It must be the stellar line-up and the Jazz Fringe‘s talent showcase…or maybe it’s the Henry Westons Magnificently Exceptional Jazz Sessions…or it’s Beyond the Stage…well, to find out what makes this festival, which gathers over 20,000 people every year, so popular you have to keep on reading.
Ok, here’s a small hint for you: Grammy Award winner Gregory Porter, singer Kurt Elling, Jamie Cullum, Laura Mvula, Jools Holland and bluesman Robert Cray are some of festival headliners!
This year, make sure to celebrate International Jazz Day with the 2014 edition of Cheltenham Jazz Festival! From 30 April to 5 May, the UK’s premier spring jazz festival will welcome thousands of passionate fans eager to see some of the world’s best jazz artists.
Opening night and Bank Holiday acts
The festival guest director Jamie Cullum (9 pm) and pianist Jason Rebello (6 pm) are the headliners of the opening night of Chletenham Jazz Fest 2014. Cullum, a BBC Jazz Awards winner and Brit Awards and Golden Globes nominee, will celebrate the world’s premiere of his brand new jazz record. The show will also feature tracks from 2013’s Momentum and previous hits.
Jason Rebello is one of the most hard-working jazz pianists of our times. During his career, he has performed along with Sting and Jeff Beck, Chaka Khan, Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel, just to name a few. On opening night, Rebello, supported by talented vocalists, will play the jazz and soul mix of his highly-anticipated Anything But Look.
Soul singer-songwriter Laura Mvula will be the star of the Bank Holiday celebration at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014. This year’s Jazz Festival Artist in Residence exploded onto the international music scene last year with her debut album Sing to the Moon. The Brit Award nominee and MOBOs winner will bring a stunning set (8:30 pm) that features her most popular songs from Sing to the Moon.
What a jazz weekend!
Laura Mvula will be back on 2 May as special guest alongside Eska (6:30 pm). After collaborations with the likes of Grace Jones, Zero 7 and Cinematic Orchestra, Eska is ready for the first release of her own material.
The highlight of the second day at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014 will be Friday Night is Music Night: Hoods, Horns & Hooch (8 pm). The Guy Barker Big Band and the BBC Concert Orchestra will take the audience back to a time when, on both sides of the Atlantic, gangsters were rife and big bands were kings. The show will feature classics from that golden age of jazz played by two of the most talented jazz ensembles around and supported by special guests Kurt Elling, Curtis Stigers and Liane Carroll.
It’s going to be a very busy weekend at the Cheltenham Jazz Fest! The Loose Tubes, 21-piece band that transformed the jazz scene in the UK during the ’80s, will perform for the first time in over 20 years. Saturday’s concert, which will start at 2 pm, will include some of the Loose Tube’s greatest tunes along with world premieres commissioned for the occasion by BBC Radio 3. After that, it will be time for Now is the Time…, show that sees MOBO Award-winning saxophonist Denys Baptiste leading a talented 14-piece band and that features a gospel choir and visuals with poet Lemn Sissay (3:45 pm).
The list of stars set to perform on Saturday also includes rock blues icon Robert Cray and the Michael Wollny Trio. Five Grammy Awards and millions of record sales worldwide make Cray one of the greatest guitarists of his generation. From 5:30 pm, the festival will welcome the sensational bluesman who, during his career, has written or performed with everyone from Eric Clapton to Stevie Ray Vaughan. From 6 pm, the talented Michael Wollny – undoubtedly one of Germany’s most creative pianists – will lead an award-winning trio that brings together jazz improvisation, flashes of hard-rock and poetic, warped classical music.
The Saturday night schedule will kick off with one of today’s outstanding male vocalists: Kurt Elling and his Kurt Elling Quintet (7 pm). The multi-Grammy Award nominee baritone will take the audience for an explorative journey around the world through internationally famous ballads.
The night will continue with the electrifying guitar riffs and hypnotic choruses of Tinariwen (7:15 pm). This band Tuareg blues band is considered one of the biggest names in world music, with countless awards including a Grammy and a BBC World Music Award. The Saturday night at the Cheltenham Jazz Fest will end with the 1920s-1930s prohibition era-style music of the Speakeasy (10:30 pm) and the late night music of world’s renowned DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson alongside the Grammy Award-winning jazz band Snarky Puppy (10:30 pm).
Make sure to recover quickly from your jazz-filled Saturday night experience, because the schedule for Sunday 4 May will be just as rich! Start your day with the Sunday Lunch that features Gold medal-winning Laithwaite Champagne Premier Cru (11:30 am), a three-course lunch and classy whine, as well as the Django Reinhardt-inspired tunes of the Nearly Hot Club Four.
And after lunch, what better dessert than some more top-class jazz acts? New York rising star Ambrose Akinmisure, who will also join Gregory Porter for the celebration of 75 years of the Blue Note label, is one of the most talented contemporary trumpeters. At Cheltenham Jazz Fest, he will perform with his highly talented Ambrose Akinmisure Quintet (1:15 pm).
From 7:15 pm, it will be time for the special show Sinatra Sings Sinatra. Frank Sinatra Jr. will pay tribute to his legendary father with specially-written arrangements from the signature Sinatra songbook. After sold-out shows at Ronnie Scott’s, Frank Sinatra Jr., backed by his own 8-piece band, will bring classics like Strangers in the Night, Foggy Day in London Town and I’ve Got You Under My Skin on the stage of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival.
At 9 pm, Grammy Award winner Gregory Porter will headline the celebration for the 75th anniversary for one of the most recognized jazz labels in the world: Blue Note Records. He will perform material from his award-winning album Liquid Spirit joined by several special guests, including star trumpeter Ambrose Akinmisure.
The grand finale
The final day of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014 will start with a special family show (11 am). An all-star lineup that features vocalist Natalie Williams and some of the UK’s finest jazz musicians will perform a fun-filled combination of jazz classics and children’s film favourites. The day will continue with exciting, sonic force London Afrobeat Collective (1 pm) and American jazz star Curtis Stigers (4:15 pm), who will present material from his latest album Hooray for Love.
The Sunday night fun will begin (at 6:45 pm) with two of the most entertaining and distinctive bands: Get the Blessing and Kairos 4tet. Formed by Portishead rhythm masters Jim Barr and Clive Deamer, Bristol-based Get the Blessing plays a unique repertoire that combines rock with jazz. The skilled MOBO Awards winners and jazz improvisers Kairos 4tet, whose melodies have been described by Jamie Cullum as “just beautiful”, will be joined by Swedish singer Emilia Martensson.
At 8:15 pm the charismatic Jools Holland will step on stage with his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra for the final concert of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014.
Holland, a critically-acclaimed pianist, singer and bandleader, as well as TV personality, will treat the festival audience to a night of exuberant entertainment and top-class music. This exciting final show of the 2014 edition of the festival will feature special guests Gregory Porter, Marc Almond and guest vocalists Ruby Turner and Louise Marshall.
More events, more fun
In addition to the traditional stage concerts, Cheltenham Jazz 2014 will include a series of special events.
Endsleigh’s Battle of the Bands, for instance, it’s a musical competition that will showcase national emerging jazz artists. A panel of judges, that includes Festival Chair and Head of Programmes at Radio 2 and 6 Music Lewis Carnie, Marc Connor, Music Manager at MTM, and Tony Dudley-Evans, Programme Adviser to Jazzlines, Town Hall, Symphony Hall and the festival. The winner will have a chance to perform on the Free Stage during Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014.
Taking place in a variety of bar, pubs, shops and restaurants around Cheltenham and on the festival site, the Jazz Fringe showcases the best up and coming local talents.
And after seeing emerging artists and star performers on the festival audience will have the chance to see them in exclusive videos and live performances courtesy of the Henry Westons Magnificently Exceptional Jazz Sessions. Last year, Gregory Porter, Lianne La Havas and Laura Mvula were some of the featured acts.
To have a complete festival experience, make sure to visit Beyond the Band, series of music industry talks, workshops and jazz-inspired films that revolve around a variety of topics, from how to get gigs, to 75 years of Blue Note and the history of British jazz festivals.
Jazz stars, free concerts, talks, films and plenty of fun…Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2014 is going to be a great success!
30 April – 5 May