Jazz FM Awards 2017 – voting now open

Nominations have been announced for the Jazz FM Awards, with public voting open in three categories – Album of the Year, Live Experience of the Year and UK Jazz Act of the Year.

Voting closes on Friday 31st March – have your say here: http://www.jazzfmawards.com/vote/

It’s great to see artists we’ve worked with recently and artists we’re bringing to Hull this year among the nominees, including: Robert Glasper (International Jazz Artist), Donny McCaslin (International Jazz Artist and Album of the Year), Nubya Garcia (Breakthrough Act of the Year – see her in Hull this July with Nérija), Gwilym Simcock (Instrumentalist of the Year – see him at Middleton Hall on 30th April for our International Jazz Day show) and Soweto Kinch (UK Jazz Act of the Year)

Bowie collaborator Donny McCaslin joins the line-up for Hull Jazz Festival 2017

New York tenor sax titan Donny McCaslin is the latest international artist to join the line-up for Hull Jazz Festival Summer Edition 2017.

A dynamic presence on the New York jazz scene for the best part of three decades, McCaslin and his band became household names in 2016 after they collaborated and recorded with David Bowie on what was to be his final album, Blackstar.

Theirs is a freewheeling, grooving electric jazz that brings in elements of rock and electronica, following in the footsteps of jazz fusion pioneers like Weather Report and Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters.

Joined by Jason Lindner (keyboards), Tim Lefebvre (bass) and Mark Guiliana (drums), ‘the Blackstar band’, McCaslin plays at Hull Truck Theatre on Thursday 13th July.

Tickets, priced £20 available from Hull Truck box office, online, in person or by calling 01482 323638.

Basil Kirchin: The Man Behind the Music

As part of the build up to Mind on the Run, a 3-day celebration of Hull’s own creative genius, Basil Kirchin, Matt Stephenson from Nova Studios sheds some light on the man behind the music:

All through the 70s, through the 80s, the 90s, the noughties, right up to the present – who were the musical names you associated with Hull? The Spiders from Mars, The Red Guitars, The Housemartins, Kingmaker, The Beautiful South, dig a bit deeper and you might have turned-up that bloke from Sade, that bloke from The Christians, Fila Brazillia, Throbbing Gristle…

… but hands up (honestly) who’d ever heard of Basil Kirchin?

Who knew that one of the true originals of British post-war music, one of this country’s greatest jazz composers, was actually living in a two-up-two down off Hessle Road?

Basil was born in Blackpool in 1927, the only child of band-leader Ivor Kirchin and his wife Kay. He joined the Ivor Kirchin band as a drummer aged 14 in 1941, before serving a swing apprenticeship in Teddy Foster and Harry Roy’s band. This was followed by a short stint with the Ted Heath Orchestra, before returning to dad to front the Basil and Ivor Kirchin Band.

Known as the Biggest Little Band in the World, Basil and Ivor Kirchin’s band recorded their first 45s produced by a young George Martin in 1954. They were the teddy boys’ favourites, playing Mecca ballrooms all over the country. Basil was the wildman of the drums, literally setting them on fire as he played, and keeping the band tight to a rhythm of early rock’n’roll and mambo.

Basil Kirchin sitting behind his drum kit

Basil Kirchin behind the drums for the Basil and Ivor Kirchin Band

When Billy Eckstine and Sarah Vaughan toured the UK, they insisted on being backed by Basil and the band. That’s how good they were. That’s how far their reputation had spread in the music world.

But churning out the floor-fillers wasn’t enough for Basil. Ever since he was a kid he’d known that music was about more than keeping tight. For him it was about swing, when the music has a feeling that goes beyond words, when it speaks a language that everyone understands and that moves you on a different level and takes you into another place.

Basil wanted to find that place and explore it further. And so he began a quest to find that place inside himself.

Years before the Beatles even hit the charts, let alone dug meditation, Basil set off for the Ramakrishna Temple by the Ganges to see if his thoughts about the world and the nature of reality were, in his own words “more than just the ramblings of a pot-head”.

And yes, he was told, you’re right Basil. There are infinite realities and infinite possibilities and the source of enlightenment is within you, you just have to let it flow.

And so he let it flow – man.

Meanwhile, while Baz was up the Ganges, his dad formed a new band and got the residency at the newly opened Mecca Locarno nightclub on Ferensway in Hull.

Basil came back with some new ideas about music, that it could be free, that he needed to remove his ego from the process and just let it happen, that if you try then it won’t happen, you just need to go there. Ride the tiger, man, jump off the cliff – that’s what he’d tell the guys he played with.

For the next few years he divided his time between Hull and London. He started creating imaginary scores for films that were never made, and these became a series of classic library albums for music company De Wolfe. And then he started scoring actual films – Catch Us If You Can (the Dave Clarke 5’s answer to Hard Day’s Night), Primitive London, The Shuttered Room, Negatives, The Strange Affair, Freelance and later the cult horror classic The Abominable Dr Phibes.

And where did he create most of the music? In Hull, that’s where.

Whilst visiting his folks Basil had made friends with Hull musician Keith Herd, the genius behind Hull’s legendary Fairview Studios. Keith and Basil set about developing Fairview together – a process which gave Basil the space and resources to start expanding his musical ideas.

Basil Kirchin in the recording studio

Basil Kirchin in the studio

At some point in 1966, whilst walking through Hull docks, Basil had a revelation: he realised that the music he wanted to make was all around him – in the clank of the chains, the song of the birds – and so he set about finding those sounds.

An Arts Council grant bought him a telescopic mic and the latest Nagra audio recorder and over the next few years he embarked on a mission to take music into a new dimension, recording sounds, slowing them down on tape, and stretching the sound into smaller and smaller parts. This painstaking process – record, playback, slow down, cut, splice, re-record, mix, stretch, cut, splice, repeat – led him to create two groundbreaking albums Worlds Within Worlds which have subsequently come to be regarded as not only two of the rarest records on earth, but also two of the most influential albums ever made.

But at the time they bombed. Too weird for the record companies. Too weird for everyone. Basil always was ahead of his time.

And so Basil retreated further into his own mind and further into his own music. The film work dried up, then the production ‘library’ music too.

And yet he never stopped working, becoming an almost legendary figure within a small circle of Hull’s finest musicians, the ‘house’ players for Fairview, continuing to push the boundaries and create startling new music that never found a market.

In the late 90s Basil was diagnosed with cancer. It was just the spur he needed. Assisted by a young Hull-based production wizard Iain Firth, Basil began to utilise new technology to make some his best music yet. But we’ll save that story for another time…

After a long illness Basil Kirchin died in Hull in 2005, a lost genius of British music.

In 2017 his musical legacy will be brought back to life.

From 17-19 February 2017, Mind on the Run: The Basil Kirchin Story presents a weekend of concerts, screenings and talks celebrating Basil Kirchin’s music and legacy.

Mind on the Run is presented by Hull 2017 in partnership with Serious, BBC Radio 3, J-Night, Nova Studios and the University of Hull School of Arts.



Win tickets to see Robert Glasper this November!

Win tickets to see Robert Glasper Experiment in Hull this November!

As well as Hull 2017 UK City of Culture, it’s also Hull Jazz Festival’s 25th birthday next year and we’ve invited some incredible international artists to help us celebrate.

As we get ready for a big year in 2017 we’re updating our mailing list. We want to make sure you’re getting information about our shows in the way that works best for you.

It’s easy to join our mailing list. And if you’re already on our mailing list, it’s easy to check and update your details. Everyone who signs up to the mailing list or updates their details online will be entered into a prize draw to win two tickets to see Grammy Award winning Robert Glasper Experiment at Hull Truck Theatre on 18th November. 

 There are 3 simple steps to enter the competition:

  1. Go to www.jnight.org and click on the sign up button at the top right of the home page
  1. Fill out the simple form (NB: if you’re already on our mailing list, check that the contact details we have are up to date)
  1. Type the code 25in17 in the box at the bottom of the form to enter our prize draw


Multi Grammy Winning Pianist/Producer Robert Glasper comes to Hull this November

We’re very excited to announce that multi Grammy Award-winning US pianist/producer Robert Glasper will headline Hull Jazz Festival 24th Winter Edition this November with a new version of his Grammy-winning band The Experiment, with added DJ.

They’ll be playing material from their forthcoming new Blue Note album, due for release this autumn, ahead of their headline show at London Jazz Festival. Drawing on jazz, hip hop, R&B and rock, they refuse to be defined by any one genre and this promises to be an incredible show.

‘It’s a short list of jazz pianists who have the wherewithal to drop a J Dilla reference into a Thelonious Monk cover but not many jazz pianists are Robert Glasper.’ Los Angeles Times

Tickets are available now from Hull Truck Theatre. This show will sell out so best book in advance if you don’t want to miss out.

International Jazz Day 2016 comes to Hull

Jazz Day 2016

International Jazz Day was launched by UNESCO in 2011, to highlight the role that jazz plays in uniting people from all corners of the globe. We’ll be bringing International Jazz Day celebrations to Hull for the second time this year, joining promoters, artists and festivals in 195 countries.

Since 2012, thousands of artists and promoters from hundreds of countries have come together on April 30th to celebrate jazz’s role in promoting dialogue among cultures, diversity, and respect for human rights and human dignity; eradicating discrimination; promoting freedom of expression; fostering gender equality; and reinforcing the role of young people in bringing about social change.

With this in mind, we wanted our International Jazz Day line-up to shine a spotlight on artists who take influences from different cultures and musical traditions and transform them into something new and original.

First up is The Refix Project, the new collaboration between two of Hull’s finest vocalists, Lyn Acton and Audrey Okyere-Fosu. Inspired by the attitude and strength of the great songstresses of jazz (Billie Holiday, Nina Simone and Ella Fitzgerald), Lyn and Audrey are refixing their usual approach to interpreting music by working with an electronic, urban, dance-music ensemble. With music by David Gawthorpe and electronics from Endoflevelbaddie’s Scott Langthorp, The Refix Project are taking influences from the worlds of jazz, urban and electronic music and mixing them up into something exciting and new that’s firmly rooted in Hull’s incredible live music scene. This debut performance will be the start of something very special…

Refix logo

Our headliners Panjumby represent the close relationship that the British jazz scene has with musicians from the Caribbean and Africa, revitalising itself with fresh energy and new musical ideas at every collaboration. Panjumby draw on music from Trinidad, featuring jazz, calypso and soca material alongside choice standards. Led by the tremendous lyrical phrasing and rhythmic drive of steel pan master Dudley Nesbitt, Panjumby features great improvisers and a knockout rhythm section: Richard Ormrod (saxophones, clarinet, flute), Barkley McKay (keyboards, guitar), Kenneth Higgins (electric bass) and Sam Hobbs (drums).

PanjumbyWe asked Panjumby what International Jazz Day means to them: “Louis Armstrong said ALL music is folk music: he never heard a horse sing. For us, Jazz is what happens when you take any music from its cultural context, forge a deep personal relationship with it and then return it into circulation animated a different way, marching to a different drummer and saying what you want it to say. And that music and that spark can come from anyone in the world, irrespective of race, creed, colour or gender. International Jazz Day is about bringing all those voices together in one space, hearing all those stories and beginning to appreciate that there isn’t a single horse in the room. It’s all about the love.”

So why not come and feel the love at Hull Truck on Saturday 30th April? Tickets priced £11 and £6 for students and under-26s are available here.

All Aboard for the Jazz Ticket!

J-Night has a long-standing partnership with Tomorrows Warriors, a leading music education and professional development organisation working with some of the most exciting and diverse new, emerging and established jazz musicians in the UK, with a particular focus on those from BAME backgrounds and girls.

In line with the Tomorrow’s Warriors ethos, here at J-Night we aim to create progression routes for young Hull jazz musicians, taking them from a learning environment in a school or workshop setting through to performing on a professional stage.

To this end, J-Night are bringing a band of Tomorrow’s Warriors to Hull this Easter, to meet with Hull Music Hub and up to six local schools, share their enthusiasm about this exciting new project and start mapping out how local young musicians can get involved.

Artists Gary Crosby OBE (artistic director of Tomorrows Warriors), Peter Edwards, Fish Krish and Andy Chapman will meet with Hull music teachers to talk about the project then Peter Edwards will lead a 2-hour workshop for members of the Hull Youth Jazz Orchestra, looking at the repertoire of the great names of jazz.

Peter Edwards

Peter Edwards

About the Jazz Ticket project

The Jazz Ticket – a Journey with the Giants of Jazz, is a co production between Tomorrow’s Warriors and Turner Sims Concert Hall in Southampton, where Tomorrow’s Warriors are Associate Artists.

1917 was a defining year for jazz that saw the birth of some of the most influential jazz artists, including Ella Fitzgerald, Thelonious Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Mongo Santamaria, Tadd Dameron and Buddy Rich.

In order to celebrate the 100th anniversary of these Giants of Jazz, as well as Tomorrow’s Warriors’ 25th anniversary and Hull City of Culture 2017, pianist and composer, and Tomorrow’s Warriors music leader, Peter Edwards, is writing a composition – A Journey with the Giants of Jazz – that will reference music by all six of these outstanding musicians, to be performed by the Nu Civilisation Orchestra, (Tomorrow’s Warriors contemporary Jazz Orchestra.)

Peter Edwards has been successful in receiving a PRS for Music Foundation award to present this new work at the New Music Biennial on 1 & 2 July 2017 as part of Hull UK City of Culture 2017 and 7- 9 July 2017 at London’s Southbank Centre. The aim is that young musicians from Hull schools will have the chance over the next year to create music specifically to accompany the Jazz Ticket Show and Nu Civilisation Orchestra next July.


J-Night wins PRS for Music Award Foundation Award to commission GoGo Penguin to contribute to Hull UK City of Culture 2017

What a start to the year!

PRS for Music Foundation this week announced that J-Night is one of only twenty UK organisations selected for the New Music Biennial 2017, a PRS for Music Foundation initiative which is presented in partnership with Hull UK City of Culture 2017, London’s Southbank Centre and BBC Radio 3.

J-Night will commission Abstractions of the Industrial North a new piece of music by Mercury Prize nominated Manchester based jazz trio GoGo Penguin.

GoGo Penguin

GoGo Penguin (c) Emily Dennison

Renowned for their minimalist piano themes, deeply propulsive bass lines and electronica-inspired drums GoGo Penguin will create a piece of music inspired by the Northern industrial landscape in 2017. The piece will be also be inspired by Basil Kirchin, who died in Hull in 2005. Basil Kirchin is the forgotten genius of post-war British music. British pioneer of musique concrete, leading light in the free jazz movement, a film composer who inspired Bernard Hermann and according to Brian Eno, the founding father of ambient.

GoGo Penguin’s Abstractions of the Industrial North will receive live public performances throughout the UK in 2017, culminating in two celebration weekends in Hull UK City of Culture 2017 on 1 & 2 July as part of the New Music Biennial and 7- 9 July at London’s Southbank Centre. The music will go on to form part of a documentary film about Basil Kirchin’s life and times – Mind on the Run – to be produced by Hull’s independent film makers Nova Studios.

It’s been an astonishing couple of years for Manchester based trio GoGo Penguin (drummer Rob Turner, double bassist Nick Blacka and pianist Chris Illingworth). Their trademark mash-up of minimalist piano themes, deeply propulsive bass lines and electronica inspired drums has seen them shortlisted for the Mercury Prize, they’ve written and performed a new score for Godfrey Reggio’s cult film Koyaanisqatsi and collaborated with noted choreographer Lynn Page for a Gilles Peterson-curated night at the Barbican. And in the midst of all this they’ve signed a multi-album deal with Blue Note Records, the most famous jazz label on earth.

J-Night is one of the leading producers of new jazz in the North of England. We produce a year-round festival offer in Hull developing effective partnerships with organisations such as Serious, Tomorrows Warriors, Freedom Festival, Walk the Plank, Hull Truck and others. We produce programmes that give audiences access to high quality artists and we provide developmental opportunities for local and regional artists, including those from diverse backgrounds, through Hull Jazz Festival, the Yellow Bus stage at Freedom, Giant Steps and rural touring. J-Night is a National Portfolio Organisation of Arts Council England, a founder of Jazz North, a creative partner of Freedom Festival and a support organisation for Hull 2017 UK City of Culture.

This is a real honour” says J-Night director David Porter “and will make a terrific contribution to Hull 2017. GoGo Penguin are at the forefront of the new young jazz scene and, we hope that this project will attract new young audiences to our work.”

GoGo Penguin said “We’re delighted to be part of Hull 2017 and are looking forward to throwing ourselves into our commission Abstractions of the Industrial North and using it as a launch pad for exploring the soundworld and legacy of the great Basil Kirchin“.

Vanessa Reed Executive Director PRS for Music Foundation said: “The line-up of new pieces for this New Music Biennial showcases again the immense quality and breadth of music composed in the UK and the imagination of UK composers working across an array of different styles. Hull’s City of Culture status has been a real inspiration to everyone involved and I’m delighted that this will be an opportunity for music creators and arts organisations from Yorkshire and from across the whole of the UK to come together in a celebration of new music in all its forms. Can’t wait to see how the pieces and ideas develop over the next 12 months.

The New Music Biennial will include new music from across all genres: from classical and chamber opera to jazz, folk, electronic and music for brass band and organ.

Martin Green, CEO and Director of Hull UK City of Culture 2017, said: “The New Music Biennial 2017 commissions which feature composers and performers from across the country are a brilliant representation of the state of new music in the UK in the 21st century. They stretch across genres, across diverse musical styles, and include everything from electronic innovators to jazz groups to stars of the folk scene. I am thrilled that this national music festival is to be staged between Hull 2017, and London’s Southbank Centre as part of our year as UK city of culture.

For further information about the PRS Foundation for Music New Biennial please visit http://www.prsformusicfoundation.com/partnerships/flagship-programmes/new-music-biennial/new-music-biennial-2017/



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.