Aberdeen Jazz Festival to offer varied jazz performances, including at the Bon Accord Baths

The Aberdeen Jazz Festival is in full swing this year, offering a rare opportunity to see the best jazz performances in unorthodox venues.

A rare jazz performance will bring Bon Accord baths to life… Photo: Alastair Robb.

The event which runs from March 17-22 returns to a full offering in 2022 after Covid rattled the last two festivals, rare performances are offered at Bon Accord Baths, the Lawyers’ Library and the newly refurbished Cowdray Hall.

The festival will be the first to be led by the new CEO of festival promoter Jazz Scotland Coralie Usmani, who joins the organization already a veteran jazz promoter in Aberdeen.

Keith MacRae, Chairman of Jazz Scotland, said: “We’ve been successful in putting on some great events over the past couple of years, but we’ve missed out on the festival atmosphere in its own right.

“It’s great to be back, and great to be able to host the first Coralie Usmani Festival with such a positive line-up.”

This year’s festival lineup ranges from traditional jazz to swing, funk and even blues rock.

Highlights of upcoming performances include George Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue at Queen’s Cross Church, arranged for piano and orchestra of eight carefully selected musicians, conducted by pianist Brian Kellock.

Less traditionally, Young Pilgrims – an extraordinary nine-piece brass band brimming with jazz-rock energy – will be in residence for the final weekend of the festival at the Blue Lamp.

Scottish jazz musicians also spice up the line-up, with the Martin Kershaw Quartet, Latin jazz heroes Son al Son and pianist Alan Benzie paying homage to Herbie Hancock all making their mark, as well as vocal jazz bands Rose Room and Ali Affleck’s Jazz. Diva.

Aberdeen musicians are also well represented, both residents and returning stars.

Matthew Kilner will lead a saxophone group with Konrad Wiszniewski and trombonist Kieran McLeod, now a big name in London jazz, will make his Festival debut as a conductor.

There will also be several performances from musicians further afield, including the genre-defying trio Shapes of Time, featuring Oone Van Geel and Mark Haanstra from the Netherlands as well as Scotsman Graeme Stephen.

The program also spotlights key blues rock artists, with the legendary King King and Gerry Jablonski and the Electric Band performing at the Lemon Tree, as well as Missouri blues powerhouse trio Hooten Hallers performing at the Blue Lamp.

Councilor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: ‘Aberdeen City Council is delighted to see such a comprehensive and varied program of the Aberdeen Jazz Festival with so many opportunities for people to get involved.

“It’s also great to see some of the city’s most iconic venues included, and the refurbished Cowdray Hall being used for the first time.

“We recognize the importance of festivals and events to the cultural life of Aberdeen and the Jazz Festival is just one of many to receive financial support from the Council.”

The full program can be viewed at https://jazzscotland.com/collections/aberdeenjazzfestival

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Willie J. Johnson