Canary Wharf Jazz Festival

11873944_10206924036316703_1006016697_nEven though the DLR is quite fun, you won’t really find an Outposter in Canary Wharf during the week, let alone a weekend. But in a largely soulless part of the city lies one of London’s best kept secrets – the Canary Wharf Jazz Festival. The festival happens across three days and sees performances from some of London’s most exciting jazz acts on an outdoor stage at Canada Square Park every August. The city’s financial centre may seem like an unusual choice, but it works well – the stage becomes a musical oasis between the spiritless glass towers. With limited picnic mat space on the green, the festival is an intimate affair, but welcomes guests of all ages, sexes and races. Best of all it’s free, and you don’t really need to know the line up, or be a hardcore jazz fan, as it’s all about breaking down the exclusivity normally surrounding jazz.

Now in its 9th year, the 2015 line-up played host to a variety of jazz-related genres, including salsa and afrobeat. Equipped with a picnic blanket, wine and snacks (from the Waitrose placed conveniently opposite the park) we caught the closing day of the festival to see what surprises were in store.

First on stage was the highly acclaimed Yazz Ahmed, a British Bahraini trumpet and flugelhorn player, and her Family HaflaBand, exploring an interesting fusion of both classic British jazz and the sounds of Yasmeen’s Arabic heritage.

IMG_5027a 11903453_10206924036236701_66871226_naNext were Dylan Howe’s Subterraneans, offering a new take on the instrumental cuts from David Bowie’s ‘Berlin’. With archive footage of goose-stepping soldiers, murky street scenes and flickering crowds on the big screens, the music was dark and gripping, with moments of light from piano solos and well-crafted saxophone and acid-synth harmonies: a cinematic performance complimented with contemporary jazz.

The highlight of the day was definitely the outstanding performance by The Fontanelles. Formerly the band for FELA! at the National Theatre, a musical about the life of Nigerian icon Fela Kuti, their infectious chemistry energised the crowd into a fury of dance, including parents and grandparents – much to their children’s dismay. Staying true to their core sound of Fela Kuti-style afrobeat, they brought elements of reggae, jazz, dub, funk and ska, creating up-beat and exquisitely horn-led dancefloor grooves, and leaving the crowding chanting for an encore.

The Fontanelles set the bar high for the The Neil Cowley Trio, who unfortunately just couldn’t compete – hindered by our tired feet, we were unable to fully appreciate Cowley’s quirky stage presence, rip-roaring riffs and pompus climaxes. Nevertheless, we left happy and content with a new appreciation for the joys of jazz – all in all, a great day!

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Dekmantel 2015 by BPM

A project that began with throwing a string of small parties, Dekmantel has rapidly grown into an underground success story as a record label, DJ collective and festival. Thomas Martojo and Casper Tielrooij’s main ethos is to showcase the best local and international talent in the underground electronic music scene: one that has seen them top Resident Advisor’s festival charts in both 2014 and 2015, despite the festival only being in its third year.

Unable to resist any longer, The Outpost team headed over to Amsterdam to get up to speed with one of the most credible house and techno festivals in Europe. To avoid a lengthy review of an overwhelmingly good line-up, here’s a little bpm guide to our highlights. (warning: some bpm’s may overlap)

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0 bpm

To set the scene, Dekmantel is based in the lush forests and grassy meadows of Amsterdamse Bos, on the outskirts of Amsterdam. With the Dutch being so friendly and helpful, the festival is easy to get to via public transport, or you can cycle alongside the locals. The forest location is small and easy to navigate: it’s the kind of festival where you can lose your friends and find them dancing around a tree with some stranger they became best friends with five minutes ago.

There are five stages, each with their own vibe; the UFO being the most futuristic with its lights, and Red Bull Music Academy’s greenhouse-like Lab being the most green, with its array of bamboo and illuminated willow trees. Armed with Funktion One sound systems, the sound quality throughout is faultless, while the general attention to detail makes the festival seem so seamless. Issuing tokens as festival currency makes queuing for a drink seem like a bad dream, so with the sun shining and a gin cocktail garnished with a rose petal in hand, we know it’s going to be a good one.

80 – 120 bpm

Despite being largely a house and techno festival, Dekmantel 2015 left no music stone unturned, with a range of jazz, funk and music from around the world. As the night beckoned on Friday, folks certainly got down in the sunshine as well respected jazz and R&B artist Roy Ayers Ubiquity delivered flawless vocals and summery vibraphone solos with his live band, set perfectly in the Lab. Meanwhile, Saturday saw a 5 hour marathon of non-stop dancing to Latin, funk, afrobeat and disco from Floating Points, Hunee and Antal at The Selectors Stage.

first day main stage

120 – 130 bpm

With the weekend promising various shades of house, we had high expectations for Motor City Drum Ensemble following his legendary set at Dekmantel in 2014 – however, it was unfortunately too busy to truly enjoy. On the upside, we were pleasantly surprised by Call Super’s technically impeccable set of unique and interesting music, having never heard of him before. Some of our other favourite moments included dancing to Hessle Audio Trio amongst the foliage at the Lab for 3 hours and ending the festival with a cuddle from Berghain regular and LGBT campaigner Tama Sumo.

second day the lab stage

130 -150 bpm

One thing Dekmantel did not lack was great techno, in all its many forms. Highlights included pounding DJ sets from Objekt, Blawan and the legend Robert Hood – not to mention Nina Kraviz, who gave us a taste of her new music, a mesmerising light show from Marcel Dettmann and Rødhåd, who had all the bar staff going crazy. For those after something a little softer, there was an outstanding performance from Steffi featuring Virginia’s beautiful live vocals: some of the few women on the line up. Most memorable was Sunday’s live set from Recondite on the main stage, taking us all on a beautiful techno journey away from the sad realisation that the festival was coming to an end for another year…

techno

150+ bpm

Verging on the undanceable, Midland’s Arabian melodies and Young Marco’s frenetic African beats epitomised the sheer pace of the festival, which occasionally bordered on unnerving. With head honchos like Ricardo Villalobos and ZIP playing on the main stage early on Friday, Dekmantel certainly threw you into the deep end with little time for warming up. But there was little time for slowing down either, with the party going on long into the night at Amsterdam’s famous cultural hotspot Melkweg. Though tricky to navigate our way there via the expensive and poorly organised shuttle services, we managed to sneak in and throw some shapes anyway.

Overall, Dekmantel certainly lived up to the hype. The day festival stole the show with its wide variety of music and endless energy juxtaposed with intimacy. There was never a dip in interest, forever keeping us on our feet in a magical land of sun and trees…bring on 2016!

 

outside boiler room on third day

Outpost Graduate Trainee opportunity – Publishing and distribution

We’re currently looking for a sharp graduate to join our team on our 3 month paid Graduate Trainee Scheme.

Working in our publishing and distribution departments, you will also gain first-hand experience in our PR department, working across print, online, radio and TV. Training in general office management will also form part of the role.

The scheme is a structured 3 month program including music business, public relations theory and on-the-job training. Depending on the success of the Graduate Training Scheme, a full time position could be awarded.

You must have excellent written communication skills, love music and take pride in doing a Superstar job.

Minimum requirement of 2:1 undergraduate degree or higher. Applications from graduates with 2:2 mark accepted with demonstrable music experience. Work placements for current undergraduate students with minimum BBB at A-Level also available.

To apply, send a cover letter and CV to careers@outpostmedia.co.uk