NEWS: NEWCASTLE FESTIVAL OF JAZZ AND IMPROVISED MUSIC | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Lizabett Russo by Vicki Rose Evans

Improvisation is a key component of jazz, often leading to a freedom of form and content which keeps the genre vibrant and the performers creatively on their toes. It’s perhaps with this in mind that the Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music was so welcomed in its inaugural outing last year. Returning for a longer weekend of cutting edge sounds, interesting workshops and innovative performances from Thursday 4th-Sunday 7th October, the festival will see collaborations, interdisciplinary styles and a truly international roster of talent grace several Newcastle venues.

Kicking off on Thursday 4th with a free performance from supreme improviser Joe McPhee Trio (Newcastle University), the first day will also welcome a fusion of dance and improvised music courtesy of Edinburgh’s Something Smashing, who will collaborate with a variety of regional artists including Graeme Wilson, Christian Alderson, Mike Parr-Burman and Ana Almeida (Black Swan Bar & Venue). A free workshop at Dance City that afternoon will also explain how the two disciplines go hand in hand.

Friday 5th will see the celebrated Women Make Music series bring pianist Nikki Isles and saxophonist Stan Sulzmann to The Lit & Phil for an afternoon concert; incredible pianist and multi-instrumentalist Elliot Galvin joins double bassist Tom McCredie and percussionist Corrie Dick (also at The Lit & Phil); while the Graeme Wilson Quartet return to Tyneside for an album launch of new material which spans vibrant tones and diverse influences, alongside an exhilarating rhythm section in the form of Paul Edis (keys), Andy Champion (bass) and Adam Sinclair (drums) at the Jazz Café.

Returning for a longer weekend of cutting edge sounds, interesting workshops and innovative performances

Another highlight of the programme will be the latest instalment of the KOAN series of improv/no genre blowouts at The Globe on Friday night. The theme is ‘Liberation’, so prepare to let yourselves go to the virtuoso ground-breaking Welsh harpist Rhodri Davies, the wildly imaginative KLEEVEX, the master of solo looping experimental soundscaping bass Ojay and the wellspring of the Geordie improv scene The Newcastle Improvisers

Things get studious on Saturday, as Andy Hamilton and Durham University present a workshop on the philosophy of improvisation (Black Swan Bar & Venue), and there’s a chance to learn gypsy jazz with Swing Manouche (Jazz Coop at The Globe), with a performance at the venue later that evening. Silent black and white fairytale films from the 20s and 30s get a live soundtrack thanks to singer and instrumentalist Lizabett Russo and guitarist Graeme Stephen, with an additional performance from Northumberland cellist Ceitidh Mac; and Newcastle favourite Zoe Gilby presents the debut performance of her Aurora project, in collaboration with Noel Dennis (both at Jazz Café). A triple bill of international talent tops Saturday night’s entertainment at The Lit & Phil, as drummer Chris Corsano teams up with pianist Pak Yan Lau for what promises to be an unconventional performance, plus there’s the regional debut performance for Full Blast, featuring seminal jazz musician Peter Brötzmann, bassist Marina Pliakas and drummer Michael Wertmüller. Also joining the bill is Australian avant-garde progressive musician David Brown, who presents his solo Candlesnuffer project.

Sunday’s highlight performance at The Bridge Hotel comes from three of America’s finest artists – trumpet virtuoso Nate Wooley teams up with HTrio for a fresh approach on a trusted format, plus there’s a set from multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee and drummer Chris Corsano, who exemplify the innovative improvisational spirit of the festival.

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