A few jazz wishes for 2013

Here, in no particular order, are a few wishes for UK jazz in 2013. I did a similar exercise in 2010, when blogging for the Telegraph. I reckon that in the past three years, half of those have been at least in part fulfilled, so here goes…and feel free to add more.

1) That one of the absolutely central projects in British jazz of our time, Stan Sulzmann‘s suite of big band pieces  based on compositions by the hugely talented people he has inspired gets some resources behind it, to lift it into a bigger forum. Stan is a giant. There have been below-the-radar sightings in London, Cambridge and Manchester. This major work is ready for the bigger stage, and deserves to be heard.

 2) That mainstream media editors succeeding in finding other ways to mark deaths of a major figure in jazz – or any other jazz story come to that –  than by delivering yet another “is jazz dead/ is jazz being reborn?” piece.  Yesterday’s good Radio 4 feature by Paul Morley was forced to wear these uncomfortable clothes, which did it no favours. Even if a descent into trivia is required, there are pllenty more stories out theere. The “young women in jazz and OMG they’re not singers” piece, for example, to coin an unfortunate phrase, definitely has legs.

3) That the Vortex attain national portfolio status from the Arts Council. You thought it already had it? You aren’t alone. Everyone assumes, wrongly, that it’s had it for years.  Nobody can quite believe that an artistic venture of this heft and significance relies completely on volunteers. Cards on table: having just become a North Londoner again after 27 years, I have joined the Vortex Foundation board. Note: the Vortex is just one of the five venues promoting the music every night of the week in London, and none of them are funded.

4) That the three national jazz magazines Jazzwise, JazzUK, and Jazz Journal continue to provide the invaluable service to the community. With at least one of them currently in major transition, see you on the other side! The blog scene is getting bigger too….

5) Vinyl. A heartening piece from Wall Street Journal Japan showed how jazz is benefiting from a fascination with vinyl. The tie-up here between Gearbox and Edition is significant. Andrew Cartemel has been vinyl-reviewing for us this year… I keep hearing optimistic noises, I’ve just got my deck out of storage, let’s see where this one goes.

6) That two more great American players whose European adventures  started at the tiny Inntoene Festival in Austria get to be heard over here. Since Gregory Porter’s first European outing was there and his rise has been inexorable, I hope that it’s  not long before Warne Marsh-ish saxophonist Lenny Popkin and Danny Hathaway-ish singer-pianist Davell Crawford get to these shores. 

7) South Africa.I was overwhelmed by the depth, the passion, the uniqueness of South African jazz when I went to Cape Town in March. We hear the high priests, Hugh Masekela and Abdullah Ibrahim, they are regular  visitors. But there  is a whole country whose people sing in harmony, there are some extraordinary musicians of all generations out there. shall we start with Kyle Shepherd (below)? Or the one of Soweto Kinch’s favourite pianists  Bokani Dyer? A valedictory visit for Dorothy Masuka? An album tour for Herbie Tsoaeli?

8) That the phenomenon of the UK jazz micro-label gets better understood. Babel. Basho, Edition, Leo, Ogun, Whirlwind…among others…are all producing incredible work, documenting the variety of talent and originality in UK jazz throughout the year.  But, the labels from, say,  Munich somehow leave a bigger footprint. The wish has to be for a “breakthrough album” (I’m not completely sure what that means, but I guess we’ll all know when it happens) from one of these labels.

9) That  the newly combined agencies in the North – the announcement was in May – get some momentum behind them. There is a battle to be fought,  but the potential is big, the first signs are very good, and the best place to read about it/ them is HERE.  

10) Over to you, make the tenth wish

Categories: miscellaneous

6 replies »

  1. Funny you should mention South Africa – I'm just catching up with old R3 Jazz Library podcasts, and I'm listening to the one featuring Louis Moholo-Moholo right now! Who is also a regular visitor to the Vortex…

    The Vortex is a great place – an institution even – but could it be the fact that it doesn't get funding, and so is kept going by its volunteers and the jazz fans who make the journey to deeper Dalston, might be one of the things that makes it special?

    Enjoy the wonders of north London – the 149 is a godsend!

  2. My tenth wish is that we can continue to hear live jazz outside London! Sherborne, Stratford, Coventry and Cheltenham have enthusiastic but struggling jazz promoters. I have seen Marius Neset, Ivo Neame, Kairos 4tet, Jim Hart and Asaf Sirkis, all world class, in tiny venues found and promoted outside London. How long can they continue without funding?

  3. One of my main music wishes for 2013 has already been granted – the ICP Orchestra (Instant Composers Pool) are doing a 5 day season at the Vortex 29 Jan-2 Feb, under the welcoming umbrella of ‘Evan Parker's Might I Suggest Festival 2013’.
    Don't know how much the lobbying to persuade them back after 6 years helped, but the whole orchestra will be playing on Fri and Sat (1/2 Feb) and on the other nights various small groups and collaborations.
    They are a pivotal and unique Dutch co-operative ensemble, with a focus on improvisation, but by no means exclusively – it's quite a complex mix – check their website for an insight.
    The ailing but fully musically engaged Misha Mengelberg, co-founder* of this extraordinary co-operative, might be there, depending on his health, Evan has reported. (* With Han Bennink, who’s featured on Thurs 31 Jan.)

    Here’s the totally wonderful short film they all participated in, ‘Steigerpijp’ at http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=7DxCFvkRoeM


  4. On a purely technical point the next round of National Portfolio Funding won't be awarded until 2014/15 so your wish won't come true in 2013 – but we should all work to make it happen then!

    My 10th wish would be that the trustees of Jazz Services get their act together and raise the funds, build a strategy and take an active leadership position to campaign on our behalf.

  5. Hi Patrick, don't want to derail the comments thread – but just to let you know – Louis is in the country again soon…we're doing a 'Unit' gig at the Vortex on April 14th (plus he and I are launching our duo CD at Cafe Oto on Apr 24th). Can't wait..!

  6. Dan Johnson ‏wrote on Twitter:

    @LondonJazz 10th wish-supporters of UK jazz put reviews of albums onto iTunes/Amazon etc. Great to buy and support but this is free to do!

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