In an infinitely less muddy, far smaller way, the first Love Supreme festival is a Woodstock moment for British jazz: an often isolated tribe of fans realising there are more of them than they thought, and many others discovering they like jazz after all.
The perfect setting of a country estate nestled in the South Downs helps, as does perfect weather. More crucially, a bill mixing Bryan Ferry, Chic and Jools Holland with British jazz’s cutting edge and American stars means the quality rarely dips below the height of the endless sun.
The live debut of Bryan Ferry’s The Jazz Age album is one coup. As on the record, top British jazz players populate the Bryan Ferry Orchestra, but its instrumental Cotton Club restylings of his songbook wisely gain vocal help from the author. “Jealous Guy” proves Ferry puts a lyric’s emotion over with more stylish effect than most, in a happily unpredictable set which often veers into rock.
Nile Rodgers’ Chic, fresh from their Glastonbury triumph, also help the outreach effort to those who might not come for jazz alone. But the man who grew up as a jazz purist in Greenwich Village then turned disco into joyous art isn’t out of place anywhere. Chic don’t reach full exultant lift-off, but the hits still delight. Perhaps not as deeply, though, as Gregory Porter, the man most likely to bring jazz back into the mainstream. This barrel-chested, giant-hearted American tears the breaks off his baritone at the end of 'Work Song', roaring and leaping. '1960 What?' replays Martin Luther King’s assassination on a lazy Sussex afternoon, making the crowd beg for more.
Courtney Pine remains the UK ambassador for jazz as danceable, reggae-inflected entertainment, his skill on the soprano sax subordinate to making people move. His compatriot Gwyneth Herbert sings the shanties on her The Sea Cabinet album with happy, cabaret sensuality, detailing a relationship’s shipwrecked, sunken past in “I Still Hear The Bells”.
New Orleans’ Terence Blanchard shows how much fire and fun a classic jazz quintet can still stoke, while Miles Davis’ last right-hand man, bassist Marcus Miller, switches to sax for a song inspired by visiting slave-houses. This haunted, muted blues becomes redemptively blazing, reaching for and finding something potent in the moment. Like so much here it’s jazz, and music, at its best.Reuse content