FEATURE: Gateshead Jazz | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Jamie Cullum

We are living in the midst of a new jazz Renaissance. In recent times the genre has been brought further into the spotlight, with acts drawing on a myriad of multicultural roots to invigorate its sound; the jazz scene both at home and abroad is buzzing with talent, spanning subgenres from trad to fusion and everything in-between. Sage Gateshead have maintained a long-term commitment to championing jazz, so it’s little surprise that they’re bringing a boundary-breaking line-up to the UK’s largest indoor jazz festival, the newly-rebranded Gateshead Jazz taking place between Friday 20th-Sunday 22nd March, which will welcome talent from across the genre’s spectrum into its halls.

Award-winning pianist Jamie Cullum finds himself aligned with the spirit of the festival in his capacity as a firebrand for the genre. He puts his own breadth of work to the fore on Friday 20th when he headlines Hall One, performing his latest album Taller and tracks from his extensive back catalogue. Inspired by the greats (Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Nina Simone among others), rising singer Judi Jackson has already been nominated for awards and became the first artist-in-residence at the Savoy Hotel in London. Here, she’ll aim to further her claim to stardom on Saturday 21st. Saxophonist Binker Golding – one half of MOBO Award-winning duo Binker & Moses – showcases his new Quartet on Sunday 22nd, eschewing some of the free-jazz tendencies he’s best known for in favour of melodic compositions reminiscent of the 80s and 90s scene.

Sage Gateshead bring a boundary-breaking line-up to the UK’s largest indoor jazz festival

Jazz fusions of all nature are well-represented across the festival, kicking off on Friday 20th with a duo of heavy-hitters. First, Mercury-nominated, Ivor Novello-winning 10-piece SEED Ensemble bring their West African, Caribbean and inner-city-influenced sound to Hall Two; they’re followed by Mancunian trio GoGo Penguin, whose electronic sound draws heavily on jazz influences and minimalism; while Ibibio Sound Machine’s irresistibly danceable mix of electro, funk, punk and African highlife brings the party on Saturday 21st, backed up by the feel-good mash-up of gospel and house tunes from House Gospel Choir. A fusion of a different kind also takes place on Friday, as Sage Gateshead Artist in Residence Paul Edis’ Triptych team up with visual artist Lisa Delarny for a live collaboration.

Edis isn’t the only member of the North East’s burgeoning jazz scene performing. The festival hosts a series of free gigs across the weekend, which features some of the cream of the region’s jazz crop amongst a slew of Northern talent. The likes of math rock-leaning trio purpleshirt and cinematic and genre-bending experimentalists Archipelago will take to the concourse alongside the likes of rising singer Nishla Smith, award-winning Scottish ensemble Fat Suit, and husband-wife duo Zoe Gilby and Andy Champion.

Other highlights include bassist and pioneer of the Asian underground scene Shri (Saturday 21st); rhythm fusion band Vula Viel, whose repertoire explores the use of the gyil, a West Ghanaian wooden xylophone; British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed; and contemporary jazz pianists Nikki Yeoh and Zoe Rahman (all Sunday 22nd).

Whether you’re a long-time fan of the genre or looking to discover more, Gateshead Jazz provides the perfect opportunity as it captures a definitive moment in jazz.

Gateshead Jazz takes place at Sage Gateshead from Friday 20th-Sunday 22nd March

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