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Music Editorial

ushawnicola.jpg Ushaw slips into some jazz trousers
 

The wonderful Ushaw in Durham have their three-day jazz festival in August and if it’s anything like their inaugural event last year then fans are in for an abundance of treats.

And without further ado, let’s check out those treats in full beginning with Early Bird Big Band on the Friday night (24 August, 6pm). Featuring some of the rising stars of youth jazz in the north-east this outfit started meeting at the Lit & Phil back in 2015 and, led by pianist Paul Edis, quickly developed a diverse repertoire and a knack for commanding performances and creativity well beyond their years. Also on the Friday is Nicola Farnon (24 August, 8pm - pictured) who combines singing and playing bass and has attracted praise from all quarters including Humphrey Littleton who commented: “A remarkable performer on stage, a fine singer and an outstandingly swinging and propulsive bass player with an outstanding personality to match.” She will be joined by her regular drummer Phil Johnson and brilliant young pianist Paul Edis.

On Saturday they kick off with the Graeme Wilson Quartet (25 August, 1pm) a band who are all about heartfelt improvisation on idiosyncratic tunes that stay with you, the players infusing driving jazz and Latin rhythms or ambient swing. Next up is Tulip/Mackellar Quartet (25 August, 4pm), a group of young jazz virtuosos from the north-east. They’re followed by Giles Strong/Roly Veitch Jazz Guitar Duo (25 August, 6pm) who, when working together, have a playing style that reflects a shared passion for the music of guitar greats such as Wes Montgomery, Jim Hall, Joe Pass and Ed Bickert as well as a love for the Great American Songbook repertoire. Saturday finishes in fine style with Jo Harrop singing the songs of Peggy Lee (25 August, 8pm) with Harrop paying tribute to the sultriest songstress of them all. 

Sunday begins with Ushaw Ensemble (26 August, 1pm) made up of the very best musicians from the north-east. They’re followed by BABA (26 August, 4pm) a collective of past and present Bmus students from Sage Gateshead headed up by bandleaders Thomas and Inês and playing a set of all original music. And then the curtain comes down on this year’s festival in grand style with the Strictly Smokin’ Big Band (26 August, 6pm). With a swinging rhythm section and powerful horns – as well as charismatic male and female vocalists – you can file this one under “Set to sizzle”.

Ushaw Jazz Festival, Friday 24-Sunday 26 August, Ushaw College, Durham, weekend ticket £55, Saturday £30, Sunday £20 (tickets for individual gigs also available). ushaw.org