Claire Martin launches her second Shoreham jazz festival

After a sell-out debut early last year, the South Coast Jazz Festival '“ brainchild of jazz singer Claire Martin and saxophonist Julian Nicholas '“ returns to Shoreham's Ropetackle for its second outing from Thursday to Sunday, January 21-24.


It was such a success last year that Claire has turned a three-day festival into four with the addition of the Thursday: “We were all very smug because we sold out three nights last year,” Claire laughs. “The only complaint we had was that we didn’t give the musicians high-enough-quality sandwiches back stage! But really the main thing I learnt was that you can never underestimate the jazz community. They really, really got behind it. People were interested in making it work because this music is really liked. They came from Wales, they came from Manchester, they came from all over. It was great!”

Claire admits she’s the kind of person who will always be phoning the box office to check on sales: “But I am feeling quietly confident for our second festival. I love the Ropetackle. I love the way it is run, the energetic, music-loving people that work there. They are very flexible, and they are very easy to ask for lots of favours from! And you have also got the lovely foyer there. This year we have got the National Jazz Archive coming down to show some wonderful pieces of jazz history.”

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As for the future: “We will have to see how it goes. Ideally what I would like is to get a very big name, possibly fly them over from America and have a really big party on the Saturday night. It would just be nice to keep expanding so that people that come down start to see Shoreham as a big part of the jazz map. I think we have made a good step towards that so far. It all started because Julian and I were talking and just felt there was not enough jazz as part of the Brighton Festival, that it was all a bit tokenistic, just not enough. We came up with this, and it was a huge success last year.”

This year, as last, day-time workshops – another reflection of Ropetackle’s flexibility – will be a key element of the line-up, all part of the community involvement. In fact, Jazz for Juniors has been running monthly as part of the festival build-up: “We had help from the Arts Council last year, and again the Arts Council have gone for it this year. We didn’t come away with lots of money, but we did more than break even and everyone was paid very well. But it is still early days for the festival. I would like to do it for five more years and then take stock of where we need to go. I am a working musician and a mum as well!”

The festival line-up includes: Thursday, January 21: The Jack Kendon Quartet with Imogen Ryall and Alex Garnett’s Bunch Of Five; Anita Wardell vocal workshop. Friday, January 22: Gareth Williams & Dave Green’s Tribute To Bill Evans & Scott LaFaro; Nikki Iles & Norma Winstone’s The Printmakers; Gareth Williams’ instrumental workshop. Saturday, January 23: The Christine Tobin Trio; The Arun Ghosh Quintet; Jazz For Juniors workshop; Jazz for Absolute Beginners talk with Kevin LeGendre. Sunday, January 24: Claire Martin & Pete Long celebrate Ella Fitzgerald & Duke Ellington with the Echoes of Ellington Orchestra. 01273 464440.

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