Originally launched by local musician and promoter Ken Ford in 1983 (see Archive) and now entering it's fortieth consecutive season! Hulljazz runs an annual programme on alternate Wednesday evenings between September and July. Hulljazz was established for many years at the Goodfellowship Inn on Cottingham Road near to the University of Hull with a reputation for providing the best of local, regional, national and even international jazz musicians and bands.
The Covid-19 pandemic devastated our plans for the 2020-21 season, and with restrictions eventually lifted we found ourselves picking up the pieces and looking for a new permanent venue. For the first few events of the 2021-22 season we lighted upon the Springhead Tavern in Anlaby, East Yorkshire, and the William Gemmell Ale House on Anlaby Road in Hull.The former is a well established local music venue and home for many years to the now sadly defunct Frank Cleveland Big Band. The latter was formerly known as the Humber St Andrew's Social Club which has recently re-opened after re-branding, and, with the welcome assistance of a re-start bursary from the Arts Development Unit of Hull City Council to support the 2021-22 season, the William Gemmell Club is the current home of Hulljazz where regular programming continues.
Cancelled due to Covid
Jamil Sheriff and Ben Crosland kick off Jazz In Hull's 40th anniversary year
Martin Longley writing in www.jazzwise.com
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 4, 2023
Martin Longley anticipates the 40th anniversary of Hulljazz, with gigs by Jamil Sheriff's Five Gold Rings and Ben Crosland.
The Hulljazz organisation has been operating since 1983, with a steady stream of gigs that continues into their 40th anniversary year of 2023. Down the decades they've, like many similar outfits, adopted a wandering mission to settle into an ideal venue. Since the virus lockdowns ended, they've been ensconced at the William Gemmell Ale House, on the outskirts of Hull's city centre. This joint has the aura of an old social club, with a spacious music room to the rear, the kind of place where we'd usually find a trad jazz club. Instead, the Hulljazz folks are geared up towards a more mainline manifestation of the music, without much New Orleans stomping, but also not likely to be hosting the newer wave of frisky young Northern talent. That line travels from Leeds to York, not often making it as far as Hull, although the J-Night team that promotes the Hull Jazz Festival has booked a handful of gigs at new venue Social, on the trendsome Humber Street run. Shows by Arun Ghosh and Nubiyan Twist were pretty packed out with a crowd of many ages. Keyboardist Jamil Sheriff played with Ghosh, and a few months later he returned to Hull with his Five Gold Rings, for Hulljazz at the Ale House. Wednesdays remain the favoured night of Hulljazz.
Sheriff presented mostly original compositions, deliberately angled towards the retro-Blue Note classic style, and joined by Richard Iles (trumpet), Jim Corry (alto saxophone), Sam Quintana (bass) and Caroline Boaden (drums). Specifically, there were 12 tunes, penned during the Christmas of 2021. Sheriff kept the fluid alto and flügel out front, but still soloed liberally himself, on the versatile Nord keyboard, although primarily maintaining its core acoustic piano setting. The mostly Leeds-based band elected to perform down on the room's floor, giving them more space, and setting them closer to the audience. The stage itself sometimes feels a touch distant, and forces the artists into a huddle. 'Red Kite' was intended as a Latin tune, but in reality this influence was diluted, aside from the leader's own solos. A 'Speed Awareness Course' might actually exist, and here it had a classic 1950s Miles nature, sleek and sprightly, the horn solos chasing each other with an enthusiastic jostle. Sheriff often went into solo hyperventilation mode during the two sets, to no bad effect, particularly during 'Spiral Into Control' and 'Friends From The Eighties'.
Hulljazz was founded by musician Ken Ford (bass'n'banjo), its chief venue being the Goodfellowship Inn, quite close to the University Of Hull. Before that, Hulljazz began in the Piper Club, then the YPI Sports Club and the Dee Street Club. Ford passed onwards in 2016, and Dave Ellis (bass'n'tuba) has lately become the team's frontman. There was a brief period of using The Springhead Tavern in Anlaby, but the Hulljazz gigs soon gravitated to the William Gemmell Ale House, in September '21.
A month later, just before Christmas, the Ben Crosland Quartet were booked to appear, but saxophonist Rod Mason was taken ill, and the band switched to a trio. They were planning on a diverse repertoire distilled from multiple projects, but suddenly they had to become a standards combo. Dean Stockdale could be a contender for leader, now that they were a piano trio (along with a returning Boaden), this time performing up on the actual stage. Crosland's electric bass became a singing axe, often inhabiting an upper range, with its hollow body construction. Golden oldies swished by, such as 'It Could Happen To You' and 'Have You Met Miss Jones?', this latter given a gospel treatment, with Crosland soloing, plus subtle brushes from Boaden, and eventual decoration courtesy of Stockdale. Then there was the deeply inappropriate 'Sunny Side Of The Street' (frosted conditions had doubtless discouraged many potential attendees). Of course, Crosland managed to include an original towards the end, his minor blues 'Peter The Wolf', dedicated to valve trombonist Peter Maguire.
As we inch into 2023, the Hulljazz folks already have gigs booked up until at least April, with sessions happening on an approximately fortnightly basis. It's quite an achievement for a jazz promoter to weather four decades of consistent activity.