The 14th Annual Budvar Cheltenham Jazz Festival had its launch at Ronnie Scott's today. Festival Producer Steve Symons' blog gives an update of how it's all going. The programme looks great, and I picked up a sunny mood around the place today. Last year Cheltenham definitely needed sunshine; what it got instead was big demand for the HSBC umbrellas. But optimism certainly shone through today from my conversation with young festival staffer Phil Woods.
For most of us, thoughts of the Budvar Cheltenham Jazz Festival focus on great gigs, and the good places to hang out between them. Like the Marquee in the gardens, the Everyman bar, the Kandinsky Hotel...nice. But as part of the team, Phil knows what he's in for at festival time. He'll be haring from one venue to another at frenetic pace, keeping a constant eye for things which might go wrong. From experience, he knows he'll be very lucky if the work-load permits him to sit down and listen for more than a few minutes.
Phil is a trumpeter, a product of Leicestershire's excellent school music services, and one gig he definitely communicated a lot of excitement about is the Dave Douglas Quintet from the US on Sunday May 3rd at the Everyman. (Incidentally, Phil now reads the LondonJazz blog regularly, thanks to the very kind early plug from Peter Bacon's blog. )
Dave Douglas was also one of the names featuring prominently in Artistic director Tony Dudley-Evans excellent round-up. Tony has spent so much of his life teaching English to foreigners, that he treats both our language, and the listener, with the kind of respect which is rare.
Also, Dudley-Evans' instincts as a programmer are to be trusted. He particularly mentioned drum wizard Jeff Williams, and New York clarinettist and renaissance everything Don Byron, who will be on at the Everyman, later on the same evening as Douglas. And Williams' old sparring partner Dave Liebman. And guitarist Kurt Rosenwinkel who was on stunning form at Charlie Wright's a few months ago.
From experience I know that Dudley-Evans uses St Andrews Church very cleverly. This year he has the Trinity Jazz Ensemble, whose performance of a similar programme I reviewed at Ronnie's here
Plus a lot of up-and-coming British talent, thanks to the Jerwood Foundation. And loads more. The gig likely to sell out the quickest, I would guess, is Madeleine Peyroux at the Everyman.
But after my conversation with (the Cheltenham) Phil Woods I really want to catch Dave Douglas. And I hope he gets to listen to it too.