Festival Top Picks

Each year we bring our diverging tastes together in the form of a festival line-up which celebrates all things jazz and blues – from swing to funk, bebop to blues, soul to rock ‘n roll. The team all look forward to very different parts of the festival and with just four weeks to go we bring you this year’s top picks, as chosen by the festival team…

Colin Gorrie – Festival Director

It is difficult for me to choose from the lineup but I have to include Trio HLK and Evelyn Glennie because she is the world’s premier solo percussionist and always gives a fantastic performance. Then Cult Fiction Live! is sure to be a fantastic night under the baton of William Goodchild and because I love the jazz orchestral format with a string section.  And then new to the programme this year is Tongue Fu – the improvisation of the music to the spoken word is something special. Finally, the Cuban Dance Party which, coupled with The Big Swing, is always going to be a favourite, because seeing a crowd dance and have fun is one of the most enjoyable parts of this festival year on year.

Denny Ilett – Artistic Director

Again, it’s hard for me to pick out highlights from this year’s programme but, I’m really looking forward to the Cuban Dance Party which will be an incredible night of Salsa, Mambo and Cha-Cha with a 17-piece big band and a dance troupe on stage! Also, Cult Fiction Live! is going to be awesome; a 32-piece orchestra of brass, woodwind, strings, percussion and guitars playing iconic TV themes for the 60’s and 70’s. In the Lantern, I can’t wait to see my old friend Enrico Tomasso and his fantastic band of UK jazz legends and, as a guitarist, I’m so excited about the duo concert of Martin Taylor and Ulf Wakenius (pictured).

Polly Eldridge – PR Manager 

I literally cannot wait to see the fruits of a collaboration between the brilliant Get the Blessing and film maker John Minton. Working with archive film from Create Bristol, John has put together a cinematic journey through Bristol’s history, watching some of their work in progress, it was fascinating to catch a glimpse of the docks in their heyday, areas of Bristol pre-war and some really charming shots of Coronation street parties. The music that Get the Blessing are creating is every bit as riveting as you’d expect from this incredible group of musicians. Watching this on a huge screen in the Main Hall is going to be just the most amazing experience.

Katya Gorrie – Assistant Producer

Basically, I’m looking forward to hearing everything! But I’ll try and scale it down…. Having had the pleasure of witnessing the TONGUE FU event at Arnolfini last October, I am really excited to see what they come up with next! The combination of improvised Jazz with spoken word is a brilliant idea, and if you get it right, ( and they do ) its so exciting. I grew up listening to Jimi Hendrix’s Are You Experienced, and Axis Bold as Love, and love them both, but I am less familiar with Electric Ladyland…so I’m really looking forward to ‘experiencing’ it through a big band! It will be epic!

Can’t wait for Bristopolis and Cult Fiction…but also very interested in the more cerebral music of Ivo Neame and Asaf Sirkis. I wouldn’t miss any of the gorgeous women this year…Clare Teal, Carleen Anderson, Polly Gibbons, Evelyn Glennie!!! To name a few….and just when I think I’ve had enough…I’ll be dancing my socks off at The CUBAN DANCE PARTY!!

Rob Elmore – Technical Manager

As Technical Manager, and principal sound engineer for the festival, there can be only one choice. Trio HLK with Dame Evelyn Glennie. Audio is my life & career, my ears my most valued piece of “equipment”. How Evelyn, undefeated by her profound deafness, has carved a professional music career is nothing short of magical and inspirational to me. I encourage everyone to watch her TED talk prior to this show, and then spend 90 minutes in awe of a true musical legend.

Jess McFarling – Production Manager

Ever the child at heart, I cannot wait for Cartoon Jazz II feat: Ian Shaw.  All the sing-a-long songs with a great band and topped off with a 300 piece choir… wow!  With this being my first year on the festival, I am excited to be a part of such a prominent Bristol event that caters for everyone, from my friend’s children to my grandmother to enjoy.  I have also been listening to Arun Ghosh (if I’m allowed to pick two!) and am blown away with his skills on the clarinet, his energy on stage and am frankly hypnotised and carried to far-away places by his music…Look forward to seeing you at the festival!

Sooz Moon – Marketing Manager

The spoken word scene is seeing a huge upswing in popularity at present, and so Tongue Fu could not be more timely in its presence in our lineup. The Bristol spoken word scene has developed hugely with several monthly night’s drawing energetic followers. Tongue Fu have been pivotal in raising the bar by augmenting spoken word with musical improvisation, storytelling, hip-hop influences and visuals, to take the form somewhere completely new. This will be an unpredictable night! Plus in The Lantern, I can’t wait to see Snowpoet who are inspired by artists such as Joni Mitchell and Tom Waits and they are right up my street. They have just released their new album and are a total joy…

Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival runs from Thursday, March 15 to Sunday, March 19. For our full line-up of over 50 free and ticketed city centre events click HERE.