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Love Supreme Jazz Festival continues to grow with an almighty line-up of funk legends and jazz contemporaries

The final weekend in June is one of our favourites - it is reserved for Love Supreme Jazz Festival, one of the highest quality music festivals in the UK.  You can already get Super Early Bird tickets for 2019 here, and we can guarantee you a good time. Love Supreme is one of the few festivals where you can camp, enjoy decent weather due to the time of year, and watch (almost exclusively) master musicians at the top of their game, all weekend.

 

This time, we were promised particularly good weather – perhaps a little too good? Luckily two out of the three main stages were in tents (The Big Top and The Arena) to provide some much needed shade. This year's line-up included many artists we have wanted to see for a long time - Earth, Wind and Fire, George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic, Denys Baptiste, Tom Misch, and a mixture of other legends or contemporaries, well established in their field.

 

Checkout our full gallery below:

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

SATURDAY

 

The festival began with MF Robots on the main stage, performing danceable disco funk with a full band; an appropriate cure for hungover attendees of the campers’ party the night before. This lively opener was lead by frontwoman Dawn Joseph (with co-founder Jan Kincaid on drums), who’s warm, chatty stage presence, not to mention her flawless vocals, made her instantly likeable and got the crowd in a mood to sing along. It was great to see a continuation of women taking a signficant place among the mainstage artists - PP Arnold was on next. The American-turned-Londoner played both originals and classic hits mainly from the 60s, including ‘If You Think You’re Groovy ‘ by The Small Faces, which they had originally written for PP Arnold when they were both on the Immediate Records label.

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

 

Another great thing about Love Supreme, is that you are able to watch some unconventional band structures, for example, with the drummer as the leader. The majestically modest Chris Dave and The Drumhedz’s set was unfortunately cut short due to technical problems. We can’t say we weren’t disappointed, but still adored his dreamy, cosmic tunes, showcasing his most recent release, Chris Dave and The Drumhedz which included an imaginative interpretation of ‘A Change Is Gonna Come’. The next day we were treated to more percussive pandemonium with Moses Boyd’s set.

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

Other acts that graced the main stage on Saturday included Mr Jukes, who had a killer band, with some fantastic vocalists, one of whom covered ‘Doo-Wop (That Thing)’ by Lauryn Hill. Songhoy Blues also made an appearance, performing their new album Résistance, and they really got the crowd going with their African-blues-rock and energetic showmanship.

 

As well as acts with female frontwomen, Love Supreme had booked a noticeable number of female instrumentalists as well - it seems a shame to bang on about this, but it must be lauded when so many festivals still fall short in this department. Multi-award-winning saxophonist Nubya Garcia who played to a packed-out Arena, Nikki Yeoh alongside Denys Baptiste, Yazz Ahmed, and Emma Jean Thackray.

 

Headlining the Saturday was Elvis Costello, who we initially felt was out of place at this festival, but were pleasantly surprised at his back catalogue and crowd engagement. Costello is now having surgery following a cancer diagnosis and has cancelled the rest of his tour dates, but inspite of the fact that has been performing a number of years and has current health issues, he performed with great energy, pride and passion at Love Supreme.

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

Following the day's consistently impressive entertainment, there was plenty of late night fun to be had such as Island Records & Freshly Squeezed Presents performing a disco hip hop set with some incredibly fun mixes, such as a Rick James track into 'And The Beat Goes On', Carl Carlton's 'She's A Bad Mama Jama' into a sexy remix of Tom Browne's 'Funkin' For Jamaica', along with classic bangers like 'The Breaks' by Kurtis Blow, 'White Lines' by Grandmaster Flash, '8th Wonder' by The Sugarhill Gang, all while a relentless troupe of break dancers pulled some unbelievable moves in front of the decks  - it was a cracking way to continue the day's festivities into the night.


Another great thing about Love Supreme, is that live music continues late into the night as well as the DJ sets! Jazz In The Round hosted Bukky Leo & Black Egypt who performed an upbeat tribute to African jazz, funk, and soul legend Fela Kuti.

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

 

SUNDAY

 

We began our Sunday chatting with Oscar Jerome and shortly after the interview we saw his set in The Arena tent. He had a simple three-piece set-up which lent itself perfectly to his beautifully crafted songs. Jerome’s guitar techniques and performance reminded us of Jeff Buckley, with his soulful vocals simultaneous with an advanced command over his instrument. In spite of the simple set-up, the performance was immensely varied, jumping from R&B to rock in a heartbeat.


This got the day off to a great start, and also set the tone for Jerome’s peers that followed: we later saw the aforementioned Moses Boyd Exodus, who we interviewed later that evening. This was followed by Tom Misch on the main stage, whose upbeat, catchy tunes and lively band really got the crowd going. His set also included a guest appearance from Barney Artist, along with glorious, dynamic variations on the songs from his most recent release, Geography.

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

Naturally, this is a festival that showcases the best brass players in the world – it wouldn’t be Love Supreme otherwise. Sunday was a great day for this, with highlights from Denys Baptiste (pictured above), and Keyon Harrold, both of which we also got to speak to (checkout our interviews with Denys Baptiste and Keyon Harrold). Baptiste performed work from his most recent project The Late Trane, featuring British jazz heavyweights of The Late Trane quartet: Rod Youngs (drums), Nikki Yeoh (keys) and Larry Bartley (bass).

 

Later on in The Big Top, multi-act legend Steve Winwood showed us how many hits he has had with Blind Faith and The Spencer Davis Group, to name but a few, and as a solo artist. Needless to say, this devout artist’s voice and musicality has not deteriorated with age – it was a joy to see someone who has been at the top of his game since the age of about 17, still there at 70.

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

And now for something completely different…George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic’s set erupted on the mainstage with a heavy metal, albeit supremely funky, version of ‘Get Off Your Ass And Jam’ (listen to some essential P-Funk tracks here). Although one would have assumed that this might have been a shock to the system for many of the ex-beatniks in the audience, everyone appeared to get into it.

 

This wonderful weirdness permeated the rest of the set, with an appearance from Sir Nose D’Voidoffunk (if you want to know a bit more about this read up on some P-Funk Mythology), and a performance of their most recent release, ‘I’m Gon’ Make U Sick O’ Me’. The band themselves were a sight to see, among them three backing singers (including Mr Clinton’s granddaughter Tonysha Nelson) full of attitude and accuracy, both vocally and in their chaotic yet co-ordinated dance-moves.

 

Sunday's headlining act, and the festival's closing show, came from our heroes Earth, Wind and Fire - these guys are not just disco pioneers but legendary icons whose music has reached the entire world. With their hit songs like 'September' and 'Boogie Nights', which have transgressed generational nostalgia to become timeless party anthems, and covers like 'Got To Get You Into My Life', Earth, Wind and Fire played a euphoric set which was phenomenal to experience and one of the most elated audiences we've been a part of - they are a real singalong live band, which is unsurprising with their stream of successful disco chart toppers and jazz funk rareities.

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

Jazz festivals like Love Supreme, North Sea Jazz etc. have sometimes been criticised for booking mainstream acts, that are perhaps in the vein of jazz but verge more to the pop side of things (much like the self-aware Mostly, Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival), for the sake of securing ticket sales. It seemed a shame, after last year saw virtuosos like Herbie Hancock, Kamasi Washington and George Benson take over the main stage, that this year’s selection was not quite as varied - Elvis Costello was a bit of a stretch for a Jazz Festival headliner.

 

However, that did not mean that ‘purer’ jazz and instrumental acts did not pull some massive crowds - in the cases of Ezra Collective and Nubya Garcia, it was almost impossible to get into the tents. It was also great to see how many young people watched the more ‘challenging’ acts, such as Pharoah Sanders, and stayed, watching intently and independently - not just because their parents had dragged them along. Arguably, although both George Clinton Parliament Funkadelic are well-known and have had chart-topping hits, this makes them no less virtuoso or instrumentally explorative.

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

Some might say that this years line-up had been chosen for the purpose of boosting ticket sales, but this would be a pessimistic viewpoint. The presence of a diverse crowd, across all acts and stages, was evidence that more accessible headliners encouraged people to explore the broad range of music on offer. There's also plenty of fun around the sit with New York Brass Band drawing a huge crowd in the middle of the fairground area, along with karaoke supported by a live band. As we discussed with a few of the artists whilst at the festival, jazz can be an acquired taste, so having an introduction such as Love Supreme is a perfectly fun transition into the world of jazz.

 

In this sense, Love Supreme is a perfect gate-way festival into, not just jazz, but an open mind to music and pushing musical preferences beyond comfort zones. The whole event is a friendly, un-intimidating, celebration that appeals to different tastes to lure them down musical paths that they may otherwise not walk down. Love Supreme, we salute you.

 

 

© Ryan Taylor & Trouve la Groove

 

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