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Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Gateshead International Jazz Festival

David Sanborn

Gateshead International Jazz Festival returns this month (10th-12th April) and is expected to attract thousands of people from the region and beyond. The festival has grown into one of the highlights in the jazz calendar with its mix of UK, European and international jazz icons, hot new talent and some of the best of the thriving Northern jazz scene.

Opening this year’s festival is American saxophonist David Sanborn whose career has taken in stints with David Bowie, James Brown, Miles Davis, Bryan Ferry, Branford Marsalis and Paul Simon and over four decades his soulful style has become a signature sound in contemporary jazz. This double bill features fellow American guitar legend John Scofield and British born/New Orleans based pianist Jon Cleary who will be showcasing a unique mix of jazz, gospel and Deep South blues.

Jazz funk lynchpins and Acid Jazz originators the James Taylor Quartet headline Saturday night in a double bill with one of the UK’s favourite soul, gospel and R&B divas Ruby Turner.

Headlining Sunday night, the iconic Loose Tubes will be bringing their trademark energetic and riotous take on the big band sound, their only confirmed date for 2015. This one-off not to be missed concert features the original line-up including maverick keyboardist Django Bates, saxophonists Mark Lockheart (Polar Bear) and Iain Ballamy (Food), and trombonist/MC Ashley Slater (Freak Power) and trumpeter Chris Batchelor (Big Air).

Other festival highlights include American saxophonist Joshua Redman who brings his long-established trio to the festival with bassist Reuben Rogers and drummer Greg Hutchinson, The Cookers whose line-up includes some of the scene’s most distinguished bearers of the hard bop message, and for fans of jazz improvisation, Australian cult trio The Necks will take the audience on a typically unpredictable sonic adventure.

Appearing at this year’s festival is a unique opportunity to hear a seminal piece of British jazz history with a performance of Stan Tracey’s landmark recording of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood, now celebrating its 50th anniversary. British pianist and composer Gwilym Simcock, renowned for moving effortlessly between jazz and classical music, will be joined by Royal Northern Sinfonia performing his exciting suite Move! and opening for Loose Tubes, saxophonist/composer Andy Sheppard makes a welcome return to the festival, with a rare set from his duo with Italian pianist Rita Marcotulli.

If you’re after something a little different look no further than Norwegian saxophonist HÃ¥kon Kornstad’s new project which combines his love of the saxophone with his talents as an opera singer – quite literally a tenor battle! There’s family fun in an inventive and often downright hilarious show by Dutch threesome Tin Men and The Telephone who bring the mobile into the music with a specially designed smartphone app – keep your phone turned on and join in!

The festival also offers the first chance in the North East to hear the hotly tipped American soul-jazz singer Jarrod Lawson whose influences include Stevie Wonder and Donny Hathaway and to close the weekend; we welcome back Davina and The Vagabonds following their stand out performance at the 2014 SummerTyne Americana Festival.

The hugely popular free programme of jazz on the Concourse presents artists from the North and culminates with a joint performance by Sage Gateshead’s youth ensemble Jambone with members of the Manchester based Beats and Pieces who are also bringing their contemporary big band sound for the festival.

As always there are also opportunities to get involved through workshops throughout the festival including a vocal workshop with the hugely talented vocalist/violinist Alice Zawadzki, an exploration of free improvisation with two of the talented new faces on the London improv-scene, Cath Roberts and Rachel Musson, plus a practical workshop with Loose Tubes’ saxophonist Iain Ballamy. There is also a chance to join a free seminar on sustainability in music with speakers from Festival Republic (Reading, Leeds and Latitude festivals), Julie’s Bicycle (one of the world’s leading organisations addressing environmental sustainability in the cultural sector) and former Chair of the BPI (British Phonographic Industry),Tony Wadsworth.

There’s still time to book tickets and with all events taking place under one roof it couldn’t be easier to move between concerts and try something new. Bookers can take advantage of the Jazz Multibuy – the more concerts booked across the weekend the more money saved. For the full line-up, Concourse performances and festival workshops visit

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