A new Jazz Festival hits the streets of Leeds in July

24th May 2018

“It’s about time Leeds had a decent jazz festival!” says Festival Director Steve Crocker. “For a city with such a buzzing jazz scene not having a jazz festival is a big cultural gap. We’ve got together a group of promoters from the city – to change all that and give Leeds a festival that will last for years to come”

It’s a six-day edition with events taking place at the Wardrobe, Leeds College of Music, the Carriageworks and in Millennium Square. Alongside appearances by marquee names such as Soweto Kinch, Ian Shaw, Pigfoot and Nérija, there will be leftfield performances from, among others, pianist Matthew Bourne and alt.jazz absurdists Shatner’s Bassoon, plus several fest highlights with a particularly Leeds resonance. Alan Barnes’ celebration of Duke Ellington’s October 1958 meeting with the Queen in Leeds will be a special highlight, and Alan’s Octet will be supported by American bass legend Greg Cohen and Leeds College Alumnus Declan Forde in playing some of Ellington’s lesser known works. “New Briggate Blues” is a play written by Chris Nickson about Leeds legendary 1950’s jazz venue Studio 20 which hosted bluesman Jimmy Rushing, traditional jazz legend Ken Coyler, vocalist and raconteur George Melly, and sax legends Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott. “Celebrating Xero Slingsby” brings together musicians including sax-man Alan Wilkinson and drummer Paul Hession’s punk-jazz tribute to local-hero musician, the late Xero Slingsby who was a powerful force on the Jazz Scene in the UK, Belgium and Holland during the 1980’s.

We’ll have over 300 performers including five big bands, Swing Dance bands, Traditional Jazz, Blues and Latin groups, “Busk Stops” organised by J’Frisco’s Jemma Freece, a “New Stream” of contemporary bands curated by Fusebox’s Laura Cole, an “Otley Jazz Run” on Saturday with street band Bassa Bassa and a grand finale on the 24th July celebrating the music of Leeds Jazz hero Xero Slingsby organised by Sally Coe. The whole festival will be live painted by artist Gina Southgate – that will give images that we can display for years to come as well.

The Festival launch event on Thursday July 19th at Seven Arts features the young musicians of the Leeds Youth Jazz Rock orchestra led by Leeds saxman Brendan Duffy

“I think Duke Ellington would be very pleased with the line-up we have if he were alive today” says Steve Crocker – this will be a proper jazz festival, not a pop festival with a bit of jazz on the edge. There will be music from the swing era, right up today but with a very Leeds edge. Come along and enjoy!”

Festival tickets are now on sale – priced £99

Tickets also at Jumbo Records, Crash Records, Luna Tickets

More information vsit