Gail Tasker writes:
The organization Jazz North have just announced the latest recipients of Jazz North Introduces, an award that gives assistance and festival exposure to emerging bands. Growing success in the scheme and an increase in interest from festivals means that unprecedentedly, two bands have received the support instead of one.
The winners are:
– Andchuck (Manchester)
– J Frisco (Leeds)
Whilst both bands are young and up-and-coming, they already have an established following in their cities as well as a social media presence.
Andchuck are made up of Tom Chapman on bass, Caitlin Laing on saxophone, Jack March on guitar, and Gabriel Alexander on drums. Having met at the Royal Northern College of Music, they cite such influences as EST and Snarky Puppy. Their sound is filled with groovy basslines and rocky guitar riffs, with a distinctive modern edge.
The all-female trio J Frisco contains Jemma Freese on keys, Lara Jones on saxophone, and Megan Roe on guitar. Contrastingly, they include poetry and art pieces in their music, and tend towards the experimental improvisation side.
The award offers a special chance for young bands to showcase their music at six Northern jazz festivals. The bands also get a professional photo shoot and a video. To qualify, musicians under the age of 25 must fulfill an online application with 3 links to examples of their music. They must also be living in or studying in the north of England. Applicants are then assessed by a panel of judges made up of festival representatives.
Nigel Slee of Jazz North points out that what the organization are looking for is ‘high quality music but also creativity, innovation, and potential.’ Slee explains, ‘We’re thinking, which band can we give a lift up, who are ready to be put in front of a larger audience.’
The scheme is also unique in that it offers the winning bands two days of mentoring with jazz industry professionals. With previous mentors including Manchester-based guitarist Mike Walker, the groups get an opportunity to receive critical feedback on their playing, a way to refine and polish their sound and artistic ideas.
Runner-up applicants who performed well are often given this same opportunity of a day of fine-tuning. Slee tells us, ‘There are too many bands for the amount of gigs that are available. It’s right across the whole country, a terrible situation.’ The organization works on this issue by giving instructive help on how to get more gigs and how to deal with promoters.
Previous winners of the scheme include the The Jam Experiment (2013) and The Stretch Trio (2014). Overall the scheme is key in exposing exciting, little-known bands who otherwise might pass under the radar to industry professionals and new audiences.