On this Day: Basil Kirchin's Mind on the Run


Basil Kirchin is a name that you may not have come across, as he’s the forgotten genius of post-war British music.

Born in Blackpool, his life took him to many places, including London, Sydney and India, before settling in Hull.

During his lifetime, the drummer and composer experimented with all sorts of sounds and sensations. This led to the collision of popular and experimental musical cultures that predate and define much of the music we hear today.

As part of Hull 2017, an eclectic festival called Mind on the Run celebrated the life and soul of this fascinating individual.

At the time, we spoke to Sam Hunt, Executive Producer at Hull UK City of Culture 2017, to find out more.

“The idea for the festival came about during a conversation with Matt Stephenson and Alan Jones of Nova Studios,” said Sam.

“We were discussing ways of representing jazz as widely as possible and developing audiences in the process. It was agreed that Basil Kirchin brought these objectives together perfectly.”

Mind on the Run presented an incredible range of activity, from a showing of The Abominable Dr. Phibes, starring Vincent Price with a soundtrack by Kirchin, to free talks hosted by writer and critic Jane Cornwell.

“We seldom get opportunities to share unknown or long-lost stories,” Said Sam. “Matt Stephenson likened Kirchin’s work to discovering an original Picasso in your shed.”

The programme of activity was designed to be highly accessible for absolutely everyone. With beautiful vocal and lyrical content, experimental hip-hop and jazz, concluded with the BBC Concert Orchestra, it was truly wide-ranging.

“It’s very fortunate that 2017 can provide a platform to do this,” adds Sam. “And the response has been amazing too, with a Radio 3 takeover, articles in the Guardian and all kinds of other coverage.”

The series of events had been made in collaboration with organisations such as J-Night, the people behind Hull Jazz Festival, and Serious, the producers of the London Jazz Festival.

“This has allowed us to infuse every element with the spirit of Kirchin,” Sam explained. “It’s not so much a festival of Basil, but more a framework for programming artists who embody his style.”

Pushing boundaries through sonic experimentation, Mind on the Run was an outward-looking festival that’s still very much rooted in Hull.

“We can legitimately say that we’re crossing most musical genres,” said Sam. “From jazz, dance hall and disco, to crazy electronics and proto-sampling, it’s going to be a total eye-opener!”

Presenting six decades of Kirchin’s own work and the techniques that resulted from his wild imagination, Mind on the Run was absolutely unmissable.

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