Saturday, 29 August 2020

Thoughts from jazz promoter Paul Smith

Jazz picnic - Leeds
Hey jazz promoters, musicians and supporters!

'Post Covid' live music is here. We need to motivate ourselves. Throw a pebble in the water and create a ripple. We have to find new venues to play outside or inside, observing the social distancing rules of the time, and perhaps making them 'bucket', or self funding gigs. The audience is on our side and ready to support us to make the changes work. A jazz 'think tank' could be set up on Facebook for musicians of all ages and abilities to voice their ideas?

A number of us have taken the on-line music route but remember recording at home is only an interim measure until we can get out and gig again in front of a live audience. If you play on your own, there’s no one to fall out with!

nb Professor Chris Whitty (England's Chief Medical Officer) tells us this state of affairs is going to be with us for at least another year. Let's take positive action and make a difference now!




A new Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings label in Newcastle

Laura Toxvaerd
Paul Taylor
John Pope
From Wes Stephenson, Jazz North East

No live events to speak of at Jazz north East at present, SO instead we are putting our efforts into setting up a new record label! Conceptualised by Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music in response to Covid-19 and the postponement of this years event, the New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings project is about to enter it’s week of Crowdfunding. Currently at 67% the label is giving a final push to try and hit the target of planning 6 releases to be issued between October 2020 and April 2021.

Based in Newcastle Upon Tyne the bespoke, ethically driven record label will be run by artists presenting unique international jazz and improvisation.

Audiences are encouraged to pre-order the first releases, pay it forward and pledge to be part of something new in putting down the foundations for an environmentally-friendly label supporting artist independence, investing in independent music studios and collaborating with carbon neutral sustainable businesses to manufacture and deliver their products. 

As there are no tickets to buy for the festival this year the label sincerely hopes audiences invest in this new initiative, and the response so far has been gratefully received.

The first set of discs will come from…

 JOHN POPE QUINTET featuring John Pope (Bass) / Faye MacCalman (Tenor Saxophone and Clarinet) / Jamie Stockbridge (Alto Saxophone) / Graham Hardy (Trumpet) / Johnny Hunter (Drums)

The debut album from the Northern UK based Quintet with recording dates set for this coming October and a subsequent album support tour throughout 2021.


An urgent collection of new Solo Piano recordings entitled 'Via' recorded in March 2020 just prior to lockdown measures being imposed. 


The Danish / Estonian Trio of Saxophones and Piano recorded live at Winterjazz in Copenhagen, February 2020.

Head over to the Crowdfunder page before 10th September if you would like to make a contribution to this great new initiative…



News from Boston Spa Jazz Club


From Les Brown 

 Jazz in the Spa – Boston Spa

 Regret currently no prospect of us being able to restart our sessions for the time being. Best estimate is end of the year or beginning of next year.

 We are booking up for next year, however, full of optimism!

Kind regards



Jazz Clubs and the lockdown - Scarborough Jazz

We asked jazz promoters what they had been up to during the lockdown and what plans they had for the autumn

This is from Mike Gordon, Chair of Scarborough Jazz:

We have not yet been able to restart Scarborough Jazz @ The Cask for the usual reasons. Because of social distancing we would be unable to have a large enough audience to make it financially viable and also many of our regulars fall into the vulnerable category because of age and would not yet want to go into a public performance area. However we have kept Scarborough Jazz going in a very different format as Adrian Riley, a committee member, writes below.

When you’ve been putting on live jazz 50 weeks of the year for over 35 years you don’t just give up without a fight. Only one week after closing our doors due to Covid-19 restrictions, Scarborough Jazz Club launched a new web presence – the Lockdown Club.

The idea of having a weekly jazz DJ mix during lockdown and keep the club alive in spirit came from drummer, DJ and music educator Rowan Oliver with help from Adrian Riley of local design studio Electric Angel and quickly grew into the idea of a weekly online magazine also sharing links to some of the online jazz content we hoped might spring up during lockdown, the primary aim being to encourage support of musicians who we realised were really going to struggle over the coming months.

It was also an opportunity to share music by local musicians, many of whom regularly play at the club and to continue our recently launched initiative of providing support slots for young musicians in the area through our ‘New Jazz Generation’ programme. In fact much of the content of ‘The Lockdown Club’ has been written by Dylan Riley, a 16 year old multi-instrumentalist from Scarborough who has also featured in some of the video performances shared over lockdown such as local teenage jazz-funksters ‘Purple Cheesecake’ and the town’s ‘Hip-Hop Jazz Jam’. Occasional guest DJ mixes and archive footage have completed the weekly editions which go live every Wednesday at 8.45pm – the time live music would usually start at the club.

This has been an opportunity to explore new ground too. Can a niche music like jazz reach out to a wider audience online? Our visitor numbers suggest so with online listeners sometimes double what we would see at the club – perhaps the DJ element, including guest mixes, and a more open-ended idea of what constitutes ‘jazz’ has helped spread the word. This gives us hope for the future and is food for thought about how we might package and promote the club in the future, particularly to bolster our loyal audience with some new faces.

Will we be returning to live music any time soon? It is impossible to predict at the moment although in a town with as strong a music scene as Scarborough, there are already pockets of activity as people negotiate ‘the new normal’. In the meantime we are keeping that Wednesday 8.45pm slot alive in people’s minds for when we hope to return to live jazz.

The Lockdown Club can be visited at