Art Of Improv Festival

Spanning the clubwise modernist sensibilities of the Westside and the improv–central  Eastside, comes Warriors’ International’s  Freedom: The Art of Improvisation Festival, set to take place at London’s The Vortex in Hackney from June 27-28.
Continuing in the tradition of the famous Jazz Warriors, Warriors International are holding this two-day mid-summer festival held at The Vortex combining workshops, DJ sets and live music from midday.  Helmed by vibes-master Orphy Robinson and vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, The Freedom Festival builds on the duo’s highly acclaimed monthly Freedom Sessions – boundary pushing, uplifting jam and DJ sessions – that began life at Charlie Wright’s and is now at its new home at the Vortex. The Festival brings a unique Afro Caribbean perspective to the world of ‘improv’ and unites a scintillating cross generational, cross cultural collective of inspirational musicians to perform in a variety of multi-dimensional musical settings.

Saturday, June 27 – Highlights
Cleveland Watkiss opens the Festival with his Songerama workshop on Saturday morning with voice, body percussion and storytelling (open to all ages and aimed at the heart of the local community), while two legends from the original Jazz Warriors – Ray Carless (sax) & Claude Deppa (flugelhorn) follow with a workshop that promises an insight into the original universally acclaimed Jazz Warriors debut LP Out Of Many, One People.
Live sets include a performance exclusive to the Festival from AMPliFiER. Using live poetry as its libretto, jazz improvisation as its score and a feature-length silent film as its visual narrative, it features one of the UK’s most prominent trumpeters, Byron Warren with poet HBK Finn
The Xenicibis Ensemble present a freewheeling journey of soundscapes, frequencies, notes and tones uniting an array of the baddest young players on the scene today including Tori Handsley, Beibei Wang, Renell Shaw and Phillip Achille, amongst others.
Toni Kofi’s Sphinx Trio pays homage to the legacy of Ornette Coleman, re-envisioning some of the great man’s work with special guest vocalist Cleveland Watkiss. It paves the way for the late afternoon FREEDOM jam.
Bringing the day to a close downstairs is Cleveland Watkiss & Orphy Robinson’s Duke Joint, a unique DJ session remixing live the early Ellington big band sound with dub excursions of the innermost kind!

Sunday, June 28 – Highlights
Founder member of the London Improvisers Orchestra, Steve Beresford opens the day with a workshop on improvisation techniques followed by the Freeform Strings; a jam session led by a duo of virtuoso players, violinist Alison Blunt and cellist Kate Short. Flautist Rowland Sutherland reveals a dynamic new quartet that features Ansuman Biswas (perc)and the genius Steve Beresford merging together to create something that is transcendental, colourful, expansive, otherworldly and deep.
Mid-afternoon sees Orphy Robinson’s Black Top , an extended ensemble described as “Archaic Nubian Step Dub”. Known for their virtuoso performances combining twisted loops, Samples and Dub-FX, their sound is rooted in the free-jazz experiments of New York loft-scene innovators such as Sam Rivers & the Freeform explorations of Jamaican Joe Harriott. With special guest Cleveland Watkiss and Multi Media & Visuals from SDNA. This gives way to the final session of the day – The Freedom Jam.
Other DJ’s throughout the weekend include Ruth Fisher (Solar Radio), Kevin Legendre (Jazzwise) and Paul Bradshaw (Straight No Chaser/Ancient To Future) delvin  into the vinyl spanning the gamut of black music – Oliver Lake to King Tubby.
The Freedom Festival kicks off with a launch party at Brilliant Corners in Dalston featuring DJ sets from Jez Nelson (BBC Jazz On 3) and Chris Phillips (Jazz FM).

Weekend Pass (Saturday & Sunday midday–6.30pm) £17/children £10
Day Pass (midday – 6.30pm) £10


Visit: or call The Vortex on 020 7254 4097