All this jazz

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The Sage Gateshead will host the eighth Gateshead International Jazz Festival – the first in the UK jazz calendar year – next spring. Katy Wheeler finds out more.

JAZZ from across the globe will fill every corner of the Sage.

Cuban pianist Roberto Fonseca, popular at The Sage Gateshead from appearances with Ibrahim Ferrer and his own band, will open the festival, from March 23 to March 25, in the magnificent Hall One.

In the more intimate surroundings of Hall Two, the funkier side of jazz gets going with Porkchop and Pee Wee Ellis (James Brown’s saxophonist); and in the festival’s very own Jazz Lounge, will be one of the world’s great alto saxophonists, Peter King with his quartet.

Other headliners include Curtis Stigers, well known as a singer and saxophonist beyond the jazz field.

Other American artists include pianist Marcus Roberts and trumpeter Ambrose Akimusire. The festival also celebrates the best in UK jazz with a unique double bill of two of the leading musicians of the past two decades – Andy Sheppard with Trio Libero (Andy Sheppard, Michel Benita, Sebastian Rochford) and Courtney Pine with his Europa project featuring him on bass clarinet.

Black Top is the latest project of one of the most captivating figures in European improvisation, British pianist Pat Thomas.

Pat describes the project as “improvised dubstep – with lots of broken beats” – he appears with saxophonist Steve Williamson and vibes player Orphy Robinson.

Broadcaster Alyn Shipton brings a new project to the festival – Life is for Living – a celebration of the life of American singer Peggy Lee.

Singer-songwriter Gwyneth Herbert will join a specially-created band including Alyn on bass.

The event will be introduced with film and audio clips of Peggy Lee.

The piano theme continues with British/Bengali pianist Zoe Rahman, NorwegianTord Gustavsen and a new project from Neil Cowley and a string quartet.

As always the festival will also include opportunities to learn and to participate – a festival choir will work though the weekend towards a performance on Sunday evening, and The Sage Gateshead’s jazz youth ensemble Jambone will present their collaboration with Andy Sheppard, plus a range of master classes.

Performance programme director Ros Rigby, said: “Gateshead International Jazz Festival has now become established on the UK jazz calendar as an opportunity to see the very best in UK and international jazz, in an action-packed weekend all under one roof, and in superb performance spaces.”

The festival is produced in collaboration with international music producers Serious (producers of London Jazz Festival in association with BBC Radio 3).

John Cumming, director of Serious, adds: “Serious places immense value on its role in the evolution of Gateshead International Jazz Festival.

“This has become an event that reflects the extraordinary range of jazz within today’s musical universe, as well as having a distinctive style that illustrates The Sage Gateshead’s commitment to music education in its broadest sense.”

l Visit The Sage Gateshead’s website to find out other acts added to the line up. www.thesagegateshead.org. Tickets go on sale tomorrow.