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Thursday, 2 January 2020

New Year Honours - Sue Bradley, Steve Mead, Mike Gordon and Russell Corbett

 Adrian Cox
 Baptiste Herbin
Francine Luce with Andy Champion
Marius Neset
It's that time of year again! Like we do every year we've asked jazz organisers and regular Northern Jazz Live contributors what they remember as their three jazz highlights of 2019 - our light hearted New Years honours list. Here are the views of Sue Bradley, Steve Mead, Russell Corbett and Mike Gordon -watch out for others to follow...

Sue Bradley, Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club and Festival 
Three special moments from 2019 for me - two Ribble Valley Jazz Festival 2019 highlights: The Marius Neset Quintet, all spectacular musicians, and stunning compositions and the Saturday Street Fest stars, the Elm Street Choir – a group of young people who have real challenges in life but blew the audience away with their vitality with their songs. And lastly ... just days ago, Gordon Vernick on his mini tour of the North, kindly arranged by Wigan Jazz, with and beautiful arrangement and breakdown of Joe Henderson’s Recordame.

Steve Mead - Artistic Director Manchester Jazz Festival
One of my personal highlights from mjf back in May was the premiere of Both Sides of Africa, commissioned from the wonderful Ladino singer-composer-pianist-trombonist Nani, and featuring the charismatic cellist Abel Selaocoe. It was such an uplifting international collaboration and a celebration of cultures and histories, and left us and our audiences in joyful spirit.

I was lucky enough to be present at the recent announcement by HMUK of the Peter Whittingham Award, which this year has gone to saxophonist Sam Healey and Skeltr, with Emma Johnson receiving a well-deserved second place. A great achievement and national recognition for two of our cherished northern jazz artists.

You may have made it to Yes! in Manchester last month to witness the 6 northern artists currently on the mjf hothouse programme bringing their new work to life. After three months of intensive mentoring, workshopping and personal development to overcome barriers, they shared the results in front of our peers. Our northern artists still need support from all of us as much as ever, and seeing how much difference it can make was one of the most rewarding and humbling experiences of the year. A huge well done to Lara Jones, Sarah Heneghan, Liam deTar, Thanda Gumede, Faye MacCalman and Francine Luce (did you catch Francine’s charismatic gig with Andy Champion at this year’s Marsden Jazz Festival?)

Russell Corbett - regular contributor to this blog with news from the North East
The three (of many) favourite gigs of 2019 for me: Adrian Cox - Watchtower Gallery, Berwick (January), Dan Garel Quartet - Holy GrAle, Durham, Claire Martin w Strictly Smokin' Big Band - Hoochie Coochie, Newcastle (October).

Mike Gordon, Festival Director, Scarborough Jazz Festival and Jazz at the Cask
The big one for me has to be our 35th Anniversary Jazz Party down at the Spa on the 21 July. We had seven hours of jazz which included the New York Brass Band (who marched and played from the harbour to the Spa Sun Court), AC3, Vibeology, Kate Peters and Ian Chalk with the Mike Gordon Trio, Social Oven (a great youth band) and Dennis Rollins. We had a huge audience and it was a fantastic day. We think 50 nights a year for all those years is something to be proud of and worth celebrating.

On 27 March we had Baptiste Herbin a gig organised by Leeds saxman Jim Corry. Jim - a great saxophonist himself - reckons Baptiste is the best alto player in the world. He was certainly exceptional.

And then in November we had another world class player, American trumpeter Gordon Vernick, who has an amazing technique. His comments between numbers about various aspects of jazz were really interesting and informative. He has great charisma!! Scarborough Jazz is grateful to Ian Darrington for organising this gig. I hope I’m allowed a fourth ‘moment’. Many people have said this year’s Scarborough Jazz Festival, our 17th, was the best yet. Almost 99% of our evaluation forms said the programme was excellent or very good!

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