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.
With jazz legends Herbie Hancock and George Benson already confirmed for their only UK festival appearances at this year's fifth anniversary edition of the Love Supreme Jazz Festival, running from 30 June to 2 July, organisers have unveiled a strong line up of additional artists. Festival favourites returning to the event include Grammy Award winning artists Gregory Porter and Robert Glasper Experiment, while the core jazz programme is shaping up well. Names confirmed for this now include a welcome appearance by the explosive Michael Wollny Trio, hip US trumpeter Christian Scott, emerging vocal talent Charenée Wade, adventurous bassist Michael Janisch's Paradigm Shift band, leftfield jazz drummer Makaya McCraven and hotly-tipped drums-keyboard duo Yussef Kamaal.
Prolific saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings has his own mini-fest within the festival making three appearances with his new group The Ancestors, his Mercury-nominated electro-charged trio Comet Is Coming and sax-tuba-drums-driven Sons of Kemet. Further jazz names include feisty Manchester trio Mammal Hands; hip hop influences pianist Ashley Henry's Trio; groove-led Hot 8 Brass Band; Canadian fusioneers BadBadNotGood and the Clare Teal Mini Big Band. Soul headliners now include acclaimed UK singer Laura Mvula, Motown icons The Jacksons (who appear as part of their 50th anniversary tour), neo-soul vocalist Nao; Alabama-based soul group St Paul & the Broken Bones; singer-songwriter Jordan Rakei and funk-edged Lee Fields & The Expressions.
With Jazzwise as media partner, the greenfield festival takes place in the idyllic South Downs countryside and allows for on-site camping, and luxury glamping, all weekend with an extensive selection of international food stalls, bars, jazz record and merchandise stands, children's play area and fun fair all within the festival arena.
Keyboardist Bill Laurance, who rose to prominence with Grammy Award-winning groove-merchants Snarky Puppy, is set to tour the UK once again as his solo career builds momentum outside the band. Laurance hits the road just ahead of Snarky's tour in April and May, playing jazz-fuelled Afrobeat, electronica and cinematic sounding songs from his three acclaimed studio albums, Flint, Swift and Aftersun ahead of his next album, which is set to be a piano-led solo record. Kicking off in Gateshead and traversing the country down to Brighton, the tour concludes with a three-night residency at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London.
Dates are: Sage 2, Gateshead (28 Feb); O2 ABC 2, Glasgow (1 Mar); RNCM, Manchester (4 Mar); O2 Academy 2, Liverpool (5 Mar); Howard Assembly Room, Leeds (6 Mar); Glee Club, Birmingham (7 Mar); The Lantern, Bristol (8 Mar); Old Market, Brighton (9 Mar) and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London (29-31 March).
Over the last decade or so, Cafe OTO has secured an impressive hit rate of presenting bona fide free jazz originators from across the pond – but the Art Ensemble Of Chicago have remained a stubborn fixture at the top of the want list. As such, excitement is riding high for this rare three-date UK residency by the current incarnation – a quartet featuring original member, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, longstanding percussionist Famoudou Don Moye, veteran trumpeter Hugh Ragin and upcoming Chicagoan double-bassist Junius Paul.
Mitchell initiates this final night's set with a nod to performance art, standing stock still while the house falls into silence and finally signalling the music's start with a single, isolated parp on the soprano. From there, the sound fans out into a spectral improvisation of glistening filaments, lent shape by Paul's sonorous, woody filigrees – but it's only a few minutes until the quartet ascends to a seething tumult of pure energy. Mitchell and Ragin, both seated, weave complex, ecstatically joyous lines: Mitchell pouring out endless, jagged, tumbling shapes on the alto with astonishingly sustained circular breathing, while Ragin adds impossibly high, tight trills from the piccolo trumpet.
Smashing it all forward is Don Moye – a captivating mystic, robed, bejewelled and utterly in tune with his rhythmic imperative, driving the drums with a bullish, muscular insistence that nevertheless always dances with a jovial swing. The energy builds, the solos flash by, until the quartet break into an irascible pantomime, crying out "hey, it's Friday night!" and "yeah, man!" partly ragging the spellbound audience for its pin-drop reticence, partly just having fun. As the wave breaks, there's an interlude that harks back to the Ensemble's use of 'little 'instruments', with Paul tinkling the shimmering glockenspiel while Moye rattles out tiny, detailed telegraphs on metallic bells and gongs. Finally, Paul strikes up a slithering bass hook and the horns spell out the Ensemble's familiar touch-down melody, 'Odwalla (The Theme') as an hour of transcendent music-making draws to a close. A brief, boisterous blast of an encore seals the deal. It's been real.
Leading UK saxophonist Julian Siegel is set to unveil his most ambitious project to date in 2017 when he debuts his newly-formed Jazz Orchestra, whose 19-piece line-up features a wide-range of top British jazz talent for a six date UK tour in March. The ensemble will be performing expanded and reimagined versions of his works for Quartet and Trio, as well as a newly written work entitled 'Tales from the Jacquard' that was produced by Derby Jazz with support from Arts Council England's Grants for Arts scheme. The tour also includes an appearance at Ronnie Scott's as part of the Jazzwise 20th Anniversary Festival on Thursday 16 March.
The group will be conducted by Nick Smart and features a strong line-up of Siegel on sax and clarinet, trumpeters Tom Walsh, Percy Pursglove, Henry Lowther and Claus Stoetter; alto saxophonists Mike Chillingworth and Jason Yarde; tenorists Stan Sulzmann and Tori Freestone; baritone sax and clarinettist Gemma Moore; trombonists Mark Nightingale, Trevor Mires, Harry Brown; bass trombone and tuba player Richard Henry; pianist Liam Noble; bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo.
Dates are: The Venue @ De Montfort University, Leicester (14 March); Lakeside Arts, Nottingham (15 March); Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London (16 March); Terry O'toole Theatre, Lincoln (17 March); Guildhall Theatre, Derby (18 March) and Town Hall Birmingham (19 March).