INTERVIEW: Roslin Russell – Fourth Cambridge International Jazz Festival (13–27 Nov 2018)

Myles Sanko
Photo Credit: Bruno Ferreira

The Cambridge International Jazz Festival starting on 13 November is entering its fourth year. One of the key themes this year is the contribution/leadership of women in jazz, with headliners Liane Carroll and Madeleine Peyroux opening and closing the festival respectively. There’s also a look at the themes of environment and humanity with Phronesis (concert + masterclass) and double bassist Jasper Høiby’s Planet B. Leah Williams found out more from Artistic Director ROSLIN RUSSELL:

LondonJazz News: Why did you decide to make celebrating women in jazz the main focus for this year’s festival?

Roslin Russell: We’ve championed female musicians every year and every year there seem to be more and more talented women out there who deserve to have the spotlight on them. This year, we noticed that we’d just happened to book even more women than usual and so it made sense to place an emphasis on how many fantastic, active female musicians there are at the moment. Although the gender imbalance in jazz does seem to be redressing, it’s still really important to continue giving women in jazz a visible platform to inspire other young musicians.

LJN: Who are some of the lesser-known female artists you would urge people to go and see at the festival?

RR: There are so many but a few gigs that promise to be really special are: drummer Lorraine Baker, touring her debut album Eden on 16 November, and saxophonist Josephine Davies with her trio Satori on 22 November. Then there’s The Ridout Family, featuring Alexandra Ridout on trumpet alongside her father and brother, also on 22 November. She’s a really incredible young player with big things ahead of her. They’re playing at a new venue for us this year, the Espresso Library, which promises to create a really intimate and memorable atmosphere.

Josephine Davies
Photo credit: Tor Hills

LJN: You’ve got a few new venues this year – what will they add to the festival?

RR: We’re always keen to explore new venues, and the different kind of musicians and audiences they can appeal to. We also wanted to offer music in venues outside of Cambridge city centre to widen our reach and also give audiences the chance to enjoy some of the many beautiful venues around. One I’m particularly excited about is Storey’s Field Centre, which is a new award-winning, purpose-built concert venue on the edge of the city in Eddington, a new University development. We’ve got some great artists playing there, including the Elliot Galvin Trio on 17 November and Dutch violinist Tim Kliphius’ Trio supported by Tara Minton’s Harp Bazaar on 24 November. This should be a really great gig, especially for people who like both classical and jazz as these artists really draw from both genres. Also, another stunning venue, Saffron Hall, will be hosting Orphy Robinson (he presents Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks) on 16 November.

LJN: Who are some CJF first-time artists that people should know about?

RR: It’s going to be really lovely to welcome a number of artists to the jazz fest family this year as they have strong connections to Cambridge. Myles Sanko was actually working as a chef in Cambridge when he started his jazz career, which has become hugely successful internationally now, so it will be brilliant having him back playing at the Cambridge Junction on 22 November, a double bill with Snowboy & The Latin Section. Similarly, renowned pianist Kit Downes studied in Cambridge and, although he plays here regularly, hasn’t yet been involved in the Festival so we’re really happy to have him, alongside Tom Challenger on tenor sax, at the Gonville & Caius College Chapel on 23 November.

Liane Carroll and Ian Shaw
Photo Credit: Roger Thomas

LJN: Who are you personally looking forward to seeing this year?

RR: I wish I had time to see everyone! But I am particularly excited to see the opening concert with Liane Carroll, Ian Shaw and The London Gay Big Band – I really can’t think of a better way to kick things off. Then there’s regular CJF jazz funk Fender Rhodes artist Resolution 88, who are always amazing and they have a lot of new material this year. Also Vanessa Haynes, who’s simply a mesmerising singer and will be paying a very special tribute to the late Aretha Franklin.

LJN: If there’s just one thing people should go and see this year, what should it be?

RR: A lot of the inspiration for our theme around women in jazz came from booking legendary saxophonist, composer and educator Issie Barratt. Her new dectet Interchange featuring award winning Zoe Rahman and Laura Jurd is playing on 20 November at Emmanuel United Reformed Church, a double bill with ECM artist Elina Duni & Rob Luft – absolutely not to be missed. Issie’s also giving a free talk about her experience as a woman in jazz and co-leading a workshop with Laura Jurd, where they’ll be looking at improvisation over tunes by women composers. Issie’s involvement this year really spans across the different areas of the festival and gives a good taste of how much there is on offer; something to excite and inspire everyone! (pp)

LINK: Cambridge Jazz Festival website

Categories: Feature/Interview

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