Can free jazz give cred to Dalston’s Gillett Square?

WITH A building calling itself Dalston Culture House, Gillett Square, off Kingsland High Street, promises much. But a tourist who straggles across the open space will see a bleak area dominated by greyness, occasionally relieved by the blue uniforms of a pair of plastic plods summoned to shoo away a few derelict people breaking the square’s ban on alcohol.

The Vortex jazz club puts on a bright face but several changes of operator of the café below the upstairs club suggests that it is not yet at the heart of hipster culture. You’ll find   that near Dalston Junction, a few hundred metres south.

So how brave of a group of cool jazzers (there are such beings) to take their music to Gillett Square for Match&Fuse, a free festival based at the Vortex, next month.

WorldService Project say they are touring “their ambitious initiative” with the “brightest, dirtiest young European and Scandinavian bands” as part of a five-year plan that includes London, Rome and Oslo (Oslo?).

They add: “M&F2012 will also feature a dance and percussion project, performances from local school workshops and the ginormous M&F big band, bringing together 18 of the European musicians into a chaotic whole.”

As for WorldService Project, keyboardist Dave Morecroft leads his team through “face-slapping funk” and “catchy zigzagging melodies”.  (That’s an edited version of  Time Out gush: it seemed best to spare you any more of the writer’s florid excesses.)

Among other performers will be Neo, a punk jazz trio from Italy; ReDiviDeR from Eire; and Tin Men and the Telephone, from the Netherlands, who narrowly defeat fellow M&F performers Les Rauchen Verboten (almost German for “No smoking”) for best band name.

Talking of apparently difficult words, Gillett should be pronounced as in Millett, just as it is with people of that surname, such as Charlie Gillett (1942-2010). The world-music champion was sharp  but nobody ever referred to him as a disposable razor blade.

David Altheer 150512

* Match&Fuse 2012, a free festival, Fri 15 June, from 8.15pm (so precise, so un-jazz) and Sat 15 June in the square and at Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London N16 8AZ, from 1pm. For more details, press this link.

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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6 thoughts on “Can free jazz give cred to Dalston’s Gillett Square?

  1. Gillett Square is typical of Hackney council, “creating a public space”, then turning its back on it for it to go to the dogs. There is no nice way of putting it; it is overrun with drinkers 24/7, who litter the place with beer cans and bags (despite the large number of bins provided).

    They are loud and abusive and urinate in every corner becuase the council hasn’t provided a simple urinal like the ones in Hoxton Square. The community days, of which there are many, would also warrant more in the way of facilities. The square will never be a “joy” until the council does something to clean it up.

    As for William’s comment, I’d say to him that there is a difference between “ethnically diverse” people and a group of street bums who treat the place like a toilet. Maybe I should send them around to your front door, William — they can be as “diverse” as they like — and see what you have to say then.

    Well, I am pleased to have received good reports of the festival the article was previewing, although my informants were jazz fans. — Ed.

  2. A couple of points of clarification:
    1) there have been 2 owners of the bar downstairs at Vortex over the past 7 years. I have been there for the past four.
    2) Oslo is regarded as a main centre for forming musical tastes. So the choice is justified

    Thank you. My recollection of two Italian incarnations must be faulty. For the benefit of readers, here is the URL of Downstairs @ The Vortex The bar describes itself as “a contemporary version of the traditional European brasserie”. — Ed.

  3. It might help the square if Hackney council got rid of the car park. Who would design a town square with a car park taking up half the space?

    1. Good point, Marc. There is a high volume of cars coming in and out at one end of the square and plenty of children playing near by. Accident waiting to happen, unfortunately.

      While I don’t think aspiring to be the “heart of hipster culture” should be the square’s ultimate aim, this is a good article, Editor. You’ve hit the nail on the head. The square is, unfortunately, a depressing space, despite the obvious attempts of people (like, I presume, Adam, above) who provide a space and equipment for children to play, etc.

      The boozebags seem generally well-behaved, but the top end of the square is firmly theirs. I pass through twice a day. I’ve never seen anyone move them on.

  4. So Ed, for you, regeneration implies the colonisation of an ethnically diverse and interesting place by white middle-class yuppies?

    I did not mention ethnicity, whiteness or the economic status of anyone, yuppie or otherwise, nor did I imply any mention of them. Whatever makes you raise them? — Ed.

  5. This commentary is both glib and ignorant. Worse, it is divisive, as if those of us who have helped to transform Dalston over the past 10 years have to be set up against each other in a competition for who is the hippest of all.

    Clearly, the commentator has no idea of the amazing number of good things that go on in Gillett Square, nor of how it and the Vortex has brought Dalston to the world stage.

    Sure there are issues, not least the weather and public-sector cuts and increasing marginalisation in London that are affecting the quality of life here, but comments of this sort only make the situation worse. So lay off, and come and get involved.

    Glib, perhaps; ignorant, not. No hipness contest was intended: the aim was to contrast the square’s (commendable) attempt at regeneration with one where it is happening. — Ed.

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