With Hull UK City of Culture and the 25th Anniversary of Hull Jazz Festival, we knew 2017 was going to be special. And we weren’t wrong!
Our year got under way in February with Mind on the Run, a 3-day celebration of the music and legacy of ambient music pioneer Basil Kirchin. An incredible line-up of artists paid tribute to Basil, including Sean O’Hagan, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Matthew Bourne, Matthew Herbert, Will Gregory, Hidden Orchestra, Jerry Dammers, Evan Parker, Alan Barnes and Spring Heel Jack. With talks, DJ sets and a sold-out screening of Nova Studios’ documentary about Kirchin and his work, it was wonderful to see so many people celebrating one of Hull’s unsung musical heroes. Big thanks to Nova Studios for making sure Basil’s story gets told and that his legacy lives on.
Fast forward to July and the PRS Foundation’s New Music Biennial, another incredible 3 days of music in venues across the city. We were really proud to commission GoGo Penguin to create As Above So Below, a new piece inspired by Basil Kirchin. And there was so much good music across the weekend – some of our other highlights included A Journey with the Giants of Jazz, composed by Peter Edwards and performed by the Nu Civilisation Orchestra; Ring Out by Ray Lee; Rivers & Railways by Eliza Carthy; and Journey to Cassiopeia by Hannah Peel, with its epic brass and synths. And great to see capacity audiences for so many of the shows.
Hull Jazz Festival returned for its 25th Summer Edition from 11 – 15 July, with record audiences for another stellar line-up of some of the best UK, US and European jazz talent. From an incredible performance by Bowie’s Blackstar collaborator, Donny McCaslin, to a sold-out show with UK jazz and soul giants Courtney Pine and Omar, we were treated to some truly spellbinding shows. Other highlights included guitarist Sébastien Giniaux’s sophisticated gypsy jazz, a stunning improvised set from Sarah Tandy and Binker Golding, and female trailblazers Nérija.
We wrapped up the year in style with our 25th Anniversary celebrations in November. Taking place in venues across the city, the week-long festival saw some of our biggest shows to date, brand new commissions and great performances by local musicians of all ages as part of our outreach programme.
The US was represented by jazz guitar legend Pat Metheny at Hull City Hall and Brooklyn urban jazz trio Moon Hooch, who tore a new roof off Früit with their acoustic techno. We had new music from Andy Sheppard Quartet, Arun Ghosh Quintet and pianist and jazz maestro Bill Laurance. Plus two special 25th Anniversary commissions, supported by the PRS Foundation, from Stuart McCallum and Revenu. Zoe Gilby Quartet provided jazz fun for all the family and Dusty & Shirley saw the ever-fabulous David McAlmont and Gwyneth Herbert celebrate the iconic 60s sounds of Dusty Springfield and Shirley Bassey.
Our outreach programme culminated in two shows that gave local children and young people and amateur musicians the chance to perform alongside some of the UK’s most exciting jazz artists. A Brief History of the Coolest Instrument in the World saw children from Mayfield Primary School and the Guitarmageddon Orchestra (local amateur guitarists) come together as ensembles to perform two pieces by guitarist and composer Chris Montague. And in The Jazz Ticket, young musicians from City of Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra, East Riding Youth Jazz Orchestra, Kelvin Hall School, South Hunsley School and St Mary’s College celebrated six giants of jazz who were born in 1917. They were performing with artists from Nu Civilisation Orchestra, who wrapped up the show with A Journey with the Giants of Jazz.
And we brought everything to close with a stunning performance by GoGo Penguin of their new score to Godfrey Reggio’s cult cinema masterpiece Koyaanisqatsi.
Tickets are on sale now for the first of our 2018 shows. See you there!