YEAREND LISTS (4) Wishes for individuals and for the scene in 2016

De Beren Gieren in Bruges in 2015.
Photo credit: Mary James
Our writers’ wishes in this final year end list fall into two categories. First, wishes concerning individual artists, and second, wishes for our scene in general. Comments and more wishes are very welcome:


Ben Lee

Ben Lee is a Birmingham-based guitarist and composer. His nonet, the Ben Lee Double Band, has an intriguing suite called States which deserves more exposure. (Peter Bacon)

Sorana Santos

Sorana Santos

London-based Hispanic multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Sorana Santos released an extraordinarily intriguing debut release in June – Our Lady of Stars – embracing jazz, rock, soul and the singer/songwriter tradition (REVIEW). With a personnel of trumpeter Alex Bonney, saxophonist Joe Wright, drummer James Maddren and the Ligeti Strings, its fresh originality and power unexpectedly seeped into my consciousness and remains a compelling listen. Such deep musical and emotional expression suggests her name and output should be recognised more widely – in jazz circles and beyond. (Adrian Pallant)

Amina Figarova

Helen Sung and Amina Figarova 

Definitely two to watch and see again. (Brian O’Connor)

Reuben James (piano):

Can we tempt Reuben out of his job playing piano for multi-Grammy winning singer Sam Smith to get back into the jazz vibe? (Reviewed here in 2014) He seems to have a trio gig in Birmingham in January – let’s get him back to London. (Mark McKergow)

De Beren Gieren

I would like to hear more of De Beren Gieren, an energetic and talented Belgian Trio I saw in Bruges at the Belgian Jazz Meeting who literally leapt onto the stage, their joy at performing infectious, and their original material show-stopping and different. (Mary James)

Nigel Price

The guitarist is a pillar of our scene (INTERVIEW). He does around 400 jazz gigs a year, mostly in and around London. He organizes 40-date nationwide tours. To have heard a band which has really got its stuff together over more than thirty dates is something all too rare (REVIEW)… And yet – and he almost makes it a badge of honour – he has never had a gig in his own name in the London Jazz Festival. Will 2016 finally be the year that gets put right? (Sebastian Scotney)

Cecil Taylor / Tom Waits/ Annette Peacock

The piano legend will be doing a week at the new Whitney Museum in New York in April 2016 (details). Although age might be against this, could one of our great club venues or even a museum/gallery space host the piano genius? And Tom Waits is still well up at the top of my list – it’s way too long since he played here – he just needs the right kind of intimate venue to give him the space to dig deep! It would be great to get Fred Van Hove and Annette Peacock back after their brilliant and all-too-rare concerts, both at Cafe Oto – I could see Peacock teaming up with the likes of Marc Ribot, too! (Geoff Winston)

Emjiem (Mondesirs + Nazam)

I am proud that both my wishes for 2014 (concerning Perfect House Plants and Steve Buckley) came true. This year, specifically, the trio Emjiem – Mark & Mike Mondesir and Mo Nazam. Driving complexity! But no gigs for too long. (Oliver Weindling)


The UK and Europe (1)

I wish there were a larger and less apologetic UK presence at Jazzahead and I wish we could bridge the gap between the UK and Europe. That tiny strip of water may as well be one thousand miles for all the collaboration and opportunities it brings, we must all work to reduce this distance. (Mary James)

The UK and Europe (2)

There is so much good music coming out of Europe. We get the occasional visit from France and Scandinavia mainly because those countries offer funding to their artists. But it’s not enough. This year the revelation for me has been some of the great innovative jazz coming out of Italy, but lets see lots more from lots more countries! How about a festival of European Jazz as a wish for 2016! (Peter Slavid)

Bath Festival

2015 saw Bath Festival re-discover some of its imaginative mojo as David Jones of Serious was invited to step in for an Artistic Director double act with James Waters (formerly of Edinburgh International Festival). We saw a programme that included Hugh Masekela, American iconclast pianist Matthew Shipp, Jason Rebello and Gwilym Simcock in a piano face-off , Mike Westbrook, Black Top and more. With Jones and Waters’ subsequent appointment for a three-year stretch, here’s a wish that they re-establish Bath Festival as a distinctive ‘must –see’ on the circuit. (Mike Collins)

The Will Collier Septet at the first ever gig of the E17jazz Collective
E17 have Arts Council England funding for 2016


More musicians herding together in collectives to create new music and events- and being funded. (Alison Bentley)

The return of support for the arts and music, including arts education – not the swingeing cuts and the corporate, bean-counting attitudes that have decimated the UK’s unique creative culture through ignorance, greed and parsimony. The failure to value creativity in all the arts, including music, is a grievous reflection on governments’ cultures, which, if not reviewed imminently will further wreak immeasurable, long-term damage to the country’s future prospects.(Geoff Winston)


Hoping someone can rescue the Brecon Festival (yet) again. Apart from their 30 year tradition, it’s good to have a few festivals that don’t lean too heavily on Serious for programming, splendid producers though they are…(Jon Turney)

Friends in high places and/or with deep pockets. 

The celebrity who can heighten the music’s profile; the politician who can influence arts policy; the corporate sponsor who will throw money at it – British jazz needs more influential friends. (Peter Bacon)

A year round audience to respect the incredible energy and imagination of the musicians. (Oliver Weindling)

A younger audience

The average audience at a jazz gig appears to look like mid-day Monday at a Toby Carvery, though without the food. There is a desperate need to attract a younger clientele. Most of my ‘non jazz’ acquaintances think the music died in the 50’s. Frank Zappa said: ‘Jazz is not dead, it just smells funny.’ Musicians, promoters and the media must do more to expand the awareness of the music outside its current narrow field. There is no shortage of musicians, both young and old, but unless action is taken soon most of the audience will have joined Duke Ellington and his buddies. (Brian O,Connor)

A wish about Brian Blain

That the Lauderdale House jazz nights on West Hill in Highgate will return when the house refurbishment is completed in Summer 2016. The North London scene isn’t the same without Brian Blain’s carefully curated programme, always interesting, varied and accessible. (Mark McKergow)
The Robert Fowler concert band at Southport
Photo credit: Robert Burns /Jazz on a Winter’s Weekend

And Brian Blain’s own wishes

For 2016 – a mix of possible and fantasy:

– That Jazz UK, the successor to Jazz Services , is given sufficient funding to take root and, whatever else it decides to do, continues the practice of support for bands trying to build tours.
– That people stop being grateful for the crumbs of BBC4,largely consisting of someone else’s documentaries or old 625 programmes that reinforce the notion that jazz was ‘then’ and is now dead.
– That the London Jazz Festival gives more weight to concerts by some of our more mature outstanding players. If I hadn’t been to Southport and Swanage for example I would never have known how outstanding Robert Fowler‘s Gerry Mulligan Concert Band or Jean Toussaint‘s Blakey project are. There are many more examples but such projects should be nurtured.The BBC bears some responsibility as well. It is absurd that the only band that an ordinary person has heard of is Jools Holland.

Categories: miscellaneous

2 replies »

  1. All I can say, to many of these wishes (as a co-contributor, of course) is 'Hear, Hear!', esp in section 2 where the observations and ensuing wishes are pretty acute, and 'on the money' – or lack of it! On audiences, on the image of jazz (it's not a vintage theme park, or shouldn't be), on its transnational bases, on the dearth of funding and support in the UK, on the great acts who slip through the net without high-profile promotional backing – it's all there. To get teeth into! Roll on 2016!

  2. Sebastian, thanks for mention of less European jazz in London and England. I am from Sarajevo, I am connected very much with jazz from Europe, where is now so many good music. For example excellent famous Bosnian trumpet star 84-years old Dusko Gojkovic have recent CD with great Peter King on ENJA Records with King's beautiful arrangements for strings recorded live- isn't jazz only from America and England. Where is jazz from Poland, Slovakia, Romania, ex-Yugoslavia, Germany ? Where are Toni Kitanovski, Jiri Stivin, Igor Butman, Bojan Z., Renato Chicco etc.etc.where is jazz from Italia, maybe the most dynamic jazz scene in all the world. England is arrogant and egoistic for all European culture. Why ?

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