High-hat clashes, trumpet trills and piano solos are about to bring Canada Square Park to life.

Canary Wharf Jazz Festival will take over the stage from Saturday, August 19 and 20 with nine acts performing across the two days.

Riot Jazz Brass Band will headline on the first night from 8.30pm with Steve Pycroft on the drum kit.

We caught up with him to find out where he measures up on the cool cat scale.

Who are you and what do you do?

My name is Steve Pycroft, I’m a drummer, composer and filmmaker. I write music and play drums for Riot Jazz Brass Band.

Where do you live?

In Manchester.


Older than I used to be.

What’s Riot Jazz all about?

Riot Jazz is about having fun, making music and enabling people to have a great time.

Describe your music.

High energy, happy, fun, full of love.

How did you get involved with the band?

I was approached by our band leader - Nick, and he asked if I’d like to play drums for a one off brass band gig at a club night called Riot Jazz. I said yes and the rest is history.

What’s with the name?

The name is inspired by the album ‘Riot Jazz’ by Youngblood Brass Band, who are a major influence to what we do.

Canary Wharf Jazz Festival: Riot Jazz

Are you a rowdy bunch then?


Have you ever been in a riot?

Thankfully, no!

What would enrage you enough to start a riot?

I’ll hopefully never have such uncontrollable rage!

How do you prepare to go on stage?

We massage each other and whisper loving comments in to each others’ ears.

Hardest part of being a drummer?

I absolutely love drumming. Can’t fault it!

What did you think of the film Whiplash?

I thought it was really entertaining. Quite an exaggeration compared to my experiences, though I have experienced bleeding hands due to excessive drumming!

Your first memory of music?

I remember playing clarinet in a wind band, and I kept getting lost because I was too preoccupied with watching the percussion section. I didn’t play clarinet for much longer.

Your hero and why?

My dad. He never complained and he always did what he said he would do. As a child, that was the most incredible motivation and inspiration.

When did you start playing?

When I was 11.

Why jazz?

I’ve never really chosen a genre to specialise in. But what I love about jazz is that anything goes. When anything goes, and there are no limitations - the best things can happen.

Weirdest project/moment you’ve had?

I arranged an orchestral piece for BBC Children in Need. The brief was to mix a song by One Direction with Verdi’s Anvil Chorus. The piece was performed by a full size orchestra. I absolutely loved it, but it’s not something you hear everyday!

Favourite place you’ve played and why?

Horizon Festival. We played this year - on top of a big mountain, and just as we went on stage, the most incredible storm hit the site. We continued - as we always do. And the reason it’s my favourite is that we put the same effort into the show as we always do. And the crowd kept on dancing - despite the conditions. Probably one of the most gratifying experiences I’ve had.

Have you been to Canary Wharf before?

Yes. We played at the festival a few years ago, and had an amazing time.

What can the audience expect from your gig here?

The best party they’ve ever had!

What else are you up to?

I run the Kaleidoscope Orchestra in Manchester. The aim of the orchestra is to bridge the gap between genres. We recently collaborated with Flux Pavilion on his album - Tesla.

I also MD and play drums in the London Elektricity Big Band. We’ve just played several shows around Europe - to incredible audiences.

Canary Wharf Jazz Festival runs in Canada Square Park on Saturday, August 19, 2pm-10pm and Sunday, August 20, 2.15pm-9pm. No ticket required.

Canary Wharf Jazz Festival: Mammals

Full line-up


2-3.15pm Rob Barron Quintet

3.45-4.30pm Poppy Ajudha

5-6.15pm Omar Puente Sextet

6.45-8pm Mammal Hands

8.30-10pm Riot Jazz Brass Band


Canary Wharf Jazz Festival: Luna Cohen

2.15-3.30pm Luna Cohen And Rob Luft

4-5.15pm Wild Card

5.45-7pm The Comet is Coming

7.30-9pm Melt Yourself Down

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