Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music – 22 Sept – 8 Oct

The Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music will take place at various local venues from 22 September to 8 October. Concerts include performances by Ubunye, the Zoe Rahman Band and Japanese artist Rie Nakajima. Preview by Peter Slavid

Pianist Zoe Rahman, performing Thursday 28 September @ Jesmond United Reformed Church
Photo credit: John Watson /

At a time when some festivals have been expanding their view of jazz to include lots of soul and funk, it’s great to see that the tightly focused Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music is also flourishing. Started in 2017 it’s now taking place in both Newcastle City Centre and its Jesmond suburb, filling two extended weekends and this year with new venues added.

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You can see the full programme here:

The festival starts on 22nd September, with a special performance composed by Paul Taylor on the 25 bells of the Edith Adamson Carillon, and then runs over the two subsequent weekends until the final event on 8th October.

The music is a hugely eclectic mix. There are North-East regulars – John Pope, Faye McCalman, Zoe Gilby and others.  There are some blockbuster events including performances from Ubunye, and the critically acclaimed new Zoe Rahman band. There are wildly experimental projects including Japanese artist Rie Nakajima playing objects and toys. The cream of British improvisers are all there in various combinations, and the Saturday night culminates in a concert from three outstanding European groups rarely seen in the UK. 

Pianist Alcyona Mick, performing Fri 6 Oct @ Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle
Photo credit: Chuck Ferullo

Twenty one concerts across six venues make this a formidable addition to the jazz festival calendar.

Three Tsuru Origami

Paul Edis with Graeme Wilson

Zoe Rahman Band

John Pope Quintet

Late Girl


Sarah Gail Brand / Cath Roberts / Andy Champion / Mark Sanders

David Birchall / Thomas Dixon / John Pope

Alcyona Mick



Semay Wu


Maja Bugge with Sarah Niccols

Olivia Moore with Adam Fairhall

Rie Nakajima

Samuel Blaser Trio

Laura Toxværd with Jeppe Zeeberg

Atzi Muramatsu and Fritz Welch


Zoë Gilby Quintet with Tony Kofi

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

LINK: The Festival’s own detailed preview by Paul Bream

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