A festival of Jazz on 3
Jazz on 3: Hermeto Pascoal
John Cumming, director at production company Serious, introduces tonight's Jazz on 3 - which reveals more music from the 2011 London Jazz Festival - and drops some hints about the 2012 event.
It’s very good to be reminded of the amount of great music that has emerged from last year’s London Jazz Festival – tonight’s Jazz on 3 demonstrates just some of the range that we aim for in programming the Festival. Whitney Balliett’s description of jazz as the 'sound of surprise' still holds true since he wrote about the music way back in the 50s, and while the Festival always combines the familiar with the unexpected, it’s the surprise package that gives the Festival the sense that there’s always something special just around the jazz corner… Hermeto Pascoal’s collaboration with the British ensemble that was first formed back in the 90s to perform his big band music is a great example – the sheer exuberance of this concert was one of the events that brought last year’s Festival to a celebratory climax – and marking the 75th. birthday year of a massively inventive musical spirit. On a much smaller, but no less adventurous scale. Robert Mitchell and Corey Mwamba’s ad hoc meeting during Adventures in Sound (below) – a project that has evolved over the years as a fascinating laboratory for on-the-edge spontaneous improv – with Jazz on 3’s broadcast as an essential part of the equation, creating the means for music that’s created in the heat of the moment in an intimate settings, to be broadcast to a much wider on-air audience.
Finding the right balance in programming the Festival is a hugely rewarding challenge. It’s partly a process of researching the touring plans of musicians from all over the world, partly absorbing ideas from far and wide – including audience feedback - and partly finding out what the artists themselves are dreaming up. And then the jigsaw puzzle of dates, venues, and budget. And the influence of London itself, with jazz happening throughout the city, throughout the year – how best to reflect this intensely creative musical energy. So – the word celebration again. It’s not just about bringing the major jazz stars to London, although that in itself tells the story of the continuing history of the music. It’s equally important to dig into and illuminate that same history, as well as explore the directions that jazz might take in the years ahead. And, crucially, to share that journey with the audience, whether live or on radio or in all the other ways that we can now communicate.
Robert Mitchell (piano) and Corey Mwamba (vibes)
As the programming cycle evolves, themes emerge. Already, some of this year’s Festival is announced. The jazz masters are there in plenty – Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea (in a stellar trio with Christian McBride and Brian Blade), Jan Garbarek, Brad Mehldau. And talking themes, the presence of John Mclaughlin, Bill Frisell and Paco de Lucia provides a hint that an extended guitar strand is in the wind; Radio 3 are commissioning new music from both John Surman and Young Generation Jazz Artist Shabaka Hutchings – and this leads us down a path that will explore the very distinctive music of the British jazz composer. The announcement of a major grant from the Culture Programme of the European Community will give us the opportunity to delve ever further into the riches of jazz as it’s evolved on this side of the Atlantic.
In a nutshell – watch this space. There’s a great deal more to come.
- Listen to Jazz on 3 for seven days after broadcast
- Visit the London Jazz Festival website
- Find out more about Serious Productions