Preview: Cambridge Jazz Festival 2019

    The fifth Cambridge Jazz Festival embraces the multiple interpretations of jazz today


    The Cambridge Jazz Festival, sponsored by Brewin Dolphin, is back in its fifth incarnation 13-24 November with a wide spread of styles from John Mayall’s blues through the vocal jazz of Georgia Mancio, Liane Carroll and Claire Martin and the varied big-band sound of the Yiddish Twist Orchestra to such modern heavyweights as Jan Garbarek and Marius Neset.

    Taking place in various venues around Cambridge, from wine bars to university lecture halls, the festival promises to bring to the city the multiple and diverse manifestations of jazz in 2019. It will encompass 28 city centre venues, including the Cambridge Junction, Cambridge Corn Exchange and Storey’s Field Centre, and feature over 70 gigs featuring more than 500 musicians.

    The event kicks off with the soul and brass sounds of the Renegade Brass Band and The Ashton Jones Project, and the groove continues the next day with music from British acid-jazz luminaries the Brand New Heavies. Other funk-flavoured events during the festival include Dennis Rollins’ Funky Horns Masterclass, likely parts of Marius Neset’s set, and the festival finale from popular Cambridge band The Brass Funkeys. At the more progressive end of the jazz-fusion scale there’s the latterday manifestation of Soft Machine, featuring Theo Travis and John Etheridge.

    Lovers of the reflective end of the modern jazz spectrum typified by the ECM label (this year marking its 50th birthday) will no doubt be attracted to performances by the Jan Garbarek group, the Julia Hülsmann quartet, the Christian Muthspiel & Steve Swallow duo and solo pianist Gwilym Simcock. However, Danish singer and saxophonist Mads Mathias subverts the troubled Scandinavian stereotype with his ebullient tribute to Nat King Cole, fronting the Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra.

    As one might expect of a university town there’ll be events for the enquiring mind seeking historical perspective, among them jazz lecturer Catherine Tackley tracing the history of British jazz in “British Jazz Routes”, the Black Voices Quintet presenting a workshop on The Soul of Nina Simone, a showing of the 2015 Nina Simone documentary film, What’s Happened Miss Simone?, and Windrush Jazz Celebration: Routes In Jazz “The Music of Dizzy Reece”, a musical retrospective on the trumpeter who made a significant impact on the London and New York jazz scenes after leaving Jamaica in 1948. There’s also a showing for Rob Cope’s documentary Richard Turner: A Life In Music, the story of the well-regarded British trumpet player who tragically died at the age of 27.

    Among other shows at the festival are The Alley Cats ft Dennis Rollins (a family event focused on Disney themes with festival director Ros Russell on vocals); trumpeter Yazz Ahmed; Dave Gordon & John Law doing Stravinsky; saxophonist Camilla George; the Rob Luft & Alex Hitchcock Quartet; and Stan Sulzmann & Nikki Iles in duo and workshop.

    See the full lineup and booking details for the Cambridge Jazz Festival 2019 at