Cheltenham Jazz Festival is set to return this spring with a broad programme featuring over 50 concerts from an eclectic mix of established stars and pioneering emerging talent. Running across six days from Wednesday 26 April – Monday 1 May 2023, the Festival will once again present a smart balance of classic and contemporary jazz, blues, soul and pop with an array of world premieres, brand new commissions, exclusive collaborations, one-off shows and free performances taking place at venues across the picturesque English west country spa town.
Among the artists confirmed to perform this year are the Ivor Novello Award-winning vocalist Laura Mvula, who returns to the Festival following a sold-out show in 2014, Van Morrison, who will draw on his vast back catalogue alongside performing tracks from soon-to-be-released new album Moving on Skiffle, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra, who will join forces with Spandau Ballet lead singer Tony Hadley to perform new arrangements of standout tracks from across his career; Damian Lewis, who teams up with seven-piece jazz outfit Kansas Smitty’s to perform tracks from his much-anticipated forthcoming debut album, acclaimed US singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, Grammy-winning Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela, 10 million-selling pop troubadour MIKA, much-loved British singer Will Young, chart-topping blues-rock singer and guitarist Jake Bugg, acclaimed UK singer and pianist Joe Stilgoe, and British pop royalty Squeeze, who will perform a hit-laden set from across their near-50-year career.
Once again returning as the Festival’s Artistic Curator is Gregory Porter who, alongside handpicking a selection of artists for this year’s programme, will perform his own headline show featuring an array of star special guests including Lizz Wright and more. Porter will also perform as part of Soul Jazz Summit, a brand-new annual show for the Festival which will feature the BBC Concert Orchestra and Guy Barker’s Big Band celebrating the explosion of jazz and soul that reverberated around the globe in the late fifties. The Soul Jazz Summit concert will also feature guest appearances from Madeline Bell, Mica Millar, Ashton Jones, Vanessa Haynes and Georgia Cécile.
A strong contingent of the thriving UK scene will be represented on this year’s line-up with performances from the likes of boundary-pushing trumpeter Laura Jurd, pioneering London jazz collective Ezra Collective, Mercury-nominated pianist Fergus McCreadie, multi-award-winning Scottish singer Georgia Cécile, fast emerging soul singer Mica Millar, Pat Thomas and Orphy Robinson’s duo Blacktop featuring BBC Young Jazz Musician Of The Year winner Xhosa Cole, and acclaimed vocal trio SKYLLA, led by bassist Ruth Goller and featuring Lauren Kinsella and Alice Grant.
The leading lights of the international scene will feature in the form of star of Buena Vista Social Club, Eliades Ochoa, the legendary four-time Grammy-winning bassist Stanley Clarke, US American jazz-soul vocalist Lizz Wright, wildly acclaimed Blue Note guitarist Julian Lage, and experimental Norwegian guitarist Stian Westerhus who teams up with Mark Sanders and Chris Mapp for CollapseUncollapse.
Additional concerts include Dutch gypsy swing guitarist Mozes Rosenberg with Giacomo Smith Quartet, Deadeye, featuring Berlin-based musicians Kit Downes, Reinier Baas and Jonas Burgwinkel, Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love’s Circus, Espen Eriksen Trio with Andy Sheppard and Angusori, which brings together the Norwegian Stavanger Kitchen Orchestra and a selection of musicians from Roma.
The Festival’s talent development strand offers opportunities for young, up-and-coming jazz artists. The sought-after double bill pairing in the Jazz Arena for rising stars will feature Tamzene and Immy. 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 Jazz Accademia. On the Free Stage, local school jazz bands will entertain the crowds in the popular Jazz It Up morning sessions while an array of family-themed events will include Family Sing – with Black Voices, Arun Ghosh – Indo-Jazz Adventures, and Fabulous Flamenco. This year’s Jerwood Jazz Encounters commission is Waves II, Andrew Woodhead’s bellringing project which explores the relationship between music and physics.
Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2023 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, Parabola Arts Centre, Hotel du Vin, and The Daffodil, as well as a free “…around town” programme in association with Cheltenham BID.
Tickets for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2023 go on general sale on Wednesday 1 March. Tickets available from the event’s official website.