instrument invented in history has at some time or other been used to mimic the voice; none have truly succeeded.Ask most people to name a few great musical stars of the past 100 years and the chances are that the majority of those stars would be singers--Frank Sinatra, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson--whether or not they are also instrumentalists. If I ...read more
The first JazzLife UK article of 2012 has been some time coming: my apologies to anyone who noticed. By way of recompense this edition moves beyond the narrow confines of the British Isles to discuss an international Jazz Quandary: if jazz has gone so horribly wrong, how can we fix it?It's a big question and demands a big answer. In fact, it's two big questions. Has jazz gone horribly wrong? If it has, how can it be fixed? For the sake of the rest of this article, I'll answer the first question in the affirmative. But please note ...read more
As Noddy Holder and the mighty Slade remind us every year, It's CHRISTMAAAAAAS." With the Yuletide festivities comes the annual avalanche of End Of Year lists, Best Of awards and Grammy nominations. This year, JazzLife UK adds its own awards to the list: the inaugural JazzLife UK Gilded Butterfly Awards (or GBs). In line with the Grammys JazzLife UK has streamlined the GBs, down from the originally proposed 642 categories to a core group of seven. But it's the seven that everyone covets. The Voting Process JazzLife UK decided, at an early stage, to make ...read more
It's been a strange summer here in the UK. To be fair, that description can be applied with no trace of irony to almost any British summer--and the summer of 2011 seems to have been a strange one for much of the world. But this is a JazzLife UK article, and parochial concerns are paramount, thus the strange British summer takes precedence. One aspect in particular. Because it's a very positive aspect, a cheering and upbeat and oddly synchronous part of jazz life--the ways in which jazz can cross the generations, to benefit both the old and the young as ...read more
This edition of JazzLife UK starts about as far from Britain as it's possible to get in the USA without toppling head first into the Pacific. It returns to its spiritual and physical homeland of Norfolk, where it can happily hide from the real world until next time, and looks forward to a festival that combines music, literature and beautiful architecture. Then it pops into the Great Wen (thank you, William Cobbett) for a short visit to celebrate some jazz awards. Along the way there is good news, and just a teeny little hint of gloom. Way ...read more
Good things continue to happen on the UK jazz scene. My cheery optimism remains in place. JazzLife UK gained a small smidgeon of recognition from the Big City. My new Blog, Jazz, Delicious Hot, Disgusting Cold, debuted to almost universal disinterest. Two new releases, the Kairos 4tet's Statement Of Intent (Edition Records) and Matthew Halsall's On The Go (Gondwana Records), are straight on to my Best Of shortlist for 2011. And there's only one enigma currently keeping me from contentment. But for most of this month's column, JazzLife UK travels, spiritually at least, Up North, to the ...read more
The New Year is past its infancy, leaving toddlerhood behind and heading into those difficult pre-school years. Olympic Fever jostles with a forthcoming Royal Wedding for the attentions of the Great British Public (at least according to the more populist media). Across the Atlantic, Esperanza Spalding won a first for jazz: the Grammy Award for Best New Artist--a story which interested the UK media, almost exclusively because of the unseemly response of some of Justin Beiber's young enthusiasts. And JazzLife UK gives birth to an exciting new discussion section: What's Wrong With The British Jazz Scene This Month?read more
In geographical terms, the island of Ireland is small: just 300 miles by 175 miles, with a population of around 6.2 million. Northern Ireland is smaller still: 1.8 million people in six counties in the north-east of the island. In the wide world of jazz the country rarely rates a mention. But Northern Ireland's jazz scene is stirring: a small but highly-talented and enthusiastic bunch of musicians is rapidly expanding the scene and beginning to export the music around the world. JazzLife UK's recent whirlwind tour of Northern Ireland was in the company of trumpeter, broadcaster and ...read more
It's autumn (Fall, if pushed). British jazz gets sensible again, and moves back indoors. As keen readers will be aware, JazzLife UK is essentially an indoor photography project--outdoors is the space that must be crossed to get from one indoors to another--and the thought of another nine months of gigs without the need to pack sunscreen and a waterproof coat, both essentials for the British summer, gladdens my heart. Other things about the UK scene have gladdened my heart as well. Lots of lovely new CDs, for a start: another benefit of summer's end, as Britain's jazz musicians return from ...read more
I rarely write anything too serious in a JazzLife UK article and, for the most part, this month's missive will be no different. However, the summer of 2010 started very sadly for UK jazz with the deaths of four popular, talented and influential musicians, and it seems appropriate to write a few words to remember each of them before I return to the more inconsequential things in life. Drummers Chris Dagley, Martin Drew and Jack Parnell and trumpeter and flugelhorn player Harry Beckett all died within a few weeks of each other in late July and early ...read more
JazzLife UK continued apace during May and June 2010, adding many more photographs to the project and hearing more great jazz in yet more odd and unusual venues. Early May brought more indications of summer to the British weather, and ushered in a General Election. JazzLife UK can now reveal--as promised in my previous article--that the winner of this era-defining event was: Liberal Democrat Leader, Nick Clegg. Britain's first coalition government for decades brought Clegg power, fame and influence far beyond anything he could have gained by keeping his party independent. After 13 years of Labour, the UK is now ...read more
March and April 2010 were eventful months for JazzLife UK--my photo-documentary project on the jazz scene in Britain. Spring finally emerged from winter's grasp, snowdrops replaced snow drifts and jazz life got busier. Debates about jazz and the media took center-stage, at least for some of us, politicians limbered up for a General Election (I know the result, but I'll leave you in suspense until JazzLife UK #3), I was roundly chastised for my optimism and blatant lack of musical awareness and I was forced into a major paradigm shift in my thinking. I heard some great music, saw some ...read more
JazzLife UK--a simple idea. I'll spend much of 2010 travelling around the United Kingdom photographing the jazz scene and asking some of its members what they think about the current state of UK jazz. I'll photograph musicians, venues, performances, rehearsals, sound checks, record label executives, promoters, agents, presenters, DJs and anyone or anything else that forms part of the UK scene. Then in 2011 there will be exhibitions and, with luck and good judgment, a project book. Simple.The JazzLife UK Facebook page is up and running and I'll be charting my progress with a series of articles here ...read more
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