Ready to go!

The Jazz Leeds festival is now ready to launch! It’s a six-day festival starting this Thursday 19 July stretching over the weekend and finishing on Tuesday 24 July.


Sir Gary Verity DL, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire said: “The new Leeds Jazz Festival is a must for music lovers and a wonderful addition to this already vibrant city. The 6-day festival takes place in some of the coolest venues and will showcase Yorkshire culture at its finest.”


The festival will feature marquee names such as Soweto Kinch, Ian Shaw, Pigfoot and Nérija, as well as leftfield performances from, among others, Leeds pianist Matthew Bourne and alt-jazz absurdists Shatner’s Bassoon, a tribute to playwright Bill Naughton in words and music by Jamil Sheriff and Nel Begley  “Rafe’s Dilemma”, plus several fest highlights with a particularly Leeds resonance.

Three events not to miss!

A special festival highlight will be a celebration of  Duke Ellington’s October 1958 meeting with the Queen in Leeds. Alan Barnes’s Ellingtonians will. feature both the better and lesser known works by the Duke, including some of “The Queens’s Suite” he wrote to commemorate his Leeds visit with his legendary jazz orchestra. Alan’s band will contain some of the best musicians from today’s UK jazz scene, with Bruce Adams on trumpet, Mark Nightingale trombone, Alan on saxes and clarinet, Karen Sharp saxes and clarinet, Robert Fowler saxes and clarinet, David Newton piano, Simon Thorpe bass and Clark Tracey on drums.

A festival commission is “New Briggate Blues” – a play written by Chris Nickson about Leeds 1950’s jazz venue Studio 20 which hosted bluesman Jimmy Rushing, traditional jazz legend Ken Coyler, vocalist and raconteur George Melly, and sax legends Tubby Hayes and Ronnie Scott amongst others.The music will be from Leeds jazz singer Jenny Smith. There will be some photos from Studio 20 taken by Leeds photographer the late Terry Cryer. 

The festival finale is “Celebrating Xero Slingsby” which will bring together musicians including sax-man Alan Wilkinson and drummer Paul Hession’s punk-jazz tribute to local-hero musician, the late Xero Slingsby (aka Matthew Coe) who was a powerful force on the Jazz Scene in the UK, Belgium and Holland during the 1980’s. Top of the bill will be The Shuffledemons from Canada will pay their first visit to Leeds for some 30 years especially for this event.

Something for everyone!

Over 300 performers and 50 bands are taking part, including big bands, swing dance bands, traditional jazz, blues and latin groups. Leeds shoppers will enjoy “Busk Stops” featuring jazz buskers, organised by J’Frisco’s Jemma Freece at Lands Lane in the City Centre. There is a special “Fusebox presents” of improv. bands at Leeds College of Music organised by Leeds pianist Laura Cole. The “Otley Jazz Run” on Saturday 21 July is visiting all the Jazz Clubs in LS6 with street band Bassa Bassa. Two free days of music in Millennium Square take place on Monday 23rd and Tuesday 24th during the lunchtime and evening with jazz, blues and salsa bands playing for you. There will be chances for you to join in and play too – absolute beginners are welcome at the Improvisation Salon and more experienced players will enjoy “Learning to Play Jazz” workshop at the Carriageworks. The whole festival will be live painted by artist Gina Southgate – that will give images that we can display for years to come.

The festival is supported by Arts Council England, Leeds Inspired and Arts at Leeds, Leeds College of Music, Welcome to Yorkshire and Leeds BID

Festival tickets are on sale – an “all events” whole festival ticket is priced at just £95. The box office is here
More information is here


Steve Crocker

Festival organiser


July 2018

Contact Jazz Leeds

JazzLeeds, 11 Gledhow Park Drive, Leeds LS7 4JT

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