Feature/Interview

In lockdown with… jazz club manager Kathianne Hingwan

Kathianne Hingwan is the general manager of the Vortex Jazz Club. As part of her work there, she has created and developed a number of new strategic projects including The Shape of Jazz To Come, the Vortex on Bandcamp and the latest, The Windrush Suite, which launches on 22 June. 

Kathianne Hingwan

Kathianne Hingwan. Photo credit David Sinclair courtesy of Kathianne Hingwan

What are you listening to right now?

The music of Alice Coltrane (or Turiyasangitananda). I like the feeling of transcendence and cosmic reach in her pieces. Turiya and Ramakrishna allows me to ‘hit my slow’ (a saying I nicked from Renell Shaw)… I love that Ron Carter solo. She also did a version of My Favourite Things that I’ve only just discovered.

Most memorable moment this year

The year 2020 started well…a break in Miami taking in the Keys and Joe’s Crab. It was while there I put together the outline for a project that would eventually become the Windrush Suite.

Where did the idea for the Windrush Suite come from?

I met multi-instrumentalist and composer Renell Shaw a couple of times when he played at the Vortex as part of The Shape of Jazz To Come series. I knew he would be the perfect composer for this project. We’re both linked to this community so it was a project that meant a lot to both of us. We chatted about people of Caribbean origin and how they latterly became known as the Windrush Generation.

Obviously, I didn’t arrive on the Empire Windrush in 1948 but I did come by boat from Trinidad as a five year old with my mother and sister twenty years later. Specifically, the Windrush Generation are Caribbean immigrants who arrived in the UK between 1948-1970. A convenient bureaucratic tag? It ‘s an incredible assemblage of stories… so I thought it should have its own suite of music and Renell agreed.

News that we’d received PRS Foundation funding (big up to PRSF!) came on 4 May after not hearing anything for months. With just six weeks to turn this project around, Renell has done an astonishing job – composing four tracks, selecting musicians, recording and mixing, all achieved during lockdown. It will be ready for broadcast on 22 June for National Windrush Day. I think the work is brilliant and speaks for itself and has special poignancy for the disgraceful treatment of the Caribbean immigrants and their descendants in the UK. You will be able to buy the suite on the Vortex on Bandcamp from 22 June.

Has this time in isolation inspired any new creative ideas?

Yeah, I’d like to produce more creative projects like the Windrush Suite. And maybe I’ll finish the book I started 10 years ago…

What are you most looking forward to once this is over?

Will it ever be over? Seeing my bestest friend in the flesh for one. Miami, the Keys, Joe’s Crab… The re-opening of the Vortex.

Have you done or watched any livestream gigs or events since lockdown?

I’m amazed by some of the creative innovations by musicians, refusing to be defeated by lockdown. AJ Dehany produced one of my favourite playlists for the Vortex newsletter, which included big band music recorded while in isolation, such as Electric Lady Big Band for the Cheltenham virtual festival, and Melt yourself Down another piece of lockdown innovation. I’ve dropped into the online Freedom – The Art of Improvisation sessions. The curatorial challenge and delivery in real-time is herculean… and I have nothing but admiration for the way Orphy Robinson, Cleveland Watkiss, Tori Handsley and Paul Bradshaw handle the challenges so that they can keep doing what they do. We’re all having to find new ways of doing things.

LINKS: Windrush Suite on the Vortex website

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