The Cheltonian > Articles

27th April - 2nd May


Booking is now open for the 16th Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Falling over the Royal Wedding bank holiday – this year’s Festival promises the biggest celebration of jazz the town has ever seen! The programme welcomes legendary performers alongside the freshest new talent, and as Artistic Director Tony Dudley-Evans puts it, “There’s a special energy and edge you won’t get anywhere else: it’s fun, it’s exhausting and it’s the best jazz festival in the UK”. The full brochure will be available from mid February, but we’ve been given a sneak peak– and here are just some of the hot concerts you can enjoy, right on your doorstep …

Following sell-out performances in 2010, jazz superstar Jamie Cullum will return to Cheltenham in the role of Guest Director this year. As well as a now sold-out solo show, Jamie has also invited some of his favourite acts to perform at the festival including Mercury Prize nominated Kit Downes and his sextet, soul singer-songwriter Andreya Triana and beautiful pop covers from Norwegian starlet Susanna. Cheltenham Festivals members can get up close with Mr Cullum himself n a special ‘In conversation…’ event - tickets are exclusively available for members.

The Festival will have some added swing thanks to the added bank holiday for the Royal Wedding. There will be a full day garden party in Imperial Gardens with a big screen broadcast of the wedding itself, as well as vintage food, drink and entertainment to celebrate the occasion and all things British! The day of royal revelry will be rounded off with a very special Jazz Royalty edition of the BBC’s Friday Night is Music Night presented by Sir Michael Parkinson. Conductor Guy Barker will lead an all star line up of vocalists and musicians as they perform the music of Duke Ellington, Count Basie and Earl Hines amongst others – all for a special broadcast on BBC Radio 2.

Cheltenham has a reputation for bringing together the best established artists alongside exciting up-and-coming new talent. If you’ve never been to a jazz festival, you can get four legendary performers for one in the fantastic Overtone Quartet! For more than four decades, three-time Grammy winner Dave Holland “has defined the best in jazz” (JazzTimes). Following a stunning flamenco concert last year, he returns to Cheltenham with this extraordinary jazz supergroup of America’s finest musicians: saxophone impresario Chris Potter, genre-bending pianist Jason Moran, and virtuosic drummer Eric Harland all feature.

The festival is one of the best places to discover Britain’s best new jazz talent and some truly cutting edge sounds Celebrated band Curios, led by pianist and composer Tom Cawley, have been hailed as ‘the most formidable piano trio in the UK’ (Mojo). Drawing on romantic classical music as much as modern jazz, the band promise melodic, fiery, serene and intense music on the Pillar Room stage. In the Jazz Arena, the fantastic Portico Quartet will bring their special blend of world music from the future to Cheltenham. With largely acoustic resources – percussion, bass and wind instruments – their unique sound is distinctively brilliant, and not to be missed.

Working with BBC Radio 3, the festival has been able to produce some really innovative collaborations and commissions, and an exciting addition to this year’s line-up. Composer and virtuoso multi-instrumentalist Django Bates is widely regarded as one of the most creative musicians in the world – and the festival has commissioned him to present a series of new pieces written for performers throughout the programme. This unique and exciting project promises to be a real festival highlight.

Elsewhere the programme promises mellow jazz-pop courtesy of singer Lucinda Belle, the R&B sounds of the 50s and early 60s from modern singer James Hunter and swing, groove, and funk from the ever brilliant Kyle Eastwood. Following huge success in 2010, Jazz on Square returns this year as the ultimate place to enjoy the festival buzz. The great music will spill out into the gardens alongside a range of local food and drink to create the unrivalled festival-hub across the bank holiday weekend.

With great music from across the globe, outstanding jazz performers and free outdoor entertainment the festival really will be the town’s biggest party. Pick up a brochure around town to discover more.

Public booking now open

Tickets can be bought online at:

From the box office on 01242 505 444

In person at the Festival Box Office on the first floor of Regent Arcade.