Un.procedure and The Lucumi Project at Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Long-time programmer of our well-respected PAC strand, Tony Dudley-Evans, retired last year - but will be returning to commission new works in 2024 and has been supporting Alexandria Carr - founder of Amplify Sounds and Contemporary Music Programmer at London's Southbank Centre - in programming for the strand.

In a series of blogs, he writes about some of his highlights of this year's PAC programme.


Over the next few posts I intend to write about the various concerts taking place in the Parabola Arts Centre as part of the 2024 Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The venue is a purpose built concert venue with excellent acoustics, a Fazioli piano, and the festival has always taken pride in presenting in the programme there what is a snapshot of the best and most interesting contemporary jazz. It is a programme that we believe is accessible to both people who listen to a lot of contemporary music (broadly defined) and also to ‘first time listeners’, i.e. those who want to see how they get on with a new area of music.

Un.procedure Plus Sunday 5th May 5 to 6pm Parabola Arts Centre

un.procedure playing live.

The un.procedure trio came about as a result of a commission from Jazzlines in Symphony Hall in which pianist Piera Onacko invited saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi, drummer/percussionist Nathan England-Jones and visual artist Guri Bosh to join her in creating an extended work bringing together the energy of the saxophone and keyboards with the grooves of the electronics and percussion in a beautiful setting provided by the visuals. The result was a very exciting set of music that works in both a jazz festival setting and in a contemporary alternative festival such as the Supersonic Festival in Birmingham. Stuart Maconie of Radio 6 Music has championed them, and they have produced a Playlist for Maconie’s Freak Zone programme. Piera Onacko and Nathan England-Jones are graduates of the jazz course at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire where I got to know them, and saw their potential. Piera had known Cassie Kinoshi in their school days, and they had played together in a youth jazz orchestra. Cassie is now an important figure on the London scene, initially with her Seed ensemble and the Afrobeat band Kokoroko, now with various extended compositions. One features her Seed ensemble with the London Contemporary Orchestra and turntablist NikNak, and another involved arranging Tchaikovsky’s score for the Nutcracker Suite for a dance performance at the Tuff Nutt Jazz Club on the South Bank.

All three members of the trio will be contributing to the writing of the new pieces. Each one has their own distinctive approach and sound as a composer, and together they always create something unique that straddles the worlds of jazz and electronica.

For the Cheltenham performance the un.procedure trio will be expanded with the addition of a string quartet and additional woodwind instruments, a bass clarinet and baritone saxophone played, I believe, by Alicia Gardner-Trejo. Guri Bosh will also be creating visuals for the event.

This is the first Tony Dudley-Evans Commission for the Parabola programme. It is supported by Longrow Capital. https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz/whats-on/2024/unprocedure-plus

David Ola & The Lucumí Project Saturday 4th May 4 to 5pm Parabola Arts Centre

David Ola.

Steelpan meets Afrobeat is the simplistic description of the Lucumí project. In fact, I regard it as much more than that, and one of the most original collaborations to develop in the UK in recent years. It takes a feature of contemporary British culture, the steelpan ensemble that we all know and enjoy for its gentle relaxing sound, but puts it into a much more creative context through its mixing of the steelpans with a horn section of trumpet and saxophone, and the African rhythms from the kit drum and the bass guitar. When I heard them in Birmingham as part of the JazzFest at Symphony Hall, I was particularly impressed with the sound created by the contrast between the pans and the horns, but also by how good were the steelpan players were at improvising; Marlon Hibbert on tenor pan was particularly impressive. The two horn players, Christos Stylianides on trumpet and Simeon May on tenor saxophone were also excellent, and greatly added to the energy of the performance. It is led by David Ijaduola, now abbreviated to David Ola, on kit drums and also has Emmanuel Adenira on electric bass.

The name Lucumí relates to the Lucumí language, a lexicon of words and phrases used as the liturgical language of Santería in Cuba and the Lucumí people, an Afro-Cuban ethnic group of Yoruba ancestry