LCoM at JazzLeeds Festival

By Genevieve Begley


JazzLeeds is a festival that celebrates jazz in all its forms, right across the city – an event that really resonates with our rich jazz heritage here at LCoM. We’re delighted to be hosting a day of the festival and pleased to see so much home-grown talent in the programme. Here, second year Jazz student Genevieve Begley gets the lowdown from some of the LCoM acts who will be performing across the weekend….

JazzLeeds takes place from the 20th-24th July and includes amazing acts such as Soweto Kinch, Nerija and Pigfoot. The festival spans a variety of venues including Leeds College of Music, The Wardobe and Millennium Square, with a string of fringe venues - The Domino Club, Café Lento, LS6 Cafe and Hyde Park Book Club. With a Jazz festival right on our doorstep, it is no wonder that there are so many performers associated with Leeds College of Music.

Rafe's Dilemma

Our very own Jazz Curriculum Leader, Jami Sheriff’s Rafe’s Dilemma will perform on Sunday 22nd July at Leeds College of Music’s Rooftop Bar. Rafe’s Dilemma is based on the book Spring and Port Wine by Bill Naughton. Originally commissioned for Bolton Worktown Festival, it depicts a complex family dynamic.

The unique experience combines jazz with progressive rock elements and includes moments of spoken word and voice looping, combining to produce a story. This project includes LCoM alumni Katie Patterson (Drums), Nel Begley (Vocals) and Sam Vicary (Bass). Having seen a preview of this production at Undercurrent at the White Swan in Leeds, I would say that this is one not to miss.

Matthew Bourne

Fellow LCoM Jazz lecturer Matthew Bourne is involved with a wide number of unique and varied projects. JazzLeeds will see him perform solo, drawing from his latest, critically acclaimed album, Isotach, which The Guardian’s John Lewis describes as “spartan, hypnotic and beautiful, if gloriously unresolved”. This selection of emotionally charged pieces combined with his inimitable improvisatory style are sure to make for an exciting performance.

Matthew plays LCoM's 219 on the evening of Sunday 22nd July - supported by LCoM alumni - the utterly unique Shatner's Bassoon.  

Tetes de Pois

Têtes de Pois are rising stars of the Leeds Jazz scene and are supporting the incredible Soweto Kinch on Friday 20th of July at The Wardrobe. They are a seven-piece band made up of current LCoM students and alumni; Harry Fowler (Tenor Sax/ Vocals), Jasmine Whalley (Bari Sax), Ben Haskins (Guitar), George MacDonald (Keys), Owen Burns (Bass), George Hall (Drums) and Josh Ketch (Percussion). Lubi Jovanovic described them as a “genre-bending seven-piece instrumental band, fresh on the scene, mashing up hip-hop, afrobeat, soul, jazz and more” and this is certainly true.

The band are on the Tight Lines label that features many other LCoM alumni, and they recently released an EP entitled E Pea, which demonstrates their ability to effortlessly combine rich horn melodies with up-tempo numbers. The melodies are complemented by the tight groove-based rhythm changes that will definitely get you on your feet.

BuskStop - curated by Jemma Freese

Curated by LCoM alumni Jemma Freese (Freese Trio, J Frisco, JOULE and DOMI), the BuskStop at the festival will include ten Leeds-based jazz bands, each with their own interpretation of the genre. The majority of these groups are current LCoM students and alumni and they will be performing in Leeds City Centre outside WH Smith / Lush throughout the festival.

Buskstop - Friday 20 March

Joe Whettam – 12-1pm

Joe Whettam is a Leeds College of Music alumni jazz guitarist and will be kicking off the exciting weekend of busking at the BuskStop. He will be performing jazz fusion through improvisation. With a set based so heavily upon improvisation, it should be very interesting to see what will be created at this particular time.

Ellii – 1-2pm

Ellii Olivia is a Jazz singer who graduated from Leeds College of Music in 2017. She is in the electronic duo JOULE and “Jazzyish” band Manuka. Having seen her perform with these bands, I am very excited to see what her solo project will be.

Maya Kally 2-3pm

Fresh from the recent release of her debut single Another Time, Maya Kally’s distinctive vocals provide a bridge between jazz and mainstream music. A third year Jazz student, she will be performing in a duo with fellow student Matt Taylor (guitar).  Maya is preparing for her debut EP to be recorded and released with support from PRS Foundation, Festival Republic and ReBalance Music. For those of you who have not yet checked out her single, the contemporary dance video that accompanies it is a must-see.

Sam Lowther and Andy French – 3-4pm

Sam Lowther (Guitar) and Andy French (Saxophone) will be showcasing their duo. These LCoM alumni will be performing a diverse range of music for their set including Folk, Jazz improvisation along with their own original music.

Chiswick Fourtet – 4-5pm

This contemporary jazz quartet is the creation of Leeds College of Music Jazz alumni Chris Sellers (bass), Sam Evans (guitar), Lewis Royce (guitar) and Jake Rider (alto sax). They will be performing a mix of jazz standards and instrumental reworking of modern and classic pop tunes.

Buskstop - Saturday 21st of July

Bassa Bassa –12-1pm

Opening the Saturday at BuskStop is Bassa Bassa; a dynamic fifteen-piece band, performing a range of genres including jazz, ska, latin, African and funk.

Rider//Taylor - 1-2pm

LCoM alumni Jacob Rider and third year student Matt Taylor perform in an experimental saxophone/ guitar duo who “explore the boundaries of music through open ended compositions and extended improvisations”. The opposing forces of each player complement the overall sound of the performances. This is only achieved as both players appear to completely understand the other and anticipate each other’s next move. This intimate duo fuses interesting motivic patterns with rhythmic interventions.

Way out West 2-3pm

Way out West is the band bringing the fun back into jazz standards. Never have I seen a singer enjoy themselves more on stage, with re-interpretations of standards and original pieces that use carefree grooves, bringing some soul to new-age jazz. The energy of this band is palpable; with playful vocals and enthused playing, they really are enjoying themselves. The band is made up of current second year students Emily Kent (vocals), James Homer (drums), Billy Sims (bass) and Cam Ward (keys).

NVACRVA - 3-4pm

NVACRVA (pronounced nuacrua) is a quartet which includes current third year student Raquel Álvaro on vocals. They describe their music as being “inspired by afro and latin rhythms, jazz and electronic music; seeking a way to explore music and art through improvisation.” This contemporary music along with its open feel and emotional vocals bring together additional electronic effects and vocal looping to the project. What sets this band apart from the rest is its use of distinctive vocal improvisation that is both rhythmically technical and harmonically exciting.

Nefaerious - 4-5pm

Nefaerious is the creation of second year Jazz vocal student Genevieve Begley along with Tom Woodhouse (guitar), Billy Sims (bass) and Bob Henderson (drums). They combine contemporary jazz styles with story lead lyricism to create a distinctive and unusual take on songwriting. With influences including folk and 60’s UK psych, they create sounds reminiscent of Moonchild, Laura Mvula and Jefferson Airplane.  

By Genevieve Begley

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