Young People are the Future of Jazz

As our 2015 programme draws to a close, J-Night Director David Porter reflects on the importance of our work with young musicians:

The dust has just settled on our November festival which provided development opportunities to young local musicians at the start of their careers.

This is such an important area as we try and build a new jazz picture fit for the 21st century. Anyone who was in the building at the height of the festival couldn’t have failed to be excited by the energy and enthusiasm of the young artists and audiences who packed out Hull Truck.

And what artists! Gary Crosby presented an amazing band including star vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett, amazing guitarist Shirley Tetteh, stunning saxophonist Camilla George and extraordinary drummer Eddie “Dreadie Eddie” Hick on drums to give a snapshot into the powerful music of the Civil Rights movement.

Next up was a unique event that included young performers from Buckingham Academy, Kelvin Hall School, Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra and University of Hull students, accompanied by members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra. This was the culmination of 4 days of workshops led by Mark Armstrong, Sean Miller, Alison James and Tom Grantham involving 70 young Hull musicians.

I was blown away by the results, along with a packed full house at Hull Truck Theatre.

And there were other highlights too! Jenny Smith, now an accomplished jazz vocalist, assembled a quintet featuring the cream of the Albermarle Alumni. Jazz North Introduces showcased the Royal Northern College of Music’s Artephis, a forward-looking contemporary jazz quintet with an innovative direction through original compositions and arrangements. The Albermarle-based Will King Band provided great foyer music throughout the festival and the Festival jazz brunch was a huge success featuring Leeds based – but Hull made – band Matt Holborn Quartet, with their gypsy jazz sounds.

The two headliners – Andy Sheppard and New York Standards Jazz Quartet – both wowed sell-out audiences – with an increasingly younger audience becoming excited by artists at the top of their game.

J-Night will expand our work with the Hull Music Hub at the Albermarle, schools, the University of Hull and Jazz North as we highlight the talents of young and local artists and audiences for our work. Our partnerships with organisations like Tomorrows Warriors and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra will continue into 2017 as we make sure that we remain relevant to new audiences and new artists alike.

You can see more photographs from our 2015 Winter Edition over on Flickr.

Giant Steps

Hull Jazz Festival Winter Edition 2015 features an exciting line up of young UK jazz artists performing alongside established international acts as part of our Giant Steps programme:

The aim of Giant Steps is to strengthen the local and regional developing jazz scene by increasing quality opportunities for aspiring Yorkshire musicians to participate in regular and supportive performances culminating in appearances at Hull Jazz Festival and Freedom Festival.

J-Night has a long tradition of supporting local and regional jazz artists and providing development opportunities to young jazz musicians at the start of their careers.

Every November our Giant Steps programme shines a spotlight on some of the brightest young jazz talent from the wider region and beyond. Members of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Tomorrow’s Warriors work alongside the Hull Music Hub at the Albermarle, the City of Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra, the University of Hull and Jazz Aesthetic plus local schools to produce Festival performances.

We also provide performance opportunities for emerging artists from across the North through Jazz North’s Northern Line and Jazz North Introduces award schemes. In November 2015, we’re featuring two Jazz North bands – Artephis are the Jazz North Introduces act for 2015 and Matt Holborn Gypsy Jazz Quartet are part of the Northern Line scheme for 2015-16.

An exciting new fusion of two very different musical traditions – Shri presents ‘Just a Vibration’

J-Night has a longstanding commitment to working with artists from diverse musical and cultural backgrounds. For Freedom Festival 2015 we’re very proud to present the first performance of a brand new collaboration that brings together the intoxicating rhythms of Indian music with the might of the British brass band:

 ‘JUST A VIBRATION’ is an exciting new music project that brings together two distinct and diverse musical forms: Indian music and the traditional brass band.

Conceived by award-winning composer/producer/instrumentalist Shri Sriram this unique musical collaboration makes its live debut on the Yellow Bus stage at Freedom Festival in Hull on September 5th.

Taking the stage in Hull will be the mighty 25-piece Skelmanthorpe Brass Band along with Shri Sriram and Ben Castle arranger/saxophonist/bass-clarinettist, the fast rising Leeds-based sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun and powerhouse drummer Marc Layton-Bennett.

The musicians will perform ten brand new tracks that constitute Just A Vibration; all compositions have been created by Shri and arranged by Ben Castle. The Just A Vibration album is scheduled for release in November 2015, with Shri, Jasdeep and Marc performing with Hammonds Saltaire Brass Band at Rich Mix on 22nd November as part of London Jazz Festival.

It’s going to be amazing!” laughs the energetic Shri Sriram, who plays a bass guitar he built himself in 1991 and which he has used ever since. “I only started listening to brass bands recently and thought what an incredible sound they make and what fantastic music we could make together. I’ve always been fascinated with combining sounds and styles and since sound is just a vibration, I decided to turn that phrase into the title for this project.

“I’m using a music vocabulary created out of brass and Indian classical concepts which has its own syntax, pronunciation and accent,” continues Shri. “During the one hour performance one piece, for instance, is based on the tanpura, the four-stringed Indian drone instrument which is translated to the four-part harmony of brass, another based on a complex tabla piece called Chakradhar and some filmic Wagner/Bollywood style drama. The sitar seems to fit in very naturally as if it always belonged in a brass band, but I had to make sure neither the brass nor the sitar went too deep into its territory. That’s where it would become fusion in my opinion.”

Well known as one half of the highly successful UK drum & bass duo Badmarsh & Shri and for his ability to blend Indian and western musical styles, the largely self-taught Shri has devised a finely tuned sound that truly breaks boundaries. His musical passion and talent have driven him since he can remember: “When I was really little, growing up in India,” he remembers, “I would crawl up to the tablas that were in the house and start to play them; my father thought it was great and that I would grow up to be a classical Indian tabla player. But, when I went to college – to study chemistry – I was introduced to rock music – specifically Black Sabbath! – and as soon as I heard the boomboomboom of Geezer Butler’s bass guitar, I knew that was what I wanted to play.”

When the pioneering music curator and festival producer Simon Dove invited Shri to England to perform, Shri virtually blew the audience away with his formidable bass playing style, which broke every rule in the book. “I think they expected an Indian chap in traditional dress with a tabla and sitar and some kitsch Indian jazz but they got me in my jeans and my home made bass…”

Then along came Badmarsh & Shri; their debut album Dancing Drums (1998) contained a completely new mix of drum & bass, hip hop, Indian music and jazz. Their second album, Signs, delivered dancefloor fillers and led to their breakout performance at Glastonbury in 2002 which led to tours all over the UK, Europe, USA and beyond.

Since then Shri has been in constant demand as a performer, producer, composer – he wrote and performed the official promo song for the Indian release of Ang Lee’s Life of Pi (2012), has remixed work for artists as diverse as De La Soul, Andrew Lloyd Webber, and Kronos Quartet, has performed on Later With Jools Holland, at the Montreux and London Jazz Festivals and is currently composing the soundtrack for his third Indian film with Yashraj Films.

The premiere of Just a Vibration will be at 5:30pm on Saturday 5th September on the Yellow Bus stage at Freedom Festival Hull. Click on the link below to hear a 4-track sample of what’s in store. We can’t wait!


Northern Line – a thrilling journey into the unknown!

So, another great Jazz Festival over with lots of happy memories of great performers, but I really want to give a big brilliant thanks to the Northern Line bands – New York Brass Band, Unfurl, Dread Supreme and Zoe Gilby Quartet. What incredible talent we have living and working in the North and if you add the amazing 20-piece Abstract Orchestra, who played an absolute storming set at Fruit, plus Chiedu Oraka and Deez Kid, that will bring the total to 48 northern artists who graced our Hull Jazz Festival stage this summer! And all to sell-out audiences too!

Northern Line is the brain child of Jazz North, the development agency founded by J-Night, Jazz Yorkshire and Manchester Jazz Festival to give a platform to the hugely talented young performers that we have living in our region. We want to make sure that they do not have to leave the area to travel down to London, Paris or New York to be appreciated back in their own backyard. It was really rewarding to see our audiences lapping up such diverse and brilliant music – from the New Orleans sounds of a dirty brass band, through to the completely unique, only in Yorkshire Hip Hop Big Band – from Arabian influenced trance through the American songbook and original material of Zoe Gilby and finally the mighty dread ska jazz of Dread Supreme, led by Manchester’s finest Trevor Roots.

At J-Night we love to keep our influences broad and vital. Our audience lap it all up and we are committed to bringing more from Jazz North’s stable of incredibly talented artists. In November we welcome the amazing gypsy jazz violinist (and Hull born to boot!) Matt Holborn who will be joining a line-up that includes our youngest ever band Artephis, a forward-looking contemporary jazz quintet comprising musicians from the Royal Northern College of Music. Since its formation a year ago, Artephis has been distilling influences – including the Miles Davis and Christian Scott Quintets, Robert Glasper, Hiatus Kaiyote and Pat Metheny – refining an eclectic sound of its own that takes a jazz quintet line-up in innovative directions. They were recently announced as the Jazz North Introduces act for 2015-16.

Our Yellow Bus stage at Freedom Festival in September offers the chance to see the Bugalu Foundation, creating the fresh new sound of Barrio Funk and Latin Soul, plus another chance to see the amazing Trevor Roots with Dread Supreme.

We want audiences to be as brave as our artists. Don’t wait to be told by others who you should be watching – take an adventure trip to new musical areas that you may not have imagined existed. You won’t be disappointed!


Gary Crosby reflects on Coltrane’s A Love Supreme

In 1993 J-Night booked a band called Jazz Jamaica, who were beginning to create a storm with their infectious mixture of jazz and ska, to headline the Jazz Festival. So began a partnership with Dune Music Tomorrow’s Warriors and its M.D. Gary Crosby OBE that has lasted for over 20 years. Rarely a year goes past without a visit from one of their amazing stable of bands and artists and J-Night has presented all of their major projects in a relationship that has lasted 22 years! So what have we got for you this year? We asked Gary Crosby to outline his next project for Hull:

“ 2015 marks the 50th anniversary of the only live performance by John Coltrane of his everlasting classic, A Love Supreme. I feel honoured to have been invited to perform this monumental piece on Saturday 25 July at 3pm at Hull Truck with my quartet, which features my long-time friend and musical sparring partner, Denys Baptiste. Completing the rhythm section are the great Rod Youngs on drums and rising star pianist, Joe Armon-Jones, a graduate of Tomorrow’s Warriors’ Young Artist Development Programme.

I first discovered Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in about 1977, and it has to be said that this classic jazz album had an instant and profound effect on me.

It was apparent to me that this was a personal piece of work – a spiritual albeit very public declaration by Coltrane that his life as a musician was now a seamless (at one) dedication with his faith in God. Here was a man who was rising out of his personal problems, including a long struggle with drug and alcohol addiction.

It’s about ten years ago that I started playing A Love Supreme with Denys Baptiste (and I’ve only ever performed this work with Denys on saxophone). This is a rare piece and, in fact, we have only played it about 7-8 times. However the way we play Coltrane is engrained in our consciousness. We try to keep the spontaneity, and are mindful about how and when we rehearse. In fact we only ‘rehearsed’ the piece before we had to perform it for the very first time all those years ago, and every other time since then, we command up our energies, get into the mindset and play the set in the sound check before the live performance. In doing so we try to keep a collective purity, a kind of naturalness if you like.

However A Love Supreme is one of the world’s sacred canons, and we certainly will not abuse the composer’s intention. As musicians, we want to learn from the piece each time we undertake the work. It’s our absolute duty to play it as Coltrane intended, for example in the case of the bass solo in the movement, Resolution, it really does not need anything from me (or any musician) to be heard as a great piece of art. The work is awesome and awe-inspiring.

It’s really important that the audience engages with Supreme from a pure live perspective. Forty minutes of an intensified and meditative experience. It surely takes you over and elevates the mind and spirit. There’s no choice – you have to take the piece seriously, audiences and musicians alike, but never allow the weight of its meaning and significance to scare you because the rewards are so great. Before we play, I like to ask tacit permission from the audience to give us 45 minutes of their unadulterated time and attention also to allow my Quartet to transport them to another zone, through an immensely hypnotic score – to recapture that spirit that Coltrane shared all those years ago. For me A Love Supreme is pure inspiration.

Pure genius. Whether you are religious or not, it’s revealing to be allowed to share in the visceral statement that Coltrane is making – his service to God. The music/concept came to him by some sort of osmosis, apparently. Coltrane congregated all the elements in one day and, with that, he left us a great piece of work that in a thousand years we will be still be listening to, one that unites humans at the spiritual level – a work that unites musicians across genres. Whether you are religious or not, people all over the work respect what Coltrane did. Not everybody ‘gets’ jazz, but back then in 1965, hippies, folk and progressive rock musicians, accepted this as one the great universal musical statements for the ages.

A Love Supreme is “for music fans, not just jazz fans. For people across musical boundaries and cultures — for Carlos Santana, Bono, Joni Mitchell, Steve Reich, Bootsy Collins, Gil Scott-Heron — hearing A Love Supreme was a revelation” Arun Rath, npr.

Come and hear us play A Love Supreme live. I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.

Peace and love.

Gary Crosby

J-Night and Freedom Festival Hull

J-Night are well known as being the producers of Hull Jazz Festival for over 20 years but we’re becoming increasingly known as the people who provide the iconic Yellow Bus stage at Freedom Festival every September.

Public  Service Boradcasting

Public Service Broadcasting, headlining the Yellow Bus Stage on Saturday 6th September at Freedom Festival 2015

We’re very excited to announce that Public Service Broadcasting will be headlining the Yellow Bus stage at this year’s Freedom Festival, bringing their spellbinding live AV transmission to Hull on Saturday 5th September.

And in a brand new adventure, we’re also delighted to be presenting two very special shows in the beautiful Holy Trinity Church as part of Freedom Festival 2015 with the award-winning Tubular Bells for Two, direct from the Edinburgh Festival.

Aidan&Danny by Joanne Kee (7)

Tubular Bells for Two, appearing at Holy Trinity Church this September as part of Freedom Festival

Until Freedom came along, Hull Jazz Festival provided one of the few opportunities to see great Jazz and World artists in Hull in large-scale, free, outdoors settings through initiatives such as Jazz in the Boatshed, Jazz in Queens Gardens and Red Hot Fiesta. Following the impact of the 2007 abolition of slavery and Wilberforce commemorations in Hull, when Hull Jazz Festival promoted the Sankofa Sunsplash, curated by Audrey Okyere-Fosu in Queens Gardens, J-Night has worked to support Freedom with a number of initiatives.

2009 and 2010 Round the World Clipper race and Freedom Festivals saw Ruby Turner, Asere and Salsarosa from Cuba and many others turning the Marina Boatshed into a unique venue for thousands of visitors.



2012 saw the birth of Hull Jazz Festival’s iconic Yellow Bus stage, which immediately caught the public’s imagination, situated in the heart of Freedom Quarter. Providing a unique blend of Jazz-influenced, high energy non-stop performances, the Yellow Bus Stage aims to bring the best international, regional and local artists to celebrate Freedom in Hull. Our artists celebrate the spirit of Freedom and the audiences respond to their passion. The styles range from the hip hop artist Akala to the coolest of bebop jazz sounds of Empirical – both MOBO award winners – from the Jamaican sounds of Last Train to Skaville to the Cuban classical violin of Omar Puente to the street sounds of New York Brass Band! We celebrate the freedom not to only promote jazz!

Roland Gift

Roland Gift, Freedom Festival 2014

2014 saw the Yellow Bus moved to a new position by the Pier and expand its programme with Hull’s Roland Gift (making a rare solo performance), Queen of Gospel and Soul Ruby Turner and New York’s incredible acapella sensation Naturally 7 headlining a 3 day Festival of extraordinary sounds and experiences.

J-Night is indebted to the vision of the Freedom board and team and artistic directors Walk the Plank for the opportunity to add our special brand of music to the wonderful array of experiences that are on offer to the people of Hull.

Yellow Bus crowd, Freedom Festival 2014

Yellow Bus crowd, Freedom Festival 2014

We are extremely grateful to the support of Arts Council, England, Hull City Council, Jazz North and the PRS Foundation for enabling us to keep these wonderful experiences coming to the City – and we will be working hard, alongside Freedom to ensure that we bring more amazing surprises to the UK City of Culture 2017, when we’lll be celebrating our 25th anniversary!


J-Night brings International Jazz Day celebrations to Hull

We’re very excited to be launching our 2015 programme with a special event that brings International Jazz Day celebrations to Hull for the first time.

The wonderful Christine Tobin, winner of Jazz Vocalist of the Year at the 2014 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, returns to Hull Truck on Thursday 30th April with I Love Elís, her tribute to the late, great Brazilian singer Elís Regina, who would have been 70 this year.

Following her warm tributes to Carole King, Leonard Cohen and WB Yeats, Tobin performs iconic Brazilian songs that have had a profound influence on her own musical vision. She’ll be performing once more with the stellar line-up of Kate Shortt cello, Phil Robson guitar & Mark Lewandowski double bass.

With support from the fabulous Lyn Acton Bossa Revista, we can’t think of a better way to start this year’s programme.

1.-Christine-Tobin-New-Image-Photo-by-www.ForbesAnderson.Photography--2Lyn Acton Bossa Revista

Hull Jazz Festival Round-Up of 2014

2014 has been another great year for J-Night and Hull Jazz Festival, with 3 festivals, 131 artists and audiences of over 120,000.

We started in the Spring with a series of shows supported by the PRSF Jazz Promoter Award, featuring Mercury-nominated GoGo Penguin, Eyes Shut Tight, Matthew Holborn and Michael Cretu.

Our Summer Edition took place at Hull Truck over three days at the end of July, with highlights including Soweto Kinch and Jay Phelps, Django a la Creole and a sell-out show with Last Train to Skaville that had the whole house on its feet! The festival also showcased jazz artists from across the North, including Stuart McCallum and Mike Walker, The Honeybirds and Matthew Smith.

Our Yellow Bus stage at Freedom Festival saw audiences of around 115,000 give an enthusiastic Hull welcome to artists including Naturally7, Roland Gift, Ruby Turner, Abstract Orchestra, Hannabiell & Midnight Blue, Riot Jazz Brass Band, Arun Ghosh and Claude Deppa.

Finally, our Winter Edition 2014 saw great performances from Arun Ghosh Sextet, Tim Kliphuis Trio and Gilad Atzmon Orient House Ensemble plus a special youth showcase featuring City of Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra and the Jazz Aesthetic from the University of Hull sharing the stage with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and special guest artist Soweto Kinch.

Huge thanks, as always, to the fantastic Hull audiences, to all of the artists we’ve worked with this year, to Hull Truck theatre, Freedom Festival and Walk the Plank and to our funders, Arts Council England, Hull City Council and the PRSF.

You can see a selection of photos from this year’s events over on our Facebook page.

Plans for 2015 are starting to shape up, as we start working towards Hull 2017. We’ll be celebrating International Jazz Day on 30th April with a special performance to be announced in the New Year. Our Summer Edition in July will see us working with Jazz North and their Northern Line artists to celebrate jazz from across the North of England. We’ll be back with the Yellow Bus at Freedom Festival in September and we’re looking forward to working with Walk the Plank and the Hull 2017 team to stage three Hull premieres from international artists. And our Winter Edition will be the first of our festivals, working with Hull Music Hub, the University of Hull and NYJO to give a platform to the young people of Hull.

Thanks for a great year in 2014, here’s to an even better one in 2015!

Hull Jazz Festival Winter Edition 2014, 20 – 22 November at Hull Truck Theatre

After an incredible three days of music on our Yellow Bus stage at this year’s Freedom Festival, we’re now warming up for our 2014 Winter Edition, as Hull Jazz Festival returns to Hull Truck Theatre from 20-22 November.

On Thursday 20th November, fans of Charlie Parker’s legendary strings recording are in for a treat as Gilad Atzmon Orient House Ensemble and the Sigamos String Quartet perform their interpretation of Parker’s much-loved album.

The University of Hull present a special lunchtime concert on Friday 21st November as part of this year’s festival, featuring Jonathan Gee and his acclaimed trio, performing tracks from his album Dragonfly.

A favourite at this year’s Freedom Festival, Arun Ghosh returns to Hull with his sextet on Friday 21st November, performing tracks from his acclaimed South Asian Suite album.

Next up, on Friday 21st November, Tim Kliphuis, one of Europe’s foremost gypsy swing jazz fiddlers, brings his trio’s tribute to the late, great Stéphane Grappelli, who changed the way people thought about jazz violin.

During the day on Saturday 22nd November, we’re delighted to present an incredible opportunity for guitarists and violinists to learn the ins and outs of gypsy jazz from two of the world’s top gypsy jazz players. Violinist Tim Kliphuis and guitarist Nigel Clark will lead this two-hour Beginner’s Guide to Gypsy Jazz workshop. Places are limited so please book early.

The closing event of the festival, on Saturday 22nd November, sees us showcase exciting new jazz talent as NYJO (National Youth Jazz Orchestra) perform alongside young musicians from the City of Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra and the University of Hull Big Band, with special guest Soweto Kinch.

Yellow Bus Stage at Freedom Festival Hull

After another fantastic in July, Hull Jazz Festival and J-Night are proud to present a stellar open-air line up at Freedom Festival Hull.

The Yellow Bus rolls into town once more from 5th – 7th September, parking up at the Pier on Nelson Street.

The party starts on the Friday night at 6:30pm with Hull Rhythm Pixies and their fusion of world and urban sounds; Riot Jazz Brass Band’s two sets of twisted mix of funk, soul, hip-hop and jazz (at 7pm and 10pm) are guaranteed to get everyone dancing;  Hannabiell & Midnight Blue’s high energy fusion of Afro-psychedelic funk and jazz takes to the stage at 8pm; and an illuminating set (in every sense of the word!) from Spark! Drummers will light up Nelson Street at 9:30pm;

On Saturday 6th September, the fun kicks off with Lindy Hop with Kingston Swing at 12:10pm; more local talent follows, with Pearl’s Cab Ride‘s funk and soul at 1pm; Dread Supreme, where Coltrane gets the reggae treatment, take over the reins at 2:30pm; Hull Jazz Festival favourite, the ever-wonderful Ruby Turner performs with her band at 5pm; pop legend Roland Gift performs a rare live show at 7:30pm; and at 9:30pm Abstract Orchestra, with guest MCs Essa and Tor Cesay, bring Saturday night to a close with their late night show packed with live hip-hop with a big band punch!

Local 8-piece outfit, Octopus, start proceedings on Sunday 7th September at 12pm with classic Ellington and Duke Basie tunes; Arun Ghosh, Instrumentalist of the Year in the 2014 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, brings his sextet’s trademark IndoJazz sound to the Yellow Bus at 1:30pm; a special Tribute to South African Township at 3:15pm sees Al MacSween bring together a quintet featuring South African Brotherhood of breath star Claude Deppa; and we wrap things up in style at 5pm with the incredible vocal talents of Naturally7, flying in from New York for their only UK show of the summer – you won’t believe the sounds they can create!

We can’t wait to get the party started and we’re dusting off our dancing shoes already!

The whole weekend is FREE as part of Freedom Hull 2014. Now in its 7th year, in 2014, Freedom Festival will build on what’s been achieved to date with a festival line-up that continues to excite, surprise, engage and involve. Within an eclectic, family-friendly and largely free programme, directed and produced by Festival Directors Walk the Plank, Freeom Festival will once again bring renowned national and international artists to Hull, alongside leading local and regional talent. Freedom Festival 2014 will celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela. You can check out the full Freedom Festival programme on the festival website.