PREVIEW: Jazz for Labour/ Arun Ghosh (Barbican Fri 27th Feb)

ARUN GHOSH writes about why he is supporting and playing in Jazz for Labour: 

In just over a week's time, many of us will be performing at, or will be in the audience of, the first Jazz For Labour concert at the Barbican. The show's aim is to promote and celebrate the values of fairness and diversity, and to keep this fire burning as we approach election time, when we have our opportunity to express who it is we really are, and what it is we want our country to be. It is clear to many of us that our country's current direction, for example in terms of health, employment, education, housing and equality of opportunity, is of deep concern. The Tories' and UKIP's nature has always been evident, and if we allow them to continue to run things or take root, then we will further become a country where narrow-mindedness, bigotry and lack of care are the norm. Jazz For Labour calls for another way; just like the music, we value and recognise the need for community, empathy, fairness and diversity.

I feel honoured to be amongst such wonderful company, a wonderful representation of British Jazz (ARTISTS LISTED BELOW). There are many musicians whose work I admire, and in Courtney Pine, there's an all-time hero; the person who, back in '88, first inspired me to play jazz. The very first musician I could relate to, a Black British musician I would later see sharing a stage with a British-Asian musician (a young Talvin Singh, I believe). It was when I first saw Courtney Pine's performance on television at the Free Nelson Mandela Concert that I began to learn about improvisation, soul and self-expression, and about Jazz as an African-American art form. Jazz, that glorious rebel music of Charlie Parker, Nina Simone, Lady Day and John Coltrane. And I understood, from this moment, that this music was progressive, anti-racist and political:

A music borne of struggle against terrible suffering and exploitation, that led to such tremendous, uplifting and awesome expressions of joy, vitality, soul and spirituality, becoming a pinnacle of musical and artistic invention that has spread love and inspired people all over the globe.

And in my own sweet way (my own tiny, off-minor key way), I am a part of this…we all are. Diversity has always been normality to many of us, and with my music, I have needed to represent myself and bring people together. I was (am) an indie-kid, a raver, a British-Asian, a classical musician, a jazz musician, a Junglist. Jungle, that infectious and unique mash-up of dub, ragga and rave culture can only have come from Britain. The same goes for 2-Tone. And likewise for our Jazz…

My group comprises women and men with a truly global range of cultural backgrounds. From Barbados to Bengal, Belgrade to Bahrain to…Bolton: We are British Jazz. We are all-day Bhangra raves, Toxteth ska clubs, reggae soundsystems, Irish sessions, grime, garage, punk, Purcell and Moorish Dancing. I believe that what this represents is worth promoting and celebrating…and we'll be doing just that at Jazz For Labour at the Barbican next week."

JAZZ FOR LABOUR is ‘A Concert for Fairness and Diversity’ is to be held at the Barbican Centre on Friday Friday Feb 27. On the bill are:

Liane Carroll
Gary Crosby
Arun Ghosh
Juliet Kelly
Soweto Kinch
Claire Martin
Phil Meadows
Courtney Pine
Phil Robson
Ian Shaw
Andy Sheppard
Christine Tobin
Alex Webb
Kate Williams
DJ sets from Chris Philips of JazzFM and Jez Nelson

The concert was inspired by the 2012 Jazz For Obama concert at New York’s Symphony Space.

Tickets from the Barbican Centre

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