A full weekend dedicated to celebrating all things jazz is heading to Middlesbrough this month – and we can’t wait!
Both classic and contemporary styles will be featured during the Middlesbrough Jazz Weekender running from Friday 19th to Sunday 21st October.
The event programme is overflowing with promises of first-class performances from global jazz musicians.
The Weekender festival will be held at the newly reopened Middlesbrough Town Hall, showcasing homegrown talent from around the North East and those a little bit further afield too.
The last major jazz festival in Middlesbrough was the ‘Newport Jazz Festival at Ayresome Park’ in July 1978 where stars such as Dizzy Gillespie and Ella Fitzgerald graced the football ground. This 40-year-anniversary will be marked with an exhibition of memorabilia from 1978. As a nod to the past, UK- based artists Chris Barber and the National Youth Jazz Orchestra who appeared at Ayresome will also feature on the Saturday of the Weekender.
However, the Weekender has a clear and compelling focus on the future of jazz with performances from four contemporary jazz ensembles ready to kickstart the entertainment on Friday evening.
“The event programme is overflowing with promises of first-class performances from global jazz musicians”
The acts set to play include Break Out Brass Band – the first all-female New Orleans style brass ensemble in the UK – Ubunye and Roller Trio from Leeds and Manchester-based Beats & Pieces Big Band whose informal style of playing, all from memory, re-invents the big band style for a new audience. The bands are part of a scheme called Alt-Shift-J run by the agency Jazz North with a mission to attract a younger audience to the music genre.
There will be something for everyone, even the kids, as they can participate in an engaging musical experience named ‘Tots Play Jazz’, a show from Chris Sharkey, or everyone can join in with a vocal workshop with Pete Churchill on Sunday titled ‘How to Make the Words Dance’. These events will hopefully ignite interest in jazz music in a younger generation, ensuring that this weekender will be the first of many.
Event Programmer Ros Rigby said: “I was absolutely delighted to be asked to programme this first major jazz event in the beautiful, newly-refurbished Town Hall and I hope that it creates a starting point for more jazz events in the venue in the future, as well as growing an interest in jazz among younger players and audiences.”
The programme for Sunday afternoon consists of a series of exciting jazz ensembles that you would usually only be able to see at an evening concert.
Singer Hailey Tuck from Texas is joined by a UK band that includes Guisborough-born pianist Rick Simpson; Teesside’s very own Noel Dennis is joined by vocalist Zoe Gilby with a new collaboration project about American trumpeter Tom Harrell; The Ushaw Ensemble who fuse elements of folk, contemporary classical and jazz and finally, The Printmakers – a group of some of the greatest UK Jazz performers of recent years. Material by members of The Printmakers Nikki Iles and Norma Winstone will be played alongside songs from the likes of varied artists Paul Simon and Joni Mitchell.
The grand finale will be a performance from the Mingus Big Band, bringing the festivities to a jubilant close.
Mingus Big Band are a Grammy-nominated large-scale jazz ensemble from the USA who celebrate the music of acclaimed composer Charles Mingus, one of the most important figures in twentieth-century American music who wrote music far ahead of its time. The band tour extensively and pull in audiences who might not usually come to see jazz – a perfect way to end a weekend of jazz showcasing all under one roof.
Tickets are available for each individual event and start at just £3.00. For details of the full weekend programme and to buy tickets, please visit middlesbroughtownhall.co.uk/middlesbrough-jazz-weekender.