And so, Lancaster Jazz Festival 2015 is underway. The first day began with a workshop from Richard Ormrod (of A Dread Supreme), which saw a group of young musicians learn two tunes in just 90 minutes, then to perform them in front of a Jazz Festival crowd later in the evening. The reggae and New Orleans vibes were strong as this collective of young talent raised the roof of the Lancaster Brewery; there wasn't a still body in the house.
The LRGS Big Band kicked the evening's entertainment off, a showcase of some of Lancaster's freshest jazz talent. Notably, this was the last LRGS gig for a number of pupils, including some heading to conservatoires over the next few days. But it wasn't just the sixth formers who impressed in the set of funk, pop and big band classics; a whole host of very young musicians managing to belt out some very complex pads including tunes from Gordon Goodwin and Stevie Wonder.
Then came A Dread Supreme, bringing the reggae vibes of Kingston town to North Lancashire. The band played a blistering set which had even the most reserved of audience members skanking. This was more than a reggae set though, the jazz influence (specifically from John Coltrane) saw some advanced horn parts resting on the Caribbean-infused grooves. The vocal numbers were especially well received; A Dread Supreme tore down the house.
The night finished with Taupe, a three-piece based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Those in the audience that were bopping their heads during the previous sets had a much harder job this time. The trio brought their unique mixture of jazz influence and visceral polyrhythmic grooves and took the night to a different level. The volume alone had been previously unmatched and the complex timings had the most seasoned of musicians breaking a sweat trying to count.
Rob - Festival Reporter