Ambleside Days Contemporary Music Festival (29 Aug – 1 Sep)

Preview by Mike Collins: Ambleside Days 2019 will be the third edition of this boutique festival, packed with world class performers appearing over four days (29 August to 1 September) at Zefirrellis in Ambleside, and developing a very distinctive recipe. Cooking metaphors spring easily to mind with this festival. The first edition in 2017 was dedicated to the memory of John Taylor, as Derek Hook the moving force behind it explained for London Jazz (Link at end). The ingredients have evolved since then, some re-appearing and new ones added each year, but the recipe is the same: Two sets a night with performances from established, top drawer acts, new collaborations, and a bit of spontaneous magic that emerges during the festival as the musicians stay together in the magical Lake District surroundings.

Constant thread: Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker (Publicity picture)

This year, as in previous years, a constant thread is the partnership of pianist Gwilym Simcock and guitar wizard Mike Walker. They open the festival with an intriguing collaboration with violinist Thomas Gould and the Singh Quartet. SImcock perfoms a solo set the next night and on the Saturday, Simcock and Walker are on stage together again in a version of The Impossible Gentlemen, this one with the mouthwatering prospect of a double dose of drums with Asaf Sirkis and Bernhard Schimpelsberger. The two lead co-conspirators are sure to be deeply implicated in the Ambleside Ensemble that closes the festival on the Sunday night. Also in the programme are two great tenor players. Tommy Smith brings his acclaimed Coltrane Dedication Quartet for the second set on the Friday. Tim Garland is another Ambleside regular and has a couple of slots. Joined by the peerless Jason Rebello on piano and bass maestro Yuri Goloubev, they combine with Thomas Gould and the Singh Quartet to perform Garland’s arrangements of Stan Getz’ Focus on the first night. Later in the festival the trio perfom a set from Garland’s own Weather Walkers suite. As if that wasn’t enough, there’s a Jason Rebello Trio set on the last night. The evenings aren’t quite enough to accommodate the riches the Ambleside team have assembled. On Saturday afternoon Les Chisnall and Alice Zawadzki combine with ‘Going Dutch’ artist, virtuosic harmonica player Hermine Deurloo. Special Guests are promised for that one and there are plenty to choose from. This promises to be another vintage year for Ambleside Days. The full roster of gigs, booking information and artist profiles are available on the website. LINKS: Derek Hook preview from 2017 Ambleside days site

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