It’s fair to say that jazz re:freshed have single handedly re-established London on the map of contemporary jazz. As a close knit family made up of party-makers, DJs, label owners and festival organisers, they’ve been regenerating jazz and jazz-influenced music culture since their 2003 conception.
Stepping up for a jazz special of Residents’ Hour is Adam ‘Rockers’ Moses — jazz re:freshed co-director, mainstay of London’s jazz scene and a former resident at the world renowned broken beat night ‘Co-Op‘ at clubland royalty, Plastic People.
Dive into Adam’s warm-up set beneath, and read on to discover a bit more on the melting pot that is today’s jazz scene in London.
“Jazz re:freshed is a weekly live ‘jazz’ residency that has been going for an amazing thirteen years. I am still astonished by it. ‘Jazz’ is in quotations because we push the boundaries of what jazz is – we always have. Since 2003, we’ve had some huge names play for us such as Azymuth, José James, Elza Soares, RAMP and Leon Ware, as well as up-and-coming musicians. They are all linked by one common thread: the quality that they bring. You know you can turn up to jazz re:freshed any Thursday night and you will be blown away by the music.
“I have been told by musicians and fans of jazz re:freshed that it has been a crucial reason why London’s scene has been the strongest it’s ever been in recent years. Thanks to the the likes of Moses Boyd, Yussef Kamaal, United Vibrations and others that have played jazz re:freshed at a young age, they take the music in different directions and to exciting new places.”
“The jazz re:freshed movement has grown and blossomed over the years. We run a festival called jazz re:fest at the Royal Festival Hall, a record label, artist development and international events — but when it first started out, jazz re:freshed was created with a far simpler purpose. The musical background of the jazz re:freshed crew is DJing for soundsystems and black, soul and rare-groove house parties of the 1990s.
“By mid-2002, we had a hip-hop record label called Uprock Recordings. We were extremely busy organising events and DJing on a regular basis, and for the most part, playing hip-hop, soul, funk, broken beats, etc. It was a fun and fruitful time but, as good as it was, it was pretty full-on and there was a growing consensus within the crew that we wanted a little relief from the party pressure and the compulsion to make people dance.
“We were first and foremost music lovers and avid vinyl collectors, amassing vast and eclectic collections over a large number of years. Jazz was a highly valued component of all our individual collections. In spite of having healthy ever-growing jazz collections, we rarely got to play any out. We found a suitable venue and jazz re:freshed was born as a place for us to play our music. It was a couple of weeks before we noticed that there was a stage in the corner and that got our minds ticking.”
“At that time, West London was the nucleus for cutting-edge music, broken beat, jazz, nu-jazz and nu-soul were all being made out of studios in that area, and we knew most of the producers and musicians on the scene. Summer 2003 was a defining moment with the feel and nature of Jazz re:freshed. We called upon some of our most talented friends and put together a stellar lineup of acts that would come to embody the nights and put us on music’s proverbial map. That lineup included the likes of Kaidi Tatham, Mark de Clive-Lowe, Bembe Segue, Vanessa Freeman, and more. We continued to support the DJ aspect, with resident guest DJs spinning from jazz roots and jazz-influenced music, to the cutting edge.
“London is such a melting pot of people, cultures and sounds that the music can’t help but be influenced by all these things – especially in jazz.”
“Fifteen years ago, the London jazz scene didn’t feel welcoming or inclusive, and the multicultural landscape we see on the streets of London was never seen in jazz venues. This was important for us, and why jazz re:freshed is for everyone; jazz is for everyone. We actively went out to seek new audiences and people. We would flyer outside of clubs specialising in hip-hop, R&B and even reggae and bashment. London is such a melting pot of people, cultures and sounds that the music can’t help but be influenced by all these things – especially in jazz.”
“A friend (who is a jazz musician) once said to me, ‘That irreverent subliminal message about jazz that jazz re:freshed has been sending out to the young musicians all these years is coming home to roost, and it’s exciting.’ I don’t know if that is true (the irreverent thing is true) but the young “jazz” musicians have absorbed Afrobeat, hip-hop, electronica and even grime into their jazz. Unlike their older counterparts, they are not scared or ashamed to blend — and why should they be? They are carving out the scene in their own image. It’s young, vibrant and not stuck in the 1960s time warp that a lot of other jazz scenes are.
“jazz:refreshed is for everyone; jazz is for everyone.”
“We are living in the ‘Shuffle Generation’ era. The musicians and listeners have grown up listening to their music collections on their phones and iPods on shuffle mode, which has blurred the boundaries between genres. It has changed the way people listen to music in general. It seems as though there are less people into one specific genre; but more people listening to lots of different types of music – from Dilla to Fela to Skepta — and jazz is now back on that list.
“This mix was recorded at jazz re:freshed before the band came on, and it pretty much sums up what jazz re:freshed is all about. There’s some jazz, some hip-hop, some broken beats, some soul, some new, some old, some blended and some mixed. The majority of the music in this mix was actually made by musicians that have played at jazz re:freshed too!”
Tune back in in a fortnight’s time, where Residents’ Hour takes its first trip to Tokyo.
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