Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music 2021 (30 Sep – 3 Oct)

After last year’s enforced cancellation, the Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music is back, and for London residents with an adventurous bent, it’s definitely worth the three-hour train journey to see this interesting and slightly quirky event,
writes Peter Slavid.

Publicity photo of Run Logan Run supplied by NFOJAIM

There’s a mixture of concerts, talks and jam sessions, and although a lot of the musicians come from the North East, there’s a good selection of southern visitors too.

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There’s a warm-up event on the Saturday before (25 Sep) before the festival really gets going on Thursday 30. It’s hard to pick out individual gigs from amongst the twenty four events, but there’s a particularly outstanding programme of solo piano gigs from Robert Mitchell, Zoe Rahman, Paul Edis, Kit Downes and (a highlight) Pat Thomas playing the music of Duke Ellington.

There are interesting pre-concert conversations led by John Pope and Pat Thomas, a club night, and lots of interesting bands. Partly because of the pandemic I haven’t been able to see Warmer than Blood yet (a new venture from composer and guitarist Chris Montague with pianist Kit Downes and electric bassist Ruth Goller), so I’m particularly looking forward to that.

It’s refreshing to see a jazz festival that is actually full of real jazz and real improvised music just as it says in the title. That alone justifies the trip and makes this an event worth supporting.

Artists performing:

Alina Bzhezhinska HipHarp Quartet

Zoe Rahman

Warmer Than Blood

Kit Downes

Fergus McCreadie Trio

Robert Mitchell

Run Logan Run (picture above)

Pat Thomas

John Pope Quintet


Huw V Williams Trio

Paul Edis

Zoë Gilby with Andy Champion

Ceitidh Mac


Jo Ganter and Raymond MacDonald

Green Tangerines

Abbie Finn Trio

Mainly Two

John Pope / John Garner / Huw V Williams


The full programme is available here

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on several internet stations including

LINK: Festival Facebook page

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