The internet has been full of talk of the art councils funding cuts to Jazz Services in their recent NPO announcements. This somewhat overshadowed the celebration of the end of an organisation that suffered a similar fate.
Last month marked a final hurrah for Jazz Yorkshire. Seven Arts, in Leeds’ Chapel Allerton, home of Seven Jazz, gave host to a day of jazz from a plethora of Yorkshires finest jazz talents……and me 😉
It was a fitting tribute to the work the organisation has done in this area over the last 10 years with performances from the young up to the not so young. I had been commissioned to write a suite of music for the occasion, four movements for graded big band celebrating all that is Yorkshire. The result was “The Yorkshire Suite” which was performed by the Doncaster Youth
My relationship with Jazz Yorkshire began when I applied for one of their funding schemes………and was unsuccessful. Perhaps not the most positive start to a relationship. Nevertheless, it lead to a coffee and lunch with then director Nigel Slee. After some kind words of support and encouragement I left the meeting with a renewed confidence in my writing. I’ve found prolonged periods of composition to be a lonely and isolating experience at times and once the “….but is it any good?” demon rears its head it can be hard to shake. It turns out Nigels homemade pizza is the antidote for this. Ultimately this meeting lead me to write, record and release the album “The Causeway Suite” part funded by Jazz Yorkshire and Leeds College of Music which went on to win a BASCA British Composers award and two Jazz Yorkshire awards. It kick started my career in writing, gave me a profile and opened doors to an infinite amount of opportunities.
This is just one small example of how organisations like Jazz Yorkshire can have a positive impact on an artist. Over their 10 years, they will have helped countless musicians in a similar way to find their feet. It’s in small unquantifiable gestures such as a coffee, a kind email, the shake of a hand and what they lead on to that can be the most valuable thing to artists.
For me, I wanted to say a huge thank you to Jazz Yorkshire and all who have sailed in her for what they have done for me. The spirit of their work lives on through Jazz North, Nor Vol and Northern Jazz News and I’m sure these organisations will continue to support Jazz “up north”.