THIS year’s Jazz Jurassica – the newly named Lyme Regis Jazz & Blues Festival – promises a stellar line-up of female artists, from established headliners to young emerging talent performing at the iconic Marine Theatre and on the seafront.
Festival organiser Julie Sheppard said: “At one time women artists were at the forefront of jazz. Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday were synonymous with jazz in the US, whilst British performers barely registered on the radar.
“But that’s beginning to change. Claire Martin, Clare Teal and of course, Liane Carroll, are inspiring the next generation of young female singers and musicians.”
Liane Carroll is indicative of this resurgence of UK-based talent and will headline the festival’s finale on Sunday evening. She’s a multi-award-winning jazz pianist and singer with a string of accolades to her name. As a recording artist her albums often top the ‘best jazz album’ awards and in 2016 was voted best UK female jazz singer.
She’s inspiring a younger generation of British performers with her song-writing prowess and passionate delivery. As she told Jamie Cullum on his recent Radio 2 show: “It’s all about connecting music to the heart and then reaching out to the audience.”
Julie added: “Liane’s one of the best. She can really swing one minute, then play a blues heart-breaker the next.
“I saw her a couple of years ago at Love Supreme jazz festival when she played to a damp crowd early one morning and completely rocked it. It was a remarkable performance from a truly remarkable performer.
“I’m absolutely thrilled she’ll be with us this year and I’m sure audiences are going fall for her, just as I did.”
But Liane is not alone. Saxophonist Fliss Gorst, Axminster born and bred, is set for a warm festival homecoming when she brings her eight-piece swing band to Lyme Regis. As a former student of Woodroffe School’s music department, she now returns as one of the few successful female bandleaders in the country, a debut album in the iTunes jazz charts and a growing reputation as a virtuoso sax player, regularly touring with Father John Misty.
With her sparky swing standards, jumping jives and dazzling dance numbers, Fliss promises to get a party started wherever she plays. She’s joined by ace singers, Lauren Bush and Shane Hampsheir, who bring extra panache to this swing extravaganza.
If hip swivelling sambas are more your thing, then Julie recommends Annika Skoogh’s Quartet who fronts a jazz brunch at Lyme’s latest eatery on the seafront, SWIM.
Julie said: “Brought up in Sweden, born in Ecuador, now living in Exeter, Annika brings a truly international flavour to jazz and swing classics. And given her latin credentials you can expect some cool Copacabana sounds to wash up on Lyme Bay on that Sunday morning.”
Another young woman making music on her own terms is Exeter-based Clara Bond. Clara has curated her own Soul Sessions for the festival’s Bank Holiday Monday on the seafront.
As a talented performer, song-writer and recording artist, Clara is rapidly making a name for herself in the music business with a busy summer on the forthcoming festival circuit as well as supporting Wildwood Kin on their recent UK tour.
Again, women feature prominently in her on stage line up on the seafront. Clara’s joined by Eleisha May, a young singer from a local musical family and a formidable talent. Her dad’s the acclaimed pianist, Craig Milverton, who will accompany her as part of the supergroup house band.
Whether she’s singing jazz, blues or soul, her smoky voice and soulful delivery, guarantee she’ll soon be following in her father’s footsteps.
Eleisha’s followed by Canadian-born Melissa Bel’s killer combination of infectious pop beats, powerful soul vocals and heart-warming ballads. Melissa will be in her comfort zone – out front, guitar in hand, confidently commanding the stage.
Julie added: “We’ve got the pick of the crop this year. Our line-up shows what fantastic female talent we have here on our doorstep. They’ll entertain, excite, and deliver some goose-bump moments. “Come hear them for yourself – they’re inspirational”.
Jazz Jurassica will be held from May 24 to 28. Tickets and more information are available at www.jazzjurassica.co.uk or call the box office on 01297 442138.