Covid-19 statement from Jazz North – May 2020

Jazz North is monitoring the current guidance and ongoing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. We have paused our programmes, including the Jazz North northern line and Introduces schemes, and are directing our efforts into supporting artists and promoters through this time.

As an Arts Council England Sector Support Organisation, we are constantly talking to our funders in order to work out more ways we can help and support you. We don’t know what will happen next, and when venues will be able to open and play live jazz again, but we are working internally to continue to fulfil our mission to support the jazz sector as much as we can.

One thing we are doing to stay connected is to organise regular coffee mornings for Jazz North artists, northern jazz artists and northern jazz promoters as a chance to share experiences and knowledge during this lockdown. These drop-in sessions cover a broad range of topics and some informal chat, but really, it’s a chance for a virtual get together in this disconnected world. If you wish to join email to get the next dates.

Take this time to do what you need to do to look after yourself and your loved ones. We are here if you need us.


Jazz North funds freese trio’s new music video

Jazz North northern line female-fronted band freese trio combine triphop, electronica and grunge to create a new genre of darkness which explores inner demons and truth. Following funding from Jazz North, these Leeds-based artists have explored this genre further on film and released their first music video, Pleasure Island, from the band’s new album The Beast in the Blueprint.

Filmed at Abbeydale Picture House in Sheffield, the three contrasting scenes in the video – the fly tower, auditorium and shots of band leader Jemma Freese dancing – each reflect different meanings of the song. The fly tower represents the darkness, the auditorium is the emptiness and loneliness, and the manic dancing represents the ‘fight or flight’ which ignites when we are in a state of fear.

“The emotions and mental health problems that I have and go through inspire me to write this music,” explains Jemma. “Pleasure Island is about losing our identities: realising that we aren’t the people we want to be, but not knowing how to find ourselves. I use metaphorical language to describe the recurring negative patterns I have caused by d

epression and anxiety. These patterns lead me down dark paths, where obsessions and addictions took the place of self-discovery and growth.”

Jemma continues: “The inspiration for this particular song and the video came from an image I had in my head of being stuck on an island with everything your darkest desires wanted, but not what you actually needed. I imagined all the dark sides of the ego consuming oneself, until there was only a slither of soul left – desperately trying to escape.”

Tension sets the tone of the song, layering and building from the outset, with soaring vocals providing the only fleeting release. These moments of daylight emphasise the lines ‘let them run’ and ‘find myself’, which express the torturing desire to change.

Watch the video here and listen to the track here.


Jazz North’s Nigel Slee wins sustainable travel competition

Jazz North’s Creative Director Nigel Slee likes travelling using the combination of folding bike and trains during his working week. So, when Corrado Beldi, Artistic Director of NovaraJazz, issued a challenge to the 156 member organisations of the Europe Jazz Network to travel to the European Jazz Conference in Italy by sustainable travel, Nigel was up to the task.

Nigel won the competition by travelling the furthest – 1925km from Leeds in the United Kingdom to Novara in Italy – catching four trains that crossed four countries and cycling across five European cities, all in 20 hours. He was presented with the prize, a custom folding bike embossed with the NovaraJazz logo, on stage at the final plenary of the European Jazz Conference.

“Jazz North has a strong commitment to sustainable travel,” says Nigel. “Every year we increase our use of public transport and bikes to attend meetings and events across the north of England and as members of Julie’s Bicycle, it is built into the fabric of the organisation. So, when I heard about the NovaraJazz competition, I couldn’t wait take part. The whole experience was brilliant and travelling on train is a creative space where you can work, think and listen to music. Now we have a fantastic Jazz Bike – another incentive for us to continue our efforts to travel sustainably!”

NovaraJazz launched the train challenge last year for the 2019 European Jazz Conference as part of the Europe Jazz Network’s initiative “Take the Green Train”. The participant who travelled the furthest by train would win a customised folded bike. NovaraJazz Artistic Director Corrado Beldi presented Nigel with the prize and says, “Congratulations Nigel and we hope you return soon to Novara and by bike!” Other contestants in the competition travelled by train from Hamburg, Ghent and Paris.

Bit of Background

  • NovaraJazz, located in the city of Novara in the north of Italy, started in 2004. The outstanding characteristic of NovaraJazz is the fusion of different musical genres, attracting a wide audience from all over the country and, thanks to DJ sets and musical workshops, the involvement of students and people of all ages. Six years ago, NovaraJazz undertook a commitment to sustainability in all aspects of their work – replacing non-recyclable cups and plates with bioplastic alternatives and producing an acoustic weekend festival in a nearby national park with audiences arriving by foot or bicycle. All food and drink served at their festival events is from local farms including rice, wine, gorgonzola and a specially commissioned festival beer.
  • The European Jazz Conference 2019 took place in Novara, Italy from 12th – 15th
  • The Europe Jazz Network (EJN) was created in 1987 as a Europe-wide non-profit association. Currently it includes 156 organisations (festivals, clubs and concert venues, independent promoters and national organisations) in 35 countries. EJN’s mission is to encourage, promote and support the development of jazz and creative improvised music within the European scene and to create opportunities for artists, organisers and audiences from all different countries to meet and communicate.