PREVIEW: An A-Z of the Brewin Dolphin Cambridge International Jazz Festival (11-26 November)

See Z for more details. The finback whale in its new location
Photo courtesy of Cambridge University / Philanthropy

The 2017 Cambridge Jazz Festival – or to give it its full name, the Brewin Dolphin Cambridge International Jazz Festival – runs from 11-26 November. Sebastian previews it in the form of an A-Z:

A is for our admiration for how this festival is growing. From a standing start in 2015, Roslin Russell and her festival team are now motoring. Their festival has really taken on some heft and now happens during 16 days and across no fewer than thirty different venues. The festival has also assembled what looks like one of the best showcases of young jazz likely to be found anywhere in the UK this year. (see N).

A is also for Roy Ayers, headlining at the Cambridge Junction on Saturday 25 November.

B for brochure. The festival brochure shows the festival’s scale: it consists of 36 pages – of which someone has grafted to sell ten of advertising.

B is also for headline sponsor Brewin Dolphin, who are among 26 “funders, sponsors and partners” listed in the programme.

C is for Clare Jazz, one of the regular university-based gigs which has become part of the Festival. The sense of ‘town and gown’ pulling together to make this happen is very strong (Dan Nicholls’ Strobes on Saturday 25 November).

D is for David Gordon, whose trio will be appearing at that nice little venue, the Hot Numbers Coffee, on Gwydir Street near the corner of Mill Road (See also P).

E is for Emmanuel United Reformed Church on Trumpington Road. which will be hosting both a Swing Dance Class and a Big Band Bonanza on Sunday 19 November. 

F is for local heroes the Brass Funkeys whose lively music pops up in quite a few places during the Festival

G is for Gil Scott-Heron. There is a weekend with three events (on 18 and 19 November) devoted to Gil, run by his protege Malik Al Nasir. Two are at the Cambridge University Centre Wine Bar and ‘Pieces of a Man’ is a Sunday 19 afternoon album listening session, which will be at the….

H is for Hidden Rooms, which is Cambridge Modern Jazz’s main year-round venue in the basement of Pizza Express Jesus Lane. They will have Alison Rayner’s Quartet on Thursday 23 (and see S).

I is for Ibis Hotel – another small gig at the Ibis Hotel, part of the brand new development at Cambridge Station (Awesome Leaves, both of the Thursdays).

J is for Michael Janisch. The indefatigable bassist is presenting the very first concert of a European tour at this Festival of a stellar all-American quartet with Rez Abbasi, John O’Gallagher, Jason Palmer and Clarence Penn (Mumford Theatre of ARU, Saturday 19).

K is for Knower. All the way from LA. Likely to make waves (ARU, Saturday 19).

L is for loos and the most obscure link in this list. Stick with me… Two of Cambridge’s more swanky hotels are part of the festival. The Felix, on Huntingdon Road, welcomes Fini Bearman (Sunday 19) and the Gonville on Parker’s Piece (which also has the Michelin-starry celeb-spotterish restaurant Cotto). The Gonville has Sara Dowling with regular house pianist Robin Philips and his trio. Where the loos at the Gonville come in to this is that they are not just magnificent, but the live music being played gets transmitted throughout the public areas of the hotel, so you have that rare experience of not missing a beat if you need to pay a visit during the set.

M is for Murray Edwards College. There is a jazz and philosophy night in the Fellows’ Drawing Room. The blurb says: “this event will explore how jazz may make us aware of dimensions of meaning which can only be enacted in music, and so take us beyond what we can say about central philosophical concerns.” Or, in the words of Clark Terry...  (13 November)

N is for NewGenJazz. The Festival is putting on a spectacular showcase of young generation jazz at the Cambridge Corn Exchange. Unmissable! (we have a detailed feature on its way)

O is for Helen Odell Miller. Music Therapy guru. Cambridge has a very strong activity training music therapist, based around Anglia Ruskin University (25 November in St Columba).

P is for poetry. Kevin Flanagan leads a jazz and poetry slam with Ronnie McGrath, John Robert Clarke and pianist David Gordon (Hidden Rooms, 26 November).

Q is for quiet. Thank you Matt Pannell for thinking out of the box about where one might go to get away from the music! His recommendations are Little St Mary’s Church and the Botanical Gardens. And for a gig on the quiet side, try Brigitte Beraha and John Turville (Hot Numbers, 23 November).

R is for Resolution 88 (part of N)

S is for headliner Andy Sheppard (at Stapleford Granary on Tuesday 14 November).

S is also for another headliner – Soft Machine with John Etheridge and Theo Travis (at the Hidden Rooms on Thursday 16 November). 

T is for Trope (above) with Cherise Adams Burnett. They bring their Brummie mix of jazz, soul, hiphop and Stevie Wonder to the Portland Arms (Friday 24).

U is for the classic tourist question “where is the university?” Like this Festival, it is pretty much everywhere you look.

U is also for Unitarian Church, which has rare sightings of Jim Rattigan’s Pavilion and also Black Top with Cleveland Watkiss; and Clark Tracey‘s new group with stars-in-the-making Alex Ridout and Sean Payne.

V is for the London Vocal Project who will bring some, at least, of Jon Hendricks’ Miles Ahead for only its second UK performance (Saturday 19, St Andrew Street Baptist Church).

W is for West Road – the large concert hall at the university’s music faculty welcomes the Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra and Trish Clowes.

W is also for workshops – too many to mention, but including one that sounds a lot of fun: Emilia Mårtensson with Robin Philips Sunday 26).

X is for xylophone – there is an Evelyn Glennie workshop at Fitzwilliam College Auditorium (Sunday 19).

Y is for the young generation of British jazz musicians (so don’t miss N). 

Z is for Zenel, with Zoe Pascal and Noah Stoneman – mega-talented teenagers, so some of the youngest performers in the Festival and likely to attract reviewers’ attention (part of N).

Z is also for the Zoology Museum. Quite a coup for the Festival to give punters access to a venue currently closed. Dee Byrne’s Entropi and Phil Meadows Group will be playing under the skeleton of the finback whale. (pp)

LINK: Full programme at the Festival’s website

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