Programme announced for the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival

For its 40th anniversary, the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival is in a festive mood.

The programme for the 40th anniversary edition - which takes place from Friday 13th to Sunday 22nd July - features promising newcomers, returning music legends and a host of famous names making their Edinburgh debut.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Convener, Culture and Communities Committee, City of Edinburgh Council, said: “For 40 years, Edinburgh’s Jazz & Blues Festival has entertained audiences of all ages with its vibrant showcase of ragtime, Latin, big band and jazz. With new venues in the city centre and across communities, this year’s Festival will bring live music to Edinburgh’s intimate corners and grand spaces in its anniversary year. The programme offers something for all ages across a huge range of styles, from established stars to an amazing new wave of Scottish jazz musicians for the Year of Young People 2018.”

Among the many highlights are Kurt Elling, Davina & The Vagabonds, Mud Morganfield, Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Jools Holland, Dave Holland with Zakir Hussain and Chris Potter, The Average White Band, Blind Boy Paxton, Curtis Stigers, Betty Lavette and Maggie Bell.

The Festival will welcome musicians and music styles from across the world. Celebrating the tri-centenary of New Orleans, it will present a posse of Crescent city musicians from the return of Soul Brass Band, to the UK debut of all-female traditional jazz band Shake ‘Em Up. Avant garde jazz from New York from Vijay Iyer Sextet, Grammy award-winning trumpeter, Keyon Harrold, legendary Detroit soul singer Bettye Lavette, and Memphis based Southern Avenue who update the STAX tradition also feature. Classic blues from Chicago with a double bill of Mud Morganfield and John Primer will also feature, alongside Earl Thomas and Blind Boy Paxton (both from California) and from St Louis, Marquis Knox.

European Jazz comes from the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Norway, Italy, Sweden and England with Mobo Award winners Soweto Kinch, Zara McFarlane and Zoe Rahman, legendary groups like Bratislava Hot Serenaders and Robert Balzar Trio, plus major new stars in Vit Kristan, Harald Lassen and Juno.

Jason Rust, Chair of Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, said “We are celebrating our anniversary with a bang. A stellar international line-up with musicians converging on Edinburgh from all over the world, over 150 concerts, plus the Festival’s two free events– The Mardi Gras and the Edinburgh Festival Carnival – will take place on the 14th and 15th July respectively”.Keyon Harrold will perform at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival 2018

There is an amazing new wave of Scottish jazz musicians on the scene and fittingly in this, the Year of Young People, the Festival will feature 20 year old bassist Mark Hendry who showcases his Octet and has been commissioned by the Festival to write music for a Large Ensemble – 23 musicians!  The programme also features another 20 year old, the stellar pianist Fergus McCreadie with his Trio plus the 18 year old singer Luca Manning who leads a brand new band featuring Greek singer Irini Arabatzi.

Special projects to celebrate the 40th anniversary include a jazz gala, and in association with the Edinburgh Jazz Archive and Edinburgh Napier University, an exhibition featuring memorabilia from the last 40 years. Teviot Row will also be turned into a Festival Club with a range of catering options from outdoor terraced bars to fine dining, presenting over 40 concerts plus a late night club until 3am featuring host bands, festival guests jamming with the house bands and djs.

Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said: “This year, the Edinburgh International Jazz and Blues Festival provides another high-quality showcase of jazz and blues from across the world for national and international audiences. Scottish musicians will lead new projects that show the breadth of ambition within the jazz and blues sector in Scotland. Through the Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund, the Scottish Government has awarded just under £1.4 million to the Festival since its inception. Artists benefit significantly from the global exposure and Expo funding ensures the festival continues to grow and reach even more people than ever before.”

This year, it launches another new venue at The Assembly Hall, which offers a 700 plus auditorium, reserved seating and top-notch facilities. Perched on the edge of the old and new town it offers easy access to concerts and will host some world-class performances. The Festival will also travel to Dalry (St Brides Centre), Craigmillar (Lyra Theatre), Meadowbank (Church) and Muirhouse (North Edinburgh Arts Centre).

Tickets are available from 2pm on Tuesday 1 May:


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