Streaming services are seeing a jazz renaissance amongst younger fans
By Kamilah McInnis BBC Reporter
Getty ImagesNubya Garcia describes her eclectic sound as "passion"
After spending years adrift from the musical mainstream, jazz is enjoying an unexpected return to the limelight.
An explosion of young musicians are exploring the sound and a new movement is hitting the high notes with both listeners and players.
The increasing surge of interest has been reflected in both live performance ticketing sales and streaming figures.
Spotify told the BBC that in the past six months, the number of UK users aged 30 and under listening to their flagship Jazz UK playlist had increased by 108%.
Smaller streaming platforms such as Deezer and Amazon Music reported similar increases.
The growth has been attributed to a flourishing UK scene which fuses jazz with a variety of genres.
Dr Peter Elsdon, a musicologist at the University of Hull, describes jazz as "a chameleon" that constantly changes colour to reflect its environment.
"What you're hearing is something that's got the essence of jazz but with a lot of other contemporary music,' he says.
Dr Elsdon also acknowledges that streaming has allowed us to make connections between different artists and genres faster than before; and that young people are more open to exploration.
Getty ImagesYoung fans enjoying the atmosphere in the crowd at Love Supreme Jazz Festival
"Because of the way streaming services work, people can find out about jazz more easily and quickly than they might have been able to in the past," he explains.
As well as streaming, Dr Elsdon notes that social media means jazz artists can market themselves directly to fans, promoters and venues.
"It's possible now to put your music out there and get gigs without a major record deal.
"That makes the whole scene a lot more interesting, actually, because you don't have it being controlled by a few labels. It's more democratic."
BBC News has spoken to four artists at the forefront of this resurgence.
Oscar Jerome, 26
Ale X KurunisOscar Jerome believes young artists and listeners are searching for something more "relevant to them now"
Oscar Jerome is a guitarist and singer-songwriter from Norwich, who now resides in London.
Despite studying jazz at Trinity College of Music, he used to avoid the label due to its "negative connotations".
"I was worried people would think it wasn't energetic music that they could dance to; or that it wasn't necessarily something that they could relate to," he says.
The 26-year-old's music is a melting pot of genres; jazz, hip-hop, blues, soul, house, West-African music and even Jimi Hendrix, who he cites as a "big influence."
"As long as it's soulful, I like it," he says.
Jerome feels that young musicians and listeners are making, mixing and searching for music that's more "relevant to them now".
"I would say that popular music now is very saturated. In terms of the charts, you can just tell that most of that music has been written for those people by a group of songwriters. It doesn't really mean anything."
"A lot of people are searching for something outside."
Nubya Garcia, 26
Nubya Garcia is a London-based saxophonist and composer who describes her music as a "healthy dose of my love for jazz, electronic music, hip-hop, calypso, soca and modal jazz."
"The sound that you're hearing is passion," she adds.
Her eclectic sound has drawn a diverse audience. In August she'll even be making a trip to Croatia to perform at the electronic music festival Dimensions.
"I don't fit in to just one venue," she says. "I could fit into a concert hall, I could fit into a dirty club, I could fit into a jazz club, I could fit in to a warehouse."
"This body of music that is happening at the moment, it's versatile in terms of who and where we're playing to and where we're playing, especially in the UK and around the world," she explains.
Well-known for her confident and expressive performances, Garcia feels the increaseof music lovers attending live shows has played a "big part" in helping the new jazz scene to grow.
"People want to feel the music, the energy and see what's going on," she says.
Moses Boyd, 27
Getty ImagesMoses Boyd is a "sound-system baby" who's bringing the carnival to jazz
Moses Boyd is a drummer from London and an omnipresent contributor to the evolving UK jazz scene.
He's played with a roster of big names; Sampha, Nubya Garcia, Zara McFarlane, Little Simz and Four Tet to name but a few.
He also has his own band, The Exodus.
"Even if you don't see me on the stage, I'm on a lot of the records that are becoming staples [of] the jazz scene or the new emerging jazz scene," he says.
The 27-year-old describes himself as a "sound-system baby" and wants to bring the carnival to jazz.
"I'm West Indian, born here second generation but my family are from Dominica and Jamaica, so I grew up with soca, reggae and all that kind of music."
"When you go to carnival and you hear that bass in your stomach, I felt that was missing from jazz. I wanted to utilise that back and bring that communal aspect of music for the dance and that's what sound-system culture is about."
Femi Koleoso, 23, from Ezra Collective
Getty ImagesFemi Koleoso says Ezra Collective's sound is "authentically London" and "mixed with the jazz tradition"
Despite their youth, Ezra Collective are one of the longest-running bands within the new wave of UK jazz music.
The five-piece met at the age of 16 through Tomorrow's Warriors, a jazz music education and artist development organisation that works across the country.
Six years later and the group are going stronger than ever.
"I would describe Ezra Collective's sound as a really authentically London sound, blended and mixed with the jazz tradition and everything else we love, whether that's Afro-beats, hip-hop, house, reggae, dub, funky-house, grime," says the group's drummer Femi Koleoso.
It's these original "cocktail" compositions that Koleoso believes are attracting listeners.
"So things like me sitting on a stage and playing a song that's older than my Nan, I'll play a song I wrote and then maybe some peers that were born in the 90s will understand where I'm coming from."
Love Supreme FestivalDrummer Femi Koleoso sits in the middle alongside the other members of Ezra Collective
Koleoso says the "momentum" of the jazz scene is unstoppable.
"I think this movement, this music and what's going on, it's got the capacity to headline festivals. Not just jazz festivals, but mainstream festivals. It's got the capacity to sell out huge venues."
All four artists performed at Love Supreme, the UK's first full weekend camping jazz festival.
Launched in 2013, the event has grown from 5,000 attendees to 34,000 multi-generational fans in just five years.
Love Supreme Festival Love Supreme Festival is located in the middle of South Downs National Park, Glynde
"Jazz can be traditionally quite an old genre and quite an urban genre as well. So we've taken it out of the city, we've taken it out of the concert halls and we've taken it out of the grey hair basically," festival founder Ciro Romano tells the BBC.
"We're all for our older audience, but we're also embracing our younger audience. This music is amazing and we're trying to bring it to a broader audience and make it less elitist."
Interestingly, many of the new generation of jazz artists have collaborated with each other – helping create their own scene and fuelling the festival's success.
"Those young London artists that are all working with each other to create a web of talent, it's all interconnected, so really it's them," says Ciros.
"If they didn't exist then we wouldn't exist, or we'd exist in a different form.
"It's really interesting what's happening."
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