Our guide to the Cambridge Jazz Festival 2022, featuring Courtney Pine, Omar, Zara McFarlane and more

The Cambridge Jazz Festival is back with a huge line-up of stars, including headliners Courtney Pine, Omar and Zara McFarlane.

Tickets are already on sale for the 7th Cambridge Jazz Festival, which runs from November 10-27 and is supported by the Cambridge Independent. It marks a much-loved return to a live, in-person festival program that showcases local and global talent alongside a celebration of jazz icons.

Jazz Festival: Brass Funkeys. Photo: Dave Hamblett” data-root=”/_media/img/” data-path=”WXYLJZ1OK4YMOS23DF8K.jpg” data-ar=”1.33″/>
Cambridge Jazz Festival: Brass Funkeys. Photo: Dave Hamblett

This year the festival has 44 events featuring over 150 artists and will take place at venues across Cambridge, including the Junction, Bar-Oh and La Raza to LAB Cocktail Bar, West Road Concert Hall as well as Jesus College. and the University Arms Hotel, and further to Saffron Hall.

Gil Karpas, co-director of the Cambridge Jazz Festival, said: “Throughout the festival period there are days and nights full of many fringe events in the city centre; these provide opportunities for people to engage, educate, and have fun. We encourage everyone to view the full program online. There’s bound to be something for everyone, regardless of age or musical interests, and something new to discover.

Alina Bzhezhiniska.  Photo: Tatiana Gorilovsky
Alina Bzhezhiniska. Photo: Tatiana Gorilovsky

“As always, the Cambridge Jazz Festival celebrates the excellence, diversity (not just in terms of gender and ethnicity, but also gender) and the legacies of jazz culture. We’ve also focused on cross-generational offerings with featured artists and engagement opportunities for young children, families, through to adults and older generations who love classics from the big band era.

“Since 2019 we have expanded the board, including new programmers, new directors, new team members who reflect both the breadth of diversity at Cambridge and beyond.”

Zara McFarlane.  Photo: Casey Moore
Zara McFarlane. Photo: Casey Moore

The festival offers an extremely eclectic range of musical styles, including old and modern jazz, Latin, soul, funk, blues and rock. Alongside the concerts, there will also be a series of talks, workshops, jams and live painting.

Highly anticipated events include performances by multi-award-winning British singer Zara McFarlane, the festival’s artist-in-residence. Zara is part of the new vanguard of British jazz masters. It is absolutely a must.

The festival ends on November 27 with its main event, Omar + QCBA. Omar is one of the greatest soul music talents the UK has produced in the last 40 years.

Cambridge Jazz Festival: Omar, (Vocal, Piano) Quentin Collins (Trumpet) Brandon Allen (Sax).  Photo: Tim Dickeson
Cambridge Jazz Festival: Omar, (Vocal, Piano) Quentin Collins (Trumpet) Brandon Allen (Sax). Photo: Tim Dickeson

The festival also welcomes Courtney Pine, the undisputed master of British jazz, whose 1995 album Modern Day Jazz Stories was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize. He also won Best Jazz Group at the first MOBO Awards in 1996. Courtney received both an OBE and a CBE, and in 2021 was awarded Jazz FM Gold.

To kick off this year’s programme, the festival kicks off on November 10 with an exclusive preview night, featuring festival favourites, The Brass Funkeys, performing at Cambridge Junction.

From November 17, an eventful schedule kicks off with two events, starting with Planet B by Jasper Hoiby, plus Lydian Collective.

On Friday November 18, the Mattan Klein Duo and Ashley Henry will perform their world jazz music in the beautiful chapel of St Catherine’s College.

Alyn Shipton and her New Orleans friends.  Photo: John Watson
Alyn Shipton and her New Orleans friends. Photo: John Watson

There will be a series of events for the whole family on Saturday November 19, including the storytelling show developed by Arts Council England, A Waltz in New Orleans. Legendary author, musician and entertainer Alyn Shipton is in conversation for the launch of his new book Alyn Shipton On Jazz. And there will be music with a performance by Alyn Shipton’s New Orleans Friends.

The Saturday night party sees Jazz FM’s Chris Phillips and Jez Nelson: Jazz in The Round ft Alina Bzhezhinska, Rouhangeze and Tomasz Bura, Ant Law and Alex Hitchcock for full billing of the very latest jazz sounds at the most intimate events. One of the greatest young drummers on the British jazz scene, Jas Kayser, will play at Clare College.

On Sunday 20 November, big bands, large ensembles and jazz orchestras with three events for all ages and at all stages of their career: The Schools Big Band concert, Cambridge Groove Orchestra then the unmissable CUJO (Cambridge University Jazz Orchestra) with Zara McFarlane.

Throughout the following week, the festival offers jam sessions, activities for all ages, concerts and much more throughout the city. Thursday, November 24 marks the momentum towards the second weekend of the festival with Tim Boniface and Sam Miles: Remembering Dex&Getz.

Courtney and Zoe.  Photo: Dillonrose.com/Alfred Bailey
Courtney and Zoe. Photo: Dillonrose.com/Alfred Bailey

Friday brings us some of the UK’s most beloved and famous jazz musicians: Tim Garland and Jason Rebello, and Courtney Pine.

Saturday November 26 offers a packed program of workshops, including jazz improvisation with Tim Garland, and a series of family events including Groove Baby presents Grooving with Pirates.

The festival also welcomes back artist-in-residence Zara McFarlane for an exclusive duo performance of her award-winning repertoire at the intimate central Cambridge location, Frankopan Hall at Jesus College.

The closing weekend begins with a return to Jesus College for a one-day session, featuring Jazz FM’s Ruth Fisher’s Prosecco Brunch with Immy and Pete Churchill. Many activities follow, such as Sonit Alleyne OBE and Orphy Robinson MBE “Developing your Creative Practice” and a choir workshop with Pete Churchill.

For the full line-up of artists, workshops, talks and films, visit the festival website at cambridgejazzfestival.info.


Willie J. Johnson