The countdown is on – Scarborough Jazz Festival is less than four weeks away.
More than 600 weekend tickets gave already been sold – more than in previous years.
Festival director Mike Gordon said: “We have had lots of great feedback already – people are saying they really like the balance of the programme.”
The Spa is, once again, the base for the festival which runs from Friday September 28 to Sunday September 30.
Highlights include Claire Martin, the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and Sector 7. The resident host, as usual, is Alan Barnes and there are new features this year, including a jazz lounge.
The Friday evening kicks off with one of the most accomplished groups around, the Quentin Collins and Brandon Allen Quartet.
Leading critic Jack Massarik said: “This talented quartet get the full five stars, not only for performing brilliantly … but also for playing the type of jazz few can master – namely bright, tuneful neo-bop originals that swing from start to finish.”
Then bring together Martin Taylor, ‘the finest British guitarist of his generation’ (The Times), and Alan Barnes, a saxophonist and clarinettist who has walked off with more than twenty national jazz awards, and you are guaranteed a memorable culmination to the first day of this year’s Scarborough Jazz Festival. ‘It will definitely be a good Friday,’ says festival director Mike Gordon.
“Their recent duo CD is fantastic and has been widely acclaimed.”
Martin Taylor spends much of the year travelling the world, playing in concert halls in Europe, North America, Japan, Asia, and Australasia. As well as his solo concerts and recordings, he has also collaborated with musicians from many different musical genre including Stephane Grappelli, Jeff Beck, Chet Atkins, Bill Wyman, George Harrison, Dionne Warwick and Jamie Cullum.
Martin has a record 14 British Jazz Guitar Awards and in 2002 he was appointed MBE For Services To Jazz Music’ in The Queen’s Birthday Honours List. Jazz Times describes him as ‘Europe’s finest guitarist’ and rock guitarist Jeff Beck eulogises “He out-shred’s all of us put together….I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Martin said: “Alan Barnes is undoubtedly in the ranks of the world’s great clarinettists, so I jumped at the opportunity to record these duets together.”
Alan is also one of the very best alto and baritone saxophonists in the UK and is highly respected as a bandleader and composer. He has been compere at all the festivals, in fact Scarborough 2003 was his debut as a compere, and his insightful and witty repartee is unsurpassed: ‘Worth coming just to hear him,’ said one audience member.
Preceding the duo is the Darius Brubeck Quartet which has acquired an enthusiastic following for its strong programmes of South African jazz, Dave Brubeck hits and Darius’ original compositions. Darius is the eldest of the legendary Dave Brubeck’s sons and most visually like his father. The Times’ Clive Davis wrote: “More than half a century after Dave Brubeck invited listeners to start counting in odd numbers, the music has lost none of its poise… Darius is as cultured a pianist as his father.”
The quartet also features the UK saxophonist Dave O’Higgins who was a great success at the first festival in 2003 and again in 2009.
“This will be one of the best opening nights we have had.” said Mike.
“I hope Scarborough music lovers will come to some or all of this weekend. Over the years it’s been wonderful to see people who have never really listened to jazz dipping in to the festival, discovering jazz is much more enjoyable and diverse than they thought, and becoming regular attenders. And there’s great food and drink in the New Jazz Lounge and Ocean Room with free jazz in each venue between sets.”
There is a Friday afternoon special with Gareth Williams and Dave Green.
They will play the music of Bill Evans and Scott La Faro. Dave and Gareth will be joined by Enzo Zirilli on drums.
Highlights of Saturday, said Mike, includes the National Youtj Jazz Orchestra who were “an absolute knockout at last year’s fesival”.
Also the Jim Birkett Trio will play in the new Jazz Lounge throughout the weekend with penty of celebrated ‘sitters in’.
There is also a welcome return by Britrish jazz singer Claire Martin who brings her sextet to this year’s event. Trumpeter Jay Phelps steps in for an afternoon session. He was added to the programme after the untimely death of Abram Wilson at the age of 38.
Look out for Sector 7 on Sunday is Mike’s recommendation and Alan Barnes with Ken Mathieson celebrating the music of Benny Carter.
BBc Radio 3 will also be at the festival recording programmes for future broadcast.
The jazz festival has grown in reputation since it started and has hosted some of the cream of talent. This includes Clare Teal, Tina May, Kyle Eastwood, Alan Price and Stan Tracey.
This year it won Festival of the Year at the Jazz Yorkshire Awards and Mike has received the Services to Jazz accolade.
The festival is on from September 28 to 30 at Scarborough Spa.
The line up
Gareth Williams & Dave Green play
Bill Evans /Scott La Faro (free to weekend ticket holders)
Quentin Collins/Brandon Allen Quartet, Darius Brubeck Quartet, Martin Taylor & Alan Barnes
The Give A Little Love Jazz Orchestra: A Horace Silver Tribute, Matt Wates Sextet, Abram Wilson Quartet replaced now by The Jay Phelps Quartet
National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO), Tim Garland Quartet, Claire Martin Sextet
Rhythmica, Jenny Malloy Trio: ‘Bach ReLoaded’,
Sector7 featuring Sarah Ellen Hughes, Alan Barnes with Ken Mathieson’s Classic Orchestra: ‘The Music of Benny Carter’