Thursday, 31 December 2020

2020 reflections at Jazz Leeds

Thanks to all the musicians who've made 2020 a memorable year - but in a good way. We're glad we've helped to keep the live scene going in Leeds, and host a few international big names too..

Em Brown Quintet
Teena Lyle Quintet
Gary Boyle Quartet
Jeff Hewer Trio
Soul Surgeons
Ed Kainiek Quartet
Eirik Svela Quintet
Zoe Gilby Quartet
Emilia Mårtensson group
Ethan Iverson/ Martin Speake Quartet
Will Powell Trio
John Settle Quartet
Manouche North  
Sam Jackson and Harry Orme
Rebecca Frodsham
Washboard Resonators
Nicki Allen Quartet
Hyde Park Brass
Toby Jack Brazier group
Ben Powling Quartet
Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat  
John Taylor’s Blues Dudes
Eliot Richards “Meantime”
Bassa Bassa  
Rhythm de Luxe
Alice Higgins
Jeremy Sassoon Quartet
Rory Ingham+Dom Ingham+Jonny Mansfield+Will Harris
Jennie Hammond sings Blossom Dearie
Will Howard Trio  
Tom Sharp Quartet's tribute to Clifford Brown
The Bluebirds
Ends and Means
Kate Peters Quartet
Henry Botham
Fergus McCreadie Trio

Plus... thanks to our jam session participants, to Joey Dunn for her live gig drawings, and to our "living room" recording stars with live sessions by Jeff Hewer, Nicki Allen, Chris Lloyd, Jenny and John Chamberlain, Ed Barnwell and more

Many many thanks also to Seven Arts for allowing us to put the gigs on, to Gledhow Sports Club who hosted our Flying High Jazz picnic (we'll be back!), to Chapel FM for allowing us to do the Jazz Unlocked Radio shows, to Leeds Inspired, Music Leeds, Jazz North for encouragement, and last but not least to all our jazz supporters - we couldn't have got though the year without you.

Happy New Year, and let's hope its a good one for us all!!

Steve Crocker

Saturday, 19 December 2020

Reflections on the past year - Southport Jazz

 Keeping jazz live!

With the current restrictions on hospitality and performance venues it would be understandable to think that there has been virtually no live jazz performed since March. The amount of live music may have diminished but it hasn’t disappeared! Tom Sykes (Southport Jazz Club) has been able to perform a few times, including at a couple of outdoor jazz concerts at Sefton Park Cricket Club in Liverpool in September. He was playing piano with a quartet and quintet (which included Southport Jazz Club’s Mike Smith) and fortunately the rain held off long enough to finish the concerts, with the audience sitting on benches, socially distanced. Thanks to the organisers, Jazz on the Hill, audience members were able to book tickets in advance online and the events turned out to be a very pleasant way of spending a late summer evening.

Tom has also recently been appointed as Lecturer in Music Performance at Liverpool Hope University, where he has been able to run a small student ‘big band’. While the band is able to rehearse in Hope’s larger spaces using Perspex screens to separate horn players, it has been necessary to keep the band to a maximum of 14 musicians. There are students on the waiting list to join, and it is very heartening to know that young musicians are keen to play jazz and big band music. They are, after all, the musicians and audiences of the future, and they provide hope for the continuation and development of the music we love.

Reflections on the past year - Olivia Cameron


We asked jazz promoters in the north for their reflections on the past year - and especially those bits that had offered those rare commodities - fun and inspiration! This is from Olivia  Cameron, who runs the concert series at Kings Hall, Newcastle University

"fun = interacting with musicians to make recordings, still being able to work with colleagues in this musical making capacity

inspiring = seeing others get to grips with technology, and being inspired to do the same.  that's been a challenge, but certainly a positive one

Hearing audience's reactions has inspired me to keep going with offering virtual 'concerts' for them, and also being able to support musicians financially."



News from Cross keys in York


Alan Bramley's Mardi Gras band

From Alan Bramley - jazz organiser at the Cross Keys in York

It’s nine months since we had to close down the jazz sessions at the Cross Keys just as were about to celebrate three years of providing weekday jazz that so many people enjoyed; we regularly had near full houses. Will we ever get back? Will the audience come back?  In the meantime the tenancy of the pub has been put up for sale seemingly without any takers since it is now being offered as a managed pub. Change of landlord is always a worrying time for jazz venues but hopefully we might get back into action in 2021.

Best wishes for Xmas and the New Year


Alan Bramley




Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Jazz Co op keeping music live

Despite the incredibly difficult times faced by the music business there are some really heartening examples of things being done by the smaller voluntary led jazz promoters (and Northern Jazz promoter members) showing the strength of jazz in the region. We'll be highlighting four of these in our forthcoming December reviews - Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues, The Lescar Sheffield, Jazz Leeds and Newcastle Jazz Co-op.

The Jazz Co-op in Newcastle are putting on gigs three nights at Newcastle's Globe, which is owned by their community trust. The gigs are enjoyed by small audiences in the venue and by hundreds more at home via livestream.

The Globe has been developing and improving its livestreaming since May. It has streamed from musicians’ homes during lockdown, then from the empty venue and most recently with an audience in the building. The Globe has been refurbished and redecorated, and new sound, light and video equipment has been installed by a team of volunteers.

Now it has a full programme of live concerts embracing rock, classical, folk and jazz arranged until Christmas. Each gig will have a limited paying audience seated and served at tables in a Covid-controlled environment. However, it will also be professionally streamed online to guests at home who also pay for the experience.

Dave Parker, co-chair of the cooperative that owns The Globe, says 

“We aim to get the best of both worlds. The audience seated in the venue gets to see the musicians in an intimate but safe environment, while those who live too far away or who would prefer not to travel receive as close to the live gig experience as can be achieved.

“Getting an Arts Council Cultural Recovery grant was a huge relief, especially after all the effort so many people have put in to keep The Globe going. When we closed in March we consulted widely with our members and supporters to develop a vision for a post-pandemic future. This formed the basis of our grant application. I specifically want to thank the Music Venues Trust for their lobbying on behalf of grassroots music venues and Co-operatives UK who argued successfully that co-ops should be eligible for the funding.”

Colin Bowman of Cullercoats who has been watching Globe gigs online says 

“It’s so good to watch a quality act in a proper ‘venue’ setting. I really forget I am not actually there in the Globe. The sound and vision is so good and the choice of acts is brilliant. I’m 'there' chatting with my music loving mates and if the beer in my fridge isn’t up to scratch, then that’s my own fault!”

More information:
More features coning in the next few days!


The Jazz Promotion Network (for UK and Ireland) have announced the results from this year's EGM which was held via zoom recently. 

The following candidates have been elected to JPN's board:
•    Penny King (Royal Welsh College Music and Drama)
•    Kim Macari (London, Re-election as Chair)
•    Paula McColl (Moving on Music, Belfast)
•    Orphy Robinson (Ivors Academy/Musician, London)
•    Roger Wilson (NYJO, London)

Wes Stpehenson from Jazz North East in Newcastle and Stuart Issacs from East Midlands Jazz were  unsuccessful on this occasion. The north still has a voice on the JPN through Steve Meads (Manchester Jazz Festival mjf) and Barney Stevenson (Marsden Jazz Festival) 


Saturday, 14 November 2020

Discus Music reaches the ton!

Good to see Discus Music, the Sheffield based indie jazz and improv music label getting some long overdue national recognition.

A program on BBC Radio 3 Midnight Saturday 14 November looks at the Discus label which has produced over 100 CDs of experimental sounds over the last 30 years.

 Upcoming from BBC Radio 3 "Freeness" with Corey Mwamba. "Celebrating the 100th release on the Discus Music label run by Martin Archer.


Thursday, 12 November 2020

James Hamilton releases the Yorkshire Suite - at last!

“Yorkshire Suite” is the fourth release from James Hamilton Jazz Orchestra on New Jazz Records. Part of a set of live recordings from Seven Arts Leeds in 2015 that have been gathering digital dust on a hard drive waiting to be mixed. It’s taken a global pandemic to help them finally see the light of day. Hamilton was commissioned in 2014 to write a suite of music for the Yorkshire Festival to celebrate the life of Jazz Yorkshire. The result is this four part work reflecting on the feelings, people and places of Yorkshire. The brief was to compose a multi-part suite with each movement increasing in difficulty in order to be accessed by youth bands of varying levels. This isn’t a subtle nuanced work of contemporary jazz, there’s a back catalogue from JHJO where you can already find that, it’s an unashamedly “heart on it’s sleeve” tour de force of cheesy big band music, drawing inspiration from Hamilton's past playing in  youth bands.

The release is currently available for pre-order with the track “Thrifty” immediately available for download. The rest of the E.P. will release on 7th December 2020 alongside study scores, parts and multitracks available to download for pay what you want from

All JHJO releases are available for PWYW above the cost of production.

Saxophones: Mark Ellis, Cat Miles, Matt Anderson, Will Howard, Rob Mitchell

Trumpets: Gareth Smith, Simon Dennis, Kim Macari, Simon Beddoe

Trombones: Matt Ball, Stuart Garside, Tom I'anson, Chris Dale

Guitar: Harry Orme | Piano: Aron Kyne | Bass: John Marley | Drums: Steve Hanley

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

Yazz Ahmed live streams for Sage Gateshead

After a long season of Covid discontent, we are thrilled to finally invite you to join us for an emotional reunion of this incredible ensemble of 12 musicians led by Yazz Ahmed from her Hafla band- players from the album and friends- to perform this beautiful and highly immersive suite of music, from the main stage in Sage One Gateshead. The music is a celebration of female courage, determination and creativity and the album has had incredible reviews – this is truly a jazz star who goes from strength to strength. 

Yazz Ahmed is a British-Bahraini trumpet player and composer who seeks to blur the lines between jazz, electronic sound design, bringing together the sounds of her mixed heritage. Her music has been described as ‘psychedelic Arabic jazz, intoxicating and compelling‘.

In recent years she has led her various ensembles in concerts around the world as well as recording and performing with Radiohead, Lee Scratch Perry, Nile Rodgers, ABC, Swing Out Sister, Joan as Police Woman, Tarek Yamani, Amel Zen and These New Puritans. Yazz’s highly anticipated third album, Polyhymnia, was released in 2019 on Ropeadope Records and following a residency with our youth Jazz ensemble, Jambone, Yazz was due to play our Gateshead Jazz festival in March 2020.


Live Stream Pass - Saturday 14 November - £8.10

Northern Jazz promoters meet up and AGM 3 November


Northern Jazz Promoter (NJP) Network Annual General Meeting ~

Tuesday 3rd November 2020 1.00pm

Zoom Meeting



Steve Crocker: NJPNetwork Chair JazzLeeds

Ben Gilbert Trustee JazzLeeds

Gill Wilde: Secretary Grimsby Jazz Projects

Bob Walker Scarborough Jazz/ S. Jazz Festival

Pete Rosser Wakefield Jazz

Wesley Stevenson Newcastle Fest of Jazz & Imp Music

Heather Spencer Jazz North Durham Jazz Festival

Matt Evans Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues

Peter Woodman Marsden Jazz Festival

Paul Smith PS Promotions Leeds

Steve Bootland Jazz at the Priestley, Bradford

David Shooter Lancaster Jazz Festival

Joan Parker Newcastle Jazz Coop



Judith Waterhouse: Norvol Treasurer Wakefield Jazz

Mike and Marion Gordon Scarborough Jazz

Sue Bradley RVJB

Lesley Jackson Jazz North

Ros Rigby JPN rep (dir. Middlesboro’ Jazz weekender)

Mel Grundy Jazz North East

Roger Sawyer Huddersfield

Jez Matthews Jazz at the Lescar/ Sheffield Jazz

Paul Thomas: Sheffield Jazz

Simon Perryman Sheffield Jazz

Victor Greenberg Liverpool Jazz

Michael Swerdlow Liverpool Jazz


Chair Annual report for 2019 given by Steve Crocker. Covid19 hit just before the network meeting at Sage Gateshead on 21 March with the first lockdown, and the second quarter meeting at the Manchester Jazz Festival on 23 May was also cancelled. Most of the Northern Jazz clubs cancelled their live music programmes, although some live and live-streamed concerts were revived during the relaxation of measures after July. The latest national lockdown for November has however meant that even this low level of activity has now stopped. Some clubs and festivals (eg Cinnamon Club, Southport Jazz Festival) are unlikely to ever return after the pandemic is over. The Northern Jazz Promoters Promoter Development scheme 2020-21 which was originally due to be launched at the Sage Gateshead meeting has now been postponed to 2021 with the blessing of ACE.  Our proposed Northern Jazz Promoters Education Partnership for Jazz Promoters and MEH’s is also on hold for the present. The Northern Jazz Live blog and NJP website + gig guide (run by our web organiser Richard Gentle) are still operating, although with few live or online gigs, the number of posts is much reduced. Network members have been regular attendees at online events organised by Jazz North during the lockdown period


Everyone introduced themselves briefly.


Treasurers Report for 2019 (JW) (see separate report). Noted that we have the first instalment of the ACE funded Promoter Development scheme £22419 included. It was suggested that no fees be asked for in 2020 but that donations would be gratefully accepted.


Elections to NJP Network ADMIN GROUP 2020.

All officers agreed to stand again, Wesley Stevenson said he would stand instead of Mel Grundy due to her workload, and they were unanimously re-elected by show of “Zoomed” hands

Chair: Steve Crocker

Secretary: Gill Wilde

Treasurer: Judith Waterhouse

North East Rep.: Wes Stevenson

North West Rep.: Sue Bradley



Round up of events by clubs.


Steve Bootland JATP Bradford No gigs held as audience survey had shown people were not keen on attending. JATP are still paying for venue to support them.

Steve asked for suggestions regarding how people paid for the live gigs that were being run. Contactless payments. Booking in Advance. Pete Rosser (Wakefield) did contactless and Paypal, initially only advanced bookings but now allow people to pay on the door.

Bob Walker (Scarborough) did advance booking which helps organise the limited space, or cash in envelopes with details. 


Heather Spencer Durham Jazz Festival No gigs planned - development and research in progress.


Ben Gilbert JazzLeeds Trustee - working with Made with Music to do young people/family workshops live and online.


Steve Crocker JazzLeeds Mental health of musicians and audience has been KEY to what we have been doing. During first lockdown did online videos of gigs. And radio show playing music from archives of live gigs. Paying musicians going rate. Survey in July showed only 16% wanted to go inside venues. So ran outdoor gigs throughout summer, going indoors if wet. Success of those prompted us to run a weekend outdoor festival at Seven Arts/Gledhow Sports & social Club 2-6th September. Holding autumn programme indoor gigs from Oct weekly till lockdown with 40 attendees max capacity at Seven Arts. Inkwell venue remained closed. Received small grant from Leeds Inspired. Seven Arts venue had received some cultural recovery funds. Plans to commission musicians to write Yorkshire themed music.

Wesley Stevenson JazzNE Newcastle Their problem being no venue so everything got postponed. Events rescheduled until 2021 and Festival until Oct 2021, when it will be: 1) live audience and/or live stream of  2) just live stream 3) recorded. New record label set up with 6 released now – April. To document last 6 months of bands that should have played at JazzNE.

Joan Parker Jazz Coop Newcastle. Own their venue, The Globe. They have live-streamed from homes fortnightly, then from July these had come from The Globe with live audience of 10 tables (24 people) and 100 live stream; donations have been generous. 3 concerts every weekend. Grants from Power to Change used to improve infrastructure and building. Volunteers worked very hard to do renovations. Now have ACE Grant to employ events Manager/bar manager. Very busy and financially successful, but very hard work.


Dave Shooter Lancaster JF. Still to decide on format for next year’s festival depending on Covid situation. 


Pete Woodman  Marsden JF. Have an ACE grant for digital on line presence and to be able to film bands playing commissioned music in countryside around Marsden. Released 3 videos so far. Not viable to do usual 100 festival gigs in multi locations, so aiming to scale down, more online using video. Pete is also launching podcast of his own music collection and interviews. Audience reaction has been predominantly positive.


Paul Smith - PS Promotions Leeds Paul uses a pool of musicians in organising concerts in Huddersfield and York. In lockdown he has used his working rhythm section to record a lock down album, helping the mental health/sanity of the musicians involved. Fortunately has his own studio and facilities. Musician need to help themselves and be pro-active. A need to follow Steve Crocker’s positive ways!


Matt Evans - Ribble Valley JB Club They received £8000 ACE emergency funding and have most of the money not spent on the Festival this year. They have used it for 48 weekly workshops, 4 community projects, 4 virtual mass performances, supported 2 film and music editors, 5 gigs supporting 15 artists partnered with Matt & Phreds and Lancaster JF, reaching 4000 people, a Crowdcast account, streaming equipment, 2 sound engineers and 2 film makers to reinvent their website as marketing hub, 10 performances from under 25s, Radio broadcasting to promoter underrepresented Northern music. Also they pledge not to cancel another event, by going online, and musicians working from home. Grand Theatre is not open but been repurposed a good auditorium linked to recording studio where 12 musicians can easily be accommodated.


Bob Walker: Scarborough Jazz Their lock down jazz radio initiative launched by Adrian Riley has been successful and grown an audience of younger people. May continue after lockdown. Their Cask venue is small and air conditioning and is being checked out to be used if possible for live events. Scarborough Jazz Festival was postponed until February 2021 and now cancelled. Bob is tsking over the running of the club, Mike Gordon will continue to run the festival. 


Pete Rosser: Wakefield Jazz 4 live gigs were done after lockdown eased but now all gigs postponed due to 2nd lockdown. They had 30 -35 attendees and those who subscribe to Wakefield Jazz have kept up subscriptions. They have a full programme arranged for 2021

Sheffield Jazz (note from Simon Perryman) We have the space and the venue to run COVID safe events at Crookes Social Club but Tier 3 (and now lockdown) have led us to pulling all our remaining gigs this Autumn. Hoping for a better Spring!

Heather Spencer from Jazz North has taken over from Lucy Woolley as Artist Development Programme Manager. They have been holding weekly promoter meetings Wednesdays 11am but will be holding monthly artist and promoters zoom meetings starting Thursday 12th November  4.30 – 5.30pm.

Next meeting suggestion from Wes that these Northern Jazz promoters meetings continue monthly, which was agreed -  subject to a discussion with Jazz North about running joint promoter meetings with them.

 Meeting ended 2.20pm