NEWS: Newcastle Festival of Jazz & Improvised Music | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Image: Yazz Ahmed

Performers from around the globe are gearing up to present the very best in jazz and improvised music at the third instalment of the Newcastle festival, which takes place from Thursday 3rd-Sunday 6th October.

Festival organiser Wesley Stephenson expands on why the jazz and improvisation genres can be so thrilling. “Improvisation in music creates something really quite unique, there’s an immediacy and intimacy, bearing witness to a musician drawing on all of their experience and reacting to situations in the moment, it can be an incredibly moving experience.”

Highlights of the programme include British Bahraini brass player Yazz Ahmed, whose extraordinary fusion of Arabic psych-fuelled jazz will be thrilling to behold live (Gosforth Civic Theatre, Friday 4th); there will be several brand new partnerships, including one which sees French singer Francine Luce team up with local bass legend Andy Champion (Jazz Café, Saturday 5th); while Brodie West and Evan Cartwright journey from Toronto to debut their Ways project (The Lit & Phil, Saturday 5th); improv trio Somersaults perform tracks from their recently released Numerology of Birdsong album (Black Swan, Thursday 3rd); legendary free jazz saxophonist Evan Parker will play a unique show in the Ouseburn Valley’s Victoria Tunnel (Saturday 5th) and he’ll also join progressive pianist Alexander Hawkins the following day at The Lit & Phil.

While it’s a multi-cultural mix, Wesley’s keen to point out that half of the performers are North East-based. “Since the first edition in 2017 the plan was always to create an event that is truly representative of the rich musical diversity to be found in jazz and improvisation, location is just one of many factors that make up that diversity.”

He’s also keen to emphasise the hard work and dedication that goes into bringing world-class artists to the region throughout the year. “As much as this is a four day music festival it was conceived in such a way as to draw attention to those promoters and venues, and hopefully create larger audiences in the year-round calendar and a wider dialogue in the regional jazz scene.”



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