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 








Friday, 6 November 2020

Alec Sykes, RIP

From Wakefield Jazz

Alec Sykes
08.09.37 to 03.11.20

Founder in 1987 of Wakefield Jazz Club

Sadly died in Pinderfields Hospital on Tuesday morning of Covid related pneumonia. We miss him so much but the music goes on… – Faith Sykes

Together with his wife Faith, Alec nurtured Wakefield Jazz from 1987 to 2004, at which time the club was awarded the first ever Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Venue, an accolade he richly deserved.

Starting with local musicians he expanded into bringing people up from London. After achieving a National Lottery grant to purchase a Grand Piano, he felt emboldened to also feature world class pianists, bringing great pleasure to his loyal audience.

He had a very special relationship with the musicians that he booked, many of whom stayed overnight at his home. Several of these are still returning to Wakefield as some of the biggest names in the jazz world and generally took the opportunity to fit in a visit to Alec and Faith.



Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Lockdown Live Music Cancellations

Due to the new national lockdown in England the following live events have been cancelled 

Hull Jazz Festival - Winter Edition 12-15 November 2021

Scarborough Jazz Festival - 12- 14 February 2021

Wakefield Jazz - rest of autumn programme

JazzLeeds - November programme (restart 3 Dec with Nigel Price Organ Quartet)

Sheffield Jazz - rest of autumn programme