A look ahead to the 2019 Lancaster Jazz Festival

PUBLISHED: 00:00 02 September 2019

A scene from one of the outdoor performances in Sun Square at last year's Lancaster Jazz Festival. Photo by Jodie Bawden

A scene from one of the outdoor performances in Sun Square at last year's Lancaster Jazz Festival. Photo by Jodie Bawden

Jodie Bawden

Venues around Lancaster will host new, exciting and sometimes surprising musical performances this month, writes Louise Bryning.

Musicians take over The Hall in Lancaster during last year's Jazz Festival. Photo by Jodie Bawden.Musicians take over The Hall in Lancaster during last year's Jazz Festival. Photo by Jodie Bawden.

Many people have a pre-conceived notion of jazz. But whether you're an aficionado or a newcomer the chances are you'll be surprised by some of the sounds in Lancaster this month.

Lancaster Jazz Festival will see the premiere of Northern, a performance incorporating the noises of Lancaster, Manchester and Barrow with improvised harmonies on the cello. As part of the piece, a Dukes theatre audience can expect to hear the rhythms of a coffee roaster from Atkinsons in Lancaster merge with the hiss of the M6 traffic.

They were among the sounds recorded during a 12-month residency in the area by the internationally acclaimed composer and cellist, Maja Bugge in collaboration with sound designer, Adam York Gregory and sound and visual artist, Hervé Perez.

Supporting artists to create new and original music all year round is a central aim of Lancaster Jazz Festival, a not-for-profit organisation now in its eighth year, run by a small team of freelance staff and volunteers, the majority of whom are musicians.

The team behind Lancaster Jazz FestivalThe team behind Lancaster Jazz Festival

This year's festival runs from September 11-15 with Northern's premiere on the 14th.

Festival manager, Lucy Woolley, said: 'Lancaster has a great cultural community who are interested in local and national arts and people travel from near and far to experience this community come together in September to celebrate jazz. Last year we had more than 5,000 people through our events and this is growing year on year.

'Jazz is really at the cutting edge of music-making in the UK, whether your interest lies in world music, classical music or hip hop, there's something within the jazz genre that you'll love, and we showcase the full breadth of styles at Lancaster Jazz Festival.'

Although more people are travelling from further afield to the event, the audience is still predominantly local and there's a supremely northern feel to the popular festival.

Vula Viel (c) MSJ PhotographyVula Viel (c) MSJ Photography

This will be reflected at The Storey on September 15 in a performance of Industrial by 24-year-old pianist and composer Jacky Naylor, currently studying at the Royal Academy of Music, who has been awarded this year's Youth Jazz Commission. Drawing on his family's West Yorkshire background, he has produced a suite of music inspired by the Industrial Revolution from the weaving shed to Wakes Weeks.

Some of the best musicians in the North of England - Jazz North's northern line artists - will be showcased too during an extra day of performances in Sun Square on September 14. And local young talent comes to the fore during the Youth Jazz Night at Lancaster Brewery on September 12, part of the main festival weekend for the first time.Lancaster Royal Grammar School Big Band, the Lancaster Girls' Grammar School Jazz Band and the Ripley St Thomas Jazz Band will all feature.

Among other North West-based musicians are Luca Brasi playing laid back, soul jazz, post-bop and blues on September 15 in The Hall and, on the same day, About Time with their varied set of jazz-infused song, latin rhythms and improvisation in Sun Square.

Youth Orbit, a collective of local, mostly school age, musicians have the honour of supporting festival headliner, Camilla George on September 13 at Lancaster Brewery.

Camilla's unique style fuses African and Western music with a political edge heavily linked with African history and particularly slavery. And the Ghanaian xylophone - the gyil - is central to the music of UK trio, Vula Viel, another of the headline acts who will perform at The Dukes on September 14.

Also appearing, again at The Dukes, on September 15, will be Mercury Prize nominated Led Bib, whose latest album was created in the hull of a boat.

With more than 30 events across indoor and outdoor venues throughout the city, Lancaster Jazz Festival is so varied that it's also inspired an exhibition.

The Art of Music, which takes place at the city's King Street Studios and various other venues from September 11-October 19, coincides with both Lancaster Jazz and Music Festivals (the Music Festival runs from October 10-14).

All the artworks - whether they be paintings, photographs, drawings, sculpture or designs - celebrate the power of music to influence our lives.

And the influence of Lancaster Jazz Festival doesn't stop once the last trumpet has been blown or the final guitar strummed as it is unique in offering artist development to all the performers who have played there. 'This is very much led by the artists individual needs, so will vary for every group but can be things such as support with funding grants, photo shoots, expanding their networks through introductions or experimenting with creating new work,' Lucy explained.

Among past successes have been commissions from Skeltr who have toured nationally and internationally; an Archipelago/JFrisco commission which was recently performed at the Sage in Gateshead, and Family Band who have been selected for this year's 12 Points European showcase.

For more information on Lancaster Jazz Festival, visit lancasterjazz.com.

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