The annual Sussex Jazz festival has quietly been increasing in size and popularity over the last few years as the genre becomes once again in vogue, we take a look at some of the best picks from 2019’s line-up.
Held every year in Glynde Place, a beautiful portion of the rolling South Downs, Love Supreme has come to be known as the UK’s leading festival for Jazz aficionados. It began in 2013, immediately holding a unique position in the UK festival calendar due to the genres it explored – mainly Jazz, but also closely aligned genres such as R&B, Funk, Soul and Blues. Since then it has grown year on year, developing a solid reputation for quality music and a wonderfully varied crowd in terms of age and background. Love Supreme is borne from the attempt “to meld the ethos of great European Jazz festivals like North Sea Jazz and Montreux with the culture of the UK camping music festivals with very strong identities like Latitude or Green Man.” And six years into its existence many punters would enthusiastically agree that they have done just that.
The team behind the festival are no strangers to booking some huge acts for the gathering, one must only look to their past line-ups to see that they are certainly not playing about. For instance, in their first year alone there was a host of quality acts invited to the party. The Saturday was headlined by Bryan Ferry, but also saw the legendary Nile Rodgers take to the stage alongside Chic, as well as Michael Kiwanuka and Charles Bradley. Jools Holland made an incredibly well received appearance the next day as well, one hell of a first edition to a festival. Over the proceeding few years Love Supreme has time and time again invited the cream of the crop to their East Sussex home. The celebrated vocalist Chaka Khan made an appearance in 2015, as well as The Jacksons and Herbie Hancock in 2017. And last year saw the ever-present Earth, Wind & Fire headline the main stage – it all points to the pedigree of this burgeoning festival.
They also have somewhat of a reputation for bringing through new bands and artists as well, a highly commendable attribute that has certainly helped the new lights come into their own. Acts like this are typically invited to open the Main Stage, and are also commonplace on the smaller Band Stand stage. Over the years the festival has helped to bring through some now massive names such as Rag’N’Bone Man, Ezra Collective and Lianne Le Havas – testimony to their position as genuine music lovers, not just organizers looking for a quick buck. The 2019 iteration is no different, mixing quality and iconic headliners with the integral spirit of an exciting new breed of musicians that increasingly blur the boundaries between genres such as Jazz, Funk, R&B, Hip-Hop and Soul. Headlined by The Fugees star Ms. Lauryn Hill, the line-up is one of their most exciting yet, echoing the fact that Love Supreme is now a festival you can be expected to sell-out. There are so many more acts to keep an eye out for than just the headliner, however, let’s take a look at some of our top picks:
Ensuring Love Supreme fulfil their quota of bonafide legends, Gladys Knight arrives fresh off the back of her incredibly well received Proms appearance at Hyde Park last year. Often regarded as “The Empress of Soul”, Knight is listed in the Rolling Stone’s 100 Greatest Singers of all Time and has had a slew of hits over a career that has spanned over half a century.
Now 75, it is an incredibly special proposition to be able to see the singer perform live, especially after more than one supposed “farewell” tour of the UK. Known for her work with her band The Pips, as well as featuring in the soundtrack to the James Bond film “Licence To Kill”, you really cannot over exaggerate her contribution to the music world. Listen to the iconic hit “Baby Don’t Change Your Mind”, it just doesn’t get much better.
Louie Vega & The Elements Of Life
Louie Vega is one of the most important cornerstones in dance music, known primarily for his work as Masters At Work with fellow DJ Kenny “Dope” Gonzalez. Together they helped set the blueprint for soulful and innately musical House music, ensuring the genre reached the level of prevalence it enjoys today.
He has been on top of the game since 1990, ensuring his relevance stays relevant with a range of highly regarded musical activity. One of the most impressive has been his shows with The Elements Of Life orchestra, a key example of the man’s musical prowess. Together with the band Louie Vega explores an exhilarating fusion of Salsa, Afrobeat, Jazz and Funk – it’s an intoxicating blend to say the least.
GoGo Penguin have been pushing a uniquely updated Jazz fusion sound for a number of years now, gaining a large number of fans in the process. The Manchester band take elements of minimalism alongside electronica and trip-hop and blend them into something distinctly new and unique.
It has been paying dividends for them of late, fans becoming enamoured by a sound that is reminiscent of Debussy, Aphex Twin and John Coltrane all rolled into one. The intoxicatingly good “Hopopono” is the perfect example of their sound; a rolling and hypnotic number that you just cannot help but get lost in.
A sign of Love Supreme also moving in line with current trends is the increase presence of electronic music artists on its line-up. One of the most exciting of which is Auntie Flo, a central figure in the new strand of dance music that brings together electronic and world influences to create a uniquely different sound.
The man, born Brian d’Souza regularly travels the world in search of collaborators from places such as Uganda through to Brazil, and this geographical dynamism is wholly evident in his tracks. Most often you are only able to see an Aunte Flo DJ set, so a full live show is extra special – don’t miss out!
Local lads Yakul have a very bright future ahead them, specifically because of their knack at blending Jazz, Soul and R&B into a coherent whole. They stand as a fantastic example of how diverse the new school of artists entering the fray are these days, pushing an incredibly well thought out strand of modern Jazz fusion.
With headline slots at the prestigious Jazz Café in London, as well as a number of festival appearances and support slots for well respected artists like Joel Culpepper, Yakul have certainly been making a name for themselves of late. This years Love Supreme could well be one of the last times you are able to see them as a band set to break, don’t miss out on a little slice of history.
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