Buxton adds jazz sparkle

The famous spa town adds a jazz weekend to its international festival for the first time since its inception in 1979

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Impossible Gentlemen Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker. Photo by David Forman

Buxton, the Derbyshire town famous for its spa water, this year adds three and a half days of jazz to its international festival, hitherto known primarily for opera, classical and literary events. The Jazz Festival Weekender, 7-11 July 2022, will include appearances by such luminaries as the Impossible Gentlemen, Clare Teal, Ian Shaw and Guy Barker.

The jazz programme is organised by Neil Hughes, who ran Manchester’s Cinnamon Club for 20 years and the Southport Jazz Festival for four years. But while Southport is the model, the Buxton event will not be limited to one venue, and will use a range of the town’s celebrated venues – the Opera House, the Pavilion Arts Centre and the Palace Hotel.

One of the highlights for modern jazz followers is likely to be The Impossible Gentlemen, who haven’t been so visible of late. They play a “special BIF programme” from 3pm on Saturday 9 July with an all-UK lineup. The band’s two principles – Gwilym Simcock (piano) and Mike Walker (guitar) – will be joined by the renowned rhythm duo of Laurence Cottle (bass) and Ian Thomas (drums).

The full Jazz Festival Weekender programme is as follows:

Jay Phelps Quartet, Thu 7 July, 8pm: Vancouver-born trumpeter best known as a founder member of the Empirical quartet.

Ian Shaw and Guy Barker – City to City, Fri 8 July, 3pm: The piano, voice and trumpet duo present newly arranged songs and anecdotes that explore the buzz, thrill and stories of The City.

Swingtime Big Band feat. Emma Holcroft + special guests, Fri 8 July, 7.30pm: 18-piece big band formed in 2013 by Jez Murphy, drawing from a repertoire including Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Sarah Vaughan, Peggy Lee, Basie and Herman. Ian Shaw and Guy Barker will guest with the band.

Graham Clark Quartet, Fri 8 July, 10.30pm: Local violinist, associate of Daevid Allen of Gong, plays a festival commission inspired by living in Buxton for over 25 years, as well as some favourite jazz standards.

The Impossible Gentlemen, Sat 9 July, 3pm: See above for details.

Fabled Trio feat. Laura Jurd, Sat 9 July, 10.30pm: The trio of Sam Rapley (s, cl), Matt Robinson (p) and Alex Munk (g), with guest trumpeter Jurd, plays music influenced by Debussy, Tom Jobim, Tigran Hamasyan, Bon Iver and film music.

AMC Gospel Choir, Sun 10 July, 12.30pm: Motown-influenced choir that promises a foot-stomping, mesmerising session.

Xhosa Cole Quartet, Sun 10 July, 3.30pm: The saxophonist, BBC Young Musician of the year 2018, will play from a pad including Dizzy Gillespie, Clifford Brown, Dexter Gordon and Ornette Coleman.

Clare Teal and her Sextet, Sun 10 July, 8pm: The singer and BBC jazz presenter brings in a band featuring Jason Rebello (p), Giacomo Smith (cl, s), Pete Horsfall (t), Dave Archer (g), Simon Little (b) and Ed Richardson (d) for a predominantly mainstream programme with some contemporary accents.

Kirk McElhinney Trio, Sun 10 July, 10.30pm: Guitarist and singer, who calls his music “urban folk”, is joined by John Ellis (p, v) and Andy Hay (d).

Also within the programme is the first night of the festival’s production of Gypsy: The Musical (Sat 9 July, 7.30pm). It’s not strictly a jazz event but Hughes notes: “‘It’s a beautiful fit – so many of us who go to jazz gigs go to West End musicals, too.” Proving his hunch, the festival says fans have reacted positively to the inclusion of a Broadway musical, with advance sales ahead of target.

For more information and tickets, go to buxtonfestival.co.uk/whats-on/bif-jazz-weekend-ticket-7-10-july-2022.