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Rising numbers of fans spark a UK jazz renaissance

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    Posted: 29 Jul 2019 at 10:47am

Rising numbers of younger fans spark a UK jazz renaissance

Streaming sites report growth in young listeners and festivals are signing up more jazz acts

 

From smoky US bars to clubs in the Weimar republic, jazz has been popular across the world, with its heyday almost a century ago. But in a tiny converted railway arch in south-east London, a weekly jazz night has become the hub for a new flourishing scene in the UK.

Steam Down in Deptford has hosted a growing number of British artists. Their presence, combined with the rise of streaming websites, is triggering a spike in appreciation for jazz in Britain. Signs of that surge in interest are visible across the music business, with streaming sites reporting a growth in young listeners, mainstream artists collaborating with jazz stars and big music festivals signing up more jazz acts than ever.

When it started, Steam Down saw around a dozen people walk through the doors. Following its second anniversary, Ahnansé, who set up the night and also performs with the in-house band the event is named after, said it has been at capacity for the last six months.

“One of the main reasons [behind the growth of jazz] starts with the musicians and the fact lots of them are not selfish … they share a lot … They grew up together and have grown together and by default created a scene from that,” he said.

Spotify told the Guardian that about 40% of jazz listening on the streaming website is done by people under 30, with the percentage holding steadily since 2014. It reported that listeners of the genre in this age group have risen year on year since 2016.

The jazz renaissance is being reflected in festivals and ticket sales, with British jazz featuring heavily in this year’s Glastonbury line-up. Notable acts included Sons of Kemet and The Comet is Coming. A number of new jazz festivals have also appeared this year, such as DJ Gilles Peterson’s We Out Here festival in Huntingdon, taking place in August.

Peterson said that people’s tastes have become more sophisticated, which is why jazz is gaining popularity, particularly among younger audiences. “If you’re 21 now, you can get all kinds of music much faster. You can stream it or listen to it via YouTube … My generation had to buy the records and that took a while to get to a certain point … so inevitably people get to jazz as it is the holy grail when it comes to music.”

Archie Tulk, 16, said: “Jazz is so much more accessible. It is not just going to a record shop, it’s there online for you to listen.”

 

He added: “It’s really popular now because there are so many great things for young musicians all over the country, such as [development organisations] Tomorrow’s Warriors in London and Jazzlines in Birmingham. At the moment there is really great scene in London, where lots of jazz musicians are younger.”

US musician Miles Mosley, who is part of the West Coast Get Down with Kamasi Washington, said there was a resurgence in other parts of the world as well as the UK. “Everyone wants to return it to what it felt like in the whisky hothouse days, but our version of it.”

Mosley’s first single, Abraham, from his album Uprising was named one of NPR’s top 100 songs of 2016. He added: “The re-emergence of jazz comes as a natural reaction to rampant micro music … when you go to watch a video on YouTube there is another 30-second video with another 30 seconds of music on it … but that means that music is on the same way that the lights are on … The natural reaction to that is for people to forge a relationship to their music, and jazz is a great place to start as you can’t quickly process it.”

Peterson said Jazz re:freshed, a weekly live residency in west London, has provided a space for musicians to play and to build a scene. “Jazz is about finding places to play regularly and constantly … The reason Britain is good is at the moment we are going through a period where lots of people are coming through and sound great is because they are playing a lot and creating their own spaces to do that. They are setting up their own record labels and putting on their own nights. They are taking a DIY approach.”

from www.theguardian.com



Edited by snobb - 29 Jul 2019 at 10:49am
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