Promoters of young jazz talent, Jazznewblood are celebrating their 5th year. Founder Patricia Pascal spoke to Charlie Anderson about its history and successes.
What gave you the idea to start Jazznewblood?
I first started my contact with the youth jazz scene in 2012 through my personal experience of raising two precocious young musicians and navigating the challenges of helping them develop their talent.
Along the years I watched and my kids were blessed with the amazing work done by London’s talent development programmes like Tomorrow’s Warriors or Junior Academy at Royal Academy of Music, among others that I got to know very well. I was privileged to have a front-row seat to witness the rise of a whole inspiring new young generation that reinvigorated jazz, much like a transfusion of new blood.
My circumstances of being a photographer, artist manager, passionate about talent development, having married into a family of musicians and having musical children, made me extra aware and sensitive to the struggles of becoming a musician, especially for those already with above-average talent at a young age.
I knew then and know now that being surrounded by a supportive scene, working together to push young blood forward, is essential and I felt I had the skills, and determination, to contribute to that scene by creating a platform to add help and buzz. That’s how Jazznewblood network started in February 2015.
Maybe a big difference in my work is the aim to focus on talent under 24. Real talent is ageless and if you’ve got it you should not be disregarded, underestimated or left behind, in terms of opportunities, just because you are younger.
Having promoted unique and talented musicians as young as 15, it has become my mission to spread the word about them.
Tell us about Jazznewblood and all of the different ways in which it helps upcoming musicians.
After more than 20 years working in the musical industry, both in the UK and in the international circuit, I’ve developed a good sense to identify talent.
I first started by using the power of the internet with Jazznewblood Twitter and Instagram to shout about any young talent I’ve spotted. After all, buzz is always good promotion. At the same time, I started using my photography to create an archive of young talent around on our website jazznewblood.org.
In 2016, in cooperation with Waterloo Creative Studio, I created #jazznewbloodALIVE showcase, part of the London Jazz Festival programme, a stage presenting new names. So far, we have introduced 27 new artists/bands, 125+ musicians, with an average age of 20 years old. The vision is a showcase festival premiering new music and new band leaders.
JazznewbloodALIVE was the first festival in London to exclusively head talented jazz musicians under 24, performing original jazz-inspired music, not standards. With the help of a small team of volunteers and unconditional support from SteveFunkyfeet (video and photos) and Theo Pascal, behind the recording production, we have sold out most years and have been successful in securing a 44% rate of female leaders and a good diversity balance.
The professionally recorded live audio of all the sets is archived at https://soundcloud.com/jazznewbloodalive.
Each year, on International Jazz day we release a compilation with one live song per artist representing each year’s showcase (https://bandcamp.com/jazznewblood). I also offer a photo promo session to equip each artist with 3 essential tools: professional promo photos, recorded music and videos. These tools will help them get other gigs.
Jazznewblood also runs a permanent scheme to provide low-cost promotional photos to artists under 24. More than 30 young musicians have used it.
Over the years I have built up contacts with a network of venues, promoters and festivals. I regularly send out recommendations and act as a freelance agent to secure further performing opportunities, such as debut gigs at London Jazz Festival, Ronnie Scott’s, Pizza Express, New Generation Jazz and Love Supreme for young jazz talent.
I don’t believe in quick success but in building a strong foundation. Jazznewblood is here to help youth jazz talent build that foundation and complement the work done by educational jazz organisations.
Which musicians have been your big success stories over the past 5 years?
I do not doubt that all artists I supported since 2015 are the future of jazz but considering they are still very young, we probably will see their success unfold only in a couple of years ahead.
In our first #jazznewbloodALIVE2016 we showcased some of today’s household names like Kokoroko, Seed Ensemble, and Mark Kavuma. Other artists like Zeñel, Quinn Oulton, Rosie Frater-Taylor, Ife Ogunjobi, Brothers Testament, Nihilism, Kasia Konstance, Zoe Pascal, Noah Stoneman, Donovan Haffner, and Peter Wilson are already making a name for themselves. Others like Sam Barnett, Alex Ridout or Roella Oloro are studying in Switzerland and the US and will graduate soon.
At our #jazznewbloodALIVE2019 showcase which was dedicated to #FemaleJazzPower, we introduced amazing female artists like Isobella Burnham (presently rising like a rocket), Saskia Horton, Emma Rawicz, Asha Parkinson and Tara Cunningham.
I advise you to keep an eye out for all these names because they will leave their mark in the UK’s music scene.
What have been the highlights?
Any small wins in their career are big wins for the scene. Their success is Jazznewblood’s success…
I can’t take credit but it’s rewarding to know that Jazznewblood is part of their path in some way.
Our annual jazznewbloodALIVE showcases, as part of London Jazz Festival since 2016;
Debut concerts at Love Supreme Festival by Zeñel and Cesca;
Ife Ogunjobi and Alex Ridout debut Pizza Express sold-out gigs, among others booked as part of Breakout sessions curated by Jazznewblood;
Zeñel, Brother’s Testament and Quinn Oulton’s debut at Ronnie Scott’s which were sold-out concerts, opening for big names;
Supporting Sam Barnett when he released his acclaimed debut album at 16 years old in 2016, look out for the new album coming out soon (https://www.sambarnettsound.com/);
The fact Kokoroko & Seed Ensemble live songs were recorded at #jazznewbloodALIVE2016 and were included in our compilation that’s been streamed on Spotify more than half a million times;
Seeing my photos taken under Jazznewblood #promophotoscampaign used to promote gigs, included in debut EPs/albums or featured to promote young talent in magazines like Jazzwise or Sussex Jazz Magazine.
What plans do you have for Jazznewblood?
I hope I can continue all the work around the annual showcase festival and continue to introduce new emerging names and be able to develop other projects around photography, audio and video, always to champion unique youth jazz talent.
After 5 years of work on a non-profit basis, some grant support will be necessary to allow the platform to grow, and changes will be made to start that process.
More important than ever, I want to focus on exchange projects to expand the showcase to Europe and get young talent from different territories to connect and keep the creativity flowing.
I also have big plans for projects with even younger children and younger audiences. I believe there’s so much to be explored within jazz/improvisation as a tool to develop essential life transferable skills, like the capacity to experiment without fear; creativity; communication; dealing with unpredictability, and knowing how to improvise. It’s not all about knowing jazz history and developing the technical language.
I advocate jazz for all kids from a young age. I’m a believer in the power of jazz as a universal language and I think we can use it to connect us all as humans not just as musicians.
Link for the pre-order of the next compilation #jazznewbloodALIVE2019 out on 30 April: