A full five days of jazz gets under way on Thursday with the start of the sixth Ribble Valley Jazz Festival.
Firmly established as Lancashire’s premier jazz festival, this year’s event – spread across the May Day Bank Holiday weekend – will welcome jazz fans from across the UK to star performances at The Grand in York Street and The Atrium Café Bar at Clitheroe Castle, as well as other key venues around the town centre.
The event begins on April 30th – International Jazz Day – when two top UK guitarists, Stuart McCallum and Mike Walker, play at Grindleton Pavilion.
Four jazz-filled days later the festival will conclude at The Grand on Bank Holiday Monday (May 4th) with a performance from the Northern Jazz Orchestra featuring BBC Radio 2 regular Georgina Jackson “Celebrating the Divas”.
In between will be a jazz jamboree of more than 50 performances across the weekend, covering the breadth of jazz, blues and dub music across a number of venues, all within walking distance of the town centre.
Friday, May 1st, sees a Lunchtime Live Jazz Festival Special at The Grand when the Eric Ainsworth Trio shares the stage with the BBC’s Young Jazz Musician of the Year, Alexander Bone and his trio. Eric Ainsworth will be launching his debut CD celebrating 60 years in jazz.
On Friday evening at The Grand, British mainstream jazz saxophonist Alan Skidmore leads a star quintet that includes Pete King and Steve Melling paying homage to John Coltrane’s music, and in particular long-time collaborator, drummer Elvin Jones. A more rambunctious alternative on Friday takes place at Clitheroe Castle’s Atrium venue, where seven-piece dub jazz outfit Dread Supreme performs.
The centrepiece of the festival is the free Saturday Street Fest. This takes place on Castle Street, where the road is closed to traffic and two outdoor music stages will be blasting out music from 11am to 5 pm. A full day’s programme of live music and street performance will be complemented by the 9-50 am “jazz train” from Blackburn to Clitheroe, with The Flat Cap 3 bringing the festival focus from the train and into Clitheroe’s main streets. Ensembles of all shapes and sizes include Red Hippo, Beltones, the Clitheroe Royal Grammar School Swing Band, Marmaduke Schnizel and Leeds-based big band Bassa Bassa.
A busy day at The Grand on Saturday launches into events for children. Potential young musicians are encouraged to perform on plastic trombones and trumpets in a workshop from 11am. An attraction for young family audiences will be the matinee show from the Living Story Music Ensemble “I Have a Duck Who Can Roar”.
Tickets for Saturday night’s headline artist Stacey Kent – one of the leading female singers from the jazz world – have sold out, but tickets from The Grand’s Box Office remain for other shows, children’s events, and music workshops over the weekend.
Also on Saturday, The Atrium provides a more dance floor-friendly alternative with Manchester’s 10-piece jazz-ska act Baked A-la-ska guaranteed to raise the roof.
On Sunday, the festival welcomes back the phenomenal award-winning Soweto Kinch Trio. Alto saxophonist Kinch will also be delivering a saxophone workshop before his performance.
The Sunday night showcases a band featuring some of the finest exponents of contemporary jazz, British saxophonist and composer Andy Sheppard,who leads an all-star group in this not-to-be-missed concert for true jazz aficionados.
For those with more traditional tastes, the Northern Jazz Orchestra, led by Paul Rigby, will be signing things off with the closing show on the Bank Holiday Monday afternoon. This Big Band show will be fronted by the delightful voice of Georgina Jackson, whose career has skyrocketed since her days playing the trumpet as a young musician in the Orchestra itself.
Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday afternoons bring innovation to the 2015 Festival programme with the introduction of jazz on Clitheroe Castle Bandstand on both afternoons from noon to 5 pm. Bands playing over the two afternoons include the Blackburn with Darwen Big Band, Ribble Valley Jazz Collective, Jam Factory, QEGS College Big Band, The Bedlam Road and Clitheroe Ukulele Orchestra.
As ever, the festival is far more than just about the headline guests at the key venues. Other free events at local venues include the Blues Stage at The Rose and Crown, a Soul Stage at The British Legion, three bands at Maxwell’s Café Bar, and more bands at El Tapeo, The Emporium Wine Bar and the Spread Eagle Hotel at Sawley.
Booking a table at some of these venues will be essential.
Festival dire4ctor Geoff Jackson commented: “It’s an exciting time for everyone connected with the festival as bigger audience numbers than ever before look set to attend now it is firmly established on the May Day Bank Holiday Weekend. We have a great variety of shows for wide music tastes and a number of opportunities for public to participate with workshops and free gigs in addition to the ticketed shows.”
For full details pick up a festival brochure from The Grand or the Visitor Centre in Station Road, or visit the websites at: www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk or www.thegrandvenue.co.uk The ticket hotline is The Grand’s box office, 01200 421599.