Preview: Cheltenham Jazz Festival




The well-established festival returns to the Regency spa town with a mix of classic and contemporary jazz, blues, soul and more

The Cheltenham Jazz Festival returns in April, with a programme featuring a range of world premieres, festival commissions, collaborations and rare shows from a mix of established stars and emerging talent.

The 2017 festival runs across six days from 26 April – 1 May. It will present jazz, blues, soul and pop from a variety of musicians including vocalists Gregory Porter, Laura Mvula, Jack Savoretti, Will Young and Paul Carrack. Alt-rock pianist and singer Ben Folds's set will include a collaboration with the festival’s artistic curator Jamie Cullum.

Other performers that have already been announced include Grammy-winning pianist and composer Chick Corea (pictured right with Jamie Cullum), Meshell Ngedegeocello, Snarky Puppy, Australian improvising trio The Necks, saxophonist and band leader Chris Potter and vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, who will perform the UK premiere of her forthcoming album Memphis.

Rick Wakeman will join his specially reunited Green Dolphin Trio (which Rick formed in 1966) to showcase material from his solo piano album Piano Portraits, which charted in the top 10 earlier this year. Vocalist Mica Paris will perform the Ella Fitzgerald songbook with an eight-piece ensemble to celebrate what would have been Ella's 100th birthday.

There will also be concerts from Booker T Jones, Grammy-winning drummer Steve Gadd, Latin music matriarch Toto la Momposina, Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke, Mercury-nominated Polar Bear drummer Seb Rochford and Afro-Cuban outfit Orchestra Baobab.

There will be an exclusive preview of Kit Downes’s forthcoming solo album and saxophonist Marius Neset will appear with a specially chosen UK line-up. The weekend will also feature the world premiere of a Cheltenham Jazz Festival co-commission, Decade Zero, from composer Dave Maric for Phronesis with the Engines Orchestra, interwoven with a full set from the trio. Blues fans will be treated to shows from the Robert Cray Band and the Marcus King Band as well as a return to the festival from singer-songwriter Eric Bibb (pictured above left by Jan Malmstrom) for the first time since 2010.

BBC Radio 2 continues its long-term association with the festival. The station will broadcast on-site festival-themed shows recorded by Jamie Cullum and Clare Teal, as well as a soul-themed Friday Night Is Music Night and Jo Whiley's Live In Concert featuring Jack Savoretti.

This year’s festival will welcome younger up-and-coming acts such as Tennessee-born folk, blues and soul singer Valerie June, emerging European quartet Amok Amor, Kandace Springs - who returns to the festival for a main-stage show at the PizzaExpress Live Arena - British-Bahraini trumpeter Yazz Ahmed (pictured right by Brian Payne) and Swiss experimental avant-garde trio Schnellertollermeier.

Returning this year is the Recomposed: Live Remix series in which electronic musicians Ian Chambers and Pascal Wyse will remix five sets from Sunday’s Cheltenham Ladies’ College Parabola Arts Centre into one 60-minute set. The Family Tent will also return in 2017, hosting a range of shows for all ages including an Indo-jazz performance from clarinettist Arun Ghosh.

The 2017 Cheltenham Jazz Festival will be hosted in a tented festival village in Cheltenham’s Montpellier Gardens, featuring a Big Top stage, Pizza Express Live Arena, food stalls, an on-site record shop, and the Family Tent with the Town Hall, Cheltenham Ladies’ College Parabola Arts Centre, Hotel du Vin and Daffodil venues all within a short walking distance of the spa town’s centre.

The full line-up is as follows:

Wednesday 26 April

Laura Mvula - The Big Top

Thursday 27 April

Marcus King Band - Pizza Express Live Arena
Dee Dee Bridgewater - Cheltenham Town Hall
Jack Savoretti - The Big Top
Camilla George - Daffodil
Late night residency: Kansas Smitty's House Band - Daffodil

Friday 28 April

Valerie June - Pizza Express Live Arena
Marius Neset - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Friday Night is Music Night: Rhythm & Blues + Jazz = Soul - The Big Top
Will Young - Cheltenham Town Hall
Peter Horsfall - Daffodil
Seb Rochford, Nicole Mitchell & Neil Charles - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Late night residency: Kansas Smitty's House Band - Daffodil

Saturday 29 April

Musical Adventures for Kids - Family Tent
Jazz Exchange: Birmingham Conservatoire & NTNU Trondheim Exchange - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Decade Zero: Dave Maric, Phronesis & Engines Orchestra - Cheltenham Town Hall
Mica Paris sings the Ella Fitzgerald Songbook - Pizza Express Live Arena
Lilli Unwin - Hotel Du Vin
Orchestra Baobab - The Big Top
Elliot Galvin - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Lionel Loueke - Pizza Express Live Arena
The Necks - Cheltenham Town Hall
Logan Richardson - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Vyamanikal - Dean Close Chapel
Rick Wakeman’s Green Dolphin Trio - Cheltenham Town Hall
Steve Gadd Band - Pizza Express Live Arena
Gabrielle Ducomble - Daffodil
Hans Koller - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
The Robert Cray Band - The Big Top
Booker T. Jones - The Big Top
Late night residency: Kansas Smitty's House Band - Daffodil

Sunday 30 April

Musical Adventures for Kids - Family Tent
Monocled Man - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Schnellertollermeier - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Totó la Momposina - Cheltenham Town Hall
Kandace Springs - Pizza Express Live Arena
Double Bill: Jodie Abacus & Earl - The Big Top
Meshell Ndegeocello - Pizza Express Live Arena
Eric Bibb - Cheltenham Town Hall
Amok Amor - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Chick Corea Trio featuring Eddie Gomez and Brian Blade - The Big Top
Double Bill: Julian Sartorius Solo plus Mark Sanders & John Butcher Duo - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Chris Potter - Pizza Express Live Arena
Sunday Recomposed: Live Remix featuring Ian Chambers and Pascal Wyse - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Snarky Puppy - Cheltenham Town Hall
Ben Folds & Jamie Cullum - The Big Top
Yazz Ahmed Hafla Band - Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre
Late night residency: Kansas Smitty's House Band - Daffodil

Monday 1 May

Musical Adventures for Kids - Family Tent
Snarky Puppy Masterclass - Pizza Express Live Arena
Hot 8 Brass Band - The Big Top
Showcase: Sarah Munro & Mode9 - Pizza Express Live Arena
Paul Carrack - The Big Top
Denys Baptiste presents Late Trane - Pizza Express Live Arena
Gregory Porter - The Big Top

Tickets are available to Cheltenham Festivals members from 22 February. They go on general sale on 1 March.

For further information and tickets go to the Cheltenham Jazz Festival website.

Bruce Lindsay


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