|Colston Hall: the crowd at the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival 2014|
Photo credit: Ruth Butler
Jon Turney previews next March’s Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival, which had its programme launch this week:
A re-creation of a Louis Armstrong big band concert is the latest fruit of Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival’s deepening relationship with New Orleans, and will be a Sunday afternoon highlight of the Festival’s third edition next March.
It is just possible a few punters will have heard the Armstrong All Stars play at Bristol’s Colston Hall in 1962, but this will be something new even to them. A 17-strong ensemble will play scores made available by the Louis Armstrong House museum and last aired in 1947. The concert will also feature New Orleans musicians Lillian Boutte, vocals, Evan Christopher on clarinet, and banjo and guitar player Don Vappie, plus at least one yet to be announced guest, and narration from actor and singer Clarke Peters, who has a concert of his own the previous day.
The Armstrong connection will be sealed by a two-week residence in the city for Armstrong House archivist Ricky Ricciardi who will tour local schools as well as presenting rare Armstrong film footage at the Festival.
The other distinctive offering is a new project for the Big Buzzard Boogie Band and the Bristol Jazz Festival Chorus performing songs from Disney movies under the banner of Cartoon Jazz.
Dr John strengthens the New Orleans theme when he closes the Festival on Sunday night with his first show in Bristol for a dozen years.
Bill Wyman’s nine-strong Rhythm Kings should ensure a full house for the late show on Saturday.
More contemporary sounds come from Andy Sheppard’s European quartet, playing material from their forthcoming new ECM recording, and Dave (Edition Records) Stapleton’s Slowly Rolling Camera.
Last year’s popular swing dance big band session is reprised as a Festival opener on Friday night, when none-dancers can enjoy trumpeter Nick Walter’s Paradox Ensemble, and there are bluesy contributions later in the weekend from Mike Sanchez, festival returnee Matt Schofield and Aynsley Lister.
The package is completed by the now customary, and very popular two days of free sets in Colston Hall’s impressive foyer, featuring the best local bands, next year including Moonlight Saving Time, Kevin Figes’ Octet, James Morton, the Andy Hague Quintet and Greg Cordez’ Quintet.
The largely unsponsored Festival remains loyal to its Colston Hall base, which means programming options are limited by use of a 2000 seat or a 200 seat hall for ticketed gigs, but nothing in between. It will be interesting to see how it might evolve when the Colston music trust finishes fund-raising for a £45m refurb, which – incidentally – is likely to see the closure of the hall for at least a year from 2017.
The 2015 Festival runs from March 6-8, and booking is now open.