Day two of the Lancaster Jazz Festival 2015. This is when it gets busy. I’ll start with the Sun Square Stage, if fat (or rather, phat) grooves are your bag, Sun Square was the place to be today. Situated in a picturesque square outside The Music Room and down the street from The Sun Hotel, the Sun Square Stage was home to some of the more accessible artists of the festival. When I say accessible, we’re still talking prog metal-influenced off-kilter beats topped with wailing sax and guitar solos. In between my running from stage to stage, I managed to catch music from Dakhla Brass, whose twin disciplines of undeniable grooves and tight, rich harmonies went down a treat in the square, and Thunkfish, whose pounding proggy riffs had every head bopping. The Blind Monk Trio brought the Sun Square Stage to a close this afternoon in fine style with their original, high-energy take on the sax/bass/drums format.
Today, The Hall was home to some of the most unique music I’ve heard in a very long time. I began proceedings on this stage with a step into the unknown, hosting a Q&A with artist in residence Seth Bennett as well as members and composers part of Khymerikal, including Leo Geyer, the composer of last year’s Youth Jazz Commission. Amongst the topics discussed were approaches to composition, writing vs. improvisation, inspiration, teaching and American hardcore punk. Immediately after this, Khymerikal premiered two pieces blending classical and jazz traditions together. I also managed to catch the Lancaster Jazz Festival Youth Jazz Commission 2015, but only just, with The Hall packed out to witness the gripping fusion of jazz composition and Gaelic folk song which left the audience silenced.
The evening saw another venue in use: The Dukes. After an artist-only meal which allowed a meeting of jazz minds that would not have had the chance for discussion had this sit-down relaxing meal had not been provided, it was time for the headliners; Empirical featuring Julian Siegel. This collective, exclusive to Lancaster Jazz Festival 2015, was a meeting of four masters of their instruments. The two hour exploration of rhythm, harmony and all-round musicianship left the Rake theatre ringing with rapturous applause long after the group finished.
The night isn't even over yet, with fans and performers alike moving on to the Golden Lion pub for a huge jam.
Rob - Festival Reporter.