Cheltenham 2023

Tony Dudley Evans and the Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Tony Dudley-Evans had just turned 80, and has taken the decision that it is time for him to step back from active involvement in the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Peter Slavid reflects…

Tony Dudley-Evans. Photo copyright John Watson/

Tony Dudley-Evans has been involved with the Cheltenham Festival ever since it started in 1996. Initially as an adviser, then from 2002 as the festival programmer, and latterly as the programme adviser for the Parabola. The programme in the Parabola has always championed adventurous jazz, often from overseas, and has a small but very loyal and enthusiastic audience.

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As well as selecting the artists Tony has always run around looking after them and introducing all the gigs, and this year was his final selection, since, at the age of 80, he has decided to retire. The programme this year reflected many of his personal favourites.

Stian Westerhus. Photo copyright John Watson/

The weekend started with Ruth Goller’s Skylla, and a solo performance by Stian Westerhus, one of several Norwegians appearing over the weekend.

Tony’s support for young musicians and for the students of the Birmingham Conservatoire has been evident for many years through the Saturday morning student project. This is put together in collaboration with students from various overseas colleges. Many of those young musicians have gone on to great things.

Andy Sheppard. Photo copyright John Watson/

Tony has also had a long relationship with Norwegian Jazz and there were several top Norwegian bands appearing this year including Westerhus, Espen Eriksen and Paal Nilssen-Love. In another link with the past Tony reminded us that Andy Sheppard who appeared here with Espen Eriksen, had played in the very first ever Cheltenham Festival gig back in 1996.

Another festival regular over recent years has been Kit Downes, here notching up his tenth appearance, this time with the Anglo/German/Dutch trio Deadeye.

The final gig of the Parabola weekend was a commission specially for Tony, put together by Laura Jurd with a stellar cast, and that will be the subject of a separate review by Jon Turney. (LINK)

Ruth Goller of Skylla. Photo copyright John Watson/

Hopefully, the Parabola programme will continue next year. Meanwhile these photos by John Watson will give an indication of the range of artists who have appeared in the Tony’s last Parabola programme this year.

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

Categories: Cheltenham 2023, Reviews

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