Sound is the force of creation, the true whole. Music then, becomes the voice of the great cosmic oneness and therefore the optimal way to reach this final state of healing.” Hazrat Inayat Khan
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All sounds of the earth are like music.


Love Supreme 2017


When they started, the tent was empty .Then two numbers in the lad with the blue Afro looked up and the tent was full. It really scared him. It was an "Oh My God " moment...

I love this festival. It's my third year and it never fails to impress me. It ticks all the boxes, especially its size. Theres no mindless queueing, nor being subjected to degrading police searches. It's clean and there's plenty of access to fresh drinking water that tastes like its been filtered through a chalk aquifer and most probably has, given its location. It has superb sanitation and good quality food vendors - apart from the falafel van. 

As for the music, that's sublime. This event was the biggest yet and I was a bit apprehensive as to whether the organisers had miscalculated the tent sizes in relation to the increased numbers, but it was fine. They seem to have worked out a winning formula, keeping the main open air stage for the mass appeal, easily accessible acts, whilst the smaller tents work for the more cutting edge experimental stuff and the proper jazz noodle.

It's possible to find some real treats and because of the compactness of it and layout, it's possible to be aware of everything going on. The sounds is top notch too, faultless in fact. Last year my reason d'etre was to get five feet in front of Kassami Washington and watch him blow and power up off him and I succeeded in my mission. I bought 'The Epic' on triple vinyl box set and just had to see him and the collective live. I first heard him on the BBC pop up jazz station a few years back with Go Go Penguin, Gilles Peterson curated from the Barbican. He played a show at The Scala the next day but I had tickets for Polar Bear so couldn't go. This year, he was on the big stage on the Sunday, with his Dad playing clarinet, double drummers and guitar, bass, keys, trumpet and vocal line up. They just ooze love and warmth. His singer is a tall skinny black girl with a mad Afro-perm and shades. They smile and joke - we can feel the love. They all play together and theres no blinker on the creativity or what they can use as influence. Breathtaking.

Friday opened up with some bands and DJ sets.  I was with friends so it gave adequate time to get tents set up and have a few drinks, before catching Theon Cross, who plays tuba in Sons of Kemet playing with a black girl sax player and if I remember correctly, Tom Skinner - superb. He plays tuba like a bass guitar. There was also a ska band - Ska vengers on opening night.

Saturday. This is the day Shabaka Hutchins held court, playing a massive five hours with 3 bands. First up were The Ancestors. Shabaka plays sax like a lead guitar, cutting through everything. The Ancestors are signed to Gilles Peterson's Brownswood label and are amazing, fronted by a vocalist who is quite something. I couldn't see how they could follow this opening set, but every set was as good or better. Sons of Kemet I'd seen twice before. Seb Roachford wasn't playing with them but the drummer was in perfect sync with Tom Skinner. The last set A Comet is Coming was happening - I missed the start of because I was getting 'fusioned up' four rows from the front with Herbie Hancock. A Comet is Coming fused live drums and sax with electronica and they had the tent literally bouncing. I am looking forward to seeing them again at the international Liverpool festival of Psychedelia. 

My mates have much more conservative taste than me and spent most of the time on the main stage. I had seen Gregory Porter before up the Shepherds Bush empire but caught the end of his set. I gave George Benson a miss because I had seen him at the Albert Hall a few years back and I knew he was going to play to the crowd and the crowd wanted his commercial 70s and 80s anthems that made him the bucks in preference to the Blue Note output or the material he did with Billy Cobham.  He has a vast back catalog and is still making good music and still has the groove.

Lee Fields was good too. Bad not Good were tight but i was on my jazz trip. Earlier in the year I went and saw Mulatu Astatke at the Jazz Cafe in Camden on the first night of his two night residency and he had a couple of young lads supporting him called Blue Lab Beats who really impressed me. I purposely made my way down to the tent they were playing in, early on Sunday. When they started, the tent was empty, then two numbers in the lad with the blue Afro looked up and it seemed, suddenly the tent was full. It really scared him - It was an "oh my god "moment. I reckon they are going to be massive this year. I bumped into him in the crowd after seeing Kassami and said how much I was impressed with what they are creating because I felt it really was new. I also checked out The Robert Glasper Experiment  as I didn't know anything about his music beforehand. He was playing a synth axe and sax and the band was set up for heavy fusion. He was using a vocoda when he sang and was working round a mantra of Love Supreme. I was impressed. Laura Maluva did a good set too.

Herbie Hancock was playing a heavy fusion set but he did dip into the past as well as the future.  The band were genuinely enjoying themselves. Mammal Hands were very impressive and there was a drummer playing who I think was Yussef Kammal - that stopped me dead in my tracks .

I wish I'd written up this as soon as I had returned but a week later the vibe is still with me and I have purchased my ticket for next year.

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