I presented findings from The Impact of Festivals and CHIME projects to a workshop group of European jazz promoters, festival directors and journalists at the annual EJN conference in Ljubljana at the weekend. Ljubljana is a wonderful city I’d last visited in about 1982, as a post-punk student hitching around Europe, when it was still part of the communist state of Yugoslavia.
I could see people writing down and taking photos of the final slide in my short presentation, so I thought it would be worth putting that one up here. It originates in a discussion as part of CHIME at last year’s 12 Points Festival in San Sebastian. We were exploring with other European jazz cultural workers ways of keeping the festival-style event fresh and exciting, and I wrote down as many of the key ideas and suggestions people there were articulating as I could. I’ve discussed the ideas of this slide on Jazz (festival) futures also in 2017 at our CHIME conference in Siena and at the 5th Rhythm Changes conference in Amsterdam. What are you ideas? Do share—I’ll add them to the slide!
[a new blog and film by me produced for the EU-funded Cultural Heritage and Improvised Music in European Festivals (CHIME) project website]
Most villages in Norfolk have at least one ancient church, flint-built, with round or square tower. So I was looking of such a building when driving to the gig last night in the village of Spooner Row, as part of this year’s Wymondham Music Festival. But surprisingly the church here is built of brick, slate rather than lead roof, no tower, just one bell, that hangs outside (and was taken from another church). I looked it up: Spooner Row church was built in 1847, in the Victorian period when many of the Saxon and medieval churches (which had managed to survive the English Civil War) were themselves having their interiors ‘improved’.
The band I was in is called hymn, a trio of trumpet/loops, percussion/electronics and double bass. As the name might suggest it’s a slightly slow music, harmonies and simple melodies, layered but spacious, perhaps contemplative or immersive. Kinda fitted the venue. The other band, Arthur, consist of alto sax, tuba, drums; their repertoire is inspired by the music of the late African-American saxophonist Arthur Blythe, and is somewhat more fiery, driving, and loud than hymn’s.
I filmed a bit of Arthur’s set standing in the rather sparsely populated graveyard of Spooner Row church, in the early evening summer sunset, at the end of a glorious English day. I wanted just to think for a moment about the location, the mature trees all around and fields beyond, the quiet graveyard, the setting sun, a nearby row of cottages, the striking building of this unusual Norfolk church, at one of the outlying events of a music festival centred on the local market town of Wymondham.
I realised that this concert I was playing at was a CHIME event in a modest way, in the manner that all of these re-soundings in mild surprise of musical gatherings that are organised in festivals everywhere are CHIME events. The warm clash of sound and setting, improvisation (music) and solid foundation (building), are one of the things we can expect of a festival.
At this one I thought, too, of how in fact this church and the jazz are not so very far apart in their chronology, or originary narrative, both being made, sort of, arguably, in the same century for a start. Made me think, as I stood in the English churchyard last night, how old that music of modernism is—modernism is—then how very recent.