Music From Out There, In Here: 25 Years of the London Jazz Festival book now published

25 Year of LJF front coverWe are delighted to announce that our history of the London Jazz Festival, and of jazz festivals in London, has now been published. This is the final output of the Impact of Festivals project.

Music From Out There, In Here: 25 Years of the London Jazz Festival is FREE to read and download by clicking here: London Jazz Festival Book – Webster and McKay (2017). From the cover blurb:

Webster and McKay have pieced together a fascinating jigsaw puzzle of archival material, interviews, and stories from musicians, festival staff and fans alike. Including many evocative images, the book weaves together the story of the festival with the history of its home city, London, touching on broader social topics such as gender, race, politics, and the search for the meaning of jazz. They also trace the forgotten history of London as a vibrant city of jazz festivals going as far back as the 1940s.

We have a small number of paperback copies available for suitable libraries, cultural organisations, festivals, researchers. If you would like one, get in touch.

We hope you enjoy our new book; do let us know.

Note: a large-print version of the book is available here.

Celebrating the conclusion of the Impact of Festivals project

The Impact of Festivals project ran from November 2015 to November 2016 at the University of East Anglia and was led by Professor George McKay with Dr Emma Webster, in collaboration with the EFG London Jazz Festival; the project was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s Connected Communities programme.

The book of the history of the London Jazz Festival is still in progress and we expect to launch the book at the 2017 EFG London Jazz Festival, so watch this space!

Outputs from the project include:- Continue reading Celebrating the conclusion of the Impact of Festivals project

Jazz and the City at the EFG London Jazz Festival, Sat 12 November 2016

To celebrate the conclusion of the Impact of Festivals project, the EFG London Jazz Festival 2016 is hosting a mini-conference on Jazz and the City at the Southbank Centre’s Level 5 Function Room on Saturday 12th November between 2.00 and 5.00pm.

2.00-2.30pm Jazz and the City: Researcher-in-residence Dr Emma Webster, and Professor George McKay of the University of East Anglia, explore today’s programme and their current AHRC project, The Impact of Festivals.

2.45-3.45pm Festivals and the City:  A chaired panel exploring how festivals are shaped by cities and places and how festivals in turn shape them. With vibraphonist Orphy Robinson, Mikey Martins (Freedom Festival, Hull) and Steve Rubie (606 Club).

4.00-5.00pm Musicians in the City: A chaired panel on life as a musician in the city, featuring saxophonist Andy Sheppard, pianist Sarah Tandy (Tomorrow’s Warriors) and Charles Umney (Leeds Business School).

This is a free event – for more information, please email

Do join us for what will be a fascinating afternoon thinking about jazz cities, jazz musicians, and jazz festivals.


10 good reasons to read our article on the impact of (jazz) festivals

Our article on the impact of (jazz) festivals was recently published in the Jazz Research Journal and also open access here and on – we wanted to share some of the great  reasons we have received from those who have downloaded the paper so far. These are taken from unsolicited comments readers have left on repositories such as (that’s the main source), researchgate, and so on, which we have collated and anonymised. (Such repositories ask for users to leave a ‘reason for downloading’ that authors can read.)

Look further down the page and you’ll see that we have also updated as new comments have come in from The Impact of Festivals users and readers about our outputs. Very gratifying! This explains why there are now more than ten good reasons…. Also, although we have removed specific place references, we want to say that in fact almost all of the places are international (non-UK); we think this a valuable point to make about the wider impact of our project’s work.

“As concert & Show promoter, these type of serious detailed and well documented researches are helping us comforting the sometimes sceptical investors which can’t see the correlation between Music and tourism and local spendings by festival goers.”

“I am currently working on a new Jazz Festival in ——— and I was surprised by this great article during my research.”

Continue reading 10 good reasons to read our article on the impact of (jazz) festivals

Continental Drift – video on Places and Events feat. Emma Webster

In July 2016, George McKay and Emma Webster both spoke at the Continental Drift: 50 Years of Jazz in Europe conference in Edinburgh.

This video features Emma talking about their research into jazz festivals in a panel about places and events, also featuring William Bares and José Diaz, and chaired by Tony Whyton.



The impact of jazz festivals, article and short film

With my co-author, postdoctoral research assistant Dr Emma Webster, I’m pleased to draw attention to our newest project output This is a peer-reviewed article for Jazz Research Journal focussed on the impact of jazz festivals in particular. (The wider project embraces pop, folk and classical music festivals too, of course.) The article’s abstract is below. You can access freely a copy of the article here. It appears in Jazz Research Journal 9(2), pp.169-193. Below also is a short film in which I talk a little about the jazz festivals research of the project.

Festivals are an essential part of the jazz world, forming regularly occurring pivot points around which jazz musicians, audiences and organizers plan their lives. Funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council, the purpose of this report is to chart and critically examine available writing about the impact of jazz festivals, drawing on both academic and ‘grey’/cultural policy literature in the field. The review presents research findings under the headings of economic impact; socio-political impact; temporal impact and intensification and transformation of experience; creative impact—music and musicians; discovery and audience development; place-making; the mediation of jazz festivals; and environmental impact. It concludes with a set of recommendations for future research, which identifies gaps in the field. To accompany the article, a 100-entry 40,000-word annotated bibliography has also been produced, which is freely accessible online.

Bitesize video about the Impact of British Music Festivals report – Emma Webster

In June 2016, Emma Webster took part in the Live Music Exchange event, ‘Valuing live music‘ at the University of Newcastle.  She gave a short presentation on her and George McKay’s report on the Impact of British Music Festivals and answered questions about the definition and meaning of festivals, and the British festival market in relation to other countries.

The changing aesthetic of the London Jazz Festival brochure

LJF_1993_front_coverThe London Jazz Festival began in 1993, the guide to the new event a pull-out section of the magazine Jazz and a free supplement to The Observer rather than a brochure per se.  London in the 1990s was a city only just starting to come out of a fifty year post-war population decline, but by 2014, as a result of the highly successful Olympic Games in 2012 and its pre-eminence on the global financial stage,  Forbes magazine had designated London the ‘most influential city in the world’.  As the Festival has changed over the years, so too has the look and feel of the brochure, and it is also interesting to note that the way in which the Festival has used London imagery over the years, sometimes placing the city front and centre and other times focusing on jazz.

1995 mini programme1994 and 1995 foreground London rather than jazz, the famous black hackney cab appearing on both. The 1995 mini programme (produced in association with the Rough Guides as well as ORIS, BBC Radio 3 and London Arts Board) draws on London imagery, including black hackney cab, toy Routemaster bus, London A-Z, Time Out, Monopoly board (‘Go’ square), travelcard, but also a lemon and some oranges (a reference to Cockney rhyming slang for St Clements?), some buttons, and a London Records 45”. The transport theme is continued inside: the introduction is faux stamped ‘Jazz Office November 1995 London’ and the transport images appear throughout.

1997 front coverThe red and black branding of the 1990s gave a cohesion to the new festival, which foregrounds the title sponsor, Oris, rather than necessarily giving away too much information about the event from the outside, although the inside is filled with black and white images of various jazz musicians in the festival.

2001 front coe2000-2002 sees that black & white imagery move to the front cover, as these three years feature close-up photography of jazz musicians and their instruments – as finance director Ope Igbinyemi says, ‘There was a point when we had hands everywhere, a few fingers, this and that’. The 2001 brochure is also the first to feature the BBC Radio 3 logo, ‘in association with’, to indicate the relationship between the Festival and its new principal broadcast partner, which continued until 2012.

2003 front coverThe gritty, urban ‘Music From Out There, In Here’ neon signage of 2003-2005 is up next, utilising the classic symbol of industrial cities: the red brick wall. It is the first time that the Festival uses a slogan, and it is one which is particularly apt, as it encapsulates the inclusive pan-cultural vision of the Festival, one which imports music from all over the world into London, but which, read another way, reflects the way in which the Festival provides a platform for the music being made in London itself.

2007 front coverThe exuberant 2007 big-jazz-hair cover is bookended by the slightly hit and miss graphic design of 2006 and 2008. As director Claire Whitaker describes, ‘That [2007 programme image] was a landmark one. People just loved that, and I think nothing encapsulates it more than … How she looks is how I feel in a lot of our concerts; that kind of joy’.

2010 front cover

The artwork for 2009 to 2012 changes tack entirely to feature specially commissioned abstract artworks, the aim being to attract audiences who might attend art galleries but not yet jazz festivals. As Amy Pearce says, the Festival was expanding and audiences were growing and they had to think more about the design, i.e. ‘What would make somebody pick this up who isn’t a jazz fan?’ As the festival market has expanded in the new millennium, so too festivals like the London Jazz Festival have had to expand both their programming and look to attract a bigger and more diverse audience.

2015_LJF_front_coverThe sponsorship by EFG since 2013 has seen the programme style change again to reflect the Festival’s new rainbow logo, and, hot on the heels of the highly successful London 2012 Olympics, more recent years have seen London itself reinstated as a vibrant, rainbow-hued city, infused with jazz. As Amy Pearce says, ‘I think we’ve become increasingly conscious of being the London Jazz Festival and really wanting to embrace that’.  The 2015 brochure combines London imagery with the vibrancy of jazz, and includes that year’s twitter campaign hashtag, #thisismyjazz

Thus as London and its jazz festival has grown and developed, so too has the aesthetic of the brochure. As Amy Pearce, Serious’ associate director of production, says, ‘I think what I’ve become increasingly aware of is how much your front cover of the brochure defines your programme … I’ve become really aware of how the visual is really integral and the whole look and feel of the festival isn’t just a nice addition, it’s absolutely fundamental to what we’re trying to do with the programme and the Festival’s development … You want a visual that reflects the programme that you’ve created, so to me that is exciting, dynamic, it’s got depth, it’s got different areas that you can look it, it feels alive, it’s inspirational, as I hope our programme is’.

Also check out this article about the Festival’s artwork by Cog Design, who worked with the London Jazz Festival between 1994 and 2008.

Revitalising the (jazz) music festival, at 12 Points, San Sebastian

12 points festival panel

In panel conversations between musicians, researchers, journalists, organisers and promoters we found and heard about a range of approaches to trying to revitalise the (jazz) festival experience and the jazz scene at the 12 Points Festival discussion days on ‘Jazz Futures’ here in San Sebastian. This was felt important for a number of reasons, including that in some countries the big all-star jazz festival is fading, its audience diminishing, while elsewhere, perhaps ironically, perhaps in a connected way, there is a surfeit of festivalisation of culture, in that festival in its ubiquity has become everyday, even banal, and no longer the intense, heightened and exceptional. Here are some of those diversifying approaches.

  • Jazz festival or event as immersive experience—music, yes, but also costume, design, actors and dancers, food, theatre and masque, historical reconstruction of scenes from jazz past with a promenading audience
  • Jazz apps, and audience interactivity via mobile digital technology
  • Electronic deconstruction of the live music event in the very next concert that follows, so the audience hears fresh the new music it just heard, where sometimes the remix is better than the original (though, yes, “sometimes it’s shittier”)
  • An emphasis on creative curation rather than simply programming or organisation and presentation of a series of concerts
  • Cross-cultural and cross-arts dialogue. Whether improvised arts (music, dance, animation) working with each other in the moment, or a festival of improvised music that must include literature and vice versa
  • 12 Points logoA continuing struggle with the Jazz word: a European jazz festival director says I don’t want to use the term “jazz festival”, it’s off-putting for a new audience, others saying we lose something worth cherishing and celebrating if we reject it (i.e. a century of live and recorded music)
  • The on-going core relevance of jazz and music education: new musicians, new networks and events, new energy, andnew audiences
  • The regular inclusion of academic research in the festival programme, an openness to it in the scene more generally.

Nice Jazz Festival 2016

Nice Jazz Fetival 1948 programmeThe history of the jazz festival in Europe goes back to the early post-war years, when one visionary city organised a set of concerts over a few days in seafront venues round the resort. These featured both national musicians as well as a sprinkling of US headliners, including the transatlantic star Louis Armstrong. We can think of it as a gesture of cultural futurity, with the aim of sounding a better international situation after the war years. They called it the ‘festival international du jazz’, the year was 1948, and it happened in—Nice, France. Thus the European ‘jazz festival’ was born, in Nice.

In England the earliest jazz festival would be Beaulieu Jazz Festival (1956-61), while perhaps the most famous European event, Montreux Jazz Festival, was founded later still, in 1967. (A book marking 50 years of Montreux is published this year.) But it was Nice Jazz Festival, in the late 1940s, that set the template.

Within a few years Nice would do something else marvellous for jazz, for jazz’s heritage and sense of place and relation to the past: Nice located its festival of jazz, that clashing music of modernity, in the Roman amphitheatre to the north of the city. Go there today and you can see busts of famous jazz musicians who played there in the park next to the amphitheatre, a neat public recognition of that jazz moment in that great city by the Mediterranean.

This year’s festival was due to start today, hundreds of musicians and thousands of festival-goers coming to Nice, under the sun and stars, by the sea, for a celebration of a music which, at its very best, is an outernational music of dialogue and listening where we might just for a second glimpse or hear another, better world. I know that sounds like a jazz utopia but, you know, we had a conference recently on the very theme of #jazzutopia, so it’s in the air.

Nice Jazz Festival 2016 annulee

But the 2016 Nice Jazz Festival was cancelled yesterday, as a result of the terrible atrocity on the Promenade des Anglais on Thursday night. Nice est en deuil. We should listen to the silence of the jazz not happening there this weekend. From another festival city, Edinburgh, where a group of scholars and musicians is meeting this weekend during the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival at a conference marking ‘50 years of European jazz’, we send wishes of sympathy and solidarity, anger and love, and the desire for peace and a different sort of future that jazz can sometimes still sound, and that a festival can still capture. Vive Nice Jazz Festival.