Global music stars to appear at Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2020
By David Wood | 12th February 2020
The Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2020 returns in May with a broad spectrum of world-class contemporary jazz, blues, soul, R&B and pop.
Running from May 5-10, this year's programme once again delivers a balance of core jazz and mainstream offerings from today's biggest stars, heritage legends and next-generation talent, with an impressive spread of UK exclusives and special commissions in the mix.
Coinciding with the early May Bank Holiday, which moves to Friday, May 8, to commemorate the 75th anniversary of VE Day, this year's festival will host New Wave icons Squeeze with hits from their illustrious 45-year career, as well as rarities from their back catalogue and solo careers.
Beloved UK soulstress Beverley Knight, R&B funk legends KC & The Sunshine Band, Irish singer-songwriter Imelda May with the Ronnie Scott's Big Band and multi-million-selling vocalist Emeli Sandé will also be performing.
Blues/folk-inspired co-operative Saving Grace unveil their brand-new project featuring singers Robert Plant and Suzi Dian, Malian pop duo Amadou & Mariam and The Blind Boys Of Alabama present Bamako To Birmingham, multi-instrumentalist, DJ and cultural pioneer Nitin Sawhney will showcase music from his seminal record Beyond Skin alongside repertoire from his 20-album career, while Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award-winning Booker T Jones returns to the Festival with material from his new album Note By Note.
The Festival's artistic curator Gregory Porter opens the six-day event with a concert at the 2,000-seat capacity Henry Westons Big Top and has selected various acts for the 'Gregory's Picks' series: Lizz Wright, Keyon Harrold, Makaya McCraven and Gary Bartz & Maisha, announced last month.
The Parabola Arts Centre programme presents a snapshot of the global landscape of jazz today, with this year's line-up stronger and more diverse than ever.
The Festival's long-standing partnership with BBC Radio 2 continues with special broadcasts throughout the weekend including Squeeze live in concert and a New Orleans-themed Friday Night Is Music Night with Guy Barker's Big Band and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
Taste-making DJ and broadcaster Gilles Peterson takes up residence at Warehouse @ The Brewery Quarter - a new pop-up venue, where in addition to his own DJ set will showcase some of the acts he's championing right now on the UK scene: alt singer-songwriter Rosie Lowe, punk jazzers Melt Yourself Down and the genre-bending Nubiyan Twist.
The Festival offers a range of inspirational opportunities for young people such as the family programme in the Yahama Discovery Space with shows for all ages from babies upwards, the popular 'Jazz It Up' showcase on the Free Stage for local schools, and Musicate - a year-round primary school music teaching and appreciation programme.
Equally committed to emerging talent, this year's programme will also feature a double bill showcase from Amahla & Rosie Tee - two artists from last year's Free Stage who will perform in the Jazz Arena and receive a mentoring session with key industry figures.
Once again the ...around town programme will oversee 90 free gigs throughout Cheltenham in pubs, clubs, streets and shopping centres. Covering acoustic singer-songwriters to explosive big bands, dancers, artists and street performers, ...around town offers a platform for up-and-coming artists to showcase their work to agents and promoters.
This year also sees the introduction of 'Jerwood Jazz Encounters'; an 18-month scheme offering intensive support to four artists to develop their knowledge and understanding of showcasing music in unusual spaces and new formats, culminating in the commission of four new works for presentation in 2021. They are Elliot Galvin, Lara Jones, Witch 'n' Monk (Heidi Heidelberg and Mauricio Velasierra) and Faye MacCalman.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2020 is hosted in a tented festival village in the town centre's Montpellier Gardens featuring the Henry Westons Big Top stage, Jazz Arena, Free Stage, Yamaha Discovery Space, a programme of family activities and events and a food, drink and market area.
The Festival reaches beyond the festival village into Cheltenham bringing jazz to venues throughout the day until late into the night.
Tickets go on sale to Members at 10am on Wednesday, February 26, and on general sale from 10am on Wednesday, March 4. See the Festival website for more details.
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