In 1995, the old Newcastle Jazz Festival closed its doors, leaving a void in the city. Thankfully, after 22 years, the Newcastle Jazz Festival returns from Thursday 28th to Sunday 1st October and will take place in numerous venues right across the city centre.
“In celebration of the milestone 100th anniversary year of the first ever jazz recordings, it’s the perfect time to bring together and recognise some of the great venues and promoters working in the North East,’” says Festival Producer, Wesley Stephenson.
Alongside some of the cream of regional players, the festival will welcome European musicians from France, Denmark and Switzerland, as well as some of the UK’s most exciting improvisers from the Glasgow and London scenes.
The long weekend of concerts features Mette Rasmussen & Julien Desprez, Zoe Rahman, Troyka and Newcastle Improvisers Julie Kjaer, Hannah Marshall, Rachel Musson and many more.
The festival kicks off at the Jazz Café, which is known for supporting local jazz enthusiasts and students by providing a platform twice a month. For this festival warm up, the BABMUS group, Bearpark, will deliver a modern take on a wide variety of standards with influences including John Coltrane and Bill Evans.
On Friday 29th September, the festival continues at The Literary and Philosophical Society with Zoe Rahman – one of the most revered pianists on the international jazz scene and a regular guest to Tyneside. She will perform new work from her sixth studio album, ‘Dreamlandʼ, which is also her first as a solo musician.
In the evening, the event moves to The Globe for Koan – a DIY night dedicated to improvisation and original composition with no regard for genre. Headlining this festival special will be Culver, whose high precision quality of sound and depth of reach creates a unique meditative experience.
Screening of the film ‘Politics and Poetry’ will also take place upstairs at the Jazz Café in memory of Keith Morris – a greatly respected musician, educator, promoter and founding member of the ‘Schmazz’ organisation which subsequently came to merge with Jazz North East. Festival Producer, Wesley Stephenson, added: “For the first edition of the festival, it’ll be a great honour to pay tribute to such a dedicated figure in the history of Tyneside Jazz.”
There’s an early start on Saturday with Paul Taylor – an accomplished pianist and keyboard player specialising in improvisation. His evocative, alluring and unique music combines unusual harmonies and sonorities with an original and fluid technique. And on the night, the festival will present a stunning international bill bringing together musicians from France, Denmark, Switzerland and the UK. Schnellertollermeier, Troyka, Acapulco, Rassmussen and Desprez will be playing and you can expect some of the most exciting contemporary jazz you’re ever likely to hear.
On Sunday, The Improvisers Workshop – which runs regularly on the first Sunday of the month – will be part of the festival. The sessions act as an open space for all musicians, vocalists and people who work with sound to explore the nature of improvisation, with listeners as welcome as the participants.
Concluding the festival is one of the most staggering line-ups you’re ever likely to see on Tyneside. Featuring as part of Jazz North Eastʼs monthly ‘On The Outside’ and ‘Women Make Music’ series are seven of London’s finest improvisers, including Alison Blunt, Julie Kjær, Rachel Musson and Ivor Kallin, who will all perform with the London Improvisers’ Orchestra.
For more information about the event, please visit the festival’s social media account on Facebook: /newcastlefestivalofjazzandimprovisedmusic.