Joy, Jams and Jazz at Love Supreme 2019

In its seventh year, Love Supreme proved itself to be one of the hottest weekends for any jazz enthusiasts in the UK. Pulling in a record 50,000 attendees, Glynde Place was teeming with crowds of the old and the young, as well as tents of all shapes, sizes, and activities. With an area specifically for children including classes such as circus skills, arts and crafts, and yoga the festival also established itself as the ideal weekend for families.

The sunshine-filled Saturday was pure festival bliss. A personal favourite for me was five-piece, New Orleans group Tank and The Bangas. The band’s effortlessly cool set was chock full of ethereal beginnings exploding into mass collisions of rock and jazz that were ideal listening for a baking hot afternoon. Making their new album, Green Balloon, the focal point of their set, lead vocalist Tarriona “tank” Ball glistened in her green silk two-piece, preaching body positivity and self-love in true 2019 fashion. Next on the Main Stage, was Louie Vega and the Elements Of Life, whose vivacious set brought quite literally an entire world of music to a field in Lewes. Full of covers and dance rhythms, Vega had everyone in crowd grooving in the sunlight. Following that, was Jimmy Cliff, whose flawless, feel-good reggae set of classics continued to keep everyone bopping.

By early evening, you could almost taste the anticipation for legend Gladys Knight in the air, and so having the UK’s The Cinematic Orchestra as a precursor may have come as a surprise to some. There’s no arguing that the group’s atmospheric, spine-tingling building of instrumentation was a huge contrast to the majority of music from the rest of the day. Nevertheless, the group’s set (focussing mainly around their comeback album To Believe) was, in my opinion, a delightful influx of contemporary jazz, highlighting exactly what the festival itself is all about. When the time finally came for the long-awaited headliner, the buzz of the crowd was undeniable, as well as completely justified. At 75, the icon may not have been the most physically mobile, but Knight’s voice proved itself to be as versatile as ever. A set of classics and covers (even including one of Sam Smith’s) was more a cementation of her unchallenging superiority and dominance than anything else, and truly something to be in awe of.

Unfortunately, Sunday did not bring the same glorious weather, but luckily an increase in sporadic rain showers did not prevent an increase in festival-goers. The day saw a continuation of the same positive, relaxed atmosphere and a clear dedication to music that had been in the air the day before. Jeremy Sassoon’s Ray Charles project brought all the smiles, with hits like ‘Hit The Road Jack’ making it applicable to watchers of any age. Mahalia’s set was also a personal love for me, and evidently for a few other members in the crowd as well. With fans singing along to lots of her tracks, the singer proved herself to be a real one to watch, and the rising star had the perfect, easy-going vibe for a Sunday afternoon.

However, it was the illustrious Ms. Lauryn Hill who really stole the show. She may have been half an hour late on stage, causing some definite unrest, but once she was on stage, Hill was truly captivating. Adapting some of her big hits by introducing jazz and gospel, it was hard to take your eyes off the former Fugees singer’s set for even a second. A real highlight was 10-year-old Princess K’s dance feature. The youngster danced on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury with Stormzy last week and shared that she’d missed out on meeting her idol (Hill) because a fly had flown in her eye. A show filled with gratitude and musical prestige, it was doubtlessly an unforgettable performance.

Love Supreme is a weekend of inexplicable festival ‘niceness’, tolerance, and lack of toilet queues (which is a real rarity today). The undeniably safe, family vibe means that any mania is in the drastic minority, and very much contained- moshpits and pints being thrown into crowds are a distant memory. It’s truly hard to feel anything but happy and content whilst spending the weekend here, and I would recommend that anyone who is a lover of jazz music, buys their ticket for next year as soon as possible.

All Image Credits: Love Supreme via Twitter