Following a two-year break, Cheltenham Jazz Festival makes a much-anticipated return to the picturesque spa town of Cheltenham this spring for six days of live music featuring its trademark mix of international stars, jazz icons and trailblazing up-and-coming talent.
Celebrating its milestone 25th edition, the Festival will take place from Wednesday, April 27 to Monday, May 2 incorporating large-scale concerts, intimate club shows, world premieres, masterclasses, family-friendly shows and an array of free events.
Among the names announced for this year’s event are star US vocalist Gregory Porter, who returns as the Festival’s Artistic Curator, legendary Led Zeppelin rocker Robert Plant with his Saving Grace project, Golden Globe winning pianist, singer and broadcaster Jamie Cullum, multi-million-selling BRIT Award winner Emeli Sandé, blues pop troubadour James Bay, two-time Grammy-winning UK singer Corinne Bailey Rae, chart-topping pianist and singer Tom Odell, and the multi-instrumentalist and Ivor Novello Lifetime Achievement Award winner Nitin Sawhney.
BBC Radio 2 Celebrates 25 Years of Cheltenham Jazz Festival and the 100th anniversary of the BBC, in a special concert on Thursday 28 April to be broadcast on Sunday Night Is Music Night. 70 musicians including the Guy Barker Big Band and BBC Concert Orchestra will premiere a unique symphonic celebration commissioned by the Festival. The concert will also celebrate the past 100 years of British jazz, as well as some of the standout moments from across the Festival’s 25-year history featuring guest appearances from Gregory Porter, Paloma Faith and Imelda May.
The British jazz scene will be heavily reflected with shows from an array of its new stars including pioneering five-piece Ezra Collective, saxophonist Nubya Garcia, MOBO award-winning drummer Moses Boyd, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Jordan Rakei, fast-emerging singer Cherise, and Mercury-nominated trumpeter Laura Jurd. Plus shows from a dazzling selection of the scene’s more established acts including Mike Westbrook, Iain Ballamy, Zoe Rahman Quintet, Neil Charles, Graham Costello’s Strata, and saxophonist Paul Dunmall in a group with Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver.
This year’s Festival will also present a series of ground-breaking collaborations including Imelda May performing an exclusive one-off show with the Ronnie Scott’s Big Band, legendary US saxophonist Gary Bartz with London six-piece Maisha, Brazilian icon Hermeto Pascoal teaming up with National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and the Dave Douglas and Joey Baron Duo.
Additional concerts across the five days include shows from revered keyboardist and Gil Scott Heron collaborator Brian Jackson, ‘60s soul great PP Arnold, the folk, jazz, pop and chamber music stylings of Penguin Café, powerhouse LA-based singer Lady Blackbird, the father of Ethio-jazz Mulatu Astatke, Afrobeat ensemble Seun Kuti & Egypt 80, American avant-garde pianist Myra Melford, Swiss vocalist Lucia Cadotsch in a band with Kit Downes, Phil Donkin and James Maddren, Austrian phenomenon Shake Stew, blues/rock singer and guitarist Joanne Shaw Taylor, and blues harmonica wizard Errol Linton.
Invisible, Real – a brand-new audio-visual performance-installation by Faye MacCalman will create a subconscious dream-zone space exploring mental illness and inner worlds. The piece was commissioned as part of Cheltenham Jazz Festival’s Jerwood Jazz Encounters programme.
The Festival’s talent development strand offers opportunities for young, up-and-coming jazz artists. The sought-after Double Bill pairing in the Arena for rising stars will feature New York bass player and vocalist Adeline and songwriter Lola Young. Two emerging artists feature in the Showcase concert: Elles Bailey + Georgia Cecile. Kansas Smitty’s late-night takeover sessions in The Daffodil will introduce special guests from across the Festival programme and there is an international collaboration between the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire and students from Siena. On the Free Stage, local school jazz bands will entertain the crowds in the popular Jazz It Up morning sessions. Meanwhile the very youngest jazz fans can enjoy a Family Concert with CBeebies stars YolanDa’s Band Jam.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2022 is hosted in a tented festival village in Montpellier Gardens, featuring the Big Top stage, Jazz Arena, Free Stage, 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. These include Cheltenham Town Hall, Cheltenham Ladies’ College, Parabola Arts Centre, Hotel du Vin, and The Daffodil, as well as a dynamic free …around town programme in association with Cheltenham BID.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2022 includes the following shows:
Wednesday 27 April
Corinne Bailey Rae – Henry Westons Big Top
Denny Illett Sings Sinatra and Nat ‘King’ Cole – The Daffodil
Thursday 28 April
BBC Radio 2 Celebrates Jazz at the 25th Cheltenham Jazz Festival – Henry Westons Big Top
Joanne Shaw Taylor
Friday 29 April
Emeli Sandé – Henry Westons Big Top
Nitin Sawhney – Jazz Arena
Ezra Collective and Nubiyan Twist – Cheltenham Town Hall
Kansas Smitty’s – The Daffodil
Lucia Cadotsch with Kit Downes, Phil Donkin and James Maddren – Parabola Arts Centre
Zoe Rahman Quintet – Parabola Arts Centre
Errol Linton – The Daffodil
Saturday 30 April
Holly Thomas – Hotel du Vin
Imelda May and Ronnie Scott’s Big Band – Henry Westons Big Top
James Bay – Henry Westons Big Top
Gregory Porter – Henry Westons Big Top
NYJO + Hermeto Pascoal – Jazz Arena
Lady Blackbird – Jazz Arena
Nubya Garcia – Cheltenham Town Hall
Jordan Rakei – Cheltenham Town Hall
Cherise – The Daffodil
Kansas Smitty’s – Cheltenham Town Hall
Dave Douglas and Joey Baron – Jazz Arena
The Royal Birmingham Conservatoire – Parabola Arts Centre
Neil Charles: Dark Days – Parabola Arts Centre
Shake Stew – Parabola Arts Centre
Graham Costello’s STRATA – Parabola Arts Centre
Invisible, Real by Faye McCalman – Venue tbc
BAM! Babies’ Adventures in Music – Discovery Space
Family Sing with Juliet Kelly – Discovery Space
Adriano Adewale: A World of Sound and Percussion – Discovery Space
Sunday 1 May
Showcase: Elles Bailey and Georgia Cécile – Jazz Arena
Tom Odell – Henry Westons Big Top
Double Bill: Adeline and Lola Young – Henry Westons Big Top
Saving Grace ft Robert Plant and Suzi Dian – Henry Westons Big Top
Electric Lady Big Band – Jazz Arena
Gary Bartz & Maisha – Jazz Arena
Penguin Café – Cheltenham Town Hall
PP Arnold – Cheltenham Town Hall
Mulatu Astatke – Cheltenham Town Hall
Kansas Smitty’s – The Daffodil
Emma Smith – The Daffodil
Paul Dunmall with Matthew Shipp, Joe Morris and Gerald Cleaver – Parabola Arts Centre
Iain Ballamy with Rob Luft, Huw Warren, Conor Chaplin and Will Glaser – Parabola Arts Centre
Mike Westbrook: The Uncommon Orchestra: On Duke’s Birthday – Parabola Arts Centre
Laura Jurd Ensemble – Parabola Arts Centre
Invisible, Real by Faye McCalman – Venue tbc
Jazz Babies with Holly Thomas – Discovery Space
Jazz Kids with Alex Woods – Discovery Space
Grace Savage Beatbox Champion! – Discovery Space
Monday 2 May
Jamie Cullum – Henry Westons Big Top
Seun Kuti and Africa 80 – Henry Westons Big Top
Gabrielle – Henry Westons Big Top
Family Concert – YolanDa’s Band Jam – Jazz Arena
Moses Boyd – Jazz Arena
Brian Jackson – Jazz Arena
Myra Melford Quintet – Parabola Arts Centre
Bonfire Radicals – Discovery Space
Brass Blast! – Discovery Space