Robert Glasper’s tribute to Roy Ayers
Southport Weekender is officially my new favourite festival. I’ve always been seduced by festivals in more exotic locations, like Barcelona’s Sonar, and was never organised enough to sort out Southport in time as it sells out so fast.
But this year, the stars aligned and I found myself at Butlins in Minehead, doing the electric slide with thousands of other punters as we waited for Jill Scott to come on stage in a pavilion normally touting 2p slots, cuddly character photo shoots and soggy paninis.
Eventually Jilly from Philly sassed her way around the stage, earrings clanking and face radiant as she showered upon us her wisdoms about life and love; the kind of motivational speaker you’d actually bother listening too.
The woman I was most excited to see, however, was LA’s Patrice Rushen, who dominates my ‘cheer up, Dancer’ playlist for my daily stomp down to the Tube. The jazz pianist, vocalist opened her set at the Beat Bar with ‘Number One’, and we all loudly dah dahed along.
In fact, Patrice and her band (Ndugu Chancler, Everette Harp, Doc Powell and ‘Ready’ Freddie Washington) rolled through all my favourites including the heavily sampled ‘Forget Me Nots’, ‘Remind Me’, the sublime ‘Settle For My Love’ and ‘Haven’t You Heard’.
I spent an awful lot of time at the Beat Bar, pushing right to the front to see Robert Glasper, another of my favourite jazz pianists. I’ve seen him live a few times now but this was the best so far; being close enough to see the intimate interplay among his stellar band – Casey Benjamin on vocoder and saxophone, Derrick Hodge on electric bass, and Mark Colenburg on drums instead of the usual Chris Dave, who happens to be my favourite drummer. Tough act to follow but Mark did the band proud as he rolled through cuts off the ‘Black Radio’ record, their cover of Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, bringing down the house. Dope solo, too.
I also developed a whole new love for house music after hearing Karizma play a couple of times in the Powerhouse, and being utterly captivated by Joe Claussell’s emotional EQing back at the Beat Bar.
IG Culture and Jonny Miller put me right back in my broken beat comfort zone, however, and it felt like the old days at Coop with the Birmingham crew tearing up the dance floor. I robbed a few moves and will be in that dancing circle next year. You lot have been warned.