Sun Ra Arkestra- Gateshead Jazz Festival
Last month the Beast from the East decimated jazz gigs across the North East. April is bound to be kinder, isn’t it? And with the Gateshead International Jazz Festival starting on Friday 6th it had better be! For three days Sage Gateshead is the only game in town. Tiptoe open proceedings playing a set on the concourse at six o’clock on Friday and from then there is a non-stop three days of concerts, pre concert talks and workshops. Topping the bill on Friday evening is…you decide – the triple bill of the Sun Ra Arkestra, Tony Allen’s Art Blakey set and Zara McFarlane, perhaps the programme of four European pianists playing solo sets – Alexander Hawkins, Kaja Draksler, Bojan Z and Giovanni Guidi, or will you choose to hear the Big Chris Barber Band?
Saturday gets under way at 10.30am with Pete Churchill’s all ages vocal workshop. Restaurant critic Jay Rayner plays jazz piano, Issie Barratt conducts a Jazz Co-op workshop ahead of her Interchange Dectet’s performance on Sunday, Sheila Jordan returns to conduct a masterclass, Norma Winstone shares a stage with American guitarist Ralph Towner and Ruby Turner is the attraction in Sage One in a double bill with Maceo Parker. More late night sets follow including Chris Sharkey’s premiere performance of The Orchid and the Wasp.
Sunday dawns early with a European Jazz Network seminar Gender in Jazz (10.30am), Sheila Jordan performs in concert with the Pete Churchill Trio with the bonus of a support set by Zoë Gilby and Andy Champion. Elsewhere in the Norman Foster-designed building you can find the regional youth jazz ensemble Jambone, an afternoon of jazz programmed by Jazz North East, House of the Black Gardenia and the top class Guy Barker Big Band with Georgie Fame. Many more events are scheduled and for full details visit www.sagegateshead.com
Surprisingly there is jazz elsewhere in the region! Alan Barnes and Dave Newton play two rural venues in County Durham – Boldron Village Hall (Apr 5) and Newbiggin & District Village Assoc (Apr 6). The BBC Big Band visits Darlington Hippodrome (Apr 10) and there is always a healthy contingent of ‘big names’ in the line-up. The Gala Big Band can be heard on home ground at the Gala Theatre in Durham (Apr 17) and the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band returns to Hoochie Coochie (Apr 22) to play an early evening set in front of what is sure to be another capacity audience.
Janette Mason is touring her new Red Alert CD calling into the Old Cinema Laundrette in Durham (Apr 11), saxophonist Lewis Watson has a rare outing with the Mick Shoulder Quintet (Apr 13) at Bishop Auckland Town Hall – don’t be caught out, it’s a one o’clock start, and in the evening what do you do when there are no fewer than four enticing gigs? The Customs House Big Band returns to Spennymoor Settlement, Clare Teal is at the Gala, Durham, trumpeter Tom Sharp brings in his Asaxual outfit to Opus 4 Jazz Club in Darlington and at Gateshead’s Prohibition Bar, located just off the Tyne Bridge, there is the Society Four. A tough choice.
The Paul Edis Trio opens a new jazz venue in the Newcastle suburb of Fenham (Thursday Apr 19) at St James’ & St Basil’s Church so do get along and show your support. The Alice Grace Quartet (Apr 20) launches the 2018 jazz programme at Ushaw College, Durham and finally, the last week in April sees a rush of activity at the Globe. The Newcastle Jazz Co-op presents Teduloca (Apr 22), Swing Bridge – the trio of Dan Martin, piano, Dave Parker, bass and Peter Ninnim, drums (Apr 28), and, last, but by no means least, the annual celebration of International Jazz Day (Apr 30).