For an immersion in the world of jazz, and a chance to learn more about its evolution, I recommend you hop or jive down to Two Temple Place to see a really lovely exhibition called Rhythm & Reaction, the Age of Jazz in Britain.
It’s 100 years since the first Dixieland Jazz band arrived in London and caused a sensation but, according to Catherine Tackley, Head and Professor of Music at Liverpool University, the curator of this show, the word and the concept had already arrived. The argument of this show is that jazz is a concept, not just a description for music influenced by African American culture. Jazz infiltrated and infected all kinds of art from film to dance to design and in the way we could listen to music – encouraging everyone to buy records and play them at home!
British jazz emerged and was embrace pretty quickly and it’s great to see evidence of its far reaching influence through the assembly of so many objects. I particularly enjoyed some of the art which has been collected showing crowded dance halls, nightclubs, impromptu dancing on streets and some wonderfully stylised paintings. I’ve featured a trio of works here – two by Edward Burra and one by Thomas Cantrell Dugdale.
And this extraordinary work by John Bulloch Souter called The Breakdown 1962, brings a surrealist element to the depiction of jazz and highlights the inevitable racist element which existed in early jazz, performed mainly by black artists.
There’s a great collection of instruments too which make you long to hear them being played. And some surviving shoes which bear the scars of energetic dancing.
This show is great just to roam around, soaking up the atmosphere of jazz, from the black and white films of performers to the constant background playing of great music. It’s fun to see the jazz effect on ceramics, wallpaper and sculpture.
And it’s always a treat to have the chance to explore Two Temple Place which is an astonishing Neo Gothic Mansion built by William Waldorf Astor in 1895 which is full of sensational carving, stained glass and fabulous friezes which adorn the gracious rooms.
This show is on until 22nd April 2018. http://www.twotempleplace.org