Star names confirmed for return of Cheltenham Jazz Festival
By David Wood
Cheltenham Jazz Festival is set to return this weekend with star names taking part in a free-to-view, two-day digital event.
The May Bank Holiday weekend event will be followed by a series of ticketed in-person concerts at Cheltenham Town Hall over three nights in July (government guidance permitting).
The festival will present an array of world-class shows from a varied selection of established stars, heritage legends and emerging talent from across the jazz, pop and soul spectrum. The weekend will be hosted by BBC6 Music presenter Cerys Matthews and the festival's Artistic Curator Gregory Porter.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival will be streamed on Cheltenham Festivals YouTube channel from May 1-2.
This year's digital festival includes headline shows from one of the singular soul voices of the '60s and '70s, the British rhythm and blues star Steve Winwood with brand new material recorded during lockdown.
Additional acts lined up include saxophonists Yolanda Brown and Soweto Kinch, celebrated British duo Jason Rebello & Tim Garland, the sensational Ayanna Witter-Johnson and the immense talent of drummer Jas Kayser.
Record-breaking beatboxer, producer and live-looper SK Shlomo will also be on show, along with distinguished British vocalist Cleveland Watkiss, shows from rising star saxophonists Rachael Cohen, Faye MacCalman and Lara Jones, spiritual jazz group Run Logan Run, the avant-garde free form jams of Ill Considered and a premiere from guitarist Chris Montague, who will unveil his new trio Warmer Than Blood featuring Kit Downes on piano and Ruth Goller on bass.
Also performing will be ensembles from the innovative jazz development organisations Tomorrow's Warriors and Birmingham Town Hall's Rise Up. There will also be tributes to legendary pianist and composer Chick Corea by Gary Husband providing a glimpse into the musician's creative process and an interpretation of two Chick Corea classics.
A vibrant selection of international acts will also appear across the weekend including Broadway and West End star Marisha Wallace, Cuban trumpeter Yelfris Valdes, French singer Leïla Martial with her Baa Box group, Argentinian duo Cande y Paulo and a first UK show from Portuguese punk-jazz outfit The Right of Trio.
Head of programming David Gaydon said: "This weekend reflects the breadth that Cheltenham Jazz Festival offers, giving a platform to some fabulous young upcoming artists as well as international stars."
The 2021 programme continues the festival's focus on championing women in jazz. One of the first to sign up to the PRS Foundation's Keychange programme, Cheltenham Jazz Festival is leading the debate on Women in Jazz.
The festival will once again run in association with BBC Radio 2 who will broadcast a special edition of Jamie Cullum's radio show on Tuesday, May 4, marking what would have been his tenth appearance at the festival, featuring highlights from some of this year's performances alongside classic live tracks from previous years.
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