JULY 24TH 2020
Twin brothers David & Paul Mortimer are lifelong music enthusiasts who have been presenting regular “SoundCheck Sessions” of music on vinyl, featuring rock, reggae, African, blues and jazz on a high-quality audio system.
The twins have presented dedicted sessions featuring such as Bob Marley, Jimi Hendrix, Fela Kuti, The Beatles, Dr Dre and others – quite a diverse list!
The Twins will kick off this year’s Birchfield Jazz Festival with a distinctive Vinyl Session.
TRIBUTE TO TONY ALLEN
Born July 20th,1940 in Lagos, Nigeria, Tony Oladipo Allen is a drummer, composer, and songwriter currently living and working in Paris.
As drummer and MD with Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s legendary band Africa 70 from 1968 to 1979, Tony Allen is recognised as one of the primary co-founders of the unique musical fusion of jazz, highlife, funk and Yoruba rhythms that is Afrobeat. Fela himself stated that, “without Tony Allen, there would be no ‘Afrobeat’…perhaps he is the greatest drummer who has ever lived”.
Tony Allen passed on in April 2020 at the age of 79 in France.
The Birchfield Jazz Festival pays tribute to the life and achievements of this great musician and inventor of the vibrant dance music Afrobeat.
TRIBUTE TO TONY ALLEN
Emmanuel “Manu” Dibango was born in Douala, Cameroon On December 12, 1933
In 1941, after being educated at his village school, Dibango was accepted into a colonial school, near his home, where he learned French. He admired the teacher, whom he described as “an extraordinary draftsman and painter”.In 1944, French president Charles de Gaulle chose this school to perform the welcoming ceremonies upon his arrival in Cameroon.
He was a member of the seminal Congolese rumba group African Jazz and has collaborated with many other musicians, including Fania All Stars, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock, Bill Laswell, Bernie Worrell, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, King Sunny Adé, Don Cherry, and Sly and Robbie.
On 24 March 2020, Dibango died from COVID-19 in Paris.
The Birchfield Jazz Festival pays Tribute to this great African musician.
JULY 25TH 2020
Grandma’s Biscuit Tin are a Birmingham-based 5 piece jazz band formed from a group of friends in 2017. They performed regular gigs in Kings Heath and Sutton Coldfield before lockdown, with repertoire consisting of a core of jazz standards alongside some more contemporary covers and, lately, some fun original songs. Like in grandma’s biscuit tin there’s something in there for everyone to enjoy!’
Alvin’s music combines an array of influences from Smooth Jazz and Reggae to Soul, R&B, House and modern pop. The result is a truly unique sound that takes from each of these genres without being defined by any one. Whether he’s covering chart-topping hits from the likes of Pharell, Alicia Keys and Drake or entertaining international audiences with his eclectic album cuts, Alvin always brings a signature soul to the saxophone, in any setting.
Alvin’s love affair with brass began at the tender age of 13. After honing his horn blowing skills on the cornet and trumpet at the Euphonius School of Music (ESM) in his native Birmingham, he finally found his calling on the alto sax. His proficiency with the instrument earned him entry into the local touring scene where he performed as a session player for a number of popular acts including Maxi Priest, Edwin Starr, The Foundations, Neville Staples (Specials & Fun Boy Three), Alton Ellis, Ken Booth, Dennis Alcapone, Macka B and Dennis Bovell.
After years spent gigging across the UK, Alvin was finally able to take center stage himself in 1992 with the release of his first studio album Let It Blow, a soul-baring debut that showcased a mixture of thumping beats and sensual notes. Let It Blow earned immediate critical acclaim on both sides of the pond, reaching number 3 on American Adult Contemporary Charts. The album also drew plaudits from a number of stateside admirers such as Bill Clinton, Arsenio Hall and none other than Prince himself.
Embracing soul, jazz, blues and neo soul, and with roots in gospel and reggae, Manchester born vocalist, songwriter and pianist INDIGO, is an exceptionally versatile artist. Nominated for an MVISA Best Soundtrack and Commended in 2011 at the New York International Festival, her song ‘Blown Away’ featured in the Film ‘Day One’, which was winner of the Best International Film Audience Award.
With a voice that is both mellow and moving, Indigo breathes life into her own nu-jazz originals as well as classic jazz standards.
Indigo has established herself as one of the midlands top jazz vocalists. 2020 finds her performing and collaborating with some of the finest musicians in the UK and Italy in addition to writing for theatre and film and vocal arranging.
Her quote says it all: “My aim is to make good music, the kind of music that I would go out and buy, and not necessarily fit into one box’.
The Yoruba Sonnets pair Spoken Word Poetry and Mime from Dr OlunTaiwo with Live Music from Lekan Babalola’s Sacred Funk Quartet.
The result is a unique performance of Ancient Nigeran Verse Incorporting Afro-Beat music and the contemporary sound of western funk.
Slanguages is exploring the creative way artists employ and take inspiration from languages such as Arabic, Hindi, Patois, Pidgin, Polish, Punjabi, Russian, Urdu, urban sign languages, and Yoruba.
The project is wide-ranging and includes exhibitions, performances, and collaborations with artists, creative professionals and partners.
Slanguages is being led by Professor Rajinder Dudrah at Birmingham City University.
For more information see:
“Water Into Water – featuring James Bashford (Drum Kit & Percussion), Jonny Chant (Electric Guitar), Dave Houghton (Electric Bass), and Will Markham (Electric Piano) – are a contemporary jazz//progressive rock group based in Birmingham, UK. Their music aims to bridge the connection between the immediate, direct-power of composition and limitless freedom of improvisation.”
The BJF Creative Ensemble has been set up to provide an alternative learning ground for young Birmingham based artists, which is cross arts, cross genre and performance based and draws on Yoruba Arts and Culture as a stimulus, throughresources provided by TheIfa Yoruba Contemporary Arts Trust in the form of text, visuals, stories and educational resources. The project is mentored by Kate Luxmoore and Lekan Babalola.
It will offer the young artists an opportunity to:learn about one another’s work, collaborate – virtually – with one another and create their own work.
BJFCE is linked to the Birchfield Jazz Festival, in order to bring young talent into the area and celebrate the young talent that originates here. We hope to present a live performance by BJFCE later in 2020.
This year we feature 10 young Artists, 2 Visual Artists and 8 musicians from different musical genres.
Nathan England Jones
The Birmingham Art Ensemble is a consortium of Birmingham Artists from different art forms and varied cultural backgrounds who come together to explore an Artistic language.
BAE is an Ifa Yoruba Contemporary Arts Trust initiative, designed to create an ensemble that can represent present day Birmingham. The Trust aims to provide insight into African and African Diaspora culture, traditions and art forms and bring an understanding about the impact these have within contemporary global society.
Kate Luxmoore has been interpreting what she terms the “English Songbook”
through a fusion of jazz, urban grooves and African rhythms, marrying together
the harmonies and melodies of English folk with the rolling, poly-rhythms of
Yoruba grooves to create an upbeat, jazz infused set that also includes original
Herlin Riley (born February 15, 1957) is an American jazz drummer and a member of the Lincoln Center Jazz Orchestra led by Wynton Marsalis.
A native of New Orleans, Riley started on the drums when he was three. He played trumpet through high school, but he went back to drums in college. After graduating, he spent three years as a member of a band led by Ahmad Jamal. He has worked often with Wynton Marsalis as a member of the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and of Marsalis’s small groups. He has also worked with George Benson, Harry Connick, Jr., and Marcus Roberts.
Riley played a large part in developing the drum parts for Wynton Marsalis’s Pulitzer Prize-winning album, Blood on the Fields. He is a lecturer in percussion for the jazz studies program at the Bienen School of Music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois.
Herlin Riley is a Patron of the Birchfield Jazz Festival.
Twice Grammy award winning Nigerian percussionist, Lekan Babalola, is well known for his innovative musical style, using his native Yoruba tongue infused with traditional music, Afrobeat and funky dance overtones.
He has performed with the likes of Ernest Ranglin, Branford Marsalis, and recently African Jazz All Stars, Roy Ayers, The Kate Luxmoore Group, David Byrne, Joshua Redman, Damon Albarn, Tony Allen, The KLLB Band, Axelle Red, Pinse Saul, Queen Salawa Abeni and Jean Toussaint. “For me, music is about crossing boundaries and finding commonality globally.
In 1995 Lekan Babalola founded the Ifa-Yoruba Contemporary Arts Trust, a UK based registered charity trust committed to fostering the development of Yoruba arts and culture.
As Artistic Director of Ifa-Yoruba he has commissioned and Curated a series of visual arts works, including “16 Pieces ” – an exhibition of contemporary Yoruba paintings by artists throughout the African Diaspora and “Erindinlogun” – a collection of 28 batik drawings by Nigerian based artist Taiwo Adediran.
In the last few years Olalekan has undertaken education work as part of his artistic programme and has an on-going relationships both in the UK, USA, Europe, Caribbean and Africa as a percussionist,, art Curator tutor, band leader / composer and producer.
Pyn is a performance storyteller living on a boat in the West Midlands. From folk tales to mythology Pyn spends her time researching, working with and telling stories from the oral tradition to people of all ages. She loves her work!
She has worked with Ifa Yoruba Contemporary Arts Trust and The Kate Luxmoore Group on a number of collaborations and was part of a mini tour of Osun’s Story in 2017-2018.
She has mainly been in the audience for the Birchfield Jazz Festival and has enjoyed the rich range of talent on offer but was delighted to share some children’s stories in the park in as part of the 2017 programme.
She works regularly as a storyteller with City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, West Midlands Readers Network and is Artistic Co-director of Secret City Arts. She can be found performing in libraries, bookshops, story-telling cafes, festivals, woodlands and heritage sites as well as more traditional performance spaces. She is also one half of Birmingham based StoryVibes Night.
You can find out more about her work at:
www.pynstockman.com and on social media as @pynstory
American born Lagos Nigeria bred singer-songwriter KUKU bridges the gap between his Yoruba roots and the western world. His haunting, rootsy sounds and conscious songwriting is often mentioned in context with some of his diverse influences such as Terry Callier, FelaKuti, … Following years of odd jobs, serving in the United States Army, and attaining his university degree, KUKU launched his music career in the early 2000s with a series of independent releases, Love Sessions EP (2005), Unexpected Pleasures (2006), and The Absence of Cool (2007), and Love in a Time of Hope & Recession (2009). He toured in the US college and university scene, coffee houses, and busked extensively on street corners notably the Alexandria, Virginia boardwalk.
In 2013 he relocated to Paris France where released his 4th and what he deems his coming of age album, Soldier of Peace (Balogun ÌRÒRÙN) to critically acclaim. Songs like “The Cure”, “Yoruba Girl”, and “Live life Now’ garnered substantial spots in the French RFI, Radio Nova, and France Inter radio playlist.
Also in 2013, he lent his voice to the ORANGE™ sponsored advert for the African Cup of Nations singing the legendary Liverpool Football Club anthem ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’. His collaboration with Congolese/Belgian rapper Baloji on a reprise of FelaKuti’s ‘Buy Africa’ was the leading track on the 2013 ‘RED HOT + FELA’ album released by Knitting Factory Records. He collaborated on Afrobeat drummer and pioneer Tony Allen’s 2015 album ‘Film of LIfe’. Also in 2015, KUKU followed suit with his 5th studio album ‘Ballads & Blasphemy: The Areligious Gospel of Adebola Kuku’ released by French World Music label Buda Musiques. The album earned critical acclaim with the French, UK, and US musical press; Telerama Magazine, Le Monde newspaper, UK’s Songlines magazine, RFI radio, and France-inter radio. In recent times, KUKU continues to collaborate with producers such as EDM notable Charles Schillings and Monsieur Scott. ‘KUKU REVISITED’ (2015), ‘Where Are You ?’ (2016), ‘Whatever Makes You Happy’ (2017), and ‘WHO TAUGHT YOU? [Monsieur Scott RMX] (2018), are recent releases from such collaboration.