Written by Rahoul Naik
The Love Supreme Jazz Festival is a 3 day greenfield jazz festival held in the first weekend of July in the stunning surroundings of Glynde Place in the beautiful South Downs in East Sussex.
It is the first full weekend camping jazz festival in the UK but also welcomes day-trippers and non-camping weekend visitors. The festival is approximately 20 minutes from Brighton and an hour and a half from central London by train or by car.
Now in it’s fifth year, the festival organisers were looking to make LS 17 the biggest and best. With a stunning line-up including The Jacksons, George Benson, Gregory Porter, Herbie Hancock, Robert Glasper, Kamasi Washington and many more; it was easy to see how there may be a tug of war between old and young too.
We will breakdown the best performances, the best stage, the best find, best newcomer and our legend of the festival in this article. Sit back, relax and get to grips with Love Supreme.
Top 5 Performances
With a two-day festival that features over 50 artists, with between 3-5 performing at the same time; one can find it especially difficult to be everywhere AND fully appreciate the performances. However, we were lucky enough to see some of the greats grace the various stages across Glynde Place and we have manage to whittle the weekend down to these 5 performances.
1. Herbie Hancock
Herbie Hancock is by far one of the greats in the music industry. From his involvement in the Miles Davis’ Quintet to his Grammy awards, the man has been able to experience 3 decades of music, watching it transform in front of his eyes (and playing a big part in making it happen). Even at the ripe age of 77, Hancock’s performance was full of energy, excitement and certainly lived up to the hype. Playing with his exquisite band that featured the likes of Terrace Martin, the crowd were bopping and dancing in this tent that had almost been transformed into the best jazz club in the country. Hancock reminded me of the influence that Jazz has had on the modern world of music and his ability to play around with genres really stood out.
2. Robert Glasper
I have been a Robert Glasper fan ever since I first listened to his Grammy award winning Black Radio. Being able to sonically breakdown Glasper’s influences and love of music became easy to me and seeing it live in the flesh added a new layer of precision to his game that I am still in awe of. Glasper took to the same stage as one of his idols, Hancock, on the Sunday evening and it was already clear that he was able to pull in a much younger crowd, many who may know Glasper from his featuring on many well-known R&B jams. Glasper brought the Hip-Hop and Rock and Roll lifestyle to Jazz and to Love Supreme, playing with a swagger that was contagious as ever.
3. Gregory Porter
To some, including myself, it seemed that Gregory Porter just popped into the vocal Jazz and Pop scene in 2014 with his glorious, Liquid Spirit LP. He won a Grammy for that album and more recently for his newest project, Take Me To The Alley, which shows a confidence that translated beautifully onto the Main Stage. Jazz FM and Love Supreme held a screening of Porter’s new biographical film which really gave an insight into the trials and tribulations of Porter and how he got to where he is. I think perhaps that watching the film and being able to connect with Porter, made for a much more special performance where he was keen to share love and light to those affected in Manchester and London.
4. Kamasi Washington
We got to speak to Kamasi after his panel appearance for Jazz FM. The man is as friendly as ever, with a very free spirit aura about him. On stage, he is composed, focussed but as energetic as ever in his dashiki and preened afro. Washington is another artist who is part of this nu-Jazz movement with Glasper and Martin who are able to take their classical and Jazz influences into the Hip-Hop and R&B worlds where they add just that something else. Washington is known to be a close collaborator with Kendrick Lamar. Kamasi brought his dad out onto stage with him at Love Supreme and under the July sun, you could see the talent just ooze out of him and his band, it was a picture.
5. The Jacksons
It would be unfair to talk about the top performances without mentioning the first musical family of our era, The Jacksons. Even without the full team there, the artists were just as energetic, just as ready to involve the crowd, just as ready to play all of their hits for one of the biggest audiences at the festival. The brothers even had a slot within their set to tribute Michael, where some of his biggest solo tracks were payed and sang along to by the thousands. As the sun tucked away for another day, bright lights, big screens and a mass of Funk, Jazz, soul, R&B and Pop poured from the stage and it was a fitting end to the first night in Glynde.
Best New Find
Michael Janisch & Paradigm Shift
Michael Janisch has been around for a long time, growing up in Ellsworth, Wisconsin and then moving to London not too long ago to cement his place in Jazz.
Festivals are always a fantastic place to learn and discover new music and new bands and I was not disappointed when I stumbled upon Janisch and his band, Paradigm Shift playing The Big Top stage, just after lunchtime with a very energetic and loving crowd. The Whirlwind Recordings’ boss is a force to be reckoned with and matched with his massively talented band, it is clear to see why they were booked to play at Love Supreme. My recommendation would be to have a quick search and play on Spotify of Janisch’s work and I will be very surprised if you leave unhappy.
Best New Talent
We were lucky enough to speak to two of the festivals’ younger artists, Poppy Ajudha and Blue Lab Beats. Both fit in Jazz, Funk and Soul into their work (in some way or another) but really represented a new direction for this style of music at the festival and it was glorious to watch.
Speaking to Ajudha, something she did say that stood out was that no matter if you’re in Singapore or in Glynde, “Jazz festivals are really fun, the crowds are always really nice and attentive and there is a much different vibe to other festivals. You have people who are really there to listen and appreciate and understand.”
Speaking to NK-OK and Mr DM describe their music as “Soulful instrumental Hip-Hop“, but leaning towards a old-skool influence of Jazz and Soul in Hip-Hop. Already, this space that they are creating in is new and different for young people and for nu-jazz/nu-Hip-Hop and it is something they are excelling at.
These artists have a very bright future in front of them and will most likely lead the charge for UK Jazz and Soul alongside the likes of Binker & Moses in the years to come.
The main stage at any festival is always going to be pumped with big names, lots of hype and a huge audience; Love Supreme was no different with the likes of George Benson and Gregory Porter taking the same stage on the same day.
However, it was Love Supreme’s Big Top stage that truly stood out to me. A very large tend which occupied the South-West corner of the site became the spot for buzzing vibrant Jazz from Hancock, Glasper, Laura Mvula and BadBadNotGood. There was something in air (no not what you’d expect) but it truly felt as if you were being taken to the hottest Jazz spot in New Orleans or New York. This atmosphere twinned with the fabulous music being thrown about against the walls just added to the excitement.
Legend of the Festival
Love Supreme did a really good job of trying to mix old and new to appeal to a variety of crowds. From The Jacksons to George Benson To Herbie Hancock, we were spoilt for choice for this award. HOWEVER, Herbie Hancock just snatched this title from his peers at the exact moment he appeared from the back of the stage for an encore, with his bright white Keytar. Music and performing pumps through this man’s veins and his love of the art translates into the vibes he creates on stage. It still feels like an honour that I was able to catch it whilst he is in good spirits.
What to look forward to at Love Supreme 2018
Love Supreme most definitely changed my opinion on British festivals. Gone are the stereotypes of muddy shows, mosh pits and murky conditions as the atmosphere, crowd and music at Love Supreme gave a new lease of life to what it means to be a true festival-goer. I would urge our musical friends to get down to Love Supreme next year for the following reasons:
- You will not find a better and bigger range of food and drinks at a British festival this year. From Jerk Chicken to Turkish pizza and everything in between, you, your family and your children will be satisfied.
- The welcoming atmosphere made the festival extremely enjoyable and you wouldn’t have to worry about your children or loved ones feeling uncomfortable. It is in fact the first festival where I could still make it 3-4 rows away from the Main Stage, even after Porter started playing. The laid back atmosphere gives for a much more relaxed musical experience, just how music should be.
- The weather is almost guaranteed to be beautiful. Situated only 20 minutes from Brighton, the southern haven of the British summer, Glynde bathes in sunshine in July and August, so you can keep those wellies at home.
- Finally, the music. Love Supreme, now going into it’s 6th year has had a lot of experience and now has an even bigger black book. Expect big names to be playing next year and alongside them, some of the newest artists and DJs. Where else could you find all of this in one place?
Photo Credit: Fanatic Live & Lisa Wormsley