I've been caught up in the frantic pace of life in the last couple of months and that applies just as much to the jazz I've seen. I've just got back from a rushed trip to the Manchester Jazz Festival having completely missed everything that went on at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. I also completely missed the events that took place at the local Sea Change Festival because it coincided with Manchester (see above) where I missed seeing The Comet is Coming and Szun Waves. As a result I also missed the Lyme Jazz Festival. Just at the moment there's scarcely a week goes by without a Festival taking place somewhere.
Which, of course begets the question as to whether there are too many?
As I write the Bristol Jazz Festival, which I've very much enjoyed when I've visited, is trying to raise funds to survive. There was also some doubt about whether the Swanage Jazz Festival would go ahead this year, but thanks to some speedy fund raising, it is. Nonetheless they are all competing with events like Love Supreme and the London Jazz Festival (as well as Cheltenham) which are well established, well funded, and are able to attract top guests (at a price!). Although British jazz is healthier than it has been for many years several of the new and rising stars find it more lucrative (and possibly warmer) to play at Continental events that are dotted throughout the summer.
There's also the evergreen problem of the schisms that still beset jazz, that of the factionalism. Interestingly the line up for the Swanage Jazz Festival, for example, seems to have swayed back towards 'traditional' jazz and mainstream jazz. I hate the falseness of trying to define jazz (as I say on the front page of the website!) which is why the programme is called the Edge of Jazz. I don't want to listen to a surfeit of any particular style of jazz at a festival, but would like to think that organisers could embrace a wide style of styles at a wide ranging set of venues whilst continuing to attract an audience that would recompense the outlay of the promoters.
Looking forward I've been invited to the Ilkley Jazz Festival in August and will be interested to see what the event (and how the event) will function apparently without a major venue. Even Brecon, which I've very much enjoyed in the past has a theatre type venue to house the bigger name guests. Watch out for a report at the end of August.
Three final thoughts relevant to the area I live in. Encouraging to note that the monthly Bridge Jazz Club in Exeter has spawned the Red Pendulum Jazz Night on the third Wednesday of the month in the same venue at the Phoenix. Also good to see Blue Vanguard attracting some excellent guests as has the Ashburton Arts Centre ( where guests are often booked at very short notice) Finally I'm hoping to go to The Calstock Arts Centre some time this summer for one of their regular jazz nights.
Next time I'll try to catch up with some of the recent releases...if my schedule permits.