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.
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.
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.
Alina Bzhezhinska HipHarp Quartet
Warmer Than Blood
Fergus McCreadie Trio
Run Logan Run (picture above)
John Pope Quintet
Huw V Williams Trio
Zoë Gilby with Andy Champion
Jo Ganter and Raymond MacDonald
Abbie Finn Trio
John Pope / John Garner / Huw V Williams
Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on several internet stations including mixcloud.com/ukjazz
LINK: Festival Facebook page