Preview: Newcastle Jazz Festival 2019

With Zoe Gilby James Birkett, Alexander Bone, the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band and more

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Strictly Smokin' Big Band featuring Alice Grace

Relaunching after a near 25-year hiatus, the Newcastle Jazz Festival returns in August with a programme focusing on the best of the North East’s current jazz scene.

Not to be confused with Jazz North East’s Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music, and very different in scale to the stellar international line-ups of the 80s and 90s, the event is described by organisers as an entire festival in a single day.

Partners Tyne Bank Brewery will host the event on Saturday 17th August, and in a refreshing contrast to many larger and more commercially driven events there will be no multi-venue programming headaches, just a continuous stream of high-quality music running from 13:30 to “late”. Enhancing what promises to be a congenial atmosphere will be the venue’s celebrated range of ales, along with a selection of feel-good street food, including wood-fired pizza and alpine raclette. 

Opening up the programme will be the extraordinary voice and bass duo of Zoe Gilby and Andy Champion, now firmly established on the UK scene and starting to make waves across Europe. The Latin-infused Alan Law Trio will be followed by guitarist Mark Williams’ Trio, part of Jazz North’s 2018 Northern Line touring programme. Parliamentary Jazz Award nominee Emma Fisk brings her acclaimed Venuti-Lang inspired duo with guitarist James Birkett, warming up the crowd before the arrival of headliner Alexander Bone. 

Winner of the 2014 BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year competition, 22 year-old Bone hails from the North East. In a few short years has already performed live with internationally acclaimed performers as diverse as Newton Faulkner, the Gwilym Simcock Trio, Rudimental and Scott Hamilton, as well as appearing alongside YolanDa Brown and Snarky Puppy’s Bob Reynolds at the 2018 London Saxophone Festival.

Bringing the event to a close will be two sets by the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band with singer Alice Grace. Needing little introduction to audiences in the North, the band includes festival organisers Michael Lamb and Jamie Toms, and should provide the perfect coda to a richly varied day of jazz.

Tickets will be limited due to the venue’s decidedly cosy capacity, and you can book now by visiting the festival’s website.