Kershaw, though is often the key element […] noticeable when he isn’t there, providing solid pillars of sound that hold the whole thing up.
The Oxford Jazz Masters Series (‘OxJaMS’) concept was born in 2005 when George Haslam floated a proposal to present world-leading exponents of free improvisation, avant garde and contemporary jazz in a venue offering the prestige that the art merits. That venue was the Holywell Music Room in Oxford – a venue housing a superb Steinway grand piano, and whose sublime acoustics have traditionally hosted groundbreaking music since the time of Handel. Having convinced fellow musicians Richard Leigh Harris and Steve Kershaw of the attractions the proposal offered, private sponsorship was secured to support the first season of concerts, where the programme presented the host musicians with selected guests.
February 2006 saw the inaugural concert, when their guest was, appropriately, an undisputed world leader: ECM recording artist Evan Parker. During 2006 OxJaMS comprised six concerts in total, with British artists of world recognition – Lol Coxhill, Paul Rutherford, Harry Beckett - as well as some great musicians from Estonia, Italy and Argentina. Some performances were recorded, and have been released to considerable critical acclaim on the SLAM records label.
OxJaMS remains committed to the presentation of the very best exponents of the art, from both Britain and abroad, in a venue convivial to the creative spirit of the musicians and the comfort and enjoyment of the audience. All events are properly marketed, ticketed and contracted, and this uncompromising stance was recognised by a Performing Rights Society Foundation for Music (PRSF) and Jazz Services Promoters Award that ensured the continued programme into 2007.
Since that time the OxJaMS project has maintained and stimulated its existing audience by continuing to promote challenging and ground-breaking performances, either at the Holywell Music Room in the intimate surroundings of the Burton Taylor Studio theatre (BTS) in Oxford, which allows the promotion of artists who do not need the benefit of a top quality acoustic piano, but who benefit from a superbly lit, acoustically sympathetic performance space with excellent sight-lines. The catchment of both the Holywell Music Room and the BTS extends well beyond the confines of ‘hard core’ jazz/improvised music fans (although these regularly travel over 100 miles to attend the concerts), to embrace a pleasing number of listeners new to the genre. The BTS concerts are regularly over-subscribed.
With the help of further generous grants from PRSF and Jazz Services, OxJaMS seeks to develop this successful formula into the future by continuing to provide a platform for the development and performance of new British jazz at the highest level in the best possible environment.
- George Haslam’s Cuban Meltdown with Bobby Carcassés, SLAMCD 515, 2007
http://www.slamproductions.net/menus/main.asp?PN=detail&QItemID=213'This music has a joyous, uplifting Cuban groove that makes me want to dance and smile' (Jazzwise)Coxhill, Haslam, Harris & Kershaw, From Wychford Hill, SLAMCD 323, 2007
http://www.slamproductions.net/menus/main.asp?PN=detail&QItemID=223#'Coxhill’s work has been touched by genius, and this beautiful meditation shows a free master still at the height of his powers' (Jazz Review)
- Haslam, Beckett, Pastor, Harris, Kershaw, Holywell Session Live in Oxford, SLAMCD 324, 2007
'Sessantacinque minuti di pura bellezza che fanno bene all'anima' (tr. 'sixty five minutes of pure beauty which gratify the soul') (Alias n.6 anno 11 - Il Manifesto)
- Haslam, Pastor, Kershaw, Hession, Helios Suite, SLAMCD 325, 2007
'A sonic essay of light, colour, pastels and shade, with the sublime, transformative power of the sun at its centre ... This is jazz of the world!' (Morning Star)
- Nick & Leonid Vintskevitch, Steve Kershaw & Petter Svärd, Songs From the Black Earth, SLAMCD 277, 2008
'Leonid Vintskevitch's piano tone is beautifully lucid. His delicate touch makes every note count ... Leonid's piano is amazing: playing the piano strings as well as its keys, and creating his own dazzling counterpoint between left and right hands' (Music Web International)