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We Out Here Festival ,Cambridgeshire, August 15-18

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    Posted: 13 Aug 2019 at 11:01am

Gilles Peterson interview: 'Clubs are closing, but in this country we always find an answer to the problem'

Gilles Peterson couldn’t be happier. The We Out Here festival, his inaugural “jazz Woodstock”, begins this Thursday on 220 acres of lush, landscaped Cambridgeshire countryside. Yet the DJ and record-label owner’s ear-to-ear grin is partly fixed in disbelief. “This is jazz,” says Peterson, 57, laughing. “I’m almost traumatised after years of being battered for using the word in this country. When I used to play on Radio 1, I would put on heavy jazz but I wouldn’t call it that because I knew that as soon as I mention the word people would switch off.”

To have 10,000 people descending on a jazz festival is big news but it’s not altogether a surprise. Something deeply rooted in the public’s perception of the genre has shifted. People don’t bring up The Fast Show’s Louis Balfour, presenter of Jazz Club, and his “niiiiice” catchphrase when Peterson mentions jazz now, he says, and the days of Ron Burgundy’s jazz flute jokes are fading. British jazz is booming — and Peterson declares ridicule has given way to reverence. “I’m taking this stuff to America and France, and all they’re talking about is the British invasion of jazz over there,” he says. 

“The pairing of electronic music with jazz has brought things forward,” says We Out Here’s co-founder, Noah Ball, who, having successfully directed the Outlook and Dimensions festivals in Croatia since 2008, spotted the commercial potential of a jazz-focused festival in the UK at Field Day in Brockwell Park last year. 

Ball wants to let the natural landscape form the festival’s backdrop, rather than MDF facades, eschewing the “bells-and-whistles” approach. Although his focus is on the clarity of the sound, Peterson too knows how to craft a compelling festival aesthetic; he has 13 years of experience curating the uniquely picturesque Worldwide Festival in the French seaside town of Sčte (DJs on the beach by day, parties in an amphitheatre overlooking the Mediterranean by night). We Out Here will be a celebration of old soul, jazz and disco; live jazz but not as we know it, on 10 stages scattered throughout a bucolic stretch of countryside that boasts three lakes, a forest and an old causeway track (for 10 years, the site was home to Secret Garden Party, a boutique summer festival that ran until 2014).

But this irruption of sound comes straight from London’s effervescent underbelly. “A lot of the London jazz scene were brought up on bass music and grime, so jazz is being infected with those basslines, and those attitudes of the London sound, pushing it back into youth consciousness,” Ball says. Spotify told The Guardian that 40 per cent of jazz listening on its streaming website is by people under 30, rising year on year since 2016; another website, Deezer, reported a 15 per cent increase in 18- to 25-year-olds streaming jazz in the past year. Peterson thinks the frictionless browsing habits of “the iTunes generation” has allowed “jazz-leaning” music to find a wider audience. “On the one hand the algorithms have taken over, but, on the other, a 15-year-old can learn about artists that it took me five years to discover in a single night”.

Peterson’s own label, Brownswood Recordings, has been influential in championing the UK’s “underground jazz messengers” since 2006; last February it released the We Out Here compilation, with tracks from nine British groups including London-based Afrobeat eight-piece KOKOROKO, the Mobo-winning Sons of Kemet and saxophonist Nubya Garcia, all of whom will appear at We Out Here.

Care has been taken to fine-tune the festival environment; state-of-the art sound systems have been picked to take up less space in transit to save on the festival’s carbon footprint; the twinkling forest stage will stay open late to the sound of sparring drums and percussive horn flares. The cultural programme will also lean into dance, jungle, techno and reggae, as well as film screenings. 

It’s an astonishing achievement, given that Peterson claims to have had the idea with Ball just six months ago. “I can’t take credit,” says Peterson. “The movement’s reached a critical mass who are rivals in a positive way, making each other step up their game.”

It’s the kind of character-led curation that only adds to intrigue abroad. Last year The New York Times gushed that “now more than ever, the easiest answer to that pesky question — what’s keeping jazz vital these days? — appears to lie in London”, pointing to the breakthrough tenor sax, tuba and twin drum-set thrust of Sons of Kemet (Shabaka Hutchings, Sons of Kemet’s statesmanlike saxophonist, anchors a handful of his own bands and served as the musical director for the We Out Here compilation).

This year Glastonbury was praised for putting British jazz centre stage, with Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming and Ezra Collective playing. And while it’s a running joke that the Mercury shortlist always has a token jazz album, including one has become a necessity (this year Seed Ensemble’s Driftglass, while Black Midi’s Schlagenheim is accompanied by the jazz-influenced Grey Area by Little Simz). 

Peterson says creativity is pouring out of the UK in trying circumstances. “In England the reason we do so well, ironically, is because we have to do it ourselves,” he says, pointing to a lack of arts funding. Clubs such as Hackney’s Total Refreshment Centre and Deptford’s Steam Down have been incubators for the young scene. At the same time, influential pioneers such as Gary Crosby and his formative Tomorrow’s Warriors, who have provided a platform for talented young musicians who wished to pursue a career in jazz, now struggle without desperately needed grants funding.

“Yes they’re closing down clubs but in this country we always find an answer to the problem when it comes to entertainment and doing it ourselves,” says Peterson. “That’s what I love so much about England. It doesn’t happen anywhere else in the world”.

We Out Here Festival is at Secret Garden Party, Cambridgeshire (weoutherefestival.com), August 15-18

from www.standard.co.uk

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote snobb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Aug 2019 at 1:35am

We Out Here festival review – a new jazz generation is born

Abbots Ripton, Cambridgeshire
Saxophonist Gary Bartz, Joe Armon-Jones and Binker Golding were some of the big names at this festival curated by Gilles Peterson
 

A festival curated by DJ Gilles Peterson, named after the UK jazz compilation his label Brownswood Recordings released in 2018, and featuring almost all of the artists on their roster, might seem like a vanity project. Yet the last two years have seen this output spawn something far bigger than one man. The result of years of work by grassroots organisations such as Tomorrow’s Warriors and Kinetika Bloco training up a new generation of musicians, it has created that most sought-after of cultural phenomena: a “scene”.

This scene is largely rooted in the twentysomethings of south London who have a predilection for saxophone solos, Afrobeat, Dr Martens and Dickies. And they are all out in force for the inaugural We Out Here festival at the idyllic former Secret Garden Party site in Cambridgeshire.

Saxophonist Binker Golding represents this new school of London jazz players. He delivers a pared-down set of songs taken from his forthcoming album Abstractions of Reality Past and Beautiful Feathers. His keening melodic lines are as intricate and impressionistic as the title, with pianist Sarah Tandy providing rock-steady backing. Golding’s longtime collaborator Moses Boyd also plays a sun-soaked set of Afrobeat and electronic textures, including his breakout dance floor track Rye Lane Shuffle, while pianist Joe Armon-Jones explores dub-jazz with vocalist Asheber wielding a wooden staff and delivering excoriating verses on the Grenfell Tower fire.

Just as Peterson made his name through open-minded DJing residencies in the 90s that covered house music and hip-hop as much as jazz, at We Out Here there is also much to be seen outside jazz. This includes a large broken beat contingent, featuring Marc Mac of pioneering group 4hero, DJ Shy One and producer Ahadadream all providing fizzing, energetic sets to keep the dancers going, while Benji B and Lefto delve deep into fractal breakbeats, firing percussive missives in the pouring rain.

Nevertheless, the most gratifying moments of the festival are still the appearances of the jazz greats, proving the lineage that has made this recent revival so potent. Idris Ackamoor and the Pyramids take up the afro-spiritual mantle exemplified by Sun Ra with a set that features keytar, spoken word and a beautiful doubling between Ackamoor’s sax and a bowed violin. Free-jazz heavyweight Gary Bartz plays the festival with vocalist Dwight Trible, who brings his free-association compositions to life, his honeyed baritone conversing with Bartz’s tender tenor.

Where other scenes have capitulated to branded commercialisation or been relegated to dinner party music, the diversity of this new jazz generation, matching and continuing the legacy of their forebears, feels like a genuine, communal movement that will continue to defy commodification.

This article was amended on 20 August 2019 to remove a reference to Skee Mask, who pulled out of the festival. In addition, Gary Bartz was billed as a headliner, however he did not close the festival as an earlier version said.

from www.theguardian.com

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