A music festival for the city

20 May 2019

Preston’s Jazz and Improvisation Festival is back due to popular demand

The Preston Jazz and Improvisation Festival is returning to raise the roof and get the whole city swinging again this summer after its triumphant debut in 2018.

An international cast of jazz, funk, blues, soul, prog and hip-hop artists will be descending on the streets and music venues of Preston for a packed programme of live performances, jam sessions and workshops taking place from Thursday 30 May until Saturday 8 June.

Building on the success of last year’s festival, which attracted 6,000 people over seven days, this year the festival has grown to 10 days and will consist of 20 events.

The programme features a host of world class musicians including one of the world’s most celebrated drummers, music legend Carl Palmer who was in two of the biggest bands ever, Emerson Lake and Palmer and Asia.  Influential electronic musician Graham Massey of 808 State fame will be returning to the festival this year with his band, the mighty ‘Toolshed’.

Guitar fans are set to be delighted by international ‘Gypsy Jazz’ star Stochelo Rosenberg who you would be more likely to find playing a sell-out show at Carnegie Hall than an intimate gig in Club 53.  Rosenberg’s performance is part of a packed day celebrating the life of guitar legend Django Reinhardt.  Continuing the jazz guitar theme, two of the UK’ finest players John Bailey and John Wheatcroft will be showcasing their skills on the same bill at the New Continental on Thursday 6 June.

"Jazz and jazz influenced music is a very broad church and in recent times it has been enjoying a surge in popularity. It is also interesting to see young people switching onto it too."

The festival finale is a mini festival in itself, celebrating 10 years of one of the UK’s finest labels Gondwana Records, featuring live performances from Mammal Hands and Allysha Joy and an after-show party featuring a DJ set from taste maker and label founder Matt Halsall.

Whilst the Festival has grown out of the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), the organisers are keen to emphasize that it is a Festival for the city.  Fifteen of the 20 events this year are free to attend with many events designed for the public to get involved.

Festival Director Tony Rigg commented: “We are committed to making all of the events accessible and to getting as many members of the community involved as possible.  There are workshops and jam events including a really cool event at Sound Skills that enables anyone to make music, even if you have never picked up an instrument in your life.  Even the events that require tickets have been heavily subsidised thanks to UCLan, Preston City Council and the Arts Council England.

“Gondwana 10 event tickets are a fraction of the price you would normally expect to pay and there are concession prices for the Stochelo Rosenberg show if you are a Preston resident, pensioner, student or on a low-income.”     

Tony, who also leads on UCLan’s MA Music Industry Management course, added: “Jazz and jazz influenced music is a very broad church and in recent times it has been enjoying a surge in popularity.  It is also interesting to see young people switching onto it too.”

“Other highlights include ‘Jazz in the City’ on 1 June, which will bring the streets of Preston alive.  Performances will include the UK’s youngest jazz singer Astrid.  Still only 9, Astrid came into the public eye on the TV show ‘The Voice Kids UK’, on team Will.I.am. Also featured will be the Lancashire Schools Jazz Orchestra and 17-year-old Prestonian Harvey Brittain, who will be performing a song written specially for the Festival that was inspired by growing up in Preston.”

Jazz in the City also sees the return of ‘Jazz in the Park’ after a 10 year hiatus, at the new location of Winckley Square and hip-hop producer Johnny Jay is inviting members of the public to bring their instruments (or whatever they make music with) and to join him at the covered market with former Stone Roses guitarist Aziz Ibrahim, as well as at a number of other events during the festival.