Love Supreme Festival has been tempting me with its line-ups for the last few years now, always boasting the most impressive range of artists from the worlds of jazz, soul, funk, blues, and more. Most years I find myself in attendance of more alternative based festivals like ArcTanGent or 2000 Trees, and often this means there’s no room to make it to Love Supreme, but this year is different; this year I may have to make my first trip to Glynde Place.
This year’s line-up is no less exceptional than the years that have preceded it, ranging from legendary artists such as Lauryn Hill and Gladys Knight to more contemporary acty like GoGo Penguin and Snarky Puppy. The festival doesn’t just offer music either: one look at their website, and you’ll find that there’s a wide range of activities and things to do. Think hillside walks in the beautiful South Downs, late night jazz sessions on the bandstand, spoken word poetry performances, film screenings, Q&A’s with artists, and even yoga and well-being classes if that’s your thing!
All that aside, I’ve tried to boil down this massive range of entertainment into a comprehensive list. In no particular order, these are the top five performances that I am most looking forward to this year at Love Supreme:
The Cinematic Orchestra
I was introduced to The Cinematic Orchestra some time last year by my friend and then-drummer Micky D. Whilst chilling out at this flat in Bristol, he showed me the band’s early collaboration with Roots Manuva, “All Things to All Men”. For one reason or another, this track really stuck with me. It was also instantly recognisable as having been featured in the Kidulthood soundtrack, a movie I had been pretty attached to in my teen years.
The band recently released a new full-length LP entitled To Believe. I had hoped to review the record, but unfortunately couldn’t find the time. However, I can say that it’s been spinning in my house and headphones for the last few weeks, in quite heavy rotation. The record features another moving Roots Manuva collab, as well as spirited, memorable performances from featured artists such as Moses Sumney and Heidi Vogel. TCO are constantly trying to push the boundaries, sonically. I haven’t seen them live before, but it’s high on my list as of this year.
Orphy Robinson presents: Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks
To celebrate the 50th anniversary of Van Morrison’s seminal sophomoric album Astral Weeks, composer and band leader Orphy Robinson has put together a group of some of the finest jazz musicians in Britain to perform his interpretation of the classic album.
The original was recorded by some of the best players in the world at that time, fusing soul, folk, and modern jazz music together, underneath the unmistakably bright and brilliant voice of Van Morrison. Amongst Robinson’s band are players such as Tony Remy of Incognito fame, as well as singers Sarah Jane Morris and Zara McFarlane.
A lifelong fan of this record, and firm believer that it’s Van Morrison’s finest work, I am inordinately excited to see it performed live, in any capacity. I am especially excited for the rendition of the song “Beside You” in particular.
Chick Corea: The Spanish Heart Band
First being introduced to Chick Corea through his Return To Forever project, I admit that my interest in his discography mostly ended there for a long while, due mostly to the truly daunting undertaking that is his vast discography. It is overwhelmingly dense. However, in recent years I was introduced to the album My Spanish Heart thanks to another former band mate of mine.
Flamenco-infused jazz fusion, played by an octet of arguably some of the greatest players to ever grace a studio, and a key collaboration with the legendary Paco de Lucia, My Spanish Heart is a stand-out in the monolithic back catalogue of one Chick Corea. With his latest touring band, Corea looks back almost 30 years on the now iconic record, bringing it back to the stage.
Off the back of their latest release Immigrance, which was reviewed for EIN by Pete recently, Snarky Puppy are back in the UK for Love Supreme 2019. With their frequently changing live band, it’s impossible to tell who is going to be in attendance upon the stage at any given Snarky Puppy show. Being one of my entry-level introductions to the worlds of jazz fusion and neo-soul some years ago, the band’s music holds a special place in my heart.
Having seen them before in Cardiff, Wales back in 2017, I still maintain and echo my sentiments at that time, namely that these guys are the best-sounding live band I’ve ever heard. Their set is worth watching just to marvel at how incredibly self-aware and conscious of space within the frequency band these guys are. Of course, beyond that, their almost unbelievable displays of both musical virtuosity and – more importantly – sincerity are astounding, and not to be missed.
The band return the the United Kingdom and Ireland between the sixth and 16th of November this year, as well as playing many other shows across Europe. More information can be found on their official website.
Ms. Lauryn Hill
Always the subject of controversy in one way or another, the very educated Ms. Lauryn Hill has been touring hard for the last couple of years, performing classics from her solo career as well as her time with The Fugees. The set list appears a lot more coordinated and in line with what audiences are wanting, from what I can see; however, it’s evident that Hill isn’t performing the traditional arrangements of these classics, and that’s what’s appealing to me the most.
My favourite Lauryn Hill record of all time will forever be MTV Unplugged 2.0, which showcases her appearance at MTV Unplugged. Yes, that one. Often revered, or reviled by critics as being the turning point in Hill’s career, the album to me represents the total breaking down and rebuilding of character, channelled through live musical performance. A totally uncompromising, often uncomfortable listen that demonstrates the adverse affects of fame and fortune. From what I can see, Hill’s latest live performances try to bridge the gap between a performance as vulnerable and delicate as that, and as fierce and spectacular as those in her earlier career.
So there they are, the top five performances I’m most excited about for this year’s instalment of Love Supreme festival. The official line-up poster can be seen below; you’ll see for yourselves how hard it was to narrow it down to just five.
The festival takes places between the 5th and 7th of July, in the South Downs of Sussex. Visit the festivals official Facebook, Instagram and website for more information. Tickets can be purchased here.