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Bournemouth Jazz Festival 2016

PUBLISHED: 10:09 19 April 2016 | UPDATED: 10:09 19 April 2016

Talented young saxophonist Ben Evans, from Westbourne, is one of the local jazz musicians

Talented young saxophonist Ben Evans, from Westbourne, is one of the local jazz musicians


The Bournemouth Jazz Festival takes centre stage with a glittering line-up including singer Jacqui Dankworth and a free jazz village

A new attraction has snuck into the popular resort famed for its endless beach, sun, sea and surf. The Bournemouth Jazz Festival (22 -24 April) is aiming to fly as high as the town’s renowned International Air Festival and hopes to extend its tourism appeal.

Bournemouth Jazz Festival started modestly in June 2015 with local jazz groups playing hotel venues and free stages in the town centre. Now, thanks to funding from Arts Council England and Bournemouth’s BIDs, the Festival is taking things up a gear and adding famous jazz names to the line-up, an education programme to encourage new talent and a world jazz jamboree to bring international jazz flavours to the seaside resort. Headlining is The Ginger Baker Experience, fronted by the renowned tenor sax player Andy Sheppard and with American master drummer Gene Calderazzo stepping in for the 74-year- old Baker who has been forced to withdraw due to medical reasons.

The Festival is the brainchild of film director and entrepreneur Gerry Clarke who spent eight years in the South of France, where he saw the positive impact the Nice Jazz Festival had on local culture, tourism and the economy. “I felt Bournemouth was crying out for something similar,” he explains. “I wanted to establish a Festival that would create opportunities for the many fine local jazz musicians we have here, as well as attract top names and encourage weekend visitors to the town. Cultural tourism is increasingly vital to local economies and Bournemouth has a brilliant infrastructure.”

Artistic Director, Paul Kelly, has assembled a programme that brings together a broad mix of jazz names and styles. “Traditionally a bride wears something old, something new, something borrowed and something blue,” says Paul. “I thought that this would be a good basis for the Bournemouth Jazz Festival programme.” With this in mind the line-up features well established artists plus a number of rising stars. These include former Art Blakey sax player, Jean Toussaint with his Roots and Herbs Young Lions – featuring the cream of emerging London talent. More esoteric sounds come from award-winning jazz trumpeter Yazz Ahmed with the Ahmed Family Hafla Band. Yazz’s grandfather played with Ronnie Scott and she blends that legacy with her Bahraini background in an exotic musical fusion.

If you like your jazz ‘straight up and swinging’ there’s much to enjoy too, with an opening concert by the popular local Swing Unlimited Big Band. Jazz singer Tina May is performing with local jazz quartet Not Just Sax and also with the unique Girls Only Jazz Orchestra in the glamorous surroundings of the Print Room. The Blues come from Zoe Schwarz’s Blue Commotion at the Canvas nightclub.

A highlight of the Festival’s Sunday programme is the jazz singer Jacqui Dankworth (daughter of British jazz legends John Dankworth and Cleo Lane) and her Memphis-born husband/pianist Charlie Wood in an intimate duo setting at the Royal Bath Hotel. These are just a few of the attractions which are complemented by a free Jazz Village programme in the town square, a World Jazz Jamboree programme and concerts in bars and clubs around Bournemouth. So there really is something for everyone to enjoy over this jazz-filled weekend.

Let's go!

The Bournemouth Jazz Festival runs over the weekend of 22 -24 April. Tickets start from £8. Full details can be found at


Sherborne Abbey Festival 2016 - Harmonious songs inspired by Shakespeare, rousing sea shanties and ‘The Man with the Golden Flute’ all feature at this year’s festival, writes Liz Burt


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