PREVIEW: Margate Jazz Weekend (21 – 23 September 2018)

Paul Booth and the Bansangu Orchestra
Publicity Photo/ Pathway Records

Ahead of the Margate Jazz Weekend, AJ Dehany interviewed Adam Sieff, one of the Margate Jazz Festival team involved in this year’s event:

Margate has a longstanding grubby artistic cachet. The painter Turner was a lifelong regular visitor and it is here where TS Eliot drafted much of The Waste Land: “On Margate sands I can connect nothing with nothing.” The town became pretty depressed in the 20th century, but particularly since the opening of the Turner Contemporary gallery in 2011 its profile as an artistic hub has risen. It still retains a rather grungy character; “Somebody summed up Margate beautifully,” says Adam Sieff. “It’s like teenagers; they have all sorts of faults and don’t clean their rooms – but you love them.”

In 2005 the founder of London’s Vortex, David Mossman, moved to Margate and set up the Big Sky Festival, which morphed into the Margate Jazz Festival with a new team including Martin Goodsmith and Adam Sieff. The 2018 Margate Jazz Weekend is a three-night special organized by Olby’s Soul Cafe, with a supporting programme of fringe events over the weekend. “There’s so much happening in Margate now!” Adam says, noting regular events at Ales Of The Unexpected and the weekly jazz jam at the Lifeboat, where “people who had never been before have said ‘I had no idea how much fun Margate could be!’”

Courtney Pine is a huge draw, performing with his House Of Legends project, an exhilarating mix of Caribbean influences. Cuban violinist Omar Puente’s unique sound also appeals to crossover audiences, and the Bansangu Orchestra draws on a breathtaking range of music from Brazilian to Middle Eastern, led by Thanet-based saxophonist Paul Booth. The 18-piece lineup will include Jason Yarde, Alex Wilson, Shanti Paul Jayasinha, Trevor Mires, Barnaby Dickinson, Steve Fishwick, Rod Youngs and Gemma Moore. The band – Bansangu! – is named from a running together of “The band sound good!”

Free daytime events include the Simon Treadwell Jam Session, the Mampama six-piece featuring Ray Otu Allen, Jo Doolan and Richard Rozze, the Three Plus Trio, and a conceptually appealing event involving a conversation between sax and trumpet positioned at opposing ends of the harbour. “It’s gonna be fun!” says Adam. “The weather forecast isn’t looking too bad. You have to work on the basis that everything is gonna be fine. Let it roll!”

I asked Adam what his Desert Island line-up drawn from living musicians would be. “Who would I love? Ethan Iverson and Mark Turner, but that would be difficult! I would love to see Kenny Burrell, one of my all time heroes. Probably the way to do that would be with Martin Taylor playing together. I would love to see the Argentinian Chivo Borraro—that big fat saxophone tone, he’s wonderful. I would have Wynton with a small line-up. When he was doing that septet in the ‘90s it was unbelievable.”

Adam has longstanding links in the music industry, and is himself a guitarist. He was a session musician for years, working on a string of classic ’80s TV shows and, as a producer, with artists from the sublime to the ridiculous, from Italian rock royalty Edoardo Benato to Splodgenessabounds.

“Ah,” I recalled, “Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Please!

“Not that one,” he laughs. “I did In Search of the Seven Golden Gussets… It’s subtle stuff.”

As our REVIEW of last year’s single-serving Margate Jazz Weekend pointed out, Adam Sieff is an ardent champion of younger musicians. He is working with the Jazz Re:freshed organization to promote regular programming with an emphasis on quality. “The London movement (if you want to call it anything): it’s very exciting but at the moment I’m not seeing quality control. It’s the things that surprise me that are great.” He admires people like Binker Golding who is not playing what the scene expects them to play.

“As soon as you see something exciting people latch on. More mainstream crowd-pleasing stuff comes through, which is a shame because at the heart of this whole movement is musicians playing the music they’ve been surrounded with, with skill. Its very easy to say ‘Yeah, integrity! We’ll have some of that!’”

AJ Dehany is based in London (with frequent trips to Margate) and writes independently about music, art and stuff.

LINKS: Margate Jazz Weekend
Programme at Olby’s website


Friday 21 Sept – The Bansangu Orchestra (Doors 7.00pm Show 8.30pm)

Saturday 22 Sept – Courtney Pine ‘Black Notes From The Deep’ (Doors 7.00pm Show 8.30pm)

Sunday 23 Sept – Omar Puente ‘Best Foot Forward’ Doors 7.00pm Show 8.30pm)

Free gigs 

Saturday 22 Sept

14.00 The Lifeboat – Three Plus (Ginger Bennett/Ian East/Daniel Cano)
16.00 Margate Harbour – Call Across The Harbour (sax and trumpet at opposite ends of the harbour) 18.00 Buoy & Oyster – Jo Doolan & Richard Rozze (table bookings)

Sunday 23 Sept

14.00 The Glass Jar – The Simon Treadwell Jam Session
16.00 The Cinque Ports – Mampama (Kevin richards 6-piece High Life band feat Ray Otu Allen)


Full Weekend Friday to Sunday Inclusive £37.50
Friday Evening Show, £15.00 plus 10% booking fee
Saturday Evening Show £27.50 plus 10% booking fee
Sunday Evening Show, £15.00 plus 10% booking fee

Categories: Previews

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