This year, the third annual Love Supreme festival hosted huge crowds of jazz lovers of all ages and from all places in the beautiful grounds of Glynde Place, East Sussex. The gorgeous and surprisingly sunny weather and the wide range of jazz music kindled a collective good spirit in the audience over three glorious days.
The festival hosted more than 50 crowd-pulling acts from the world of classic jazz, swing, pop and disco and all between four conveniently close stages. The flagship acts this year were Van Morrison, Chaka Khan, Neneh Cherry and Candi Staton, who all wowed audiences on the main stage.
The first day of the festival started on arrival for campers, with gentle and ambient live jazz music being played around the bandstand, a stage curated by Flash Mob Jazz member Jack Kendon. For those with dancing feet, this magical start to the festival continued after dark with Jazz Fm’s Funky Sensation, which brought a wide range of vinyl dance music to cater to all tastes, all the while illuminated by beautiful mid-summer lightening.
The following day received a more varied and vibrant crowd with continuing beautiful weather. The afternoon was lightened up with Neneh Cherry’s playful and powerful performance. She impressed the audience with a combination of rap, soul and dance music from her new album, ‘Blank Project’. After that, slap-bass legend Larry Graham and his band the Graham Central Station took to the stage, they whirled around with edgy jazz, soul and R&B, which sent out funky vibes as the sun began to set. Larry’s band ended with a finale that was on fire with everyone in the audience up and dancing non-stop. Chaka Khan took to the mic after Graham, making sure the level of energy in the audience was kept high. With the help of amazing lighting and band, Khan whirled through her back catalogue with hits ‘I Feel for You’ and ‘Ain’t Nobody’ being very well received.
The Saturday night kept up to tempo with the Arena stage hosting White Mink, the definitive electro-swing/burlesque club night compèred by DJ Nick Hollywood. Local swing bands Flash Mob Jazz and the Swing Ninjas gave us the sounds while dancers from Brighton Lindy-hoppers and London’s Swing Patrol gave us the moves that completed the colorful and energetic atmosphere. All were treated to a playful burlesque performance from skilled and seductive swing dancer Sharon Davis. The Arena hosted the widest range of sounds for all ages, rooted more in electronic jazz. Other notable acts included the energetic Gogo Penguin and a moving soundscape from Sub Motion Orchestra.
The last day of the festival started with rainy weather, but left us with mellow and heartwarming memories after inspiring sets from all the artists, who all gave upbeat and crowd-pleasing performances. The main stage mid-day slot was filled by Hiatus Kaiyote’s mystical music journey. All way from Australia, they introduced their music with candour and their performance was the perfect tone for a psychedelic Sunday. Candi Staton was on fine form, greeted in the afternoon by a packed audience and delightful weather. Staton performed with a memorable energy with hits such as ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ being elevated by her band’s outstanding solo performances. The audience waited all day long with excitement for Van Morrison, and it was an afternoon delight. He didn’t speak with the crowd much, but he perfectly engaged with his music and sang his best songs, including ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, ‘Warm Love’ and ‘Into the Mystic’. On the same day, The Big Top stage was packed with fans of the Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion. The audience was taken a transcendental journey with him and tenor saxophonist Pee Wee Ellis, bassist Alec Dankworth and the Ghanaian percussionist Abbas Dodoo.
Another highlight of Love Supreme was the band Young Pilgrims. It is hard to describe this inspiring band, specifically regarding jazz. They explain their music as “imaginary detective shows, loved ones, drinking establishments and all the little things”. They marched all weekend around the festival field and shared their madness with the audience.
There were lots of options of organic food stands, a record shop selling old jazz and folk LPs and a beautiful playground for children. There was even a carousel for kids and maybe for adults, and a hall of mirrors for extra fun. After all, what Love Supreme represents is what jazz means for the contemporary listener. All who attended will be waiting excitedly for the festival’s return next year.
Words by Idil Bozkurt
Photos by Joshua Redfearn