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Bristol jazz fest – 2019

March 13, 2019

Keeping an eye on the weather forecast already after last year’s Bristol festival was almost brought to a halt by Saturday evening/Sunday morning snow. But the festival crew have bounced back with a wide-ranging programme in their new (main) home at Bristol University SU.


No snow this year, we hope – and no Colston Hall either (but see Sunday afternoon)

I’ve done a run down of main attractions and venue details for LondonJazzNews – over here. As usual there’s any amount of stuff, much of it free, that will give you a good time, and plenty of more challenging sets on offer as well.  But there’s a lot to choose from, so if you’re still planning a jazz weekend next week, here’s an entirely subjective top 10 of the musically most interesting things going on over the three days (in order of scheduling, not merit).

Accordion king Richard Galliano –  at St George’s on Friday evening

Rebecca Nash’s Atlas, playing a new commission, with the brilliant US saxophonist John O’Gallagher on board – Anson Rooms on Saturday afternoon.

Rising star guitarist Ant Law’s quartet – also Anson room on Saturday, as are

Julian Siegel’s equally fine quartet, with Liam Noble, Gene Calderazzo and Oli Hayhurst

Pianist and composer Huw Warren give his Dylan Thomas project, Do Not Go Gentle, a rare airing at St George’s on Sunday afternoon.

And Soweto Kinch is a likely sell out for the Anson Rooms in the evening.

Those are all ticketed gigs – and do support some of those if you want the festival to return – but there are some fine bands playing for free as well. Standouts on the freestage in the Balloon Bar are Jim Blomfield’s trio, on Saturday at 1.15 – Bristol’s busiest piano player currently in fine form and offering a new CD – and bassist Rian Vosloo’s all-star large ensemble Uphill Game on Sunday at 7.30.

In between those two, there’s a bonus free programme in Colston Hall Foyer on Sunday afternoon, presented by Jazz South. That has strength in depth with six excellent bands but if you make me choose I’ll go for Hexagonal and Iain Ballamy’s wonderful quartet (with Huw Warren again). You can read details of all six bands here.

That’s ten. But if you want more, don’t forget the nightly jam sessions in Bambalan, opposite Colston Hall. The house band sounds worth checking out from the start – with Nick Malcolm, Dale Hambridge, Andrew Bain and Greg Cordez, but there are a lot of people in town who like to play so new combinations will appear as the sessions go on…

I’m currently anticipating an indulgent weekend, hearing Rhiannon Giddens and Anouar Brahem/Dave Holland/Django Bates, in two different cities – but really looking forward to settling down to all this good stuff in Bristol the week after.







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