At a time when a lot of live gigs have been cancelled, there was suddenly a positive buzz coming from Wood Green N22 last week. Musicians who had been booked to play at Karamel in the 2020 EFG London Jazz Festival were suddenly finding their gigs being brought forwards. The team had reacted with impressive speed and flexibility. The result is that Karamel has a fascinating and broad programme of online gigs in the festival. Preeti Dasgupta, Deputy Director of Collage Arts, and one of the promoters of Jazz at Karamel, tells the story of their speedy re-planning, and goes through their programme for the festival:
Preeti, how long have you personally been involved with Collage Arts and Karamel?
I have been personally involved in Collage Arts for over 18 years and covered a range of roles from managing creative learning programmes to organising events. For at least 10 of those years I have been hosting some of Karamel’s uniquely curated live events programme which encompasses live music and jazz, poetry and spoken word, children’s theatre, exhibitions and productions.
What do they/ you do, what is the ethos?
The ethos of the charity, Collage Arts and our venue, Karamel, is arts for all. To make all our services and support available to the whole community; to provide a platform to perform, speak, learn, grow by working with established artists based in our four buildings of Collage Artspaces, Haringey. There’s something unique happening in this part of North London for creative communities and for the diverse audiences we attract from children, young people, parents, young entrepreneurs, women from ethnic minorities, older people.
Karamel is our front door and before the first lockdown, we had many artists, musicians, music lovers and the local community coming in regularly to sample the vegan food, and to experience good quality live music and arts events in a creative hub.
I remember the jazz being run by Stu Butterfield until about four years ago. What’s been the story since then?
Since then, we have continued from the excellent foundation that Stu established, and we will continue to support established and new jazz musicians. Week on week we’ve had a fantastic music programme with emerging and established musicians. We now attract more women, young people and ethnic minorities. Its a lovely diverse mix of music and people, Karamel is a very welcoming place and locally known as a ‘hidden gem’.
In Henry Lowther you have a giant (metaphorically), a legend, an inspiration on hand. Karamel is like his home gig, right?
Correct. Karamel is Henry’s joint and we are very proud to be chosen by him. He regularly visits and performs with the bands, he is particularly inspiring for the next generation of jazz musicians coming through and we love to hear his stories of when he met Miles and other jazz greats. In return, Karamel has become the home to the amazing musicians that Henry brings. Pete Hurt, Paul Clarvis, Dave Green, Art Themen, and many more.
You have been incredibly fast moving and transformed what were going to be real gigs with audience for the LJF into a series of online gigs. First congratulations!!! It can’t have been easy…
No it wasn’t, but we understood how important these gigs were for the musicians, most of whom haven’t had an opportunity to play since March. We managed to make it happen in a different way which has been strange for the bands used to playing in front of an audience rather than online. It has been amazing to be in their company as they rehearse and play, like being a kid in a sweet shop. It’s been a privilege. Particularly after seven months of having no live music events. Collage has produced these gigs to support the musicians as their livelihoods have been affected just like many others within the creative industries. You can help by being there, supporting us if you can and giving us feedback. We can’t wait to start programming live jazz and world music again next year when it is safer to do so.
Talk us through the Karamel LJF programme.
The opening weekend, 13-15 November:
Zantogola – music inspired by the West African heritage of popular rhythms and songs, exploring polyrhythmic melodies of plenguedey music. A fusion between elements of mandingue, highlight and afrobeat with hip hop, reggae and jazz. Fri 13 November, 8.30pm. More
Cosimo Keita Trio – a fusion of rare groove, original music and jazz standards, emphasising beautiful melodies and exciting rhythms with Francesco Lo Castro (guitar), Bruno D’Ambra (piano), Cosimo Keita Cadore (drums). Sat 14 November, 6pm. More
Jay Phelps Quartet – Original music by trumpeter-composer, Jay Phelps, taken from his latest album ‘Live at the Cockpit’ with his Quartet: Rick Simpson (piano), Ferg Ireland (bass), Will Glaser (drums). With an instantly recognisable tone, Canadian born Phelps is a household name on the Jazz scene in the UK and growing international presence. Sat 14 November, 9 pm. More
Yaz Fentazi Duo – Oud with Robin Hemmings on upright bass, their music travels together to perform colourful rich music drawing on the vast traditions of jazz, blues, classical and North African/Middle Eastern music. Sun 15 November, 5pm. More
Philip Clouts Quartet – previewing new material from his forthcoming album, best described as melodic global jazz. Pianist-composer, Philip Clouts’ influences include south African cape jazz, gnawa music, afro beat, pan-European folksong and soul jazz. Sun 15 November, 8pm. More
Then over next week:
Henry Lowther’s Still Waters – a band of some of the finest jazz musicians working in Britain today. Radical and original music, quietly pastoral and radical through to dynamic, free improvisation. Mon 16 November, 8.30pm. More
Da Bossa Nova ao Samba Jazz with Mario Bakuna band – integrating the rhythmic roots of Brazilian music and its sophisticated harmonies in a remarkable performance that celebrates some of the greatest Brazilian composers. Tues 17 November, 8.30pm. More
Tomorrow’s Warriors night – Leading talent development agency, creative producer and music educator specialising in jazz, Tomorrow’s Warriors present the next generation of fantastic jazz artists to look out for. Featuring Mia Runham band and Aminata Gadiaga band. Thur 19 November, 8.30pm. More
Closing Weekend, 20-22 November:
Anoushka Lucas – Warm, witty and melodic fusion of jazz, soul and something little more theatrical. Following in the tradition of great female artists such as Amy Winehouse, Fiona Apple, Carole King and Regina Spector – women who write and sing of warmth, sex, love and loss with a fundamental honesty. Fri 20 November, 8.30pm. More
Pigfoot – “The bluff, riotous and raucous UK quartet Pigfoot, with the horn-power of trumpeter Chris Batchelor and reeds player James Allsopp, the wacky grooving of drummer Paul Clarvis and increasingly electronic keyboard sound of Liam Noble applied to Heartbreak Hotel, Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog, Mozart, Stevie Wonder and a lot more.” (John Fordham Guardian) Sat 21 November, 9pm. More
Ubunye – An inspirational blend of jazz, Isigqi – traditional Zulu music – and Afro-pop. Unites singers from Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa with musicians from Leeds in an inspirational blend of styles and cultures, telling stories of human struggles with themes of universal resonance. Sun 22 November, 6pm. More
With thanks to Liam Noble for help in making this piece happen!
Full details in the latest Karamel Newsletter
Event info and bookings here
Karamel website (note: Karamel will remain closed to the public until Spring 2021)
Collage Arts website