Cheltenham 2023

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Exchange at 2023 Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Over many years, a highlight of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival has been this sold-out Saturday morning concert led by students from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. In the past these concerts have thrown up several artists who have gone on to become well know – and in some cases to return to Cheltenham with their own bands.

Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Exchange

(Parabola Arts Centre – Saturday 29th April. Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Report by Peter Slavid)

Usually this event is done as a full scale collaboration with another European institution – for several years from Trondheim and then more recently from Siena, but this year was a bit different.

Not yet a subscriber of our Wednesday Breakfast Headlines?
Join the mailing list for a weekly roundup of Jazz News.


Due to a late change of plan, the non-UK students were this year gathered from a variety of places, including Hamburg and Milan, but it didn’t seem to do anything to reduce the quality!

As usual the students were put into three groups from mixed locations, then given the opportunity to rehearse for a period and then perform – first in Birmingham, and then at Cheltenham.

These are 20 minute showcases with only two or three tunes and with everyone given opportunities to solo. As far as I could tell, all the tunes were created by the groups themselves. Remarkably it finished very nearly on time!


Piano: Nick Manz
Bass: Roz Macdonald (studying in Hamburg)
Drums: Aidan Amann
Trombone: Marcin Muras (from Poland)
Sax: Ben Partridge

Group 1. Cheltenham Jazz Fest 2023. Photo copyright JohnWatson/

This group managed to squeeze in three tunes,often with a slightly dark edge to them. There were strong solo contributions, particularly from the piano in the first tune and a very strong sax solo in the final contribution.

Group 1. Cheltenham Jazz Fest 2023. Photo copyright JohnWatson/


Guitar: Luca Gianassi (From Italy)
Bass: Tom Marsh
Drums: Henry Wakley
Sax: Rebecca Wing
Trumpet: Daniele Nocella (studying at Milan)

This group had some particularly interesting arrangements. The first tune had short interactions between sax and trumpet, the second was a more lyrical melody but with a dissonant introduction, and there was a good contrast between the powerful trumpet and the more lyrical sax.


Piano: Ben Goodman-Church
Bass: Jaromjr Rusnak (studying in Milan)
Drums: Milo Kirkham
Trumpet/Flugelhorn: James Routledge
Alto sax: Paul Beskers (studying in Hamburg)

This was perhaps the most varied of the bands. The tunes moved from a fractured waltz rhythm, to a flugelhorn led ballad to a strong hard bop finale

All three bands were good enough to grace your local jazz club now – as usual it will be fascinating to see how these talented musicians develop over the next few years.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on and various internet stations

Leave a Reply