Rhythm but (hopefully) no blues: Britain to host first outdoor jazz festival in decades

The Love Supreme Jazz Festival takes place in Sussex next July

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The Independent Culture

When Britain last staged an outdoor jazz festival, the event descended into a riot as fans of rival styles clashed. The organisers of the Love Supreme Jazz Festival in Sussex, the first UK event devoted to the genre in decades, are hoping for a more harmonious gathering when campers arrive next July.

Branford Marsalis, Jools Holland and Soweto Kinch will be among the artists performing at the £110 weekend event, to be held at Glynde Place, East Sussex.

Promoted by Jazz FM, the festival fills a gap in the UK’s Summer calendar, which boasts festivals devoted to folk, heavy metal and dance music but no comparable event for fans of improvised horn-blowing.

Landowners refused to allow jazz fans on to their grounds following the disgraceful scenes which occurred at the Beaulieu Jazz Festival, the Hampshire event hosted in the late 50s by Lord Montagu, which is now seen as a precursor to Glastonbury.

The 1960 festival descended into a running battle between fans of “trad” jazz, the New Orleans-inspired pop music of the day and advocates of the “modern” style pioneered by Charlie Parker's bebop. The BBC closed down its live coverage as cider-fuelled fans threw beer bottles and clambered on the stage rigging during Acker Bilk’s set.

Rod Stewart revealed that he lost his virginity at Beaulieu to an older woman who seduced him in the beer tent, an incident related in the song Maggie May.

The National Jazz and Blues Festival, which started during the 1960s, quickly lost its jazz footing and eventually morphed into today’s Reading and Leeds rock festival.

Organisers of Love Supreme believe that tensions between rival jazz factions have calmed sufficiently to permit a new three-day event. Ciro Romano, Festival Director said: “We are thrilled to bring back the green-field Jazz festival after such a long break. We wanted to be able to provide a quality experience where at one cost there would be a massive variety of Jazz music on offer and the festival at Glynde Place will allow us to do this.”

In recognition that the jazz hotheads of 1960 might prefer a more laid-back experience today, Love Supreme will include an indoor covered and seated stage, luxury camping and a chill out zones.

The bill includes the Grammy-winning bassist and composer Marcus Miller, Phantom Limb and the Neil Cowley Trio. However the event is launching into a depressed UK festival environment, with several events cancelled this Summer due to poor ticket-sales and a surfeit of similar attractions.