Abdullah Ibrahim, Gregory Porter, Yazz Ahmed and Nubya Garcia charge up Cheltenham Jazz Fest 2019

The full line-up has been announced for Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from 1 to 6 May, at various venues around the picturesque Spa town. With a newly designed festival site in Montpellier Gardens set to include a larger 2,000-capacity Big Top, jazz vocal/piano star Jamie Cullum will appear there on the opening night.

Other concerts announced for the Wednesday and Thursday nights include emerging US vocal talent Charenee Wade (Daffodil, 1 May); and a Buck Clayton and Billie Holliday tribute featuring singer Julia Biel and multi-reedist Alan Barnes, backed by a high-calibre band (Daffodil, 2 May). Further early names are soul-jazzers Incognito, with guest vocals from Omar and Leee John (Town Hall, 3 May) and the popular Friday Night Is Music Night concert takes a nostalgic look at 'The Secret Life of Soho', featuring music inspired by Ronnie Scott’s and The Beatles (Big Top, 3 May). Friday night also sees the Parabola Arts Centre programme launch with über-trio Sunlight (comprised of alto-sax firebrand Soweto Kinch, Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima and Swiss vocalist extraordinaire Andreas Schaerer), followed by feisty jazz-rockers Partisans. Saxophonist of the moment, Nubya Garcia, brings her high-energy show to the opening night as well, in a ‘pop-up’ venue in the House of Fraser basement. This unlikely locale also hosts gigs by Joe Armon-Jones and Vels Trio (4 May). By contrast Brit-jazz sax icon John Surman celebrates his 75th birthday year with an epic performance of his renowned 1976 Brass Project album, with help from a 10-piece choir from Birmingham Conservatoire and collaborator/conductor John Warren (Town Hall, 4 May).

Further additions include leading US saxophonist Joshua Redman (Town Hall, 4 May); swinging jazz-soul vocal don Georgie Fame with the Guy Barker Big Band (Town Hall, 4 May) and recent Jazzwise cover stars Rymden, the new Scandi-jazz super trio featuring Nu-Jazz pioneer Bugge Wesseltoft and EST rhythm team Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström (Jazz Arena, 4 May). Chart-topping vocalist Gregory Porter will headline the Big Top (4 May), while the core-jazz Parabola programme hots up with a strong Saturday line-up of UK saxophonist Rachel Musson’s Nonet; Dan Weiss’ hard-hitting drum-led Starebaby from the US; a rare chance to hear Nikki Yeoh and Zoe Rahman duet on two grand pianos and top European bassist Michael Formanek leads his Elusion Quartet.

Sunday highlights include the warm soul-jazz vocals of Kandace Springs (Town Hall, 5 May); American sax man David Sanborn with his acoustic band (Town Hall, 5 May) and exciting UK trumpeter Yazz Ahmed premieres music from her new album, Polyhymnia, with her 13-piece ensemble performing a suite of music dedicated to inspiring women (Jazz Arena, 5 May). More stellar Sunday names include The Bad Plus making their festival debut (Jazz Arena); the high-intensity piano/violin duo of Omar Sosa and Yilian Canizares (Jazz Arena); and a rare chance to catch South African piano legend Abdullah Ibrahim with his percussively-charged group Ekaya (Big Top). Folk-jazz songstress Madeleine Peyroux (Big Top) and virtuoso US pianist Fred Hersch (Parabola) also appear. The Parabola showcases more emerging talents, including Norwegian saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg’s Concept; gyil player Bex Burch’s West African groove trio Vula Viel and young Swiss jazz harpist Julie Campiche. Jazzwise is media partner for the festival.

– Mike Flynn

For full programme details visit www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz/

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