Norma Winstone, Laura Jurd, Leïla Martial, KOKOROKO and Myra Melford’s Snowy Egret take flight for Cheltenham Jazz Fest line-up

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

The full programme has now been finalised for this year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from 5 to 10 May, with a strong mix of leading UK, US and European jazz artists.

Norma Winstone, Leïla Martial and Myra Melford
Norma Winstone, Leïla Martial and Myra Melford

The Parabola Arts Centre (PAC), features a Friday and Saturday afternoon/evening programme on 8 and 9 May, packed with left-field jazz highlights just announced.

These include, on 8 May, well-regarded British bassist Neil Charles’ premiere of his new Anglo-American Quintet with esteemed US flautist Nicole Mitchell, Sun Ra Arkestra vocalist Tara Middleton, alongside fiery UK drummer Mark Sanders and top improv pianist Pat Thomas, on a project inspired by novelist, playwright, and activist James Baldwin’s searing essays on race and black culture. This is closely followed by another bass-fuelled combo with Afro-beat inspired Austrian septet Shake Stew, whose low-end leader Lukas Kranzelbinder’s propulsive basslines intertwine with percussion and horns. Bassist Charles then returns with his new doom-jazz styled trio, Pulled By Magnets, with former Polar Bear bandmates, drummer Seb Rochford and saxophonist Pete Wareham, combining on live takes of songs from their LP, Rose Golden Doorways. Things close out in mischievously bewitching style as maverick Swiss vocalist Leïla Martial (pictured above, centre) leads her esoteric Baa Box trio through an array of adventurous voice, drums and guitar-led songs.

Saturday 9 May’s PAC line-up kicks off with Mercury-nominated trumpeter Laura Jurd’s ambitious folk-jazz-classical project, Stepping Back, Jumping In (11am); while there’s languid ambient experimentation from new Birmingham-based trio stillefelt – bassist/electronics Chris Mapp, trumpeter Percy Pursglove and guitarist Thomas ‘Seminar’ Ford – perform music from their new album Quiet Field (1.30pm, PAC). There’s fresh sounds too from irreverent Portuguese threesome, Rite of Trio, featuring feisty guitarist André Bastos Silva, bassist Filipe Louro and drummer Pedro Melo Alves (PAC, 4.15pm). Another ace Parabola booking is US pianist Myra Melford (pictured above right) who brings her stellar Snowy Egret band to town with cornetist Ron Miles, guitarist Liberty Ellman, electric bassist Stomu Takeishi and drummer Rudy Royston, which precedes a powerful duet between Danish sax star Mette Rasmussen and scorching US drummer Chris Corsano, and a finely poised collaboration between revered Brit-jazz vocalist Norma Winstone (pictured above left) and top German pianist Pablo Held (all at PAC, 9 May).

Also added to the wider line-up are Afro-beat fulled seven-piece KOKOROKO who roll-up the Jazz Arena (6.30pm, 10 May), while former Led Zep front man, Robert Plant brings his bluesy collaborative project, Saving Grace, to the Big Top (9pm, 8 May). Further newly added shows include Liane Carroll: Carroll Plays King (The Daffodil, 6 May); Friday Night Is Music Night: Walkin’ To New Orleans: The New Orleans Story (Big Top, 8 May); Stacey Kent (Everyman, 8 May); Electric Lady Big Band (Everyman, 2pm, 9 May) Keb’ Mo’ (Everyman, 9 May); Nubiyan Twist and Steam Down (Warehouse, Brewery Quarter, 9 May) and Beverley Knight (Big Top, 10 May).

These shows join those already announced including Gregory Porter (Big Top, 5 May); Bebel Gilberto (Everyman, 7 May); Makaya McCraven, Keyon Harrold (Jazz Arena, 8 May); Lizz Wright (Everyman, 8 May); Amadou and Mariam (8 May, Big Top), Randy Brecker/Dave Liebman/Marc Copland Quintet (Everyman, 9 May) and Maisha with Gary Bartz (Jazz Arena, 10 May). Jazzwise is festival media partner.

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