John Surman Sat 16th
From Russell Corbett
The 2016 edition of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival runs across the weekend April 15-17. Three concert halls and a concourse stage will see the Sage Gateshead event running from early morning ’til gone midnight. Late-night jam sessions at satellite venues in Newcastle winding up at stupid o’clock and a ‘Philosophy of Improvisation’ workshop set to run all day Sunday at St Mary’s Heritage Centre will deprive some festival-goers of sleep for the duration. Such is the jazz life!
Friday’s set-piece opening concert (Apr 15) sees the return of Gregory Porter. All 1700 tickets sold out more than six months ago. The charismatic American is riding the crest of a rarely seen jazz wave. Porter is a class act. If you’ve got a ticket, enjoy! Arun Ghosh is one alternative to the American superstar. The clarinetist will be performing with a sextet which includes pianist John Ellis and altoist Chris Williams. A solo performance by the veteran improviser Evan Parker will draw a large crowd and late evening gigs by Liane Carroll with special guest Ian Shaw and a double bill of World Service Project and the Gateshead born and bred Chris Sharkey is likely to attract social media-savvy jazz fans.Late night concourse dwellers will be blown into Saturday by Michael Lamb’s dynamic Strictly Smokin’ Big Band.
Saturday is jam-packed with concerts, ‘in conversation’ events and the BBC’s Jazz Line-Up programme setting-up shop on the riverfront concourse for an afternoon of in concert performances and interviews with presenter Kevin Le Gendre featuring Graham Hardy and local heroes the Northern Monkey Brass Band, Yorkshire’s Pan Jumby and singer Ian Shaw. Concert hall performances include Phil Meadows, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Jambone with guests including Zoë Gilby, Tim Giles, Flo Moore, Liam Noble and Matt Roberts in Sage One, John Surman with Alexander Hawkins Trio in Sage Two, a double bill of Courtney Pine and Zoe Rahman opposite Blakey Messengers’ alumnus Terence Blanchard and a piano summit in the Northern Rock Foundation Hall featuring John Law’s Congregation and Luxembourg’s Michel Reis Band. The late night options are a toss-up; the return of the Roberto Fonseca Trio, the debut of New York city pianist Kris Bowers and, out on the concourse, the Lindsay Hannon Plus.
Sunday, the third and final day of the festival, maintains the punishing pace. Philosophers discuss matters improvisation (feel free to drop by), the big names are in the halls and out on the concourse Jazz North East, celebrating fifty years (!) as Britain’s first grant-aided voluntary jazz promoter, programmes the afternoon’s performances. Café Society Swing, Malija, Charles Bradley and Ibrahim Maalouf take centre stage in the halls and for the diehards, the third and final late night jam session swings into action at ten o’clock in the upstairs room of Newcastle’s Dean Street Pizza Express. A busy weekend for the jazz fan and there is more just four days later with the start of the Darlington Jazz Festival!