News: 2014 Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival – Programme Launch Report

Crowd at the 2014 Bristol Programme Launch

Mike Collins attended the programme launch for the 2014 Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival. He writes:

And the throngs packing the foyer of Bristol’s Colston Hall yelled for more as Get the Blessing brought their set to a rousing climax on Friday evening. No, not a moment from the inaugural festival earlier this year, but the end of the all to brief evening launching the programme for the second festival in March 2014, and reprising some of the excitement and buzz that the first festival brought to this great space in the middle of Bristol.

The evening reminded us of both the range of the programme packed into one weekend in March and how the festival is built on a local scene that counts plenty of international reputations alongside prodigious local talent. It had featured the wildly eclectic cross between hot club and cabaret of the Zen Hussies, augmented by a guest appearance from Chris Barber; rocket-fuelled funk and gospel from James Morton’s band graced by the tenor of Pee Wee Ellis and that roof raising performance by Get the Blessing.

The programme for the 2014 festival is no less wide ranging, International and local.

-There’s a celebration of gospel, funk and worldbeat from icons and pioneers in the shape of performances from Zigaboo Modeliste of The Metres, Pee Wee Ellis and Fred Wesley and 70’s Afrobeat pioneers Osibisa.

– The tradition and song have a special place. Denny Illet and Johnny Bruce’s Swing Big Band are converting the main auditorium into a dance hall for the first night and The Gershwin Spectacular on the Saturday will feature Ned Bennett’s arrangements with Jacqui Dankworth, a big band and three choirs, a special festival commission.

– Another festival commission sees Kate Williams Trio and Bristol Ensemble celebrate Bill Evans with string arrangements.

– The more contemporary is not neglected with a Friday night appearance by extraordinary young Georgian pianist Beka Gochiashvili (his first album was produced by Lenny White, features Stanley Clarke, John Patitucci, Wallace Roney, Jaleel Shaw amongst others and was recorded when he was 16).

-Less youthful, but no less celebrated, Andy Sheppard makes two separate appearances first with John Parricelli then with Italian percussionist Michele Rabbia.

– Get the Blessing will be back, both launching a new album and sharing a double bill with the fabulous Indigo Kid led by guitarist Dan Messore and featuring Iain Ballamy.

– The local scene is well represented in many of these gigs but has a particular place in the set from the Bristol Composers Ensemble, a product of the Bristol Composers Collective that meets and performs original, unfailingly adventurous music monthly.

–  There’s plenty more including Alan Barnes & Howard Alden and Jim Mullen’ Organ Trio.

Artistic Director, Denny Ilett expressed some regret that there wasn’t more Blues explicitly reflected in the programme, but there is still scope to balance that with the free Foyer Programme and late night jam sessions that will run throughout the weekend.

7-9th March is firmly in the diary then with the promise of a great weekend of music. The Colston Hall will be an exciting – maybe the only – place to be that weekend.


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