May 23-24th 1970.
Plumpton Race Track. Streat. East Sussex.
Last update Aug 2003
This local paper report , which was written mainly from a jazz perspective just before the festival itself , was sent in by Kieran McCann .
Time to Do Your Peacock.
All but a few of the most dogmatic jazz fans will by now have dusted off their dark glasses and rinsed out their peacock coloured shirts in readiness for the holiday weekend and Plumpton 1970. For it is there on the racecourse , that for the second time a Bank Holiday festival of jazz orientated pop will be taking place.
On this occasion , which should not be confused with the national jazz pop and blues festival scheduled for August bank holiday , the festival will be happening throughout both a Saturday and Sunday , a scene which is estimated to attract a mammoth audience of over 10,000 people.
Planning for the gigantic festival will bring to Plumpton such top jazz /pop attractions as Ginger Bakers Airforce and Keith Tippett's group , Americas Richie Havens and a battery of British progressive groups , including Hard Meat and Black Sabbath , has not been unlike that for a full scale military operation .
The man in charge is festival director John Harmett , who I spoke to on the telephone last week. Mr Hammett , who as an executive at Wembley Stadium was one of the team responsible for organising the 1966 world cup there , told me that he had hired the same security team that had handled last year’;s Plumpton Festival so splendidly and that no effort is being spared to ensure that every possible facility will be available to those either visiting or sleeping overnight at the festival ground this weekend .
Although it racked up a record 70,000 admissions. last years Plumpton Jazz festival was I though a rather undistinguished one from a purely musical viewpoint . On that occasion hordes of spurious blues bands howled their wares and potted philosophies at the moon for hour after hour and the jazz enthusiast proper was shamefully neglected, bar a brief appearance by the then newly styled Chris Barber Band whose musicianship shone like skin through a hole in a dirty sock.
In 1970 however more and more jazz men have flowed into pop, giving it yet another blood transfusion and at the same time restoring to modern jazz a back to the roots feel it needs at a time when the music is too often in danger of outstripping its audiences musical comprehension .
One time jazz drummer Ginger Baker was one of the first musicians to adopt, if you cant beat em, join em methods when he , bassist jack Bruce and guitarist Eric Clapton met a few years ago and formed the cream , that now defunct group which was surely the first to break new ground by bringing real musicianship to progressive pop.
This year the formation of his own band Airforce Ginger is a little closer to ‘doing his own thing ‘ again , for within the ranks of the band are jazz soloists of the calibre of Harold McNair and drummer Phil Seamen . What little I have heard of Airforce has been quite impressive , although I still have a feeling that certain dangers do exist when a different kind of jazz comes so close to commercial music .
I remain unsure what the long term effect of the music of bands such as Airforce, Blood Sweat and Tears and even Ian Carr’s new group Nucleus will be . Is it possible that the jazz audience will become more fragmented than ever and that many listeners will be more eager to accept something that sounds like jazz instead of the real thing ?
On Sunday, when Ginger Baker’s Airforce take to the giant stage at Plumpton , we shall have an opportunity to see which way the wind of change is truly blowing .This column , fully garbed in its most esoteric attire, will be present to find out .
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