Matt Roberts April 21stDarlington Jazz Festival takes over several town centre venues for four days of top class jazz spanning April 21-24. Now in its fifth year, the festival has developed incrementally from year to year. Successful venues – concert halls, cafés, pubs and a bakery (!) – have a community feel to them, staffed, for the most part, by young musicians giving their time, services and friendly welcome for free.
Thursday 21 April is workshop day. Matt Roberts, a local lad now based in London, is a trumpeter, arranger, composer and educator. The familiar phrase ‘giving something back’ can be applied to the personable Roberts. An alumnus of the renowned hot house Durham County Youth Big Band, the inspirational trumpeter returns once again to lead an evening workshop at the Crown Street Art Gallery space in the town centre. On Friday evening in the upstairs room of the wonderfully named Voodoo Café on Skinnergate Matt Roberts plays the Music of Nat Adderley. Last year Roberts’ sextet played to a full house (some people stood on the stairs) in a concert celebrating Fats Navarro. A blistering set brought the house down. The band included Matt Anderson, Ben Lowman and Sam Gardner. All the indications are that this year’s session will be just as good.
Saturday from around noon you can hear jazz, then more jazz, for free. An outdoor stage at Blackwellgate will surprise and delight unsuspecting shoppers. Clervaux Bakery is the place for a pastry…and jazz. In the covered courtyard the best of the region’s musicians will be in residence throughout the afternoon. A similar set up will be in full swing at the Camra award winning Quakerhouse pub. The line-up includes Dean Stockdale and Noel Dennis, Ruth Lambert and Lindsay Hannon.
Saturday evening’s concert will once again be held in Central Hall in the Dolphin Centre. Dennis Rollins and the multi instrumentalist Al Wood will be working with two fantastic big bands; Durham Alumni Big Band and County Durham Youth Big Band. A sellout is on the cards. A late night jam session follows (at about 10:30) in the Quakerhouse. The small room was packed last year. Those in the front row are advised to keep a firm hold of their pint glass as a slide trombone is likely to knock it for six! A proper jam session!
Sunday introduces a new venue to the festival. St Cuthbert’s Church will stage a concert featuring the Durham County Youth Big Band and the combined choirs of Darlington and County Durham. Sebastian de Krom will be working on the project. Another first class example of jazz education at work in the north east of England.
The Keys night club on Skinnergate hosts the closing event of the 2016 Darlington Jazz Festival. Local award winning youth band Urban Jazz will open for the dance-the-night-away headliners from Sheffield, the Hot Diamond Aces.
All venues are within easy walking distance of one another. Darlington Railway Station is about ten minutes’ walk from the festival venues. Small scale, big on talent, a friendly festival, that’s Darlington Jazz Festival.
Find ‘Darlington Jazz Club’ on Facebook and Twitter for further details on acts and venues.