TICKET sales are at a record level for next month's Scarborough Jazz Festival, say the organisers, who report rapid business for the September 26 to 28 event.

The Friday line-up at the Scarborough Spa comprises Anita Wardell Sings Johnny Mandel with the Alan Barnes Septet; Henry Lowther and The Greens; Theo Jackson & Nathaniel Facey; 7 Pieces Of Silver and the Ollie Howell Quintet.

The Saturday programme features Nigel Kennedy; John Etheridge and Band; the Clark Tracey Quartet; Time Zone; Sarah Moule with the Simon Wallace Trio and Jazz ExTemporé, while Sunday presents the Gerry Mulligan Concert Jazz Band; Iain Ballamy & Stian Carstensen; Paradox Ensemble; Gwilym Simcock; Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio; The Stretch Trio and the Stephen Joseph Theatre's Funky Choir.

Three singers, highlighted by festival director Mike Gordon, will bring refreshingly different styles to this year’s jazz festival, namely Anita Wardell, Theo Jackson and Sarah Moule.

Anita first appeared at Scarborough Jazz in the late 1990s when she was little known; this time she will perform on the back of being awarded the 2013 British Jazz Award for Best Vocalist.

"I’ve kept in touch with Anita and she has become a good friend," says Mike. "She's an amazing musician. Many jazz vocalists improvise with little understanding of what they are doing, but Anita has the same musical knowledge and understanding as a top solo instrumentalist and she has such a beautifully warm and clear voice."

At the festival, Anita will sing the music of Johnny Mandel, for example The Shadow Of Your Smile and the theme from M.A S.H, arranged by Alan Barnes, whose septet will be backing her.

Young singer and pianist Theo Jackson will perform with saxophonist Nathaniel Facey, a member of British Jazz Award winners Empirical.

"Their interaction demonstrates remarkable musical ability and a very special jazz relationship," says Mike. "Claire Martin, the renowned singer and BBC presenter, is a strong fan of Theo’s – he’s clearly heading for the top."

Sarah Moule will be making her first appearance at the festival, backed by the Simon Wallace Trio.

"Sarah is highly regarded for her ability to bring maximum emotion and meaning from her songs, while Simon has had an international career as a composer, pianist and musical director."

Mike also draws attention to "something completely different: the Spa Sun Court performance by the Stephen Joseph Theatre’s Funky Choir, whose 25 members will be singing a varied selection of numbers arranged by musical director Mark Gordon.

For tickets and further information, phone 01723 821888 or visit scarboroughjazzfestival.co.uk


Scarborough Jazz Festival director Mike Gordon has a quick word with guitarist John Etheridge, who will be performing with violinist Nigel Kennedy in the festival highlight on September 27

John, we’re really excited about you coming to this year’s festival to play with Nigel Kennedy. You’re a regular visitor to Scarborough and play almost annually at Scarborough Jazz @ The Cask. Hopefully you look forward to these visits...

“Scarborough has a unique quality as a town and I always look forward to coming here as a visitor and especially to the festival, which I’ve played a number of times and also my regular appearances at Scarborough Jazz Club. The audience are discerning, responsive and open-minded, as you’d expect from a town with such a rich cultural heritage.”

What are your festival memories?

“The festival is always a big highlight for me; the atmosphere and the staging are excellent. I’ve played I think twice recently, with the Zappatistas and most recently in a duo with Chris Garrick, which got a particularly good response.”

You’re known for crossing genres. This must be very demanding?

“I suppose it is demanding in a way, but the important thing for me is that I do not approach a musical situation from a fixed position vis a vis a cherished personal style. It’s also not a matter of having an arsenal of genres to bring to the table. I think it’s a matter of absorbing the feel of the music and responding accordingly.

“For instance, in the Soft Machine I find myself playing high-energy electric guitar solos, whereas with John Williams I’ll be concentrating on playing my parts as well as possible and creating parts that complement what John is doing. The first is more improvisational, the second more formal. When I played with Stephane Grappelli, he was very keen that we did not play Hot Club clichés and wanted to hear something more personal and exploratory. This was very encouraging to me and helped bring me out. He was inspiring to work with.”

Your musical relationship with Nigel Kennedy goes back a long time. What’s the story there?

“I first met Nigel when I was playing with Grappelli. He was a young lad in shorts! They used to charge through Tiger Rag together. I then reconnected with him in 1989 for a concert at Snape Maltings and then in 1993 started to play regularly in his jazz and rock projects.

“This went on for quite a number of years but the concert at Scarborough is a kind of getting back together, which I’m really excited about as we had a very fruitful relationship for a long time and he’s an electric performer, as everybody knows.”

What sort of music will you be playing with Nigel, and who’ll be the other members of the band?

“The band is completed by Yaron Stavi on bass and Mark Fletcher on drums. Yaron is a powerful player and has been seen for many years with Gilad Atzmon. Mark is the brilliant drummer I’ve worked with for years and is capable of handling any direction in the music that is taken. We’ll most probably start with an acoustic set which will comprise originals by Nigel and myself, peppered with some Reinhardt/Grappelli tunes.

“The second set will be amplified and may well be more improvised and subversive with a broader palette of sonic colours. Hold on to your hats.”