Basil Kirchin – his legacy lives on

Ahead of our screening of Mind on the Run, as part of our closing event at Hull City Hall on 18th November, we asked Matt Stephenson of Nova Studios to reflect back over the past year and what it’s meant for Basil Kirchin’s musical legacy:

As the producers of Mind On The Run, the documentary telling the story of the wonderful ‘lost’ composer Basil Kirchin, one of our hopes was that, through the film, Basil’s work would be brought into the light and recognised as being something beautiful and truly original.

The Mind On The Run weekend celebration of Basil’s life in February 2017 was the start of that recognition – a weekend featuring artists including members of Stereolab, The High Llamas, Goldfrapp and St Etienne alongside remarkable musicians such as Matthew Bourne, Alexander Hawkins, Joe Acheson and Hidden Orchestra, The BBC Concert Orchestra, Revenu, Evan Parker, Alan Barnes and more.

Photo of Basil Kirchin and his wife

Basil Kirchin and his wife Esther

It’s worth mentioning that none of this would have happened without the work of musical treasure hunter Jonny Trunk and his superb lucky-dip of a record label Trunk Records.

Back in the 90s, when Basil was almost completely forgotten, it was Jonny who tracked him down and began re-releasing his work, ensuring that digital listeners could hear some of the most haunting, poetic and ground-breaking British music of the 20th century.

Basil died shortly after Johnny released Abstractions of the Industrial North, along with various library and film music recordings and two new albums – Particles and Quantum, but his legacy was out there: a low, quiet flame – but one which never went out.

Photo of a page in a notebook with handwritten song lyrics

Basil’s handwritten lyrics for ‘Moments’

We felt 2017 was the perfect opportunity for Hull to ‘own’ Basil; he was an outsider artist, someone whose personal story seemed to resonate with the story of the city itself – once great, subsequently forgotten yet carrying on regardless, waiting quietly to be rediscovered.

The critical response to both the weekend and the film has been wonderful. People who find Basil tend to be people who are willing to look a little further, they’re open-minded people, they probably don’t follow the obvious crowd, they want something that might take them to new places and touch them in different ways. In fact, if you’ve got as far as this and you’re still actually reading, then you are probably one of those people too.

Some people might call it pretentious, but fuck ‘em, they can have Coldplay and Adele if it makes them happy.

And the others (us, we, Basil’s people) are everywhere. Our Mind On The Run documentary is somehow finding those people. Every month a promoter somewhere gets in touch wanting to know if they can show the film – in recent months Basil’s story has played to audiences of the finest freaks in Manchester, Gateshead, Belfast with more screenings and Basil celebrations planned in 2018.

The poster for the film Mind on the Run

Mind on the Run poster

In spite of all the great publicity that took place in February, with extensive plays and coverage on BBC 6 Music, Radio 3, The Guardian and more, there’s still a sense of discovery around Basil – and I think there always will be.

The good stuff is always harder to find, but it’s out there if you look for it. Basil isn’t going away.

In his own words, on his genius classic album Worlds within Worlds:

Hiding in my little place,

No-one hears me or sees my face,

But I am there, you wait and see:

Something special will come from me.

Along with Jonny Trunk, J-Night and everyone who participated in our film, I hope we’ve all done something to ensure that Basil Kirchin remains something special that will always be worth discovering.

Photo of Basil Kirchin as an older man

Basil Kirchin in his later years

You can see Nova Studio’s Mind on the Run documentary at Hull City Hall on Saturday 18th November, before GoGo Penguin perform their new live score to Godfrey Reggio’s cult cinema masterpiece Koyaanisqatsi. GoGo Penguin will also perform As Above So Below, the Kirchin-inspired piece we commissioned them to create at part of the New Music Biennial 2017. Tickets are available now from Hull City Hall.

Revenu talk about Hull past and present, collaboration and the creative process

We asked Revenu (Liam van Rijn and Joseph Bird) to talk to us about the new piece we’ve commissioned them to create as part of Hull Jazz Festival’s 25th birthday celebrations this November…

What’s your approach to a commission like this, that combines audio and visual elements?

We started by obtaining a variety of field recordings from places all over the city, the plan being to manipulate the sounds and weave them into the performance. As the premise of  the project concerns the ‘sound of Hull’ it made sense to start on the streets, collecting the genuine article. Incidentally this has gotten us thinking about the city whilst also providing a few locations that have been useful for filming.

We’re both quite tune orientated, but for this project it feels more appropriate for the music to drift so as not to intrude on the imagery. When writing parts we try to keep it quite loose, with emphasis on the spaces between the notes.

The accompanying video has a loose narrative, a journey through Hull over the course of a day, and one of the things we’re thinking about is how much the music should/could reflect the changes that are happening on screen; time of day, weather, subject matter etc…

We’re not trying to be genuine; we just see the piece as being an alternate soundtrack to the city.

Liam van Rijn and Joseph Bird

Revenu – Liam van Rijn & Joseph Bird (c) Jamie Akrill

Your new piece draws on Hull’s historical heritage and its contemporary culture. What elements of the city’s history have you found yourselves most drawn to, and why do you think they resonate with you?

Wandering around the wasteland of St. Andrew’s dock the other day, its deep locks all silted up, there’s still a sense of scale and the economic prowess the fishing trade once commanded in the city when confronted by the colossal ‘Lordline’ and ‘Bullnose’ buildings, long since abandoned and vandalised.

It’s quite a melancholy place, and I’m strangely attracted to these ghostly shells that are the only remnants of an area once teeming with activity.

Like any other city, Hull is built on the bones of an older one; its functions and purpose vastly differing from the one that stands today. There’s still a dialogue between these two eras and it’s present in things like faded signs on the ends of terraces, former warehouses now converted into flats, (some with winches still attached) and on roads where cobbles peek out from crumbly tarmac.

The local Flashback newspaper, which shows pictures of Hull’s past, is great to see how the landscape of the city has changed over the last century.

The visual part of the piece tells the story of the city through things that are everywhere and overlooked. Why was it important for you to focus on the things that people might pass by every day without noticing?

Sometimes there is just as much drama going on in disused streets and quiet residential areas than outside clubs and on busy junctions. It’s a drama of a different sort. For some reason it made sense to show the unnoticed and inconsequential things to best illustrate ‘business as usual’; the million acts of normality that occur daily in a city.

Taking these things out of context and seeing them isolated and enlarged, they take on a different persona and the ordinary becomes extraordinary.

When filming I try to avoid anything that has been deliberately placed to draw the eye, (fountains, statues etc.) not out of any system, but because it’s difficult to get an interesting/original shot out of them. So no sunsets over the Humber bridge I’m afraid…

I’m finding that the bits that are embedded in the background often allude to the genuine history of the place, be that industrial, cultural or natural.

People don’t really feature in the film, which gives the impression that Hull is a bit of a ghost town, but the thinking behind it is that we tend to emote more if other humans are involved and I wanted it to come from a more dispassionate place.

The performance of the piece in November will feature a variety of electronic and acoustic instruments. Can you give us a sneak preview of the instruments and musicians you’ll be working with? And what’s your approach to collaborating with other musicians?

We’ll be working with a group of dignitaries who we’ve collaborated with previously, and all happen to be from Hull: James Rushworth (percussion), Pete Minns (saxophone) and Will Blake (bass).

The piece will also feature a smattering of synths, samplers and drum machines.

We improvise quite a bit when we play together, which churns out lots of potential material. Playing in a group, things invariably happen in the moment that can be missed at the time or can never seem to be recreated when you have another go at it, so recording everything is a pretty integral part of our process as it means we can sift through and extract the interesting bits later.

We’ll sketch out a part if we have something particular in mind for a musician and they’ll usually play around with it until they find a version of it that works for them, this keeps the music from feeling less rigid too.

It’s a constant back and forth trying to refine ideas and arrangements.

You can see the premiere of Revenu’s new work at Hull Truck Theatre on Friday 17 November at 7pm, along with the world premiere of a new piece by guitarist Stuart McCallum. You can find more information and booking details here.

The new work has been commissioned with the support of the PRS Foundation.




Friday Studio Saver deal – two great gigs for £15

Make the most of our Friday Studio Saver deal and see two great shows for £15.

On Friday 17 November we’re taking over the studio at Hull Truck Theatre with a storming line-up of new music.

First up, at 7pm, a double bill of new music from the Cinematic Orchestra’s Stuart McCallum and Hull’s Revenu. Stuart’s creating a new surround-sound piece that’s a love song to the guitar, drawing on his recent work in ambisonics. And Revenu (Liam van Rijn & Joseph Bird) have created a haunting and vivid audio-visual work, inspired by the shapes and sounds of Hull. This is the world premiere of both pieces.

Bill Laurance

Bill Laurance

Then at 9pm we’ve got a solo show from Snarky Puppy’s Bill Laurance. The Grammy-winning multi-instrumentalist, producer and composer will be exploring his first love, the piano, enhanced with the subtle addition of electronics. A rare chance to hear Bill play in such an intimate venue.

This ticket offer isn’t available online – you need to call the Hull Truck box office on 01482 323638 or pop by in person and ask for the Jazz Festival Friday Studio Saver deal.



A Brief History of the Coolest Instrument in the World comes to Hull!

We asked our friends at Serious to tell us a bit more about A Brief History of the Coolest Instrument in the World, heading to Hull Jazz Festival this November:

Throughout 2017, live music producer Serious has been programming multiple events in the UK City of Culture including Favourite Sounds of Hull and the Mind on the Run: The Basil Kirchin Story. Now, we’re bringing our mass participation project A Brief History of the Coolest Instrument in the World to Hull as part of the Hull Jazz Festival, giving you a chance to get involved and play as part of a newly formed guitar ensemble!

A Brief History of the Coolest Instrument in the World is a performance which marks the milestones of the electric guitar’s prolific role through 80 years of popular culture, from Charlie Christian to Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix and beyond.  The performance is led by one of the UK’s most innovative guitarists, founding member of Troyka, Chris Montague, who is joined for this concert by Conor Chaplin (bass), Tim Giles (drums), and Michael L Roberts (vocals/piano).

Chris Montague

Chris Montague

Chris Montague has had a soft spot for the stringed instrument since his pre-teen years. He recalls being enthralled by Jimmie Hendrix’s sounds on his father’s car stereo as a boy and subsequently pleading to be gifted a guitar for Christmas. Since this point, Chris has grown into a professional musician, touring internationally to share his music. Having been selected for Serious’ renowned talent development programme Take Five, Chris worked with the team to develop A Brief History of the Coolest Instrument in the World as a participation initiative– initially piloted with 40 children from THAMES Music Hub in London.

For Chris, picking a selection of the world’s most influential guitar players to include in the show was no mean feat.  He notes he turned to fellow guitarists to take in not just the famous players, but those who had added something important, unique and powerful to the cannon of the instrument. Throughout the concert, Montague looks to move the audience through a mixture of performance and speech, celebrating the versatility of the instrument. The participation element includes base lines, melodies and chords to enable both young people and adults to have fun while taking part.

Performers on stage at London Jazz Festival

A Brief History of the Coolest Instrument of the World at the EFG London Jazz Festival

Both Serious and Chris are delighted to be bringing the project to Hull.

Claire Whitaker, Director of Serious noted:

“Having built up a close and fond relationship with Hull, particularly through our work in the City of Culture this year, we are delighted to be welcoming our friends from the city to take part in one of our most successful mass participation performances, as a partner project to that running as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival 2017. We hope participants will enjoy and learn from the project as much as we enjoy programming it in this special city.”

The project will give 20 children and 20 adults from Hull a chance to play their guitars in unison alongside learning about the musicians who have shaped the course of the music they play from day to day. Taking part is free of charge and open to all guitar players, from beginners to advanced level. The ensemble will rehearse and play music uniquely composed by Chris Montague, and will be able to choose their part based on the level they feel most comfortable with.

We are also welcoming an audience for the performance at the Albemarle Music Centre. Tickets can be purchased here.

If you are interested in taking part in the project, please register your interest by clicking here.

We can’t wait to welcome you!

New music commissioned for Hull Jazz Festival

“It’s so important to explore new sounds in jazz.” says J-Night and Hull Jazz Festival Director David Porter, “We’re as interested in great new sounds for the future as we are in celebrating the wonderful jazz tradition.”

2017’s been a busy year so far for J-Night. Being UK City of Culture demands something different. Something extra. Something that makes people see jazz in a new way.

What better than funding our most creative UK artists to explore and create new music for our audiences?

The PRS (Performing Right Society) Foundation has funded J-Night to commission a number of cracking projects this year:

GoGo Penguin, the acoustic electronica trio, will unveil their tribute to the industrial sounds of the North in a Basil Kirchin-inspired piece called As Above So Below. It premieres in Hull and London in July as part of the PRSF New Music Biennial.

They’ll then revisit Hull in November to reprise the piece, alongside their astonishing score to Godfrey Reggio’s cult film Koyaanisqatsi, itself commissioned by Home in Manchester.

GoGo Pengiun performing live

GoGo Penguin performing at Home, Manchester (c) Sarah Leech, Home Manchester

J-Night will also support guitarist / composer Stuart McCallum and electronica artist Revenu to create new works exploring their love affair with their instruments and with the City of Hull. Stuart McCallum is established as one of the UK’s leading guitarist and composers, working with the Cinematic Orchestra. Stuart will write a piece to celebrate the versatility of the guitar. Revenu has been discovered by Giles Peterson’s Future Bubblers in 2016 and took part in the Basil Kirchin celebration weekend Mind on the Run in February this year. Revenu will be exploring his favourite sounds of Hull, alongside visuals from artist Joe Bird.

The commissions will headline the Hull Jazz Festival 25th anniversary in November, joining another commissioned piece. A Journey with the Giants of Jazz is Peter Edwards’ new piece for the Nu Civilisation Orchestra. It’s all about the defining year of 1917, that saw the birth of jazz’s most influential artists – Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, Ella Fitzgerald, Tadd Dameron, Dizzy Gillespie and Mongo Santamaria. Young people from Hull and East Riding will be working with Peter in the run up to the November festival and they’ll perform pieces by these six giants of jazz before Nu Civilisation Orchestra take the stage.

Jazz North announces latest Northern Line Ambassadors

11 new artists announced for the 5th edition of northern line

Jazz North, the northern jazz development agency, announces the latest roster of Ambassador Artists to be selected for northern line – the innovative model for touring which gives promoters the opportunity to programme high quality artists with low financial risk.

Since its launch in 2013, northern line has featured 48 Ambassador Artists who have performed 520 gigs to date with 150 plus promoters partners across the north of England and beyond.

The northern line 5th Round roster is:

Archipelago (Newcastle)
Birkett and Fisk (Newcastle)
Dan Whieldon Quartet (Manchester)
Deep Cabaret (Lancaster)
Early Nite (Manchester)
Perpetual Motion Machine (Sheffield)
Skeltr (Manchester)
The Electrio (Leeds)
Tiptoe (Leeds)
Ubunye (Leeds/Huddersfield)
Ushaw Ensemble (Newcastle)

The artists selected for northern line 5

the northern line 5 artists

northern line Ambassador Artists are selected by an independent panel to represent the highest quality, originality and variety of musicians living and working in the north.

This years selection panel featured –
Barney Stevenson, Marsden Jazz Festival
Paul Bream, Jazz North East
Juliet Kelly, Musician
Corey Mwamba, Musician and Outfront Derby promoter
Esther Hingle, Highlights Rural Touring
Dennis Rollins, Musician
Nigel Slee, Jazz North Creative Director, Musician
Steve Mead, Manchester Jazz Festival

David Porter, director of J-Night and Chair of the selection panel said:

“This fifth edition of northern line highlights the incredibly diverse range of jazz being performed every day by artists in the North. We are delighted that Jazz North will support these artists to develop their networks and bring their music to new audiences”

Jazz North will support these Round 5 artists with professional development and tour subsidy between September 1st 2017 and December 31st 2018.

Jazz North invite you to join them in celebrating this roster of artists at their Showcase Day live at Manchester Jazz Festival on Monday 31st July. To reserve your place please email [email protected]

More information, including artist profiles, available on the Jazz North website or via Lucy Woolley, northern line Project Manager – [email protected]

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:

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 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