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Cheltenham Jazz Festival Booked for 1st Weekend in May

Bill Frisell, Steve Winwood and others scheduled for the British event

John Taylor
Bill Frisell
Roberto Fonseca

In a small town in the English Cotswolds this spring, musicians will assemble for the Cheltenham Jazz Festival. An impressive roster of jazz legends, innovators and underground acts has been mobilized for the five-day festival, which kicks off May 2.

Steve Winwood, who rocketed to stardom as a teenager with the Spencer Davis Group, opens the proceedings. The English songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who counts blues, soul, rock and Latin among his styles, will be performing in the Regency-era Montpellier Gardens ahead of his U.S. spring tour. That evening also sees leading jazz vocalist Jacqui Dankworth, daughter of Dame Cleo Laine and the late Sir John Dankworth, at the Daffodil restaurant, a stunning former Art Deco cinema.

Blues junkies have guitarist Matt Schofield to look forward to the following evening. Then on Friday a different pace is set with banjo-playing, gravel-voiced CW Stoneking, who describes his unique sound as calypsonian blues, hokum and jungle music.

Saxophonist Chris Potter, fluent on tenor, alto and soprano (with occasional dalliances with alto flute, wood flute and bass clarinet), will lead a performance alongside a specially-formed band featuring nine of the top young musical talents from Birmingham Conservatoire.

Later that afternoon the schedule includes Sheelanagig, who blend Balkan folk, high-octane klezmer, story-telling and danceable mayhem. That evening, superstar bassist and composer Marcus Miller will take to the main stage. The night is rounded off by a collaboration between pianist Kit Downes and drummer Seb Rochford at the Parabola Arts Centre..

Sunday’s agenda stars celebrated British pianist John Taylor, leading a specially formed octet with his classically-influenced jazz, performing an exclusive BBC Radio 3 commission marking his 70th year. Buena Vista Social Club prodigy Roberto Fonseca, with a new generation of Cuban stars, is also billed.

Finally, the night will feature guitarist Bill Frisell, as well as retro soul sensation Paloma Faith, alongside the Guy Barker Orchestra.

Originally Published