If Trouve la Groove had a spirit animal (spirit festival?), it would have to be Love Supreme...hear me out.
In its third year, the festival covers jazz, old and new, the genres that it has given birth to - showcasing an array of talent, from the virtuoso underground to those who have punctuated the mainstream. We FEEL you Love Supreme!
The festival is located near Brighton in Glynde, easily reached from the city centre. In many ways it’s got the ideal layout – with three main stages plus four smaller stages and bars; there were more music venues than most ‘small’ festivals, but the site wasn’t so huge that you have to trek around - noice. The campsite is not your standard filthy campsite with lost teenagers in bucket hats, half erect teepees, and a hygiene rating of your local chicken shop – this was civilization. The teenagers were still there, but they were cleaner jazz teenagers who like to stack their tents with fruit instead of K Cider, along with other campers of just about every other age group. This was certainly one of the most noticeable things about the festival, and perhaps what was responsible for the party yet peaceful atmosphere.
Maisha are an eclectic mix of ex-students from the RNCM and session musicians. They work through complicated mambo and afrobeat lines with the help of two superb percussionists, one jangling shells like crazy. Other members of the band looked super chilled, aside from Nubya Garcia, their stupidly talented front gal. She soars like a rainforest bird, interchanging between sax and flute and moonwalking across the stage when she doesn’t need to play. The double bassist stands back like a cool cat singing his bass line as he plays. Check out Maisha’s grooves in the soundtrack of our Love Supreme Promo vid.
After a light-hearted and scatty interview with Paris, we watched her do her thing to a packed out Big Top performing material from her new album with a big nod to Ella Fitzgerald. She then got the otherwise static crowd moving and scatting with some old jazz classics, her band to match in all black suits alongside a concert hall grand piano. ‘It Don’t Mean A Thing’ got an encore after people loved trying to sing the fast bit so much. You can catch her at Nell's Jazz in London on October 12. and at Guildford Jazz Festival on October 22.
At The Big Top, Badbadnotgood are their waiting for us, an exuberant group of lads from Canada. Apart from their band name sounding like a judgmental robot uttering its first words, their sound was transcendental. Leland Whitty on saxophone raised his instrument up and uttered long, intricate jazz scales rising up to the top of the tent like a bird in an aviary. The drummer erratically changed tempo and the crowd went wild. Their unique sound encourages a conversation with the new players found in the audience, fully behind jazz experimental revival. Badbadnotgood hit The Roundhouse on November 14.
As a man said in front of me summing up the entire crowd's thoughts, “nobody puts Herbie in a tent”. Maybe he requested this for a more intimate vibe, or maybe it was timetabling – we will never know. This did not however, diminish the electricity of the set. Herbie put the audience through a boppin’ jazz masterclass: starting with African Influences and moving to his older ambient straight jazz, cha cha chas, funkadelica and more. All of this with a sprinkle of new styles provided by his other keys player, groovin’ out on synth while singing through a thick vocoder haze. This
was an intense set full of twists, turns and time signatures and some people just couldn’t handle the Hancock. Mostly older members of the audience started leaving 10 mins in and began to trickle out throughout - hard to do in a packed tent. Interestingly, all of the youngsters stayed.
And finally, The Jacksons started and the festival exploded to the sound of ‘Can You Feel It’: All the oldies that sat like statues through even the funkiest Lee Field songs and the bouncing LaSharVu were now stood up and dancing with their friends, still near their fold up chairs. Kids run, like prisoners out of jail hearing music for the first time, back to the main stage and the Jacksons do the killer set they delivered at Bestival just a few years before, which makes for an interesting comparison – this crowd are attentive. The slightly more wreckhead crowd at Bestival, their attention span drawn short from horse tranquilisers, chattered through the MJ tribute where cute pictures of Michael come up with a starry background and some interviews are heard from him with his brothers. Love Supreme felt nothing but heartfelt nostalgia. This was also achieved with constant videos of the Jacksons back in their youth performing, which melted into the real time filming of their set on the big screen, each Jackson in their place.
Special mentions from Day 1
We seriously enjoyed a set from South London ladies, LaSharVu. Separately LaDonna Harley Peters, Sharlene Hector and Vula Malinga have done backing vocals for the likes of Mary J Blige, Alicia Keys, Mark Ronson Primal Scream to name but a few. The show that they gave was big and beautiful - not only does the combination of their voices make harmonies more transcendent than a siren song but they’ve got the backup singer moves to go with. Not to mention that you can tell they’re mates...which helps. The Brighton Brass Band doing an impromptu performance out the front of the main arena was an excellent touch - the sun comes out and they pop out anthem after anthem. “Move On Up” Mayfield, “Good Times” Rodgers, “We Are Family”, you get the idea. Self-proclaimed word to describe their groove - “boozy”. Classic Brass Band.
Produced by Jamie Loyn and Sebastian de Cabo, music courtesy of Maisha
La Mambanegra, a Latin fusion band from Colombia were a lively start to kick off day 2 on the main stage, whose warm welcome and charming conversation with the audience in fragmented English got everyone in the mood. Their enthused combinations of styles, spanning salsa, funk and jazzy experimental grooves set the scene for the second day of paradise. Continuing our adventure around the site, we discovered a small bandstand, which was a delightful little spot to bathe in the sun with a range of upcoming and underground artists. Rough Trade records had a vinyl store there, which featured a great selection of albums from much of the line-up, as well as other releases spanning genres appropriate to those showcased at Love Supreme. The prices were fairly reasonable considering this was at a festival, they didn’t get greedy and up mark the prices even more (vinyl are expensive as it is, so this did not go unnoticed). There were numerous bars playing chuuunes all day, so if you needed a break from dancing at the stages there were plenty of places to have a bev in the glorious sunshine.
Kansas Smitty’s House Band
One of our favourite discoveries from Love Supreme would have to be Kansas Smitty’s House Band. We were charmed into the Big Top tent by their bouncy swingin’ sound, and whisked into a Charleston dance party. Ranging from instrumental, rapid clarinet-led numbers, to languid bluesey songs, headed up by a male singer (they’re all boys). They really nailed a quaint yet toe-tapping, boozy balance; the final adjective possibly because they are all in fact the owners and house band of a bar in Broadway Market, so you too can get up close and personal with this fantastic old-time outfit. Kansas Smitty’s House Band give you a delicious New Orleans vibe with a twist de Paris - check out their weekly Saturday Night Special, or go see them in concert at the Guildford Jazz Festival, October 21, and at Shoreditch Town Hall on November 18.
Hot 8 Brass Band
And now to a different take on the New Orleans magic! Hot 8 brass band were a perfect act to watch early on the Sunday – their set is made to get you going for the rest of the day. We loved their renditions of ‘I Got 5 On It’, and 'Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)', ones we hadn’t heard live before, and it sounded like the crowd did too. They really are the most energetic band - in the sweltering heat they did not stop jumping around and pumping up the audience – you could see how much fun they were having up there. We found out a little more about Hot 8 when we got to speak to Bennie, the sousaphonist, before the set.
In the Arena tent, the magician Miles Mosely and The West Coast Get Down left us in awe. Mosely was phenomenal playing on the double bass, he sangs with his bass, the fastest fingers we’ve ever seen (hello ladies). He was one of the finest talents on display for the Sunday, pure energy and skill. They played material from Miles’ most recent album, UPRISING, and we really enjoyed feel good favourites like ‘Shadow Of Doubt’. This Northern Soul style mixed with a jazzier vibe is a fantastic combination, and felt even more fluid and fruity live.
Formed originally of musicians from the Leeds College of Music, the cross-genre collective dip into the worlds of reggae, jazz, dub, soul, funk and Latin. One of the bigger bands performing at Love Supreme, with ten members, treated The Arena audience to a rich array of rhythmic complexities. The complexity of their arrangements was never lost and stayed sensitive and powerful, centred around the lead singer Nubiya's warm vocals and graceful stage presence which captivated the audience. To hear more about Nubiyan Twist, check out our interview with Denis and Nubiya, and go see them at The Albany, Deptford on Oct 7, The Crescent, York on Oct 13 and plenty of other dates.
This penultimate main stage set was naturally the biggest dance-off/singalong of the whole festival. The band mastered that sweet 80s Benson sound, and the man himself, although perhaps nervous at times, played with the same passion and same signature, twiddley guitar style we all love. The impressive back catalogue of hits (‘Turn Your Love Around, ‘Give Me The Night’, ‘Love X Love’, ‘Never Give Up On A Good Thing’, ‘Lady Love Me (One More Time)’, NEED I GO ON??) made for serious crowd participation. If I could make one tiny improvement, it would have been to hear some of Benson’s earlier, blues material…but you can’t have everything. However, they did play a superb, lengthy version of ‘On Broadway’ to close and to show off the killer musicians backing Benson, such as percussionist and backing singer, Lilliana de los Reyes.
Special mentions from Day 2
We were treated to a beautiful moment in the VIP section with Charenée Wade singing and Oscar Perez on the
piano which gave us a minute to appreciate a much gentler acoustic set. Festival heavyweights St Paul & the Broken Bones played on the main stage, with singer Paul Janeway and his phenomenal voice, complete with a sexy af suit, he was a huge presence on stage with his powerful vocals and animated performance. We also caught a glimpse of
Laura Mvula absolutely slaying it on the keytar.
Regrettably we had to catch the train home before the end of Gregory Porter’s set, but caught the opening, which began with a trailer for the documentary about his life, Don’t Forget Your Music. Leaving to the sound of Gregory and the crowd getting down to ‘Liquid Spirit’ was the perfect way to end this glorious festival. The venue is an extremely scenic location, so despite it being a smaller festival than the likes of Glastonbury and Bestival, it's now up there as one of our favourites. The super early bird tickets have already sold out for next year, so be sure to grab your early birds in November when they go on sale!