This weekend me and Mr Material Whirl went to the inaugural Love Supreme Festival, Jazz FM's first foray into the festival scene with a boutique, greenfield experience. And what a debut it was. Set in the idyllic grounds of Glynde Place in East Sussex and sheltered comfortably by the glorious Sussex Downs, even the perfect weather couldn't top the impressive world-class bill that featured Gregory Porter, Chic, Soweto Kinch and Jools Holland to name a few. Which I will, later.
Friday night began very nicely with DJs Chris Philips and Jeff Young in The Arena with Jazz FM's now legendary club event Funky Sensation - we all had a bit of a dance to classic jazz, funk, disco and soul and looked giddily ahead to two days of music and festival capers. Pru Fiddy, who took the reins from Jeff, knew where we were coming from - she looked like she was absolutely loving it. A slight mix up with the festival shuttle bus on our part (err, there wasn't one until Saturday) meant a possible stranded-in-Glynde-situation but we carried on dancing regardless and jumped in a late taxi back to Brighton with some other poor souls who hadn't planned properly either. No mind, we were tipsy and happy and the music was already working its magic.
Festival proceedings were kicked off good and proper on Saturday as the sun beat down fiercely on Glynde giving everything a gorgeous sienna glow. The vibe was friendly and up for it and the multi-age crowd smart but unpretentious. The ubiquitous festival food stalls were there (I had a pie every night. Yep, that's three pies) and some great vintage clothes stalls and record and book stores when we fancied a wander in between tunes.
Naturally, festival style fascinates me and Love Supreme gave good fashion-off. It was a real mixed bag; my favourites being festival brights, neon lips and plaited hair and some beautiful vintage skirts, African prints and sawn-off denim shorts with Navajo boots.
But ultimately we were there for the music and as expected from Jazz FM, it didn't disappoint bringing us a celebration of inspirational sounds. The line up included a dazzling selection of US artists and homegrown British talent that held its own amongst the big jazz guns. Highlights for me included the soulful singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka, and Chic with Nile Rodgers, resplendent in white suit, and who blessed the crowd with a steady flow of iconic disco classics. Gregory Porter's gorgeously honeyed voice and super tight band deeply wowed us and the rest of the crowd, with a set that effortlessly combined the exquisite mellow sounds of 'Be Good (Lion's Song)' with the glorious '1960 What?' that had the loyal crowd shouting back to the great man 'Ain't no need for moon light...' with fervour. Sadly we couldn't get in to the Big Top to see Courtney Pine as he was too popular and it was too squished but we caught the end of Soweto Kinch who had the crowd of all ages up on their feet.
Surprises for me were Charles Bradley & His Extraordinaires and the stunning self-taught singer-songwriter from London, Andreya Triana, who performed a beautifully raw and classy set to a packed Arena in killer print top and trousers. Woozy on her incredible voice and liberal after a few pints of crisp sun-drenched cider, my husband yelled out 'You're f**king amazing!' to which she endearingly responded 'You're bleeping cool too, dude!' and we all laughed and got lost in the hypnotic music.
The most memorable bit, arguably after a few more ciders (there is a theme here), was the Grand Marnier Hidden Charm secret space. Jools Holland and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra were doing what they do best and putting on a fine show with special guests including Gregory Porter and Roland Gift, but we were in need of another refreshment. Love Supreme promised that behind the elegant Parisian facade, a land of flamboyant characters, delightful drinking, music & joie de vie awaited us... and as we stumbled in we weren't disappointed - wow, what a way to end a cracking festival. The cocktails were indeed delightful, bar staff flamboyant but super friendly and the music supplied by DJ NoisseS was outstanding. He played an exquisite set fusing a multitude of sub-genres including hip hop, soul, reggae, funk, jazz and ska. Skilfully mixing The Notorious B.I.G., Musical Youth, Tom Jones and DJ Zinc to extraordinary effect, this was for music lovers of all ages and preferences. Incredible.
Sadly, the sun had to go down on Love Supreme's debut, and we made our back to London reluctantly and not really ready to leave (although my body cannot take any more booze or food consumed from a box for at least a few weeks). John Fordham writes in The Guardian that 'promoters Jazz FM and their partners may find they have invented the British jazz world's Glastonbury' and so if it that's the case I'm glad I was there to experience what I hope will be the first of many more to come. As Chic say, these are the good times.