All go at Gateshead this weekend

Loose Tubes on their first reappearance at the 2014  Cheltenham International Jazz Festival  (Photo © John Watson/

Loose Tubes on their first reappearance at the 2014 Cheltenham International Jazz Festival (Photo © John Watson/

The first major jazz festival in Britain gets underway tomorrow at The Sage, that excellent arched edifice that looks over the Tyne from its Gateshead bank.

There’s a lot going on over the three days of the 2015 Gateshead International Jazz Festival, from a seminar on sustainability in music called Take The Green Train at 11am tomorrow to the jazz meets blues of Davina and The Vagabonds at 8pm on Sunday.

Here are the things I’d be going to if it weren’t for the fact that I’ll be in the south of France instead:

Stan Tracey’s Under Milk Wood, Friday 7.30pm. The great man has left us to play piano up in the sky but his most famous composition, based on Dylan Thomas’s work, will be played by Bobby Wellins, the original and crucial tenor saxophonist on the original recording of 50 years ago, together with Andrew Cleyndert on bass, Clark Tracey on drums, Steve Melling in for the late Stan on piano and Stan’s grandson Ben as narrator.

Gwilym Simcock and Royal Northern Sinfonia, Saturday 2pm. Any excuse to hear probably the finest British pianist of his generation, with the added bonus of hearing not only his trio (Yuri Goloubev on bass and Martin France on drums) but also his work Move!, originally recorded for his album Instrumation.

Joshua Redman Trio, Saturday 8pm. The virtuoso saxophonist with Reuben Rogers on bass and Gregory Hutchinson on drums packs more music into three people than some big bands can manage. They have been playing together for so long it’s like their sharing one enormous jazz brain.

Beats and Pieces, Saturday 10.45pm. They come from the North West but composer/leader Ben Cottrell and his large group of friends should sound just as good over to the right a little. Big Band jazz for the 21st century and no mistake.

Loose Tubes plus Andy Sheppard and Rita Marcotulli, Sunday 7.30pm. Talking of Big Bands and centuries, until last year we thought Loose Tubes was destined to remain a piece of wild and woolly 20th century nostalgia. Their return was the jazz highlight of 2014 and thankfully they enjoyed the experience enough to repeat it. Django Bates, Eddie Parker, Iain Ballamy, Chris Batchelor, Mark Lockheart, John Parricelli, Ashley Slater… and so many more. And as if this wasn’t sensory overload, the support slot is the sublime paring of Bristolian saxophonist Sheppard and Roman pianist Marcotulli.

Hmmm – Southern France is not looking so attractive after all… So look out for a round-up review and pictures from jazz‘s John Watson, coming soon to this site.

  • For full details of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival go here.


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