The 19th Scarborough Jazz Festival, organised by the indefatigable octogenarian Mike Gordon, offers a diverse range of jazz from leading names 23-25 September. Among the attractions at the town’s Scarborough Spa are big bands including Paul Booth’s Bansangu and the Simon Spillett Big Band, singers including Nicola Farnon and Norma Winstone, duos including Alan Barnes & Dave Newton and top-class combos such as Ben Crosland’s Solway Stories and Dennis Rollins’ Funky-Funk. As well as the main concerts, there will be a festival fringe programme.
The opening Friday kicks off at lunchtime with the unusual Os Caros – The Edison Machado Project. Few will have heard of Edison dos Santos Machado but he was a Brazilian drummer credited as a pioneer of bossa nova. Wakefield-based drummer John Settle and his octet pay tribute to Machado’s music. Singer and bassist Nicola Farnon, great-niece of Robert Farnon, follows with the rather more familiar Dave Newton Trio. Humphrey Lyttleton said of Nicola: “A remarkable performer on stage and an outstandingly swinging and propulsive bass player.” Dennis Rollins’ Funky-Funk will bring some groovy sounds to the stage around teatime, including a reworking of some classics in the Herbie Hancock and Stevie Wonder style. At 7pm the American band Lunar Octet appears, combining salsa, rock, high-life and samba. The Alan Barnes & Dave Newton duo takes the stage at 20.45, with no doubt witty and high-quality renditions of some of the best of mainstream jazz repertoire. The first day concludes with saxophonist Paul Booth’s 22-piece Bansangu (from the patois “Band Sound Good”), which mixes afro, samba and other “world” style with a distinct fusion touch.
Saturday begins at 12.30 with the New York Brass Band (actually from Yorkshire), who play jazz, pop, reggae, funk, New Orleans and ska in the New Orleans style. Mid-afternoon, it’s Ben Crosland’s Solway Stories in which the bassist leads Steves Waterman and Lodder and others in a set inspired by the country around the Solway Firth. At 4 o’clock saxophonist Iain Ballamy pairs with button accordion player Stian Cartensen to play jazz likely with a European folk flavour. The Simon Spillett Big Band blows in at 19.00, led by a saxophonist and jazz writer keenly aware that “jazz is entertainment as much as self-expression”. Singer Georgia Cecile, described by Jamie Cullum as producing a “soulful caramel croon capable of conveying subtle emotional depth and appealing playfulness”, follows at 20.45. Saturday concludes with the guitar duo of Martin Taylor & Ulf Wakenius, jointly bringing to bear experience ranging from Stephane Grappelli to Oscar Peterson.
First up on Sunday is Shirley Smart, offering, with her trio, the unusual combination of cello, jazz, and Middle Eastern and classical music. Next is John Law’s Re-Creations, a band that on disc has played re-arrangements of Steve Swallow and Miles Davis, of Broadway standards and of later pops such as the Beatles and Sting. Then, Stan Sulzmann, Nikki Iles, Dave Green and Norma Winstone play Bill Evans in Time Remembered. That quartet is followed by the quartet of saxophonist Hannah Horton, who, according to Bebop Spoken Here, “blows funky tenor, gutsy baritone and can write a good tune”. The festival closes with a tribute to Art Blakey and The Jazz Messengers from the Rory Ingham / Jim Davison Sextet, focusing on the Messengers early 1960s Riverside and Blue Note recordings.
Prices range from £20.75 for Friday afternoon to £124.25 for a full weekend ticket and booking can be made on the festival’s website, by calling 01723 376774, or in person at the venue, which is Scarborough Spa, South Bay, Scarborough, North Yorkshire, YO11 2HD. The festival website also contains a detailed timetable.