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Platform South Spotlight – Four Questions with Fourth Page

Jazz South interns Sophie Wales and Megija Petinena caught up with guitarist and vocalist Charlie Beresford from Fourth Page to discuss different musical influences and the evolution of the band’s sound.

You have a unique experimental sound which features elements of jazz, English folk and Krautrock. How did you establish your sound as a band and what different influences did you draw from?

The sound was there from day one. The very first notes we played together are actually on the first album, but there wasn’t (and never has been) any serious discussion about what we were aiming for. We’re all influenced by different things which kind of seep through into the music subconsciously, if they do so at all. It took a little while before we realised that not many people were doing this sort of thing, which was spontaneously improvising actual songs which appeared to have some kind of structure.

How has your sound evolved over the years as a band and did you find it developed through the creation of your four albums?

The most noticeable change has been the shift to using more electric or electronic instrumentation, which has made the music a bit tougher and given us a wider dynamic range. Initially we started out as an acoustic band. Peter was on bass, I was on guitar, Carolyn was on piano and Paul on percussion. We have always used extended techniques. Often when we played the acoustic instruments, they sounded almost electronic in their approach. When we came back from a little break, we decided start adding electrics to the whole thing. I started playing an electric guitar, Peter started playing electronic bass, Carolyn introduced the keyboards. We began using various pedals and different methods to create these sounds as well as the extended techniques. This gives the sound an edgy, more aggressive approach. But you can still hear the riches of the acoustic performances through all of it. As all the albums were recorded live, and the material on them was entirely improvised, they’re like snapshots of where we were at the time. Any development is organic rather than a result of us trying to steer what we do in a certain direction.

You’ve recently had a few years apart to focus on individual projects and work. How do you feel this time has impacted your music as a band? Has it given you more inspiration and ideas to bring back to Fourth Page and feed into your most recent album ‘Live Wales- Hungary’?

Working in this area of music usually means a fluid approach to working with other people. There has always been the attitude that each of the members would at all times be able to do their own thing as well. Just as travelling abroad gives a person a new perspective so does working with other musicians in other fields. Essentially any Fourth Page record is evidence of a moment in time, we have never gone into any session with a fixed agenda so in a sense the time apart gave us more to say.

Where can we find your music and where can we see you live?

More information can be found on our website

Find music and social media feeds here

Fourth Page is available to book in 2020-21 with Platform South fee subsidy – click for details

Platform South Spotlight – Four Questions with Hexagonal

Jazz South interns Sophie Wales and Megija Petinena caught up with bass player Simon Thorpe from Hexagonal to talk about the band’s musical influences and establishing a sound.

Having formed in late 2016, you haven’t been together too long as a band. How have you established and developed your sound within this period of time, or was this something that instantly clicked when you first formed?

We had known each other for many years on the music scene and had shared a love for this genre of music, in particular the work of Hexagonal’s two main inspirations, McCoy Tyner and Bheki Mseleku. I think the idea first came from John Donaldson, who suggested that we could expand our existing band from a quartet to a sextet. It made sense to get Jason Yarde involved, particularly as he’d worked with McCoy Tyner, and so with Jason and Greg on saxes, the band was conceived. The empathy was there from the start; we were not only delighted to play the compositions together but were inspired to develop the sound of the band in our own direction. The natural progression of this has been to create our own compositions, both individually and as an ensemble. In doing this we’ve been able to create platforms for each of the players as well as structures for improvisation and group interaction. Through this process we’ve further developed the palette of sounds the band makes.

You’ve each worked with some incredible musicians, the likes of Bheki Mseleku, McCoy Tyner, Amy Winehouse and so on. What did you learn from these artists and how has it influenced your music?

Our music as improvisers has been informed and inspired by our work individually with many great jazz musicians. But it has also been broadened by exposure to and creation of larger scale works in the contemporary music world. Inevitably too, performing with esteemed artists of pop music has improved our own performing and communication skills. This means that our music is developing to become more accessible as well as having more depth – an elusive combination prevalent in the music of many of the greats.

Your album McCoy & Mseleku covers the works of McCoy Tyner and Bheki Mseleku. With jazz making its way back into mainstream music in the UK, how important did you feel it was to share this body of work with the world?

The music of McCoy Tyner is well-known throughout the jazz world, but of course deserves an even greater audience, having had such an influence on generations of musicians since his rise in the early 1960s. The work of Bheki Mseleku is less known in the wider music world, but his unique talent, together with the place of music in South African social history, deserves much wider exposure. No other musician has emerged from that country with Bheki’s combination of infectious rhythm, sophisticated harmony and above all a unique melodic gift. His music appeals to listeners, dancers and scholars alike, and people who hear his music for the first time are often astounded by its immediate appeal and then by its fascination and lasting depth.

Where can we find your music and where can we see you live?

Our live dates are on our website

Our music is available for purchase on: Bandcamp, CD Baby and iTunes

Find music and social media feeds here

Hexagonal is available to book in 2020-21 with Platform South fee subsidy – click for details

Jazz South Spotlight – Platform South Bands at Teignmouth Jazz Festival 2019

 

30 years of Teignmouth Jazz Festival is an incredible achievement. Tamsin Mendelsohn, Jazz South Manager spoke to Ian Roberts, Chair of Teignmouth Jazz & Blues Club.

TM: I imagine that many people have given their time and passion over the years to the festival?

IR: Yes, we have always been run by volunteers. We’ve recently welcomed new faces to the committee, and  are changing the way we will work. We’ve undergone a re-brand from Teignmouth  to Teign Jazz and Blues, a small change but one which gives us a wider geographical remit to achieve our charity’s aims. We are keeping fresh and forward thinking by creating new ventures in our anniversary year.

Image:We Are Leif

TM: That sounds inventive, what are your plans?

IR: We are developing other club promotions throughout the year, including a new series called Ladies Sing in partnership with The Pavilion in Teignmouth, in order to profile more female musicians.

TM: Tell me more about the festival this year – how are celebrating your anniversary?

IR: Firstly we have moved it forward by several weeks to mid-October to enjoy more autumnal weather! This means we have outdoor events for the first time to feature more local bands and up-and-coming young musicians, and of course to create a great atmosphere in the town.

We have refreshed the ticketed programme. It includes younger, contemporary bands including Johnny Mansfield’s Elftet and Sur Ecoute Quartet.

We have committed to celebrating  female artists – 40% of this year’s programmed performers are led by or include women. Our printed programme  includes  six special articles by musicians  including Kate Westbrook and Lilli Unwin who write on the changing role of women in Jazz.

Image: Sara Colman

TM: You have booked three Platform South bands

IR: Yes, we are very proud to be a beneficiary of Jazz South’s new scheme and delighted to host Kate Westbrook’s Granite Band, Bristol-based We Are Leif and award-winning Sara Colman Band.They are all bands who were on our radar and Jazz South reminded us just how good they are.  The subsidy support meant we could take a leap and bring them into the festival programme introducing our festival audiences to these excellent artists based in the South.

Image: The Granite Band

For full details of the programme and tickets visit www.teignmouthjazz.org

 

Jazz South Spotlight – Jazz in Reading and Bracknell Jazz present Mark Lockhearts Days on Earth Tour

 

Mark Lockheart credit Edition Records

Tamsin Mendelsohn, Jazz South Manager, caught up with Jazz in Reading’s Trevor Bannister to find out who’s who, what they do, and to learn more about their forthcoming promotion of Mark Lockheart’s orchestral jazz suite Days on Earth

 

TM: Can you tell me about Jazz in Reading – who is behind making the music happen and where do performances take place?

TB: We’ve been going since 2004, started by Steve Wellings who began promoting in the Reading Borough Council venue, South Street Arts Centre. Over the years, different people have been involved, all volunteers, and there are currently six of us who book bands, look after the finances, document the gigs and maintain a wider local jazz listings through our website. Our central aim has always been to bring live, contemporary jazz to Reading and we have been lucky to host luminaries of the scene with their bands, including Stan Tracey and Gwilym Simcock in the early days and most recently Orphy Robinson, Jean Toussaint, and Elftet. We currently promote about ten gigs per year in the Progress Theatre, a natural home for us with a capacity of around 100 and a great bar. The theatre are supportive of us and we are lucky enough to be able to use their ticketing system which gives us access to audience data. We work our gigs around their schedule.

TM: I notice that you are collaborating with Bracknell Jazz for Mark’s gig

TB: Yes, that’s right. It so happens that one of our team, Bob Draper, is a common link with Bracknell Jazz, who also programme a monthly night at South Hill Park Arts Centre. They have a different format, inviting a guest to perform with a house band – again, always aiming to bring big name artists to the area. Another key part of  their programme is the connection with Bracknell Jazz Young Musicians, who they support with a weekly gig night and opportunities to perform with visiting professional artists.

TM: So, Mark Lockheart – you managed to book a gig as part of the UK tour of Days on Earth

TB: Yes, it’s absolutely fantastic for us to be able to present such an ambitious performance of contemporary jazz, which will be our biggest gig in our forthcoming season for 2019-20. This is all down to Bob Draper approaching Mark around the time of the London premiere of the piece back in January. Mark has a lovely connection with the area from his Loose Tubes days performing at the then Bracknell Jazz Festival.

Bob’s conversation with Mark led to us promoting a gig in the same tour as other professional venues like Turner Sims, Southampton, Jazz in the Round at the Cockpit Theatre, London,  Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama and Symphony Hall, Birmingham. This has been the reason for collaborating with Bracknell Jazz so that we can combine our financial and organisational resources to make it a success. As it’s a large band, the performance will take place in the more spacious Wilde Theatre in South Hill Park Arts Centre.

TM: It certainly is large – what can the audience expect to see and what will the music be like?

TB: The recording on Edition Records is for jazz sextet and 30-piece orchestra – but luckily the tour is smaller! Audiences will be treated to a 15-piece ensemble, including stars such as Laura Jurd, Tom Herbert, Liam Noble, Seb Rochford, Alice Leggett – plus string quartet. There are lots of great reviews of the album and the ethos behind the project, but I would say that the gig should have really broad appeal for audiences. Of course the instrumentation nods to the classical and jazz players involved, but there are funk and world influences and more. Days on Earth is essentially a guy expressing his life in time on the planet in music – as you can imagine this is a big mix. We are anticipating a spectacular evening!

Listen to a taster here on Spotify

Alice Leggett

Jazz in Reading and Bracknell Jazz present Mark Lockheart’s orchestral jazz suite Days on Earth on Friday 27 September.

For details and tickets see South Hill Park Arts Centre

Jazz South Spotlight – Rapport Falmouth Jazz Summer School 2019

 

Continuing with our series on summer schools in the Jazz South region, Ashley Sealy, Jazz South Intern, spoke with Keith Michael, founder of En-Rapport, to find out more about the organisation and summer school based in Cornwall.

AS: What is the history of En-Rapport?

KM: I lived in Japan for around 20 years and during that time developed a project under the working title ‘UK Jazz in Japan’. It was planned to be presented as part of the 100 years trade agreement celebration between the UK and Japan in 2008. It was wonderful to be offered support from large UK companies and the British Embassy, but unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances I was unable to develop the project when I returned to live in the UK.

The combination of 10-years back in this country running various projects, including a jazz workshop allowing British musicians to go to Japan, and completing an MA in curatorial practice at Dartington, allowed me to keep developing my ideas. I aspired to work more collaboratively, and armed with contacts I started to explore creating different combinations and approaches, which has now resulted in eight projects in the pipeline, four of which will be ready to launch soon.

AS: So how does the summer school fit into this?

KM: The Jazz Summer School is under the umbrella of En-Rapport and was initially developed with Falmouth University from 2012-17. As this relationship came to a conclusion in 2018, I was incredibly concerned that it would be  a step backwards running a smaller summer school with 30 people, just using the university facilities. However, we then created a partnership with Yahama, in which they provided one of their artists to play a concert and give a master class. While this was short-term, the summer school nevertheless gained a strong reputation, with previous course members complimentary about their experience. We are now independently running the course, newly titled Rapport Falmouth Jazz Workshop 2019.

We kick off the workshop this week with a fantastic roster of tutors and in the amazing ‘AMATA’, Academy of Music and Theatre Arts  in Falmouth University. Typically 1000 students are working on three different forms of art, but we are fortunate enough to get the whole building to ourselves. It’s well equipped and set in the beautifully green campus in Cornwall.

Workshop participants 2018

AS: I had a question about the impressive range of tutors – what was the criteria for choosing them for the project?

KM: I have worked with many of them for over 10 years, starting with four of the team in a classical course that branched out into a jazz workshop in 2008. Together we have been able to make the summer school and current workshop tutor-led. Although it is a massive amount of work for me, it is in aid of something I love. It ran so well last year, and I couldn’t be happier to have it running again this year. We had the amazing voice coach Fini Bearman join us about 3 years ago and we have a new tutor this year Iain Ballamy, (the Iain Ballamy Quartet being selected for Jazz South’s inaugural Platform South scheme).

AS: What makes a 6 days the right amount of time for you as apposed to a longer or shorter course?

KM: We started with five days but have expanded to six. As intense as the week can be, we’ve found that adding an extra day has allowed for some breathing room and lifted the experience of the members to another level.

AS: Is there an age range or skill level required to attend the workshop?

KM: A fundamental instrumental skill level is required, although students may be a beginner in jazz. We run groups from jazz beginner to jazz advanced. This year we’re fortunate to have a group of final year students from Birmingham Conservatoire providing teaching experience in a tutor support role, which is great experience all-round for the workshop tutors, conservatoire assistants and course students. We have been exploring similar opportunities and relationships with other conservatoires and music courses for the future.


Workshop participants 2018

AS: What does the week roughly look like?

KM: The start of the day is quite structured. Everyone is split into groups from beginner to advanced and each group has an allocated ‘home tutor’. Three sessions take place, two in the morning and one in the afternoon, with a variety of tutors that range in expertise, material and approach.

For beginners, it’s focused mainly on expanding their repertoire but also on material that improves their understanding of the relationship between melody, harmony and rhythm. For more experienced players there is a focus on improvisation. In the afternoon we tend to have whole course sessions with a specific focus, such as rhythm. We’ve found this helpful to create a supportive atmosphere, as those in the early stages of their jazz journey get to learn from those with more experience and vice versa. We also do various things in ensembles. For certain workshops, we split up the rhythm sections and lead instruments or, we’ll have instrumental masterclasses having all drummers in one room and guitars in another, depending on the day. Later in  the afternoon all students practise by themselves.

Every evening there is a live session each evening 7pm to around midnight. Going off-campus and doing it in a real pub is rewarding for everyone as it takes away from the atmosphere of being in a bubble. Although the pub is not a jazz venue by any means, by the end of the week it draws quite a crowd and forms a community of people that aren’t necessarily fond of jazz but become open to it as they interact with us.

The high point of the week is the final night concert, which is open to invited family and friends. We are often able to fill the auditorium with 250 people and do an amazing presentation, including tutorial groups showing their best pieces from the week and individuals showing what they have been working on.

AS: Do you have any stand-out moments?

KM: Bringing American pianist, Kenny Vernon, for a whole week as our guest artist was incredible! Overall, it is very satisfying seeing so many students make substantial leaps in a small amount of time. The combination of ages working together from teenagers to octogenarians all learning with and from each other creates a chemistry that is lovely to see. There seems to be an embryonic effect where people take steps, particularly with beginners, that you wouldn’t think possible so quickly. That’s what the workshop is, it’s a concentration of input and activity with the hope of output. I must say I think we’ve found a combination of things that make it work.

 

See full details of the course and location which runs from 12 – 17 August at Falmouth University

 www.en-rapport.org/jazzworkshop2019

 

New Generation Jazz Summer School – the inside story

Photo credit: Anya Arnold

What was it like when you arrived?

Ash: It was bright and early on Saturday morning, the day was housed in Electric Studios in Brighton, a multi-media content creation and recording studio all rolled into one, with several rooms for musicians  and a cafe/bar at the front of the building for networking and socialising before the day really started. This was great to calm a few nerves and set the tone for a really supportive day right from the get-go.

Tamsin: I was really looking forward to seeing the venue. It’s great to find out first hand what facilities there are in different locations and this seemed a great resource within the Sussex University area. Of course I was curious to see who and how many people would come along to a brand new jazz summer school. This must have been nerve-wracking for organisers Eddie and Jack during the promotion period running up to the day – as you will find out, they did a great job of attracting all kinds of people along!

How was the day set up?

Ash: The day was divided into two halves with a lunch break in-between. The attendees were split into three groups to go on a rotatory basis around each of the different workshops that focused mainly on three areas: rhythm with Pete Hill, harmony with Ashley Henry and Rob Luft, and improvisation with Binker Golding. Each session was around an hour. I was quite impressed with the amount of information the tutors were able to convey in such a short space of time, and also the way in which each workshop built on the principles of the other. After lunch, the group was organised into small ensembles based on varied ability and experience, so each could perform as a real band. From there each ensemble learned two songs which were then performed at the end of the day in one of the live rooms.

Tamsin: Yes, you really did read that right – we had access to absolutely incredible tutors. All are currently London based and included BBC New Generation Jazz Artist (Rob Luft)  – who stood in for Shirley Tetteh who was sadly unavailable, MOBO award winner (Binker Golding), Sony signed artist (Ashley Henry) and Brighton legend now moved to the capital, Pete Hill.  They all brought their own individual perspectives and approaches to improvising which was a privilege to be party to. The summer school was aimed to be inclusive to musicians of any age, ability or experience of jazz, and the tutors managed to incorporate each and every person as a crucial part of the music. Such great role models for the participants, sharing their skills and approaches to forging new paths in jazz.

Photo  Credit: Anya Arnold

Who was there?

Ash: A nice mix of around 40 people attended, so it felt more like a community than a class, the youngest person was around 10 and the oldest was 87. although the highlight of the day for me was meeting the tutors, each accomplished in their own right, I tried not to fan-girl too much and soak up as much information as possible!

Tamsin: It was fascinating to find out where people came from – Brighton, London, Fareham. The word may have spread via New Generation Jazz’s stand at Love Supreme Festival earlier in the month. People came from all kinds of backgrounds and it was particularly interesting hear from some of the young people who attended – a trombonist learning jazz and classical, a newbie electric rock guitarist trying jazz for the first time and an already accomplished 11 year-old drummer who started as a toddler on pots and pans!

What did you learn from the day?

Ash: I learned so much it’s hard to pinpoint one thing, but the most valuable part of the day was meeting Binker Golding (as I am a saxophone player). He gave me a new way to approach improvisation that I will definitely be taking forward.

Tamsin: I remembered how much I enjoyed playing and performing (note to self, must do more!) and that with the right music leaders, you really can bring a mixed group of people together to create great music together – a satisfying and inclusive experience.

Would you go back or recommend to a friend?

Ash: Absolutely! any event that New Generation Jazz puts on I recommend you go. The organisers and co-founders Eddie Myer and Jack Kendon are some of the nicest people I’ve met. Their love for jazz and passion to see the jazz tradition continue came through every aspect of the day.

Tamsin: Sigh, wish I lived closer to Brighton! Yes, it was a great day that spurred me to get back to practising. I think the beauty will be that if people do return and bring along friends it will add further momentum to what New Generation Jazz are aiming to do for jazz in Brighton and around the South East. When people come forwards, they can be sign-posted to other opportunities created by Eddie and Jack, or other individual teachers/organisations. For lucky people in the area, they can continue to be inspired by regular promotions at the New Generation Jazz venue and hang, Verdict Jazz.

Photo Credit: Anya Arnold

Jazz South Spotlight – Dartington Summer School

Joanna MacGregor – Festival Artistic Director

Established in 1947, Dartington International Summer School can be best described as four weeks of creativity and musical immersion for professionals and students alike. There is something for everyone with over 30 courses available – pick from Middle Eastern to Orchestral, Folk to Opera to Multimedia. Whatever you choose, you’ll be part of a creative and interactive community for a week with an accompanying concert series to die for. Students are free to curate their listening and discovery experience during their stay and what they can be certain of is all the performers and tutors have national and international careers.

Jazz has had a place for many years, (a certain Jazz South Manager had great fun one summer with Keith and Julie Tippett). This year the jazz courses in keyboards, saxophone, double bass, drums/percussion, and open ensemble take place 17 – 24 August. Participants will be tutored by luminaries of the British scene including Steve Lodder, Mark Lockheart, Martin France, Alec Dankworth, and Chris Batchelor. ‘Songs of the Jazz Age’ is led by soprano Sarah Gabriel. Everyone is welcome at a suggested Grade 5 minimum or equivalent – under 16’s need to be accompanied by an adult.

Bursaries are available for saxophone or other melody instruments.

While you visit, you can become fascinated by the history of the Dartington estate, purchased by Dorothy and Leonard Elmhirst in 1925. Setting out to make a real impact by creating an ‘environment that encourages the whole being to flourish’, the experiment developed into many areas and is now home to a range of cultural events, agriculture projects, innovations in sustainability and progressive enterprise. Over the years certain projects became firmly established, including the radical Dartington College of Arts (now incorporated into Falmouth University) and the summer school.

Mark Lockheart

The school has a rich history spanning over 70 years, from its establishment by William Glock in the late 1940s to directors including Peter Maxwell-Davies, Gavin Henderson, and Joanna MacGregor. It quickly became a breeding ground for young professional musicians to flourish, supported by tutors that in the past have included Igor Stravinsky, Elliot Carter, Thea Musgrave, John Williams, Benjamin Britten, Nadia Boulanger and many more. The school is open to all, whether you are a singer, conductor, composer, or instrumentalist.

See here for more details and bursaries for the jazz courses.

Learn more about Dartington at www.dartington.org

Jazz South Spotlight – New Generation Jazz Summer School

Shirley Tetteh  – MS Mochles Pictures 2019

Summer jazz schools are excellent fun to explore practice with other people or try something completely new. Often set up by organisations or independently by jazz musicians, it’s a great way to combine a holiday or break with music, access tutoring and playing alongside professional artists and summer school participants of all ages. This series of Jazz South Spotlight features will home in on three different summer schools covered by the Jazz South region. Here’s the first, taking place in Brighton.

We spoke to one of the co-founders of New Generation Jazz, Eddie Myer, to find out more about the organisation as it gets ready for its first one-day summer school event on Saturday 20 July.

Tell us a bit more about New Generation Jazz, what sparked the idea?

My colleague Jack Kendon and I were aware that there was a gap in the scene, yet lots of support for jazz in and around Brighton. We wanted to keep the tradition of jazz alive and the richness of the genre both in tradition and quality, which is second to none. It also came about  that a few years prior, we became aware of a purpose-built jazz venue, The Verdict, which popped up in the heart of Brighton, and it felt right to seize the opportunity.

How would you define New Generation Jazz?

We’re gig oriented so we curate stages and draw attention to young more diverse artists. A majority of what we aim to do is bring younger audiences and younger artists together, break away from the stigma and remove some of the preconceived notions that jazz is not for young people, we want to grow the sector in this way.

You could call us ‘promoters with a mission’, putting on performances to further the careers of younger artists. For example, at Love Supreme, we have been putting on stages with a mix of commercial artists and old school side by side since its genesis. We want to go beyond binary mindsets that you have to like one specific style or another. New Generation Jazz allows the opportunity to enjoy the merits of both.

Where do you see New Generation jazz going?

We want to keep going and keep growing the audience. It’s two stranded really, we want to tap into the older more established supporters of jazz in Brighton and bring them to younger artists just in the earlier stages of their careers’ to try and ‘Break out the Jazz Box’ as it were.

 

Ashley Henry – Image Credit : Mrporter.com

So what should we expect from the New Generation Jazz Summer School?

Eddie explained that education is at the forefront of what New Generation Jazz does. Staying true to that narrative, New Generation Jazz is launching an immersive, learning experience at Brighton Electric Studios this Saturday 20 July.

Bringing together some of the most exciting musicians creating new jazz sounds, the day aims to include musicians of all ages and abilities, with the help of expert tutors (such as Sony award-winning artist Ashley Henry, guitarist extraordinaire Shirley Tetteh and BBC New Generation Jazz Artist Rob Luft) to provide an exciting and worthwhile day in the south. The project hopes to “foster links between the many different participants in the local scene and the city’s educators to ensure the continuation of the music we all love.”

As “the first of its kind” jazz summer school event in Brighton, Eddie hopes that those in the sector will go along and support this event.

For more information and to get tickets head to www.newgenerationjazz.co.uk