This year's Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from 26 April to 1 May, has confirmed a final tranche of exciting artists for its six-day programme. Chief among these are acclaimed Scandi-Brit trio Phronesis who premiere their collaboration with the versatile Engines Orchestra conducted by Phil Meadows, playing 'Decade Zero', a newly-written piece by composer Dave Maric which draws on the band's frenetic, highly-charged sound (Town Hall, 29 April). Renowned Blue Note-signed guitarist Lionel Loueke also appears with his trio of drummer Ferenc Nemeth and bassist Massimo Biolcati, playing music from his latest, highly lyrical album, Gaia (Live Arena, 29 April), while legendary jazz and session drummer Steve Gadd makes his only UK appearance this year with his top-notch US band of keyboardist Kevin Hays, bassist Jimmy Johnson, guitarist Michael Landau and trumpeter Walt Fowler (Jazz Arena, 29 April) and Grammy Award-winning singer and Cheltenham favourite Gregory Porter closes things out in emphatically soulful style on Monday 1 May in the Big Top. The Cheltenham Ladies' College Parabola Arts Centre (PAC) programme of cutting-edge jazz hots up too with several new additions including pianist Hans Koller's Quartet featuring trumpeter Percy Pursglove (29 April); incendiary Swiss guitar bass/drums power trio Schnellertollermeier (1.45pm, 30 April); compelling trumpet-led quartet Amok Amor featuring the highly-rated Peter Evans, bassist Petter Eldh, saxophonist Wanja Slavin and drummer Christian Lillinger (4.15pm, 30 April); and trumpeter Rory Simmons' jazztronica three-piece Monocled Man (11am, 30 April).
A strong contingent of vocalists have also been added, including an opening night concert from the Mercury nominated jazz-infl uenced Laura Mvula (Big Top, 26 April); folk-rock singer Jack Savoretti warms things up before a soul-infused edition of Friday Night Is Music Night with guest vocalists Shaun Escoffery, Tony Momrelle, Vanessa Haynes and Noel McKoy (Big Top, 28 April); British soul-diva Mica Paris sings classic Ella Fitzgerald songs newly arranged by Guy Barker and performed by his eight-piece band (12.30pm, Live Arena, 29 April); and rising star soul-jazz singer/keyboardist Kandace Springs returns to the festival with her trio (12.30pm, Live Arena, 30 April). Leading UK saxophonist Denys Baptiste whips up his fiery Late Trane project, which marks the 50th anniversary of John Coltrane's death this year. Bringing together a stellar band of Nikki Yeoh, Gary Crosby and Rod Youngs, Baptiste's group explore fresh interpretations of the sax icon's free-blowing 1960s material and his totemic A Love Supreme (6.30pm Live Arena, 1 May). Another notable, yet lower-key, meeting will be between Kit Downes and Tom Challenger who'll bring their haunting organ and sax Vyamanikal project to Dean Close Chapel (7.15pm, 29 April). World and blues sounds come in the form of celebrated Colombian singer Totó la Momposina and guitar man Eric Bibb (4pm), both at the Town Hall on 30 April. Festival artistic curator Jamie Cullum appears as a guest with cult singer song writer/pianist Ben Folds who plays a solo show in the Big Top (10.30pm, 30 April)
These artists join those already announced in Jazzwise (who are media partners for the event), and include Chick Corea Trio, Snarky Puppy, Dee Dee Bridgewater, The Necks, Chris Potter Quartet, Marius Neset Group, Logan Richardson and Meshelle Ndegeocello. As well as hosting many daytime and evening concerts, The Daffodil restaurant will be where to head to catch Kansas Smitty's House Band fi ring things from 11pm on from Thursday to Sunday, while the official festival late night jam takes place at the Hotel Du Vin. The main concerts take place in the Big Top and Pizza Express Live Arena, located in the highly-accommodating festival site of Montpellier Gardens, alongside the Town Hall and Parabola Arts Centre, all within easy access from the heart of the town. Please note, two days after the February issue of Jazzwise had gone to press, news reached us that, due to unforeseen circumstances, Dhafer Youssef is unable to appear at the festival, as had been announced in the issue.
– Mike Flynn
For more info and tickets visit www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz