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Spring Has Sprung

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Spring is finally here – the days are longer, evenings are lighter, and Cheltenham’s festivals get into full swing with the Cheltenham Jazz Festival kicks at the end of the month. What better way to celebrate the changing season than with fantastic, great outdoor entertainment and refreshments and Cheltenham’s unique festival buzz. Tickets for the festival are already flying out of the box office and it looks set to be one of the biggest and most varied festivals ever. Whether you’re new to the festival, or are a true jazz aficionado, this year’s programme offers has something for every musical palette. Here are just a few of the musical treats you can look forward to with tickets still available…

Jazz Legends
Cheltenham’s Jazz Festival is regularly hailed as one of the world’s finest – and it’s a great chance to see some of the world’s greatest performers live in your home town. One of our top picks is Dame Cleo Laine. She is one of the all time jazz greats and a strong contender for the title of ‘first lady of jazz’. Her stunning vocal range and charismatic stage presence have seen her captivate audiences worldwide. Last time she performed in Cheltenham, Cleo was hailed as the festival highlight – this year she opens the programme with her brand new show.

Dave Holland’s Overtone Quartet is quite simply a jazz super group, bringing together four of the best contemporary musicians the music has to offer. Following on from last year’s amazing flamenco performance, Holland is joined by saxophonist Chris Potter, pianist Jason Moran and drummer Eric Harland. This is a real treat for jazz fans – with four outstanding musicians for the price of one.

Other legendary treats include melodic saxophone from Pharoah Sanders, a brand new festival commission from pianist Django Bates and Andy Sheppard’s new group Trio Libero.

So much more than all that jazz
Whilst a passion for jazz is at the heart of the festival, the 2011 programme also features a host of other genres for varying musical tastes. From the Rhythm & Blues sounds of the ‘50s and early ‘60s courtesy of James Hunter, to the quirky combination of harp and jazz from the Lucinda Belle Orchestra, via the smooth sounds of bassist and bandleader Kyle Eastwood - the programme is absolutely bursting with stunning artists to suit all musical tastes.

One real highlight is an evening of luxury at The Daffodil with singer Liane Carroll. The evening is called Bare Feet and Beehives – and is a celebration of 60’s pop music including songs by Dusty, Sandi, Petula and Lulu. The concert was written especially for Radio 2, and received huge popular acclaim when it premiered last year. Alongside an outstanding performance, you can enjoy a gourmet three course meal at one of Cheltenham’s finest restaurants and a champagne reception. This is the way to enjoy the jazz festival in real style…

If you like your jazz a little more late-night then the festival club nights at the town hall are not to be missed. On the Saturday night, the acclaimed trip-hop and electronica duo Lamb return to the UK music scene with the very first UK show in support of their new album 5. Filling the Town Hall with their distinctive mixture of jazz, dub, breaks, drum and bass and stunning vocals, Lamb’s performance is a real coup for the Festival.

On Sunday there is an exclusive double-header from two of the hottest acts in the UK – Roots Manuva and Bonobo. Roots Manuva effortlessly blends hip-hop, reggae, dub and electronica with witty and eccentric rhymes and is rightly regarded as one of the most influential figures in UK hip-hop of recent years. Still riding high after the release of his excellent Black Sands album, Bonobo is known for his eclectic and sumptuous combination of jazzy breaks, hip-hop, soul and funk, and here he leads a superb band mix live instrumentation and electronics. Both nights are a great chance to see the usually genteel Town Hall really let its hair down…

For a family treat in the morning, the Family Breakfast Show lets you kick-start your day in the company of energetic Glasgow based four-piece Brass Jaw, who bring a vibrant new sound to the world of jazz by performing without a traditional rhythm section. Expect lively, upbeat music suitable for the whole family!

A Right Royal Celebration
The festival falls over a rather special date – the wedding of William and Kate. To celebrate, there will be a whole day of ‘best of British’ inspired fun in Imperial Gardens. There will be a big screen broadcast of the wedding itself in Imperial gardens, vintage inspired activities, free live music and a range of specially designed food and drink available all day. The whole day will be rounded off with a special jazz Royalty edition of BBC Radio 2’s Friday Night is music Night. It’s going to be presented by Michael Parkinson and featuring a whole host of jazz greats – a suitably celebratory end to the day of royal revelry!

If you can’t make it to the Royal Celebration, you will still be able to enjoy free outdoor entertainment throughout the festival as Jazz on the Square takes a family friendly buzz out into Imperial Gardens…

This is just a taster of what you can expect from the 2011 Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Pick up a brochure around town, or visit cheltenhamfestivals.com for the full, exciting line-up.