Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Gateshead International Jazz Festival

Had a brilliant weekend at the Jazz Festival.
First I attended a workship by Cleveland Watkiss. It was intended for young people between 12 and 21, so I felt right at home! What a great 90 minutes that was. Looking back it's amazing to see the amount of ground he covered and what there was to learn. I even managed to sing and improvise a bit, which was huge fun. Afterwards he was kind enough to give me a 15 minute interview, in spite of being ready for his siesta.

In the evening he took part in a programme called Word Up, where he performed one set, Zena Edwards another and Napoleon Maddox a third.  You should really look for all these artists on you tube or wherever you can find them. Finally they performed an improvised piece together, combining their unique styles of words and music.

On Sunday Zena Edwards kindly sat down with me under the stairs on one of the balconies (the only place we could find which was relatively quiet and where we wouldn't be disturbed) and gave a good interview of at least a quarter of an hour. We could have gone on for ages - actually we did, but the rest was off mic. Later she had a gig in Sunderland and I was able to tag along and record part of that performance and make more photos.
Zena is a very special poet who uses words and music to weave a spell on her audience. In Sunderland a fairly rowdy group was mesmerised by her performance. Let's hope she can come up to the North East more often so that more people can get to hear her wonderful poetry.

This week's Celestial Navigation on Friday will be based around the themes of Breath and the Voice and will include both the interviews mentioned here, together with work by all three artists, Zapp Mama, Sweet Honey in the Rock and lots more a capella music.
PLUS......... special guest poet, Sheree Mack.
Don't miss it!  4pm on Friday 1 April (too late for jokes) on 102.5fm locally or online at
If you're not able to listen at that time, watch out for the podcast which will be uploaded later on Friday evening -

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