And so there we have it, Lancaster Jazz Festival 2015. What a way to finish an amazing year at LJF. The began at The Hall stage with a workshop from artist in residence, Seth Bennett. Seth took a group of musicians (including a number of young musicians who had played with the LRGS Big Band earlier in the festival) and gave them valuable insight into his approach to improvisation and musically thinking outside the box. 'Thinking outside the box' was a theme that continued in style on The Hall stage with Grew & Watts. Stephen Grew and Trevor Watts are masters of improvisation and the piano/sax combination didn't fail to impress the open-minded audience. Then came Iain Dixon and Les Chisnal as amazing last minute replacements for programmed group Cameron Vale.
The Sun Square Stage was kicked off today by some absolute legends of jazz. The Paradise Trio, composed of Richard Iles, Mike Walker and Les Chisnal, have played together for the past 25 years and you can really hear it when they perform. As individuals, they are masterful players, as a trio, their musical chemistry and understanding of each other's playing takes things to a whole new level. They were followed by Yesa Sikyi, a young six-piece made up of musicians from the Trinity College of Music jazz course. Having built a following in London off the back of their debut EP, Yesa Sikyi took their tight rhythm section grooves and stellar horn section (made up of Lily Carassik, Chelsea Carmichael and Nubya Garcia) to the Lancaster Jazz Festival and were loved by a packed Sun Square. This stage was closed by experienced duo Tori Freestone and Alcyona Mick, whose intimate improvisational explorations left a captivated audience.
The Lancaster Jazz Festival 2015 was closed by Word of Moth (named as such after a typo on a funding application). You could barely move in The Hall as the band launched into a high-energy whirlwind of tight riffs that burst into frenetic free improvisation. The high energy was spurred along by the natural communication between the accomplished players, which included artist in residence Seth Bennett as well as Dee Byrne on alto sax, Cath Roberts on baritone and Tom Greenhalgh on drums. The atmosphere in the room was electric as the group powered through their tight arrangements, which felt full and meaty, despite having no chord-based instruments in the band. As the set reached top speed, there were literally exclamations of excitement from the audience. What a way to end an incredible year at Lancaster Jazz Festival, here's to an even bigger and even better festival next year!
Rob - Festival Reporter