The Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival is back for a 7th year with another jam-packed weekend of free and ticketed concerts, dancing, jam sessions and masterclasses from 22 - 24 March. This year the  festival moves out of Colston Hall while it undergoes its major renovation, and into several of Bristol's best music venues - St George's Bristol, Anson Rooms and O2 Academy. 

The festival's Artistic Director Denny Ilett reveals some of the things to look forward to at this year's Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival below…

1. The Blues at Anson Rooms

The audience asked for more blues this year and the festival has responded with a wide variety of blues on offer, from the solo acoustic musings of troubadour Ian Siegal, to the legend that is Lucky Peterson! Along the way, catch guitar wizards Kirk Fletcher, Aynsley Lister and Josh Smith as well as local ‘supergroup’ the Bristol Bluesmen. The fabulous Elles Bailey Band and Hannah Williams & The Affirmations remind us that the earliest blues legends back in the 1920s were almost exclusively female.

Bristol Jazz and blues festival 2019

 Image - Lucky Peterson, credit Christophe Losberger

2. The Free Stage 

With the Bristol Student’s Union a major festival hub this year, don’t miss the famous Free Stage in the Balloon Bar (Anson Rooms) where there’s a non-stop line up of the best jazz, blues and swing that Bristol and the South West have to offer.

Bristol Jazz and blues festival 2019

Image - Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival

3. Contemporary Jazz 

The intimate Winston Theatre at Bristol Student’s Union is this year’s location for some of the UK’s most cutting edge jazz performers such as guitarist Ant Law, saxophonist Soweto Kinch and trombonist Dennis Rollins, alongside a festival commission led by pianist/composer Rebecca Nash and a special concert recreating Miles Davis’ iconic Kind Of Blue album for its 60th anniversary.

Bristol jazz and blues festival 2019

Image - Dennis Rollins, credit Darren Cowley

4. Learn from the best

The even more intimate Pegg Theatre, also at Bristol SU, is the venue for 2019’s programme of masterclasses and workshops. Study with and learn from masters such as vocalist Liane Carroll, bluesmen Kirk Fletcher and Josh Smith along with Pee Wee Ellis, architect of James Brown's era-defining soul classics of the late '60s.

Bristol jazz and blues festival

Image - Pee Wee Ellis

5. Orchestral highlights at St George's 

St George’s showcases the more orchestral part of this year’s programme with two world premieres. US vocalist China Moses fronts a 30-piece orchestra to perform Billie Holiday’s final album, Lady In Satin, live in concert for the first time. Pee Wee Ellis presents his first ever concert to feature brand new arrangements of his favourite standards with a string ensemble and look out for a special presentation by Echoes Of Ellington, who perform the Duke’s jazz interpretation of several classical works.

Bristol Jazz and blues festival

Image - China Moses

6. Soul and Funk at O2 Academy

Over at the O2 Academy UK Soul & Funk stalwarts The Herbaliser take to the stage with the fantastic Gipsy Kings, featuring André Reyes headlining on the Saturday night.

Bristol Jazz and blues festival

And that’s just some of the programme, with a scheduled 50 performances over the weekend, check out the full line up here.

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