Preview: Middlesbrough jazz weekend

The Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender - the first major jazz festival in the town since 1978 - brings Chris Barber, Roller Trio and others to the newly refurbished Town Hall

From Friday 19 to Sunday 21 October, the Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender will bring some top jazz performers to the town for its first major jazz festival in 40 years. The weekender, programmed by Ros Rigsby from the Gateshead International Jazz Festival, includes two acts that appeared at the 1978 event: Chris Barber (pictured right) with his Big Chris Barber Band, and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra.

The Weekender promises appearances by acts from Britain and the USA. As well as the Big Chris Barber Band and NYJO, UK acts include Roller Trio and Ubunye from Yorkshire, the Beats & Pieces Big Band from Manchester and the Break Out Brass Band. The Ushaw Ensemble led by composer and pianist Paul Edis will play music in celebration of St Cuthbert.

The Printmakers, featuring singer Norma Winstone and pianist Nikki Iles, will be appearing, as will Dinosaur (pictured left), performing a specially-commissioned work from the band's trumpeter, Laura Jurd. The newly reformed Teeside Youth Big Band will play an opening set at NYJO's Saturday afternoon concert. Trumpeter Noel Dennis and vocalist Zoe Gilby will lead a band in a tribute to American trumpeter Tom Harrell and Pete Churchill will lead a vocal workshop on Sunday morning which will be followed by a performance by workshop participants on the free stage.

Two American acts will be gracing the weekender's stage. The Mingus Big Band, led by Charles Mingus's wife Sue, will play some of the jazz legend's compositions. Texas-born singer Hailey Tuck (pictured below right) will be joined by a British band for her performance.

There will be special shows for younger jazz fans. Guitarist Chris Sharkey brings Tots Play Jazz to Sunday afternoon and Gilby brings her Family Jazz All Stars to the weekender on Sunday morning. The shows reflect Rigsby's aim of attracting younger players and audiences. She says: "I was absolutely delighted to be asked to programme this first major jazz event in the beautiful refurbished Town Hall and hope that it creates a starting point for more jazz events in the venue in future, as well as growing an interest in jazz among younger players and audiences".

Organisers are planning an exhibition of memorabilia from the 1978 event, known as the Newport Jazz Festival At Ayresome Park and featuring Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Lionel Hampton. Anyone with memorabilia they wish to lend to the exhibition are asked to email the Town Hall box office.

For more details and ticket bookings please go to the Middlesbrough Town Hall website.

Bruce Lindsay

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