Coming up next weekend, Friday 22nd March through to Sunday, the latest edition of Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival, never to be taken for granted, always to be celebrated. Jon Turney has done a comprehensive job of previewing for London Jazz and nominating his hot picks on his own blog. Here’s a few reflections and selections from me.
It’ll be a different experience this year with the hub re-located to the Anson Rooms in Bristol Students Union and gigs in St. Georges and the O2, not forgetting the Sunday Free Stage in Colston Hall. The programme is as varied a menu as any of the previous editions with no compromise on quality. Camping out in the Anson Rooms – Winston Theatre will give you a festival that spans British jazz generations and furrows, and will expose you to some of the finest players and composers on the scene: Rebecca Nash’s Atlas performing a commision; hottest guitar property Ant Law with his quartet; Julian Siegel with a quartet that have been at the top of their game for a decade or more; Yazz Ahmed is back, her star having risen yet further in the last couple of years; Andy Hague re-creating Kind of Blue kicking of a Sunday programme that finishes with the without parallel and defying definition Soweto Kinch, with Johnny Mansfield’s Elftet in between, clocking maybe the youngest average ages of the festival, but they’d be one of my top picks.
If your thing is blues, then you’ll be in the Pegg Theatre. And there’s so much more still. Your festival might include a good stint at the Free Stage, don’t miss alto man Kevin Figes on Friday, or Jim Blomfield launching his album on Saturday… or bass supremo/ composer Riaan Vosloo on Sunday, but really the Jazz South Showcase on Sunday at the Colston Foyer is world-class festival in its own right. Starting with Kate and Mike Westbrook’s Granite, its followed by Hexagon – irresistible, surely, celebrating Bheki Msleku and McCoy Tyner with a stunning band. Local heroes We Are Leif will be there and then Iain Ballamy’s Quartet with Jason Rebello.
The prospect is of many delicious, win-win choices, check out the full schedule and Jon’s picks. Me, I’m really looking forward to Huw Warren’s celebration of Dylan Thomas ‘Do Not Go Gentle‘, with that Iain Ballamy again, and a good dip into that Winston Theatre programme – and you might just see me shaking a leg to Hannah Williams and the Affirmations on Friday night.