For the musicians of London’s latest jazz resurgence, the pristine Regency architecture and center-magnificence suburbia of Cheltenham is an extended way from domestic. Now in its twenty third 12 months and having traditionally broken acts consisting of Jamie Cullum and Soweto Kinch into the jazz international, the festival has although regularly been in stark comparison to the London scene and areas which include Total Refreshment Centre and Church of Sound, wherein open communality is key.
For its 2019 version, even though, Cheltenham took on a greater relaxed form, expanding from multi-venue pop-united statesto taking over the town totally, placing on the whole thing from massive-pinnacle festival headliners to pavement buskers and after-hours sessions, where the new technology made their presence felt. Pianist and manufacturer Alfa Mist, a criminally underrated staple of the London scene, exemplified this. Playing his deft hip-hop inflected compositions from today’s album Structuralism, he featured trumpeter Johnny Woodham on a sequence of coruscating solos and the stunning vocals of bassist Kaya Thomas-Dyke on the languid Breathe.
In the suddenly atmospheric venue of the low-ceilinged House of Fraser basement, the pageant channelled the DIY ethos of a area like Total Refreshment Centre, web hosting pianist Joe Armon-Jones for an strangely pensive set. The smaller and quieter crowd gave Armon-Jones the distance to reduce free on the Rhodes, showcasing lightning-fast runs that belied his young age. London organization Vels Trio additionally performed the gap however didn’t move their synth-primarily based grooves into more expansive and engaging motifs.
Trumpeter Yazz Ahmed performed a beautiful set, previewing her forthcoming album Polyhymnia, a collection in homage to women at some stage in records. Backed by an 11-piece normally lady ensemble, Ahmed’s tricky compositions evoked the entirety from a bluesy New Orleans shuffle on Ruby Bridges, to crackling percussion and spoken phrase from Malala Yousafzai’s 2013 UN speech on One Girl Among Many.
Pop-leaning acts inclusive of James Morrison and Katie Melua had pinnacle billing, but highlights got here from extra straightforwardly jazz names simply under them. Legend-in-the-making Joshua Redman charged via a rowdy trio set, channelling an otherworldly spirit as he writhed round his saxophone, sporadically taking his lips from the mouthpiece to shout in agreement – or frustration – at his solo. Bossa nova hero Sérgio Mendes, in the meantime, charmed with afro-sambas from his Brasil ’66 organization, although the kitsch rap-crossovers inspired by way of his 2006 album with will.I.Am had been much less attractive.
South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim stole the weekend, playing at 84 with the same subtlety and emotional fee that earned him collaborations with Duke Ellington inside the 60s. Picking each notice so delicately lest the whole composition resolve, he moved an target audience member sitting next to me to tears for the duration of.
As the festival closed every night time, it spilled out into bars and eating places, retaining the jazz lifestyle of late-night jams alive. The most high-quality of those was Saturday night time at Hotel du Vin, where Erykah Badu’s trumpeter Keyon Harrold joined up with Soweto Kinch and Gregory Porter to put nearby track students thru their paces and entertain a worse-for-wear 3am crowd. Porter lent his silky baritone to a bluesy rendition of Morning Time, with Harrold blasting out a piercing solo over the drunken whoops of the punters. Here lies the real pleasure of Cheltenham: locals and pageant-goers seeing world-class musicians play handiest touching distance away, at no cost, while breakfast is being set up for inn visitors.