Blue Jam Arts
Middlesbrough Town Hall
Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues
The Grand, Clitheroe
The Culture House
Jazz North’s Alt Shift J project will take place in Penrith, Clitheroe, Middlesbrough and Cleethorpes with the goal to encourage young musicians to embrace jazz and ignite young audiences to attend jazz and improvised live music shows. Festivals featuring performances from new and established artists, interactive gigs, improvisation workshops, sessions in schools, and performing and sharing opportunities between young people and professional jazz musicians, will all be taking place. Young people are involved in shaping the events and marketing them to their peers. Digital technology will play a big part in the project with lots of activity on social media before and during the events, including live streaming of gigs.
The project will be an opportunity to redefine the genre and the word ‘jazz’ and help break down some of the barriers that currently exist, but which are beginning to fall.
BlueJam Arts in Penrith, and Cumbria Music Hub, have been doing just that by taking jazz into venues that attract a young crowd as part of Jazz North’s Alt Shift J. Experienced jazz musicians have been brought into contact with, and put on the same stage as young musicians who would like to develop the skills to include jazz in their music. Workshops and performances in schools, colleges and Penrith Music Centre, and improvisation sessions with young bands Kollega and J Frisco are all planned.
Jilly Jarman from BlueJam Arts says, “We’ve been supporting gigging, signed and established young jazz musicians to sustain their careers and establish a network where they can inspire and communicate with emerging players, which is especially vital in an isolated area such as Cumbria. We have also brought Cumbrian players ‘back home’ to show how excellence is not something that needs to be imported from outside the county.”
Two of those artists coming back home include the internationally acclaimed Werkha and popular local band Ponyland, who will both be performing at the Upfront Arts Venue in Penrith on Friday 5th October with support from BlueJam Youth Jazz Ensemble.
The Clitheroe edition of Jazz North’s Alt Shift J takes place on Saturday 20th October at The Grand on York Street, and The Old Assembly Rooms on Lowergate. It is being curated by young people and aimed at young audiences, with support from The Grand, Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club and Lancashire Music Service.
An all-day music programme is planned with sessions for children, educational music projects, a vinyl fair, vintage stalls, food stalls, and stand-out performances from contemporary UK-based live music acts and late-night DJs. 10-piece musical collective Nubiyan Twist will headline the day with concerts from the Arun Ghosh Quintet and Mercury Prize nominees Roller Trio. This programme has been curated by event producers Gypsy Carrot and The Grand.
Chris Sharkey & Shiftin’ Jazz Ensemble will see Roller Trio’s Chris Sharkey hosting improvisation workshop sessions at The Grand in Clitheroe on the run-up to Alt Shift J, creating a platform for young people to be part of a performing ensemble on the festival weekend. This project will come to fruition with a live performance on the day itself.
Chris Sharkey will be also be holding improvisation workshops in Middlesbrough and Cleethorpes, creating a link between the Jazz North Alt Shift J festivals. Chris says: “I’m interested in challenging expectations of what music education can and should be. We are constantly being told that our young people need to be ‘creative’ and ‘innovative’ but music education is often lacking in these two vital areas. Putting an emphasis on ‘making something’ versus subjective ideas about what may be correct or incorrect practice leads to musicians and participants to rediscover a sense of fun in music while at the same time engaging in progressive concepts of music-making. My current focus is on expanding participation in my projects to include people with no previous experience in performing. I want to show that inclusivity and high musical quality are not mutually exclusive, and that creativity requires no superpowers. The only pre-requisites are an open mind and the courage to join in.”
On Friday 19th October Beats & Pieces Big Band will make a special early evening performance at Middlesbrough Town Hall as part of their Jazz Weekender Programme. Jazz Weekender Programmer, Ros Rigby says, “I was delighted to place the culmination of the Alt Shift J project on the opening evening of the festival. The weekend has a strong emphasis on the involvement of young people both as players and audience. Alt Shift J fits perfectly with this theme.”
As well as the improvisation workshops and performances with Chris Sharkey from Roller Trio there will be band members working in local primary and secondary schools and performing interactive gigs, alongside a programme of activities in the community.
Chris Sharkey’s improvisation sessions mark the beginning of Jazz North’s Alt Shift J in Cleethorpes. The Culture House has put together a programme involving workshops, free improvisation performances and a Roller Trio gig at Grimsby Institute. Performances from Shannon Reilly and Thom Whitworth are planned at Society, and the project comes to its finale with a festival day on Saturday 3rd November at the Don’t Fight It, Feel It night at …. Ubunye, Young Jack, Werkha, Renegade Brass Band and Waxnerds DJs will all be performing, bringing Jazz North’s Alt Shift J to a close.
Blue Jam Arts www.bluejamarts.org
Middlesbrough Town Hall www.middlesbroughtownhall.co.uk
Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk
The Grand, Clitheroe www.thegrandvenue.co.uk
The Culture House www.theculturehouse.co.uk