Battle Jazz Festival, 22-23 July 2023

Brian O'Connor witnessed 10 gigs over two days at an East Sussex festival totally devoted to jazz, with no "side" ventures

Battle Jazz Festival 2023. Clockwise from top left - Elaine Delmar, Jason Rebello, Art Themen, Steve Watts. Photo © Brian O'Connor

The second Battle Jazz Festival, held over two days at the Memorial Hall, Battle in East Sussex was a total success.  There were 10 gigs over two days, totally devoted to jazz, with no “side” ventures. It formed part of the 2023 Battle Festival.

Saturday’s line-up was Byron Wallen’s 4 Corners, the Kirk Lightsey-Steve Watts Duo, the Denys Baptiste Quartet, the Jason Rebello-Tim Garland Duo, and the Darius Brubeck Quartet. On Sunday it was the Art Themen Quartet, Robert Mitchell’s True Think, Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur, Orlando Le Fleming and Romantic Funk, and the Elaine Delmar Quintet.

Each group played one set each, and the concert on the Sunday night by Elaine Delmar provide a very satisfying finale to the weekend, her voice undiminished by the years. To paraphrase Dexter Gordon, “Whatever she’s on, I’ll have some.”

The programme was devised by John Donaldson, of piano and Jazz Hastings fame. He deserves much praise and the Battle Festival committee deserve huge thanks for having the courage to promote a pure jazz event.

The date for 2024 has already been booked: 20 July. Unfortunately it will be only one day rather than a whole weekend. The Battle Festival did not receive any public funding this year, and it looks as if the same problem will pertain in 2024. So, it is even more important that the public support the entire festival. Jazz enthusiasts should book the 20 July as soon as tickets become available.