Jazzing it up London Style

frank griffith master pic

Frank Griffith – Photo: Angela Shine

Jazz saxophonist and clarinet musician Frank Griffith will perform at the 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival, which starts this week and sees its landmark 21st birthday year. As the Festival comes of age; the 10-day spectacular’s claim to be the capital’s biggest pan-city music festival is reinforced by approximately 2,000 musicians attending from all over the globe.

Mr Griffith, 54, born in Oregon, is on the judging panel for the renowned Dankworth prize for Jazz composition and is a purveyor of jazz. He started playing clarinet aged 6 and began to develop as a jazz musician at 16. A composer, arranger and performer; he will perform and arrange the Café Society Swing show, which celebrates a venue in New York called the ‘Café Society Club’ back in the late 1930’s and 1940’s with songs from this era. Written and produced by musical composer Alex Webb, this one-off performance is a rare treat as its sell-out run at the Tricycle theatre finished last year.

The legendary Café Society Club, owned by Barney Josephson, who died in 1988, historically broke convention by promoting racial equality. Hosting some of the most celebrated black musicians in history such as Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Lena Horne amongst others.

Mr Griffith said ‘It’s the story of a club. The club was besieged by what they call redbaiting, which was McCarthyism in the 1940’s and 50’s when people who were accused of being communists were brought back down to their knees and their businesses and their livelihoods were destroyed. Many of those accused, who didn’t whistle on their mates, had to leave the States, so there’s a lot of drama, it’s not just a bunch of songs.’

With performers like Alexander Stewart, Gwyneth Herbert and China Moses (daughter of Dee Dee Bridgewater) on stage, this promises to be a unique re-enactment and well worth the £16-18 fee.

The London Jazz Festival has an impressive partners and supporters list but this year secured title sponsorship for the event from private bank group EFG International. Talking about the banks sponsorship, Keith Gapp, EFG’s Head of Strategy and Marketing said ‘What’s good about jazz is it’s not a musical form where there’s a lot of posturing or pretence, it’s a passion that connects with people for the rest of their lives.’ The self-proclaimed jazz fan added ‘Organisation of the London Jazz Festival is absolutely first class. It’s one of the greatest jazz festivals in the world.’

The Festival has venues ranging from Café OTO to the Barbican, so whether you prefer an intimate setting or a full-on concert hall; there is certainly a wide choice; over 280 performances in more than 60 venues. The next week and a half will see established names like Bob James and David Sanborn amongst a diverse range of worldwide respected musicians plus newly emerging stars. An expected 75-80,000 jazz lovers from far and wide will descend on our nation’s capital to consume this musical feast.

Ronnie Scott’s

Ronnie Scott’s, one of London’s famous jazz venues has events running throughout the Festival and already some shows are sold out. Paul Pace, Music Bookings Co-ordinator at Ronnie Scott’s said ‘We are a business and it is an important and very positive collaboration.’ He also added that they choose their acts by ‘Booking best quality jazz with musical excellence.’

Evolving from the Camden Jazz Festival, the Festival’s journey to adulthood has grown and progressed with the help of Arts Council England National Portfolio organisers ‘Serious’. Publicist for Serious, Sally Reeves said ‘We are delighted to be celebrating the 21st birthday of the EFG London Jazz Festival, it’s going to be one of the best years yet.’

The events include free debates, interviews and performances as well as ticketed shows. There are also jazz and sing-a-long workshops for children.

The Café Society Swing Show is on the 21st November at the Arts Depot in North Finchley. The London Jazz Festival runs from the 15th to the 24th November.

China Moses sings ‘What is this thing called love?’ from the Cafe Society Show

Further details are available online at http://www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk.

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Sun Editor David Dinsmore on Page Three, Phone Hacking and Hillsborough

David Dinsmore during interview with John Pienaar

Photo: Angela Shine   By Angela Shine

David Dinsmore, now five months into his editorship of The Sun newspaper, was speaking at a Breakfast Forum hosted by The London Press Club at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London.  In interview with John Pienaar, Chief Political Correspondent on Radio 5 Live, he spoke about the newspaper’s past and future.

Mr Dinsmore, ex Director of Operations at News International, looked sharp and focused as the session began. He answered questions on ex Chief Whip Andrew Mitchell and the police at Downing Street and spoke about his ‘pain every day’ for arrested and mistreated journalists abroad as well answering questions on a diverse range of news topics.

When asked whether he was considering moving away from Page Three, Mr. Dinsmore replied ‘I make the paper for the readers, I don’t make it for the No More Page Three Campaign, I don’t make it for the Twitterati, I don’t make it for readers of the Guardian.’  He talked about the various polls and investigations done with focus groups and continued ‘the word that came back loud and clear was ‘do not touch it.’ He also said that women offered strong support for the feature adding; ‘they feel it is intrinsic to the brand and also they don’t want to be told, by someone else, what should be in their paper.’ And finally ‘Frankly, I have now parked the issue and we move on.’

‘I make the paper for the readers, I don’t make it for the No More Page Three Campaign, I don’t make it for the Twitterati, I don’t make it for readers of the Guardian.’ He talked about the various polls and investigations done with focus groups and continued ‘the word that came back loud and clear was ‘do not touch it.’

Discussing changes to the layout of the paper, he talked about making the paper more lively and vibrant by including single column stories of interest and changing set sections to different pages. He later commented ‘It is not set in stone that there must be a pair of breasts on page three every day in The Sun.’

Phone Hacking

I asked Mr. Dinsmore if he thought phone hacking should be allowed, and if so, in what circumstances would he use it for journalism? He replied ‘No, I don’t think it should. It’s illegal, apart from anything else.

As he took questions from the floor, I asked Mr. Dinsmore if he thought phone hacking should be allowed, and if so, in what circumstances would he use it for journalism? He replied ‘No, I don’t think it should. It’s illegal, apart from anything else. Are there circumstances? I just can’t see any circumstances in the UK where anyone would ever, in their right mind, hack a phone again. No matter what the story is, because of what has come from all of this. Now it could be that if this hadn’t happened, you could possibly make an argument that something was in such public interest that you could do, but I think you’d have to be to be in leave of your senses to go and do that.’

When questioned on Hillsborough, he spoke about the ‘special challenges’ involved and commented ‘there is no doubt there were mistakes made in the past’ adding ‘Everybody had the same story, we just had the wrong headline on it.’  Mr. Dinsmore also said ‘I don’t expect to start selling papers again in Liverpool.’

When asked whether the paper has lost its Mojo, he replied ‘I’ve been here five months; we changed the name of The Sun to The SON when Prince George was born; that kinda went round the world, it was something that was different and exciting and a great snapshot of that moment in time.’ Adding ‘I don’t think it has lost its Mojo, what has changed is the media landscape.’ Acknowledging those changes as he compares the newspaper market four years ago,  he adds ‘We have to kinda recalibrate where we are today because I don’t think the Sun will sell 4m print newspapers today, but I don’t see there’s any reason why we can’t have 4m subscribers in the future.’

Researching the internet, you will find the clean lines of the News UK website combining The Times, The Sun and The Sunday Times. The website is already casting its metaphoric net with iPad versions of themselves, print and paper costs free. Of course the Sun is offering a tempting ‘Appy days’ Get the paper on your iPad – Free Download. Click on a small, interactive icon, strategically placed next to a mini front page of each paper and the news is at your fingertips, literally.

His eyes firmly on making The Sun a paid for multi platform readership; he appears to be in morph mode to meet the ever-changing needs of his readers. With the lure of so much available free web content, only time will tell if he will reel the falling Sun readership figures back in via on-line subscriptions.

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Paddington Cleaners Fight Dirty Over ’London Living Wage’

RMT Strikers in London

RMT Strikers in London  Photo: Angela Shine

Workers at Mitie Group PLC are on their second 24 hour strike within a month as they demand ‘The London Living Wage’. The RMT members, mostly train cleaners, were chanting and waving flags outside London’s Paddington Station in a bid to gain attention from employer Mitie Group PLC, who are under contract to First Great Western Railways. The strikers are demanding to be brought back ‘in house’ so that they get the benefits associated with working for the company.

Steve Hedley, Assistant General Secretary of the Rail Maritime Transport Union said ‘Boris Johnson promised everyone a London Living Wage of £8.50 an hour, but some of these workers are on £6.37.’ He continued ‘We’ve been in negotiation for a period of years; we don’t get proper sick pay, we don’t get pensions, we don’t get free travel like everyone else who works for First Great Western because we’re contractors. ’Mitie Group PLC and the RMT met yesterday, the second time in a fortnight but without resolution. Strategic outsourcing company Mitie Group PLC have been contracted to First Great Western for two years and the RMT believe that Mitie Group PLC have agreed  Boris’s 2012 promise of a London Living Wage of £8.55 for other cleaners elsewhere in the London’s capital after heavy negotiations.

Erica Lockhart, Head of Corporate Affairs for Mitie Group PLC said ‘We have met with them but I don’t want to comment further.’ Mitie Group PLC then released a statement ‘We have only recently confirmed an extension of our contract with First Great Western, and as are now in a position to have further discussions with the RMT. We hope to reach an agreement with the union but have full contingency plans in place to ensure no disruption to passengers travelling during a strike.’

Inside Housing.co.uk reported that Mitie Group PLC posted preliminary results for the 2011/12 financial year and reported a 5.9 per cent increase in turnover to £2 billion. Its operating profit before other items increased 7.2 per cent to £111.7 million while its pre-tax profit increased 8.9 per cent from £86.8 million to £94.5 million.

As the workers united in their shouts for a better working package, Steve Hedley added ‘if this doesn’t bring them to the table, it will be longer periods of strike’