Seamus Blake - photo c Chris Midgley
From Steve Crocker at JazzLeeds- highlights of the jazz year:
Quite a year in Leeds. I've never seen so much jazz activity and creativity going on. The city now over 20 live jazz venues with three supported by Leeds College of Music alone and jazz being played in all sorts of unusual venues. Unexpected things are happening too - the revival of interest in jazz vinyl has meant more interest in Jazz Dj's; the popularity of lindhopping is also helping increase support for traditional jazz in the city. The growing number of jazz instrumental workshops rehearsal big bands and vocal choirs is evidence of the vibrancy of jazz at a community level. All this and the formation of "JazzLeeds" in 2017- a new charity to promote jazz and jazz festivals in the city.
It was not all good news though by any means for Leeds- the decision of the European Commission to ditch the UK element of the 2023 capital of culture programme meant a lot of work (and co operation) on the Leeds bid coming to a halt - hopefully not to be wasted.
So which three events to mention? The first was the welcome back to Seven Jazz for stunning New York based saxophonist/composer Seamus Blake with Ross Stanley Hammond Organ, James Maddren drums. Recorded at Seven Arts in Leeds by BBC Radio "Jazz Now" in February. Lots of others too ran it close in particular a solo performance by Jason Rebello in May and a totally unexpected trio of Matt Robinson, Matthew Herd and Will Glaser in July..
Seeing the premiere of Issie Barratt’s "Interchange" at the Scarborough Jazz Festival was special too- Yazz Ahmed was on trumpet, Helena Kay on alto, Tori Freestone flute & violin, Maddie Dowdeswell trombone, Shirley Smart cello, Nikki Iles on accordion Charlie Pyne on double bass Katie Patterson drums and Brigitte Beraha vocals - a totally engaging performance in September.
Finally the astonishing guitarist Gilad Hekselman returning to Wharf Chambers in Leeds with Rick Rosato bass and Jonathan Pinson drums and saxophone powerhouse Mark Turner in November
Two of these "best of" gigs are also thanks to the promotional acumen of trumpeter Kim Macari so special thanks to her. Here's to an even better 2018!