Festival is jazzing up the music scene

Robert Glasper Experiment.
Robert Glasper Experiment.
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The North East is preparing for an American invasion of the musical kind, to mark the 10th anniversary of the UK’s biggest jazz festival under one roof outside London.

Tickets are now on sale for some of the headliners at Gateshead International Jazz Festival, which brings a whole host of jazz performers together at Sage Gateshead from April 4-6, 2014.

Esperanza Spalding.

Esperanza Spalding.

Multi-skilled US instrumentalist Esperanza Spalding was the first jazz artist to win a Best New Artist Grammy Award and her brilliant bass playing will be showcased through the debut, of what can only be described as a jazz supergroup.

Known as the Spring Quartet, the group is completed by heavyweight saxophonist Joe Lovano, pianist Leo Genovese and Jack DeJohnette – the drummer at the heart of many of the landmark jazz groups of the past four decades, from Miles Davis to Keith Jarrett.

With his most recent albums – the acclaimed Black Radio and the soon-to-be-released Black Radio 2 – Texan pianist and producer Robert Glasper crosses the boundaries between jazz and hip-hop, regularly working with artists like Jay-Z, Kanye West and Erykah Badu.

Glasper’s trademark quartet, the Experiment, will play a special late set on the Festival’s opening night.

Perhaps the most distinctive guitarist in jazz today, Bill Frisell, explores another side of American popular song, revisiting his 2010 album Beautiful Dreamers.

Digging deep into a tradition of 19th century parlour song, rural blues, swing and rhythm’n’blues, Frisell brings a uniquely-contemporary slant to songs from Blind Willie Johnson, Benny Goodman and Little Anthony and the Imperials – not to mention his interpretation of the title track.

Playing at Sage Gateshead for the very first time, Frisell brings a trio that also features Eyvind Kang (viola) and drummer Rudy Royston.

Ros Rigby, performance programme director at Sage Gateshead, said: “For the 10th Jazz Festival we have our strongest ever line up, with stars from the jazz scene coming to Gateshead from across the UK and Europe.

“Also some great American names, including two of the most charismatic new talents to break through into the international scene in recent years.

“Tickets are now on sale for some of the headliners and we’re expecting them to go fast, as it’s a rare chance to see some of these artists in the North East.”

The festival always includes performers from across Europe and this year it will welcome the Norrbotten Big Band, from the far north of Sweden, with the acclaimed UK jazz composer Django Bates performing his Charlie Parker-inspired programme, which received excellent reviews at the BBC Proms this year.

This event will also feature Swedish saxophonist Joakim Milder and his suite of jazz arrangements of the music by the North East’s own Prefab Sprout, performed for the first time by Milder’s own band with the Norrbotten Big Band.

* Gateshead International Jazz Festival takes place at Sage Gateshead from Friday, April 4, to Sunday, April 6, 2014. Tickets can be booked either by calling Tel. 443 4661, online at www.sagegateshead.com or in person from Sage Gateshead’s Ticket Office.