Saturday, 27 February 2016

Big Band fest, new Sunderland jazz venue and St Cuthbert celebration in March!

World premiere of St Cuthbert Suite, Durham 18 and 19 March by Paul Edis

One of the delights of doing this blog is discovering the amazing work people put in to helping to promote the jazz scene in their own time. We asked Liverpooljazz to do a feature on their work  - that appeared in the blog earlier this month. Another such person is Russell Corbett who prepares a monthly summary of jazz happening in the North East! Here's his March highlights...

"Sunderland comes alive once a year with a three day big band jazz festival. Hundreds of participants travel from far and wide to engage in friendly but intense competition in the hope of winning glassware (not silverware). The Great North Big Band Jazz Festival hosts in excess of thirty big bands ranging from school ensembles to youth orchestras to senior big bands. This year’s event Mar 4-6 will be staged once again at North Shore on the banks of the River Wear. The Sunderland University Students’ Union building takes on the mammoth task of getting bands on and off stage to schedule and never fails to run like clockwork. The coveted glass-blown trophies were commissioned from the adjacent National Glass Centre. 2015’s senior section winners Durham Alumni Big Band intend to hold onto their title but expect the competition to be hot!

Pianist Paul Edis presents a world premiere of his St. Cuthbert Suite at Ushaw College on Mar 18 in the surroundings of the magnificent chapel of the former Catholic seminary on the outskirts of Durham. Dr Edis has recruited several first call players including Graham Hardy (brass) and Graeme Wilson (reeds) to realise this major undertaking. The work is a commission to commemorate Cuthbert and his links with the north east region. There is a second opportunity to hear the work the following evening (19) in Durham Cathedral.
The winner of the inaugural BBC Young Jazz Musician of the Year returns to his roots in the company of his Royal Academy and Guildhall student friends to play a couple of gigs in Newcastle and Darlington. Altoist Alexander Bone plays the Jazz Café (Mar 4) and a hometown gig (Mar 5) at the Traveller’s Rest in Darlington with Jam Experiment. Full houses are guaranteed. Will Howard (another County Durham-raised reedsman) makes a return visit to the Traveller’s Rest (Mar 18), on this occasion with his own quartet.

A new jazz venue is always reason to celebrate. Independent on Holmeside in Sunderland promises jazz every Thursday and it’s free admission. Tyneside’s Redemption are guests on Mar 3. On Tyneside, one-time regular associate of Les Paul, Frank Vignola plays the Cluny’s basement venue (Mar 30). Two local six stringers – adopted Geordie Dr James Birkett and Wearsider Bradley Johnston – team up once again for a lunchtime gig at the Gala Theatre, Durham (Mar 4) and an engagement at Hexham’s Queen’s Hall (Mar 26).      

Jazz North East’s activities include welcoming A Big Hand to the Bridge Hotel (Mar 6), an International Women’s Day triple bill at the Lit & Phil (Mar 8) featuring Motherese, Jennifer Parry and the Zoë Gilby Trio and the Tyneside debut of bassist and composer Andy Champion’s revamped ACV in the Black Swan basement venue within Newcastle Arts Centre (Mar 29). Veteran ex-pat American trumpeter Dave Weisser makes a long-overdue appearance as a vocalist accompanied by pianist Alan Law at Newcastle’s Jazz Café on Good Friday (Mar 25). Weisser is a fine singer, this should be a treat.  

Blaydon Jazz Club’s first concert of the year sees the return of Michael Lamb’s Strictly Smokin’ Big Band (Mar 20). A dynamic outfit without a weak link in sight, hearing the band up close in a small venue like the Black Bull is an exhilarating experience. Saltburn Community Hall hosts the Guisborough Big Band (Mar 30) during the venue’s annual week-long celebration of the Grand Ole Oprey. Your guess is as good as anyone’s!

So many gigs – Svarc, Hanley, Longhawn at the Jazz Café (Mar 11), Don Forbes’ Safe Sextet (Jazz Café, Mar 8) playing the music of the Emcee 5 and Stan Tracey, Taupe, the self-styled ‘power jazz commandos,’ raid Durham’s Empty Shop (Mar 12) and follow up at the Bridge Hotel, Newcastle (Mar 13) and N’Awlins gets a look in at Saltburn on Mar 4 with a visit by the popular New Orleans Heat and on Mar 5 the Red Stripe Band gig in Darlington (12:30) at St Augustine’s on Larchfield Street – the best bet is to switch off the tv and get along to a gig!                  


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