Full Programme announced for 2020 Cheltenham Jazz Festival (5-10 May)

Having made partial announcements earlier, Cheltenham Jazz Festival (5-10 May) is announcing its full programme today.

Tickets will go on sale to Members at 10am on Wednesday 26 February and on general sale from 10am on Wednesday 4 March 2020. It is also announced that the new head of programming, taking over from Emily Jones who has moved to Gateshead, is Dave Gaydon.

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The Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2020 returns in May with a broad spectrum of world-class contemporary jazz, blues, soul, R&B and pop. Set against the picturesque backdrop of Cheltenham The Festival Town from May 5-10, this year’s programme once again delivers a balance of core jazz and mainstream offerings from today’s biggest stars, heritage legends and next-generation talent, with an impressive spread of UK exclusives and special commissions in the mix.


Marc Copland, Joey Baron, Randy Brecker

Coinciding with the Early May Bank Holiday, which moves to Friday (8 May) to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, this year’s festival will host R&B funk legends KC & The Sunshine Band, UK soulstress Beverley Knight and Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May with the Ronnie Scott’s Big Band. Blues/folk-inspired co-operative Saving Grace unveil their brand-new project featuring singers Robert Plant and Suzi Dian, multi-instrumentalist, DJ and cultural pioneer Nitin Sawhney will showcase music from his seminal record Beyond Skin alongside repertoire from his 20-album career, while Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning Booker T Jones returns to the Festival with material from his new album Note By Note. The Festival’s Artistic Curator Gregory Porter opens the 6-day event with a concert at the 2000-seat capacity Henry Westons Big Top and has selected various acts for the ‘Gregory’s Picks’ series: Lizz Wright, Keyon Harrold, Makaya McCraven and Gary Bartz & Maisha, announced last month.

The Parabola Arts Centre programme presents a snapshot of the global landscape of jazz today, with this year’s line-up stronger and more diverse than ever. Award-winning trumpeter Laura Jurd presents her latest boundary-pushing project Stepping Back, Jumping In featuring a 14 piece-ensemble, Seb Rochford unveils Pulled By Magnets – a new band exploring Seb’s Anglo-Indian heritage featuring Pete Wareham on saxophone and Neil Charles on bass and Portuguese rock-fuelled outfit The Rite of Trio perform their UK debut as Cheltenham’s pick from the 12 Points Festival European jazz showcase. Anglo-Swiss quintet YDivide celebrate Switzerland’s lively jazz scene, legendary jazz vocalist Norma Winstone teams up with German pianist Pablo Held and there’s a special 50th anniversary concert reinterpreting Jimi Hendrix’s 1968 masterpiece Electric Ladyland led by guitarist, vocalist and arranger Denny Ilett, who has assembled a 16-piece band of leading UK jazz musicians including Laura Jurd, Yazz Ahmed, Iain Bellamy and many more.

Elsewhere, a brand-new group fronted by three of contemporary jazz’s leading instrumentalists, saxophonist David Liebman, trumpeter Randy Brecker and pianist Marc Copland bring their quintet to the Everyman Theatre. British singer Liane Carroll pays tribute to the legendary Carole King with a concert at The Daffodil and million-selling US vocalist Stacey Kent will delve into the Great American Songbook with acclaimed saxophonist Jim Tomlinson at the Everyman Theatre.

The Festival’s long-standing partnership with BBC Radio 2 continues with special broadcasts throughout the weekend including Squeeze live in concert and a New Orleans-themed Friday Night Is Music Night with Guy Barker’s Big Band and the BBC Concert Orchestra.

Taste-making DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson takes up residence at Warehouse @ The Brewery Quarter – a new pop-up venue, where in addition to his own DJ set will showcase some of the acts he’s championing right now on the UK scene: alt singer-songwriter Rosie Lowe, punk jazzers Melt Yourself Down and the genre-bending Nubiyan Twist. Jo Whiley makes an appearance at The Warehouse for Jazz Detox.

Also on the bill and representing the UK’s kaleidoscopic jazz scene are SE London collective Steam Down, jazz/hip-hop/soul-influenced vocalist and guitarist Oscar Jerome and 8-piece Afrobeat outfit KOKOROKO. Elsewhere, Ibibio Sound Machine, fronted by Nigerian singer Eno Williams will explore a tapestry of African and electronic soundworlds and iconic drummer Tony Allen pays homage to the late South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela. And set for Cheltenham are some of the most in-demand blues artists currently touring the world: recent Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Keb’ Mo’, US bassist and founding member of blues-rock band Trampled Under Foot Danielle Nicole and harmonica extraordinaire Errol Linton.

The Festival offers a range of inspirational opportunities for young people such as the family programme in the Yahama Discovery Space with shows for all ages from babies upwards, the popular ‘Jazz It Up’ showcase on the Free Stage for local schools, and Musicate – a year-round primary school music teaching and appreciation programme.

Equally committed to emerging talent, this year’s programme will also feature a double bill showcase from Amahla & Rosie Tee – two artists from last year’s Free Stage who will perform in the Jazz Arena and receive a mentoring session with key industry figures. Students from the jazz course at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire combine with pupils from the Siena Jazz-Accademia Nazionale Del Jazz in Italy for the Birmingham Exchange concert, and once again the …around town programme will oversee 90 free gigs throughout Cheltenham in pubs, clubs, streets and shopping centres. Covering acoustic singer-songwriters to explosive big bands, dancers, artists and street performers, …around town offers a platform for up-and-coming artists to showcase their work to agents and promoters.

This year also sees the introduction of ‘Jerwood Jazz Encounters’; an 18-month scheme offering intensive support to four artists to develop their knowledge and understanding of showcasing music in unusual spaces and new formats, culminating in the commission of four new works for presentation in 2021. They are Elliot Galvin, Lara Jones, Witch ‘n’ Monk (Heidi Heidelberg and Mauricio Velasierra) and Faye MacCalman.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2020 is hosted in a tented festival village in the town centre’s Montpellier Gardens featuring the Henry Westons Big Top stage, Jazz Arena, Free Stage, Yamaha Discovery Space, a programme of family activities and events and a food, drink and market area. The Festival reaches beyond the festival village into Cheltenham bringing jazz to venues throughout the day until late into the night. These include Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham Ladies’ College Parabola Arts Centre, Hotel du Vin, The Daffodil and a new pop-up venue Warehouse @ The Brewery Quarter plus a dozen more clubs and bars and three street stages in the …around town programme supported by Cheltenham BID.

Tickets go on sale to Members at 10am on Wednesday 26 February 2020 and on general sale from 10am on Wednesday 4 March 2020.

Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2020 Full Listings:

Tuesday 5 May
Gregory Porter With Special Guest Lizz Wright – Henry Westons Big Top

Wednesday 6 May
Danielle Nicole – Jazz Arena
Liane Carroll: Carroll Sings King – The Daffodil
Squeeze – Henry Westons Big Top

Thursday 7 May

Oscar Jerome – Jazz Arena
Emma Smith ft. Jamie Safir – The Daffodil
Friday Night Is Music Night – Walkin’ To New Oreleans: The New Orleans Story – Henry Westons Big Top
Bebel Gilberto – Everyman Theatre
Kansas Smitty’s Takeover- The Daffodil
Late Night Jam Sessions- Hotel du Vin

Friday 8 May (Bank Holiday)

Jazz Babies: Bam! Babies’ Academy Of Music – Yamaha Discovery Space
Jazz Exchange: Siena And Birmingham – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Keyon Harrold – Jazz Arena
Bamako To Birmingham: Amadou & Mariam And The Blind Boys Of Alabama – Henry Westons Big Top
Sam Frankie Fox & Ricardo Rocha – Yamaha Discovery Space
Jazz Kids: Alex Woods Trio – Yamaha Discovery Space
Neil Charles: Dark Days – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Kansas Smitty’s – Everyman Theatre
Makaya McCraven – Jazz Arena
Shake Stew – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Booker T. Jones – Henry Westons Big Top
Lizz Wright – Everyman Theatre
Georgia Cécile – The Daffodil
Gilles Peterson Presents: Rosie Lowe – Warehouse @ The Brewery Quarter
Pulled By Magnets – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Shaun Escoffery – Jazz Arena
Saving Grace ft. Robert Plant & Suzi Dian – Henry Westons Big Top
Stacey Kent – Everyman Theatre
Gilles Peterson Presents: Melt Yourself Down – Warehouse @ The Brewery Quarter
Leila Martial: Baa Box – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Gilles Peterson DJ Set – Warehouse @ The Bewery Quarter
Late Night Jam Sessions – Hotel du Vin
Kansas Smitty’s Takeover – The Daffodil

Saturday 9 May

Jazz Babies With Holly Thomas – Yamaha Discovery Space
Laura Jurd: Stepping Back, Jumping In – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Global Folk Adventures With Katie Stevens – Yamaha Discovery Space
Showcase: Amahla & Rosie Tee – Jazz Arena
Holly Thomas – Hotel du Vin
stillefelt – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Hotclub Of Jupiter – Yamaha Discovery Space
Double Bill: Judi Jackson & Jalen N’Gonda – Henry Westons Big Top
Electric Lady Big Band – Everyman Theatre
Yamaha Sessions – Yamaha Discovery Space
Nitin Sawhney – Jazz Arena
The Rite Of Trio – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Imelda May & Ronnie Scott’s Big Band – Henry Westons Big Top
Keb’ Mo’ – Everyman Theatre
Myra Melford & Snowy Egret – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Rejoice: Tony Allen Celebrates Hugh Masekela – Jazz Arena
Errol Linton – The Daffodil
Gilles Peterson Presents: Nubiyan Twist – Warehouse @ The Brewery Quarter
Emeli Sandé – Henry Westons Big Top
Liebman / Brecker / Copland Quintet – Everyman Theatre
Mette Rasmussen & Chris Corsano – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Steam Down – Warehouse @ The Brewery Quarter
Late Night Jam Sessions – Hotel du Vin
Kansas Smitty’s Takeover – The Daffodil

Sunday 10 May

Yamaha Sessions – Yamaha Discovery Space
Norma Winstone & Pablo Held – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Shlomo’s Beatbox Adventure For Kids & Surprise Guest – Jazz Arena
Brilliant Brass! – Yamaha Discovery Space
Ibibio Sound Machine – Henry Westons Big Top
Family Sing With Juliet Kelly – Yamaha Discovery Space
Ydivide – Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre
Gary Bartz & Maisha – Jazz Arena
Yamaha Sessions – Yamaha Discovery Space
Beverley Knight – Henry Westons Big Top
KOKOROKO – Jazz Arena
KC & The Sunshine Band – Henry Westons Big Top

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