A music festival set up by Jazz FM on the grounds of Glynde Place in the Sussex countryside, we instantly felt the warm atmosphere of Love Supreme as we were met by the subterranean Brooklyn party madness of Moon Hooch and their huge saxophones. Wrapped in duvets and plastic bottles of wine, we found a spot on a hill, pitched our tent, took what we needed and stumbled into the festival, greeting the smiling security guards on the corner of VIP camping as we passed. They would reunite us more than once over the weekend.
Everywhere children played with balls and parents stood in groups wearing hats. Young friends drank cider, laughing and dancing. The corners of things were shimmering, colours shining, and music sounded better, but maybe it was the wine.
Skye & Ross of Morcheeba played well-loved songs exactly as they want to be heard, Skye in a dress that she made herself. The Erik Truffaz 4tet featured the effortlessly groovy trumpeter, wearing a small scarf with a hat, alongside an amazing drummer.
Happy surprises around every corner. Saturday night spiralled into a happy haze of off-beat limbs and smiling faces. We got separated as many times as we found each other, and Gilles Peterson and St Germain were the standout musical highlights of the night. These performances contributed to the colourful vibes that were present throughout the festival, adding to the special feeling of inclusiveness that a good music festival can create. In the current bizarre lunatic political climate, this was much needed and appreciated. In this chaos we missed Grace Jones and her costume changes – apparently “she was just wearing body paint and knee-high boots at one point” – but we were more than happy where we were, laughing about Brexit and listening to Gilles Peterson.
Sunday was a day of rest. We ate Stella in the sun, drank some of the best festival food out there and drove the car into a ditch. The happy chaos of the night before had given way to a subdued appreciation of the festival and the amazing, inspired music that we were surrounded by.
A born-again superstar of the future, Swindle is a multi instrumentalist, DJ and producer, constantly sunglassed and occasionally playing the guitar synth. This grimey jazz Pied Piper made sure that everyone under the age of twenty-five was getting down in the arena. He was followed by another multi-instrumentalist, Jacob Collier, genius inventor musician and another superstar of the future, an autistic white alternative to Swindle’s grime-infused electronic jazz. Both are mind-blowingly talented, but chalk and cheese.
Later, Manchester three-piece GoGo Penguin amazed a packed crowd with a masterful performance. Kamasi Washington, West Coast saxophone don, finished things off in beautiful and brilliant fashion. By this point we were half in bed and half dancing, but enjoying everything nonetheless.
In its fourth year, Love Supreme boasted internationally-renowned stars like Burt Bacharach, Grace Jones and Kelis, as well as international jazz acts, lesser-known bands and one or two DJs, so something for everyone. Almost, but not quite. For the nocturnal jazz lover, there was nothing to do past 2am and the line-up strangely lacked any jazz-infused hip hop, a genre heavy with the influence of jazz greats Coltrane, Davis and Sun Ra. Perhaps both birds could be killed with just one can of Stones?
Despite these minor points, Love Supreme soared. A festival for anyone who loves good music, eccentric dads in quirky hats, aged hippies with their eyes closed, Northern lads on 2CB, old ladies finishing off their knitting and everything in between.
We left with none of the normal post-festival depression. The good vibes of Love Supreme – the unending colour, variety and degree of beautiful breathtaking music, the happy dancing people – all contributed to the experience. The amazing music and great atmosphere make Love Supreme one to seriously consider for anyone who appreciates jazz and the diverse eccentricity that comes along with it.
Words: Josh Fenton-Thomas & Ben Staniforth
Images courtesy of Love Supreme Festival