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Innovation at its best at the Lancaster Jazz festival

Innovation at its best at the Lancaster Jazz festival

If you’ve caught any of our socials this weekend you’ll be aware that Groundswell Innovation sponsored Lancaster Jazz Festival this year. 

What better celebration of innovation than a space designed to showcase and build creativity.  

Leeds-based Ferg’s Imaginary Big Band headlined on Saturday night.  An amazing event to be part of.  And I mean part of, because the entire audience was along for the wild ride as the ‘listening’ section of the band.  I say this having gorged on Edinburgh Festival this summer – these guys should have been headlining there too. 

We picked a very good year to be kicking off our annual sponsorship of a Jazz Festival – the same weekend a jazz band wins the Mercury Music Prize.  Ezra Collective are the first jazz act ever to receive the award. 

But wasn’t it great to see a proportion of the praise going to Tomorrow’s Warriors as well as the Ezra Collective?  This is the organisation, founded in 1991, that works to encourage the UK’s next generation of jazz musicians through initiatives such as the Young Artist Development Programme. 

TW might need to revise their yearly impact report, once they figure out how to quantify the generational ripple effects of such a major validation. 

Lancashire doesn’t have a branch of Tomorrow’s Warriors, but it does have Lancaster Jazz Festival, which has its own particular talent for enabling connection, inspiration and collaboration among up and coming musical talent working across the North.  

To give you an example, this year’s festival artist in residence has been mentoring musical duo 40,40A over the past few months.  Performing ‘officially’ as part of the festival for the first time this year, 40,40A’s talented performers are about to study Music in Leeds, where they will be listening and gigging in the same places as more established collaborations like Ferg’s Imaginary Big Band. 

The dividing line between education and industry is extremely permeable within Lancaster Jazz Festival’s community.  One of Ferg’s bravura collective hails from Lancaster and another very junior audience member joined the band as an impromptu addition on the night.  Interaction between professional musicians and the next generation of talent is continuous.  I’m not sure I’ve seen this level of passionate and highly connected talent cultivation in any other industry.  Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

The physical performance of Lancaster Jazz Festival is packed away for another year, but the buzz and the fostering of new musical endeavour carries on. 




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