Ambleside Days (1-4 Sep 2022)

Ambleside Days 2022 will take place from 1-4 September. Preview by Dan Paton:

The closing night of the 2018 Festival. L-R: Gwilym Simcock, Mike Walker, Yaron Stavi, Asaf Sirkis, Bernhard Schimpelsberger. Photo credit: David Forman

Whether it be the multi-venue extravaganza of the London Jazz Festival, or rushing between various stages at Love Supreme or Glastonbury, music festivals usually require a combination of considerable energy and careful planning to experience them as fully as possible. Ambleside Days, which takes place at Zeffirelli’s in the beautiful environment of Ambleside at the northern end of Lake Windermere, is a rather different kind of event. Organiser Derek Hook describes it as a ‘joyful small festival…surrounded by nature, silence and great company in the heart of the Lake District’, and it is an occasion that provides the time and space for community and comfort as well as superb live music.

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The festival came about from many years of the performances and recordings in Ambleside by the great pianist John Taylor, and the first edition was in 2017. “Ambleside Days”, named after what is perhaps Taylor’s most famous composition, aims to continue celebrating his love of contemporary improvised music. The festival has developed long-standing relationships with a core of jazz artists including Nikki Iles, Tim Garland, Gwilym Simcock, Mike Walker and Norma Winstone, all of whom return to the festival’s stage in 2022 in a variety of configurations.

  • On 3 September, audiences can experience a brand new line-up of The Impossible Gentlemen that combines the enduring creative partnership of Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker with a new rhythm section consisting of Laurence Cottle (bass) and Ian Thomas (drums). The performance will no doubt include some of the band’s much loved compositions from across their three albums. (See recent review by Charles Rees)
  • The Impossible Gentlemen’s performance forms part of a very promising double bill with ‘Sketches of a Printmaker’, featuring members of The Printmakers including Nikki Iles and Norma Winstone.
  • Another highlight comes with Tim Garland’s Weather Walker trio with Asaf Sirkis and Gwilym Simcock on 2 September.

This year’s festival also welcomes a range of other performers.

  • Hungarian guitarist and ECM recording artist Zsófia Boros, whose contemporary classical guitar playing is melancholy, haunting and elegant, plays in the afternoon on 4 September.
  • Chromatic harmonica player Hermine Deurloo will join Gwilym Simcock and Mike Walker at the opening performance. The trio now have a continuing and productive musical relationship, having first met at the 2019 edition of Ambleside Days.
  • Pianist Frank Harrison will appear leading a trio with Steve Watts on bass and Asaf Sirkis on drums on the afternoon of 3 September.

The final event on the evening of 4 September assembles all the musicians involved in a no doubt joyous celebration of the festival. With so many overlapping and interlinked line-ups, the event establishes the sense of exchange and community at the heart of making improvised music.

Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland and Joe Locke at the opening festival in 2017. Photo credit: Nadja von Massow

LINK: Tickets for individual concerts can be purchased from the Zeffirellis website

It is also possible to buy a festival pass covering all the performances by phone (01539 433 845 and then select option 1). For individual concerts, afternoon performances are priced at £15 and evening performances at £45.


Thursday 1 September

Set one: Hermine Deurloo (harmonica), Gwilym Simcock (piano), Mike Walker (guitar)

Set two: The trio as in the first half plus: Marcio Doctor (percussion), Steve Watts (bass) plus special guests.

Friday 2 September – Afternoon

Nikki Iles – Piano, Steve Watts – Bass, Asaf Sirkis – Drums – plus guests

Friday 2 September – Evening

Opening set: Zsofia Boros (guitar)

Set two: Tim Garland’s Weather Walker Trio (Tim Garland, Asaf Sirkis, Gwilym Simcock) with special guests

Saturday 3 September – Afternoon

The Frank Harrison Trio: Frank Harrison – Piano, Asaf Sirkis – Drums, Steve Watts – Bass

Saturday 3 September – Evening

Set one: Sketches Of a Printmaker: Norma Winstone – Vocals, Nikki Iles – Piano, Steve Watts – Double Bass, Ian Thomas – Drums, Marcio Doctor – Percussion, Mike Walker – Guitar…. and guests

Set two: The Impossible Gentlemen: Mike Walker – Guitar, Gwilym Simcock – Piano, Laurence Cottle – Bass Guitar, Ian Thomas – Drums, and guests

Sunday 4 September – Afternoon

Zsofia Boros – Guitar with special guest

Sunday 4 September – Evening

A celebration of the festival in two parts featuring Mike Walker – Guitar, Hermine Deurloo – Harmonica, Marcio Doctor – percussion, Gwilym Simcock – Piano, Norma Winstone – Vocals, Frank Harrison- Piano, Tim Garland – Sax, Asaf Sirkis – Drums, Laurence Cottle – Bass, Ian Thomas – Drums, Zsófia Boros – Guitar, Steve Watts – Double Bass

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