There are some exciting additions to the 2017 Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from 26 April to 1 May, with multi-Grammy Award-winning jazz diva Dee Dee Bridgewater set to appear at Cheltenham Town Hall on Thursday 27 April. The charismatic vocalist will be performing music from her forthcoming album, Memphis, which is inspired by 1960s R&B, drawing on material by the likes of Gladys Knight, Jackie Wilson, Al Green, Sam Cooke, Stax Academy Choir, Big Mama Thornton and Otis Redding among others. Further additions include two of today's hottest sax talents in the form of top US tenorist Chris Potter and Norwegian whirlwind Marius Neset. The latter fires up the Parabola Arts Centre's (PAC) programme on 28 April when he appears with a specially convened UK ensemble of keyboardist Dan Nicholls, vibist Jim Hart, bassist Phil Donkin and drummer Joshua Blackmore.
That same evening also sees the debut of drummer Seb Rochford's new trio, featuring revered Chicagoan AACM bass flautist Nicole Mitchell with UK bassist Neil Charles all appearing at the PAC. Meanwhile, powerful multi-reedist Potter returns after his 2013 appearance with students from the Birmingham conservatoire, this time with a topnotch American quartet with pianist David Virelles, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Marcus Gilmore. The festival's expansive outlook includes a timely appearance by cult Australian soundscapers The Necks as they celebrate 30 years of their spellbinding long-form improvisations, making their Cheltenham debut at the Town Hall on 29 April, while rising star saxophonist Logan Richardson, who appeared alongside Christian Scott last year, returns with his own band featuring guitarist Mike Moreno (Parabola, 29 April).
Further bookings include a blues-fusion blast from guitarist/singer Marcus King and his band (Jazz Arena, 27 April), while the Hot 8 Brass Band fi re up the lunchtime spot at the Big Top on the bank holiday Monday (1 May). These names join those already announced in Jazzwise – who is festival media partner – which include the only UK performance by the Chick Corea Trio featuring Eddie Gomez and Brian Blade (Big Top), Grammy-winning groove merchants Snarky Puppy (Town Hall) and acclaimed soul-jazz singer/bassist Meshelle Ndegeocello (Jazz Arena), all on 30 April. The event once again takes place in its firmly established festival village that takes over Montpellier Gardens with tented Big Top and Jazz Arena venues, food stalls, on-site record shop and family tents with Town Hall, Parabola Arts Centre and Daffodil venues all within short walking distance of the picturesque spa town's centre.
Two days after Jazzwise had gone to press with the current February issue – which stated Dhafer Youssef was due to appear – the news reached us that due to unforeseen circumstances has had to pull out of the festival.
The full line-up will be announced on 10 February, Cheltenham Festivals members can book tickets from 22 February and non-members can book from 1 March. For more info and tickets visit www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz
London-based rabble-rousers Raw Tonk unleash a blast of rancorous jazz-noise in celebration of their five years of existence on 25 March at Hundred Years Gallery, Shoreditch. The mini-festival, consisting of matinee and evening concerts, promises a bevvy of brain-frying bouts headed-up by the vanguard of the 'new wave of Dutch heavy jazz', Dead Neanderthals. Also throwing their filth will be balls-to-the-wall three-piece KTHXBYE, a first-time collab between Belgian guitarist Dirk Serries and Swiss-based saxophonist Tapiwa Svosve, free improvising trio Ma/Ti/Om (aka Tim Fairhall, Tom Ward and Matilda Rolfsson), fidgety foils Ripsaw Catfish featuring Dee Byrne, Anton Mobin/Benedict Taylor/David Birchall (featuring Mobin on his homemade box of trickery, the 'Prepared Chamber') and, finally, Colin Webster/Mark Holub, who fittingly reprise the sax and drums duo that constituted The Claw, Raw Tonk's debut release from 2012.
– Spencer Grady
For more information visit www.hundredyearsgallery.com/raw-tonk
US sax don Chris Potter is set to head up the second edition of the Jazz Directors series, following trumpeter Terence Blanchard's tenure in 2016, and lead the Inner City Jazz Ensemble over four dates around the North of England in April. The residency and touring project is a collaboration between iconic Manchester venue Band on the Wall and Parr Jazz, Lancaster Jazz Festival, DJ Lubi, Brighter Sound and Root Music with support from Jazz North and Arts Council England.
The project seeks to unite emerging professional jazz musicians with a top contemporary jazz artist, providing real-world live experience and exciting music to new audiences. Potter's CV reads like a who's who of jazz and high-calibre rock artists (Pat Metheny, Dave Holland and Steely Dan among others), with members of the ensemble selected via an open audition process. The ten-piece ensemble will be recruited from an open-call audition process – which is now open to young professionals until 26 February – click here for more info .
The final line-up will be announced prior to the tour, with dates at: Band on the Wall, Manchester (13 Apr); Parr Hall, Warrington (14 Apr); More Music, Morecambe (15 Apr) and The Alhambra, Bradford (16 Apr).
– Mike Flynn
– Photo by Tim Dickeson
Tickets and more info at bandonthewall.org
The fourth edition of the Jazz FM Awards are set to take place at funky Chelsea venue Under The Bridge on 25 April. With nominees selected by a jazz industry panel of experts the categories including Breakthrough Act of the Year; Soul Artist of the Year; UK Jazz Act of the Year; Digital Initiative of the Year; Instrumentalist of the Year; Blues Artist of the Year; Jazz Innovation of the Year; Vocalist of the Year; International Jazz Artist of the Year; Album of the Year and Live Experience of the Year.
Last year's runaway winners were Binker & Moses (above) who scooped two awards, Breakthrough Act of the Year and UK Jazz Act of the Year, while iconic producer/composer/big band leader Quincy Jones received the special Lifetime Achievement Award. See the Jazzwise for the full list of
nominees when they are announced in late February.
– Mike Flynn
For more info visit www.jazzfmawards.com
Bellowing horn-driven Baedekers, Madwort Saxophone Quartet, launch their forthcoming long-player on the Efpi imprint, Live At Hundred Years Gallery, with a batch of UK dates.
Led by composer Tom Ward, the supple and slippery sax-only ensemble (also featuring Chris Williams, Andy Woolf and Cath Roberts) come over like a beefier, snakier iteration of some of Tim Berne's cerebral symposiums after bagging a piquant dose of rich Reichian-style minimalism.
Catch them on the following dates: Bridge Hotel, Newcastle (12 February); Plink Plonk, York Tavern, Norwich (1 March); IKLECTIK, London (5 March) and The Wonder Inn, Manchester (6 March).
– Spencer Grady
For more info visit www.madwort.co.uk